Karl Kraus, the great satirist, called fin de siècle Vienna a research laboratory for world destruction. Something similar could perhaps be said of Iran today. But what do we really know of the political and cultural complexities of the (Shia-fundamentalist) Islamic Republic, a Middle East superpower that sponsors Hamas and Hezbollah, supports the Assad Alawite minority dictatorship in Syria and is seemingly set on a course of conflict with (Sunni-fundamentalist) Saudi Arabia, Israel and the western powers? If we are to avoid the mistakes of the Iraq war, it would be advisable for those advocating a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities to find out as much as possible about the country. This issue of the NS might be a place to start.