U.S. Out of
Military Intervention to Save the Shah Feared (1978)
“These aren’t the rantings of a people “opposed to democratic principles,” they are the angry demands of millions who have been denied basic rights which we in the U.S. have come to take for granted.”
When Iran’s Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi turned seventeen on October 31, 1977, his birthday party was nothing if not immodest. The lavish bash at the Shah’s Tehran palace, packed with VIP’s, included a huge fireworks display and guests being serenaded by none other than Googoosh, Iran’s most popular female singer. How could anyone possibly top it?
How about marking your 18th birthday with a visit to the White House and a personal greeting from the President of the United States.
By Oct. 1978, Daddy Shah may have been on his last legs, but Jimmy Carter, an admitted country music lover, was standing by his man like Tammy Wynette.
“Our friendship and alliance with Iran is one of the important bases on which our entire foreign policy depends”, said Carter beside the young Prince in the Oval Office.
“We wish the Shah our best and hope the present disturbances can soon be resolved. We are thankful for his move toward democracy, and we know that it is opposed by some who do not like democratic principles. But his progressive administration is very valuable, I think, to the entire Western world.”
“Give your father and mother my best”, added the President, as dozens of Iranian students demonstrated against the Shah outside the White House.
These letters printed in the Florida State University student newspaper demonstrate what was at the time a rather widespread concern that the U.S. might intervene militarily to prevent the Shah’s fall from power.
That never happened, and just six weeks later, the Shah was forced to flee Iran for the last time.
Friday, December 1, 1978
Just like in Vietnam
With Carter’s reaffirmation of his support for the shah it is clear in what direction we are heading (I refer of course to the Vietnam disaster). And it is evident through this action that Carter, who had as one of his platforms the human rights issue, has no intention of applying that policy in Iran. If he were even remotely concerned he would withdraw the over 5,000 American troops which make up the Rapid Ready Strike Force residing in the Persian Gulf. He would also stop supporting the shipment of over half of our arms sales to Iran which are used mostly against the people. And he would investigate the 60 percent plus illiteracy, the almost non-existent sanitation, the lack of workmans’ insurance, the law against striking, the law against forming unions, and the law against saying anything detrimental against the shah. These are only a few examples of the “move towards democracy” that Carter is “thankful” for.
As to the people in Iran who are demonstrating against the shah, Carter comments, “We know it’s (the move towards democracy) opposed by some who resist democratic principles.” It is obvious that when thousands of people mass in the streets in the face of machine guns and tanks that what is happening can no longer be disregarded as a disturbance created by those who oppose democracy. And certainly when 1.5 million people demonstrate in a city whose population is four million, you can no longer dismiss them as religious fanatics.
The truth is that the uprisings have nothing to do with opposition to democracy — the opposite is the case. Carter neglected to say in his statement to the press what the demands of the Iranian people are. They consist of ending martial law and curfew, the ousting of the shah, better working conditions and higher wages, and the release of all political prisoners (the shah’s generous offer to release 1,200 prisoners loses its sparkle when compared to the fact that there are as many as 100,000 political prisoners in Iran today). These aren’t the rantings of a people “opposed to democratic principles,” they are the angry demands of millions who have been denied basic rights which we in the U.S. have come to take for granted.
The tactics, used to keep Americans apathetic towards Iran are the same ones that were used in the case of Vietnam. And, to a degree, they are still effective. But if the people knew that we had men already stationed in the Persian Gulf, or that the 40,000 “military advisors” are actually running Iran’s army, navy and intelligence, then they would react with the same vehemence as when they learned the truth about Vietnam. It is as true now as it was then that if strong opposition to American involvement isn’t initiated we will be in too far to back out.
By using nothing more than common sense it is easy to see that the facts of the Iranian issue and the seriousness of it, and what the government is telling us just aren’t congruent. In short, we are being lied to. Again.
Wednesday, December 6, 1978
No way Iran will be a Vietnam
The notion of Iran becoming “another Vietnam” for the U.S. is absurd. United States executive foreign policy is no longer steeped in the belief that it is the moral imperative of this country to provide military aid to any nation’s incumbent regime that is both anti-communist and experiencing internal or external dispute. Both the State Department and the Pentagon realize that U.S. involvement in Vietnam was a serious mistake — that the Vietnam conflict was primarily a struggle for national unity by Vietnamese nationalists who happened to be Communists. As a result of Vietnam, it is no longer within the power of our president to deploy U.S. military troops to another nation without Congressional approval. Hence, warmongers in the Pentagon would find it useless to persuade Jimmy Carter to undertake military intervention in Iran.
Though many State Department officials would regret the deposition of the Shah of Iran, the U.S. is not about implement military assistance to prevent such an event. If the Shah is overthrown, the State Department does not fear that the USSR has any chance of getting a foothold in Iran, for the Soviets are facing an intense credibility crisis among Arab nations. [Iran is not “Arab”] The Arabs (except Libya) bitterly resent Soviet intrusion in their geographical sphere of influence.
The goals of the Iranian Students Association may indeed be laudable, but recent editorials by members of this group indicate that the ISA is using the threat of Iran becoming a Vietnam for the U.S. as a scare tactic to induce domestic support for their cause, i.e., their efforts to oust the U.S. from Iran. In short, the ISA is feeding up on residual paranoia rampant among “arm-chair” intellectuals who are certain that the U.S. will militarily intervene to prevent the Shah’s deposition. As for such a fearful belief, nothing could be further from the truth.
Thomas M. Katheder
Could Iran Be Future Vietnam? — Letter in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 27, 1973
The Shah, the President and empty phrases — University of Iowa student letter, Feb. 16, 1977
Iranian Grievances “Worth Listening To”, Writes The Cedar Rapids Gazette (June 12, 1980)
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”