U.S. policies may have contributed to Iran revolution, study says
LA Times / Borzou Daragahi
17-Oct-2008 (14 comments)

A report based on declassified documents suggests that the Nixon and Ford administrations, angry with the shah for his support for raising oil prices, worked to curb his ambitions.

recommended by Darius Kadivar



Manufactured coup of 1978

by velvet revolution (not verified) on

Excerpts from the "A Century of War":

"In November 1978, President Carter named the Bilderberg group's George Ball, another member of the Trilateral Commission, to head a special White House Iran task force under the National Security Council's Brzezinski. Ball recommended that Washington drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the fundamentalistic Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini. Robert Bowie from the CIA was one of the lead 'case officers' in the new CIA-led coup against the man their covert actions had placed into power 25 years earlier. Their scheme was based on a detailed study of the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism, as presented by British Islamic expert, Dr. Bernard Lewis, then on assignment at Princeton University in the United States.

Lewis's scheme, which was unveiled at the May 1979 Bilderberg meeting in Austria, endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeini, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an 'Arc of Crisis,' which would spill over into Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.

The coup against the Shah, like that against Mossadegh in 1953, was run by British and American intelligence, with the bombastic American, Brzezinski, taking public 'credit' for getting rid of the 'corrupt' Shah, while the British characteristically remained safely in the background.

During 1978, negotiations were under way between the Shah's government and British Petroleum for renewal of the 25-year old extraction agreement. By October 1978, the talks had collapsed over a British 'offer' which demanded exclusive rights to Iran's future oil output, while refusing to guarantee purchase of the oil. With their dependence on British-controlled export apparently at an end, Iran appeared on the verge of independence in its oil sales policy for the first time since 1953, with eager prospective buyers in Germany, France, Japan and elsewhere.

In its lead editorial that September, Iran's Kayhan International stated: In retrospect, the 25-year partnership with the [British Petroleum] consortium and the 50-year relationship with British Petroleum which preceded it, have not been satisfactory ones for Iran … Looking to the future, NIOC [National Iranian Oil Company] should plan to handle all operations by itself. London was blackmailing and putting enormous economic pressure on the Shah's regime by refusing to buy Iranian oil production, taking only 3 million or so barrels daily of an agreed minimum of 5 million barrels per day.

This imposed dramatic revenue pressures on Iran, which provided the context in which religious discontent against the Shah could be fanned by trained agitators deployed by British and U.S. intelligence. In addition, strikes among oil workers at this critical juncture crippled Iranian oil production. As Iran's domestic economic troubles grew, American 'security' advisers to the Shah's Savak secret police implemented a policy of ever more brutal repression, in a manner calculated to maximize popular antipathy to the Shah.

At the same time, the Carter administration cynically began protesting abuses of 'human rights' under the Shah. British Petroleum reportedly began to organize capital flight out of Iran, through its strong influence in Iran's financial and banking community. The British Broadcasting Corporation's Persian-language broadcasts, with dozens of Persian-speaking BBC 'correspondents' sent into even the smallest village, drummed up hysteria against the Shah.

The BBC gave Ayatollah Khomeini a full propaganda platform inside Iran during this time. The British government-owned broadcasting organization refused to give the Shah's government an equal chance to reply. Repeated personal appeals from the Shah to the BBC yielded no result. Anglo-American intelligence was committed to toppling the Shah. The Shah fled in January, and by February 1979, Khomeini had been flown into Tehran to proclaim the establishment of his repressive theocratic state to replace the Shah's government. Reflecting on his downfall months later, shortly before his death, the Shah noted from exile, I did not know it then perhaps I did not want to know but it is clear to me now that the Americans wanted me out. Clearly this is what the human rights advocates in the State Department wanted What was I to make of the Administration's sudden decision to call former Under Secretary of State George Ball to the White House as an adviser on Iran? Ball was among those Americans who wanted to abandon me and ultimately my country.[1][1]

