Saturday, April 02, 2005

Another Anniversary Yesterday

April Fool's Day was also the anniversary of the mullahs' theocracy in Iran. On April 1, 1979, Ayatollah Knomeini proclaimed an Islamic republic in Iran. (Thanks to Regime Change Iran for the reminder. Do follow the link for more info.)

The events leading up to that are a case study in how to lose friends and not influence people. Pres. Carter, a weak and vacillating chief executive, decided not to provide any support to the Shah, who left the country. Carter did not take any steps to prevent Khomeini from returning to Iran from Paris or from assuming power. Carter failed to take effective action even though Khomeini and his followers clearly intended to change the pro-U.S. policy of the Shah and this change would hurt U.S. influence and prestige in the important oil-producing region of the Middle East. The best that can be said for Carter is that our choices were limited by the Shah's lack of popular support.

I visited Tehran,Iran on a business trip in the interim between the Shah's departure and Khomeini's arrival. I privately asked one secretary what she thought of what was going on. She indicated that she did not support the Shah and said that she wanted freedom. She may have received part of her wish, but she did not get the freedom she desired.

As many of you may remember, a few months after Khomeini arrived, a mob of university students overran the U.S. embassy and held hostage the approximately 55 personnel there for well over 400 days. (The hostage crisis story launched Ted Koppel's Nightline TV program.) Carter's ineffective response to the hostage situation contributed to his electoral defeat in 1980. The hostage crisis ended when Pres. Reagan was inaugurated, the prospect of which caused Iran immediately to return all the hostages to the U.S. (A joke circulating at the time was, "What is flat and glows in the dark? Iran after Reagan becomes President.") The leaders in Iran understood that Reagan would not stand idly by while the U.S. was being humiliated. Nonetheless, thh mullahs were already in power, and the negative effects of an anti-U.S. Islamic theocracy in Iran continue to this day.

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