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10 September 2005


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You know a lot more about this than I do so I'd appreciate your views on these questions.
Could the Shah's regime lasted longer if it had more American support?
Was it in America's long term interest to back the Shah over Mossadegh?
Thank You

Pat Lang


Islam generally holds anything other than a theocratic state to be lacking in legitimacy. Some essentially secular states have survived that handicap through a ruthless application of police power, self-identification with the ideal of Islamic rule or rule by some personage considered to be "holy" through descent from the prophet. (Morocco and Jordan are examples) In some cases these things combine.

In Iran, 12er Shiism has just about always been deprived of power through the rule of monarchies unbounded in their willingness to suppress any expression of the idea that the monarchy's rule was illegitimate. They were all like that.

Naturally, a certain tension always existed between the monarchies and the mullahs.

In the case of the Pahlavis, there was little doubt that their claim to legitimacy was shaky. The dynasty was founded in the 20s by a cavalryman who had no particular reason to think he should be a king other than he could make himself one. Of course, he overthrew a dynasty that had little other than "time in grade" to recommend them.

The Pahlavis, like Ataturk in Turkey, considered themselves to be "armed apostles of westernization. This made the mullahs hate and distrust them even more than they might have otherwise.

Mossadegh skifully used this to advance his own cause. Britain and the US considered the rule of Mossadegh in an Iran unfettered by the Pahlavis to be a "risk." Eisenhower decided to do something about it and felt justified because the Shah was, in fact, legal ruler of the country.

In one of their few demonstrations of effective covert action, CIA organized anti-Mossadegh forces to bring the Shah back. He promptly fired Mossadegh.

Essentially the same scenario was acted out in 1979. Khomeini sensed weakness in the Shah. The Shah was always weak and stricken with self doubt. The difference in 1979 was that Jimmy Carter was no Eisenhower and whoever was in charge at CIA were not Dulles and Kermit Roosevelt.

Would the Pahlavis have remained in power with real support from Carter? Very likely.

I think it was no more in our interest for there to be an anti-Western government in 1953 than it turned out to be after 1979.

One final word. The mullahcracy in Iran is every bit as inhumane as the Pahlavi government ever was.

The late Shah had a lot of personal faults but he never threw hundreds of thousands of his subjects lives away in suicidal attacks in a war against anyone. The mullahs did that. pl


"The late Shah had a lot of personal faults but he never threw hundreds of thousands of his subjects lives away in suicidal attacks in a war against anyone."

Because of his personal merit or his powerful ally? With US support was there ever any occasion to do so?

Pat Lang


His "personal merit?" You sound like a priest.

There were no wars during his reign, get it? pl


Your words: "he had a lot of PERSONAL faults, but he never [dispatched human waves]"

There were no wars during his reign because people don't cross the borders of US client states with armies.

Deterrence is a good thing.

Powerful allies are powerful deterrents.

Credit where credit is due.

Pat Lang


Winning counts. Ask any Southerner. pl

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