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Good Reads: From understanding Khamenei, to Microsoft’s demise, to brand Japan

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Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/AP

(Read caption) Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a sermon.

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“Who Is Ali Khamenei?” writes Akbar Ganji in Foreign Affairs. Understanding Iran’s supreme leader is a crucial step if the United States is to ever find a way to deal with Iran on vital issues from its nuclear program to the security of Israel and the stability of the entire Middle East.

The first problem: Mr. Khamenei believes that the US wants to remove him and his government, either through an internal revolution, economic pressure, or military action. He also believes that capitalism and the West “are in inevitable decline,” Mr. Ganji writes. The good news: He doesn’t blame the US and the West “for all the Islamic world’s problems.”

And he’s not been isolated from Western ideas: His favorite novel is Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables.” Among American works a favorite is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” by Harriet Beecher Stowe. He’s also read John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Khamenei “is not a crazy, irrational, or reckless zealot searching for opportunities for aggression,” Ganji concludes. “But his deep-rooted views and intransigence are bound to make any negotiations with the West difficult and protracted....”

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