With the fall of the Shah and the coming to power of the fanatical Khomeini adherents in Iran, chaos was unleashed. By May 1979, the new Khomeini regime had singled out the country's nuclear power development plans and announced cancellation of the entire program for French and German nuclear reactor construction. Iran's oil exports to the world were suddenly cut off, some 3 million barrels per day. Curiously, Saudi Arabian production in the critical days of January 1979 was also cut by some 2 million barrels per day. To add to the pressures on world oil supply, British Petroleum declared force majeure and cancelled major contracts for oil supply. Prices on the Rotterdam spot market, heavily influenced by BP and Royal Cutch Shell as the largest oil traders, soared in early 1979 as a result.

The second oil shock of the 1970s was fully under way. Indications are that the actual planners of the Iranian Khomeini coup in London and within the senior ranks of the U.S. liberal establishment decided to keep President Carter largely ignorant of the policy and its ultimate objectives. The ensuing energy crisis in the United States was a major factor in bringing about Carter's defeat a year later. There was never a real shortage in the world supply of petroleum. Existing Saudi and Kuwaiti production capacities could at any time have met the 5-6 million barrels per day temporary shortfall, as a U.S. congressional investigation by the General Accounting Office months later confirmed. Unusually low reserve stocks of oil held by the Seven Sisters oil multinationals contributed to creating a devastating world oil price shock, with prices for crude oil soaring from a level of some $14 per barrel in 1978 towards the astronomical heights of $40 per barrel for some grades of crude on the spot market. Long gasoline lines across America contributed to a general sense of panic, and Carter energy secretary and former CIA director, James R. Schlesinger, did not help calm matters when he told Congress and the media in February 1979 that the Iranian oil shortfall was 'prospectively more serious' than the 1973 Arab oil embargo.[2][2]

The Carter administration's Trilateral Commission foreign policy further ensured that any European effort from Germany and France to develop more cooperative trade, economic and diplomatic relations with their Soviet neighbor, under the umbrella of détente and various Soviet-west European energy agreements, was also thrown into disarray. Carter's security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, implemented their 'Arc of Crisis' policy, spreading the instability of the Iranian revolution throughout the perimeter around the Soviet Union. Throughout the Islamic perimeter from Pakistan to Iran, U.S. initiatives created instability or worse." --

William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, © 1992, 2004. Pluto Press Ltd. Pages 171-174. [1][1]

In 1978, the Iranian Ettelaat published an article accusing Khomeini of being a British agent. The clerics organized violent demonstrations in response, which led to the flight of the Shah months later. See U.S. Library of Congress Country Studies, Iran. The Coming of the Revolution. December 1987. The role of BBC Persian broadcasts in the ousting of the Shah is detailed in Hossein Shahidi. 'BBC Persian Service 60 years on.' The Iranian. September 24, 2001.

The BBC was so much identified with Khomeini that it won the name 'Ayatollah BBC.' [2][2] Comptroller General of the United States. 'Iranian Oil Cutoff: Reduced Petroleum Supplies and Inadequate U.S. Government Response.' Report to Congress by General Accounting Office. 1979.



still waiting

by MRX1 (not verified) on

the jig is up.by now every one knows that it was angeleo american alliance that brought down shah in 1979.

The question is: when are they going to release the details of how they did it, who they bought in the process, who were behind the scene players, who was the main architect and so on.....

Of cousre to sell the plan you needed an idiot to sign up on that, and they found that in a lame ass peanut farmer from Gerorgia called jimmy carter.


Whose fault was it?

by Davar (not verified) on

The truth of the matter is that for more than two decades, Shah was a tool in the hands of the Americans (Democrats and Republicans alike). His rise to power and eventual downfall were planned and orchestrated by the US and British powers. Like any other servant, he had a limited useful life for the masters. At the expiration date, he had to be replaced. So, it really doesn't matter who pushed the exit button at the end: Democrats, Republicans, British, etc. The fact is that the greed of the Republican administrations, the incompetence of the Democrats, and most of all, the widespread discontent (and hasty misjudgment) of Iranian population, prevented a smooth transition at the end.

So, whose fault was it?

Darius Kadivar

Bebakhsheed Nazanin Jan ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

Chashb Khanoum Jan Hag Ba Shoma ...


Pathetic to make this personal

by Nazanin Ghasemian on

You're trying to make my response personal, like a lot of monarchists do on this site. I used to think you were more mature than that. I never called you or anyone else a war mongerer. You're either assuming I'm someone else, or paranoid about what I think of you. Either way, you're wrong about me.

When someone argues to blame democrats for the revolution, it implies that voting democratic supports IRI. I am talking about the tired argument that Iranian-Americans should not vote democratic because of the Carter administration's position on the shah. I think the same could be said about the Republican blunder in Operation Ajax. But it's ridiculous and counterproductive, considering the state of the US Iran policy. Meanwhile, you're comparing me to IRI lobbyists. Thanks man. You lost me. Peace.

Darius Kadivar

Nazanin Its Your Right ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

Its your right to be what you want. You are putting words in my mouth like most IRI lobbyist ( which I don't say you are one but are using the same arguments unknowingly) that we are war mongerers and that we are wishing to divide Iranians and discourage them to vote for Obama.

It just happens that I am voting for Obama. Do I now have to excuse myself to those Iranians voting for McCain ? 





Darius, please don't assume or put words in my mouth

by Nazanin Ghasemian on

The shah was Iranian, so I think he was bound to be stubborn, especially on the oil issue. I think it's undeniable that the shah was an installed leader. I did not call him a puppet, but I think that the US policies he approved did not win him popularity with Iranians.

Shah's dead, and so I think it's time to focus on people who can help change Iran in a positive way, rather than re-visit the past. Even your guy RP says that, although I think he's way unqualified and bad with judgment like his dad.

I'm against monarchies period and I don't like perennial leaders, especially in a culturally and politically dynamic place like Iran.

Darius Kadivar

Nazanin Ghasemian Divisiveness ? ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

Nazanin Thank you for your argumented response but where did you see me try to divide Iranians by suggesting them not to vote for the elections or discourage them to vote for Obama ?

In addition these elections do matter to me because I am an American citizen by birth and will be voting and you may even be surprised by my choice which I will probably let you know once I get to cast my ballot from overseas.

However it is VERY hypocritical to blame the monarchists for any such attempts given that the LA Times article is written by an Iranian journalist in the first place Borzou Daragahi. Second that this is about History and Not an Electoral dillema.

In addition if I were a "die hard fanatic monarchist" then I should on the contrary be Very satisfied with this report because at worst it demolishes EVERYTHING you and even Revolutionary Slogans of 1979 suggested and that is that : "The Shah as a  weak Puppet of the United States."

On the contrary this article suggests that the Shah was ambitious and was able to  irritate  and even stand against the interests of his staunchest allies to satisfy his own nation's economic interests which explains the Oil Boom of 1973.

This allegation on the Shah's megalomania and so called dicatorial nature was basically the plot of the Best Selling Book by the Jewish American novelist Paul E Erdman entitled CRASH OF '79 which was even optioned as a screenplay for a Hollywood movie that was abandoned due to the fall of the Shah.

What amazes me to this day is that Iranians at large seem to repeat the same nearly pathological psychological pattern  ( and I observe it even more amongst Iranians in the Diaspora) and which you seem to also be repeating given your reaction and that is a fear to look or at least inform yourself about your own history.

This is one of the side effects of having been subject to a good degree of brainwashing either self imposed due to some sort of guilt or because you rely on what you learned through the biaised  reviews and articles of the time you read in both the Iranian and International press in the heat of the Revolution.  If that is the only source on which you rely on no wonder you end up by swallowing the slightest sensational news as the ultimate Truth.

What I DO KNOW is that it is ignorance and lack of critical judgment that has ALWAYS failed us at large not only inside but also outside Iran.

It is THIS IGNORANCE that allows people like Ahmadinejad or IRI Lobbyists to HighJack OUR PATRIOTISM.

It is FEAR OF THE TRUTH that ultimately paves the way for Revisionistic theories and allow our leaders to perpetuate lies with Our NAIVE INDIRECT OR DIRECT ENDORSEMENTS !

Endorsements that ultimately pave the way on our OWN NATIONAL TV to such extemists like this neo NAZI Revisionists  Lady Michel Renouf ( whose negationist views are of public knowledge) invited to speak as an "Expert" on WWII and question the reality of the Holocaust :

On the Contrary Ma'am As a European Resident ( regardless of being the  American Citizen I am ) what is written or said on my country's history matters to me. We see precisely where such revisionist theories lead too here with people like Jean Marie Le Pen in France or in Austria with neo nazi party of the NOT SO KHODA BIAMORZ Joerg Haider .

History is about TRUTH not about Political Correctness. Whether this TRUTH  serves or not the political Agenda of the next American President ( Democrat or Republican) is the last of my concerns.

Besides I never claimed that my views were the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, I am simply saying that I have a different interpretation of what is being exposed here in this article and offer my arguments. How will that change the course of History be it in Iran or America ?

Unless you know who I am voting for ? Sorry but I am not like the other preacher Hamid DEBASHI to dictate to you, who you have to vote for in the next American Presidential Elections so as to satisfy the Palestinian Cause in the name of Iranian Interests  ... 


If I did Wow I did not know I was THAT INFLUENTIAL ;0)

Maybe then I should run for office myself.

Trouble is in Iran you can't run for kingship anymore. 

Cheers Ma'am,









Monarchists who cling to the past cause counterproductive votes

by Nazanin Ghasemian on

Darius, I realize you live in France, so you can choose to ignore this if you want.

This argument that monarchists make is an attempt to pin the blame on Democrats for the revolution, and it's bad for two reasons.

Marking ALL democrats by blaming Carter's administration of thirty years prior causes counterproductive voting. Further, Iranians who vote republican based on events of 30 years ago are not sending a message to Carter or his policies. Carter's foreign policy failed not because he was a democrat, but because he was a bad leader, period. His opponent was weak and unpopular, and he won. I'm not talking about the shah either. I'm talking about defeating a Republican party suffering a bad Watergate hangover.

How about voting against Republicans because of Operation Ajax under Eisenhower? Changing the country's destiny based on phony British reports about false Marxist leanings? I'm not suggesting that, because it's stupid! Can you imagine talking to Anderson Cooper and telling him, "Anderson, I can't forgive Eisenhower, so I'm voting for Obama." It's plain stupid. History offers the benefit of learning from mistakes and Iran is an important example.

I'd like to see a change in the US-Iran policy because it has been obvious that isolating and ignoring Iran has not benefitted anyone, but it sure has hurt the population, unless you count the mullahs, about whom everyone is vocal about ad infinitum - iranian.com is proof of that.

History's decided that there is no single person on whom blame can be assigned. But there's still plenty to go around. Shah was a failure because he couldn't tolerate dissent or even an overshadowing prime minister. Even Abbas Milani admits this in his lectures. Its natural in any educated, middle-class culture for people to try to change their destiny in such circumstances. The shah was irresponsible, weak and marked for death, not only as a leader, but as a cancer stricken man.

There's already enough divide among Iranians about the shah, why add to it in the United States by telling them that democrats are bad because of what happened to the shah? Divisiveness is what got us in this mess, Darius. Please don't encourage it, my friend. Especially prior to an election.

Darius Kadivar

FYI/BOOK: Those I have known by Anwar El Sadat

by Darius Kadivar on

To anyone interested in this particular period in the History of the Middle East that is 1970's and 1980's,  I would highly recommend the reading of this book written and published in 1984 by Egypt's late President Anwar El Sadat. It contains some vivid and enlighting portraits of some of the leaders of the time ranging from the Shah of Iran ( he speaks very highly of him), Khomeiny, Menachem Begin, President Nixon and President Jimmy Carter amongst others.

Its called:

Those I Have Known  

In one of the chapters I learned that Sadat and the Shah shared a common dream of creating a similar economic bloc like the European Union for the Middle East by encouraging economic cooperation and a share of national benefits between all countries in the region. One of the projects in question was to create a pipeline that would allow Iranian Oil to flow through Egypt into the mediteranean for exportation to Europe. It would allow Egypt to benefit from Oil revenues to enhance its economic wealth and fight poverty. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates got interested in the idea and were ready to invest up to 50 % in the project while Iran and Egypt would complete the other half. But the dream came to an ubrupt end with the Islamic Revolution.

There are also some very interesting comments on the many Arab leaders like King Hassan of Morroco and King Hussein of Jordan and their double natured politics ( and yet they were considered as the most moderate leaders).

But one of the most interesting and frightful descriptions made by Sadat is of Colonel Quadaffi and his schizophrenic nature. Sadat was fooled the first time he met him and thought highly of the young man and his enthusiasm and nationalism. But it was a coverup and he betrayed Sadat several times one being during the Six Day War with Israel. He had promised to help Sadat and then refused to deliver oil when he badly needed it. Instead it was the Shah who helped Sadat against all odds by sending in Oil so that Israel would not retaliate by invading Egypt. But the most incredible story is when Qaddafi asked for help from Sadat to lend him a submarine for safeguarding lybian coasts. Sadat reluctantly accepted but soon realized his mistake when he learned that Quaddafi had ordered the submarine to head to the Atlantic Ocean with the mission of torpedoeing the Queen Elisabeth II Cruiser that was carrying tourist passengers. The Egyptian Captain reported to Sadat and that made Sadat so furious that he never trusted Quaddafi anymore. 

Some claim that Quaddafi may have actuall ploted and succeeded in killing Sadat because of their differences.  I wouldn't be surprised.

All this to say that in politics there are always two sides to a story. One cannot just take any feedback as absolute truth but has to confront the documents in question with other sources so as to get the exact picture of a period or an event. Its not because documents are revealed 30 years after that the entire truth becomes known out of the blue.

Even when you read harsh comments in Memo's written in haste it does not say much about the reality of what happened. Leaders are always writing and rewriting memo's back and forth and one has to try and identify and situate the circumstances when they were written. Its like for the Watergate tapes, or Kennedy's assassination you will find many compromising ones in the first case because of what it led too whereas not much is known about the Kennedy assassination for which the exact culprits behind Oswald remain a mystery to this day. Were it the Russians or the KKK ? We still don't know and yet we should by now have access to all the documents relative to tha Kennedy's.

So what we consider as the "Historical Truth" as such is something which I think is always situated in between two opposing views. It shifts back and forth between the two with each new element that appears with time but one needs to confront it to what we already know in order to draw conclusions. And as a French historian Alain Decaux said the word "End" does not exist in History ... 

Darius Kadivar

How Timely ...

by Darius Kadivar on

I'm not convinced by the interpretation given here. One can make documents say anything out of context. Nixon and the Shah had very close relations that were spanned over two decades and started when Nixon was Vice President to Eisenhower. The fact that the raise of Oil Prices was annoying to Americans and particularly the Nixon and Ford Administrations which then had to justify their policies to their own public opinions in regard to all Oil Producing countries (including Iran) is not really reflecting what the US Administration truly thought of the Shah or other Oil Producing countries with whom they had no other choice than to have solid and good relations because of the Soviet Threat in the region. It was a policy of compromise thay had to accept which explains why many Green Parties in Europe and the US were gaining ground in public opinion and worried conservatives in the West. But as far as the US is concerned and particularly the Nixon administration, Iran was an ideal partner as a regional power which could contain Arab animosity towards Israel and at the same time serve as a buffer to Soviet expansionism or influence in Arab countries like neighbouring Iraq. Iran as a matter of fact scored some of its best foreign policy agendas during this period and partly thanks to the unflinching support of the Republican administrations of both Nixon and Ford which even subsequently served the interests of Jimmy Carter's Peace Process for the Middle East with the Camp David Accords. It was the Shah that convinced Sadat to Join the West and break the ice with Israel. In addition Iran served as a Peace Messenger to China on behalf of the Nixon administration by the mid 70's if I am not mistaken by hosting unofficial meetings between the Chinese and American diplomats on the Caspian Sea Villas. Princess Ashraf also served as an itinerant ambassador by visiting Mao Tse Tung with an Iranian delegation and warming up with the Chinese Dragon. All this so as to prepare the Chinese to the idea of an eventual acknowledgment of their  Communist Regime by Washington as more progressive than the Soviet Union.

As for Kissinger we know that the relationship between him and Nixon were not always good and they had different views on many issues. That is not a secret, however Kissinger and the Iranians were at good terms particularly thanks to Iran's ambassador to Washington, Ardeshir Zahedi who served as the middle man to cool things down between the Shah and the Americans particularly during the Oil Crisis. Both governments needed one another and it was a give and take relationship. But nothing in comparison with the relationship between the Shah and the Carter administration.

In all fairness I don't think that Jimmy Carter was particularly hostile to the Shah but he was surrounded by foreign policy advisors who were. Mainly because Carter had focused his entire presidential campaign on the issue of Human Rights. Particularly after the SALT accords in the mid 70's ( initially developed under the Republican adminstration and completed by the Democrats) when the Soviet Union and America decided to halt the nuclear Race in Europe, the American administration could claim that it had a debt towards Human Rights organizations not to support so called dictatorships in the name of the domino theory developed by Truman and his successors in the White House. This was bad timing for the Shah because what Iran needed was assurances of an unconditional support from the Americans as under the previous administrations. But the Carter Administration was at best lukewarm in its relations with the Shah and this was seen as a sign of weakness by the Iranians who felt the Russian threat ( confirmed by the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the Iranian Revolution).

The Hostility towards the Shah was nearly a constant phenomena in Europe throughout the 70's but Imperial Iran could more or less handle it because they would argue that Iran was on the side of the Americans and was virtually part of the Western Hemisphere in terms of geo political East West rivalries. But this hostility was hardly one observed in the US until Carter's election in 1976, and one can observe the Shah's paranoia towards the American Press and journalists like Barbara Walters or Mike Wallace for bugging him in particularly aggressive intervuews. But the infamous tear gas meeting on the White House grounds in 1977  which was aired on National Television and made headlines in the international press (to the satisfaction of all Iranian anti monarchists, leftwing opposition and religious fundamentalists) was what truly triggered the shift in America's foreign policy towards Iran ( despite the friendly visit of Carter to Tehran for the New Year and his "Island of Stability" Tribute to the Shah.

So to claim that the Republicans wanted the Shah out is ridiculous. All governments have differences even with allies but the Time Bomb against the Shah was truly set by the Carter Administration because of their indecisiveness rather than a genuinely calculated hostility towards the Shah from Carter himself. But people like Cyrus Vance for instance were particularly hostile towards the Shah from the very start and I believe that there were strong conflicting views between Vance and Zzbigniew Brzezinski on how to deal with the Shah.

Thats my opinion but our knowledge of History evolves with time, I am ready in good faith to acknowledge some aspects of this new report but not the interpretation given here.

My humble opinion,





Mr DK aziz

by IRANdokht on

Are you really arguing with US declassified documents? Based on what?

I still remember how the thugs were dancing on the streets of Tehran celebrating Reagan's victory in 1980




Of course Carter was involved

by Realist (not verified) on

But it is unfair to call it a revision of history when documents in the US are declassified and published first after 30 years.

The truth of the matter is that the project was a bi-partisan plot, as is the case for most US foreign policy decisions. The diffrence in the two parties' approach to foreign policy lies in the the color of the frosting and not the cake they want to devour.

Darius Kadivar

I see so Carter Had nothing to do with it ...

by Darius Kadivar on

Jooneh Amat !