A discussion with an Iranian about the Shah.
Perhaps it may seem inappropriate to criticize a man who cannot defend himself, but for practical purposes this is useful, in terms of a future post mullah regime, and where 'we' went wrong. Finally for all the faults the Shah actually possessed (how money of us would do better than him?), the main criminals in this saga are and always have been the mullahs in Iran who have destroyed their country for their Western masters, and the British. Period. The amount of mess this saga has created around the world, and could still cause.
I made some casual remarks on a blog about the Shah which resulted in the blog owners response, and my counter points.
"You seemingly have a strong need to criticize without thinking things through and putting things into context when analyzing them."
Just my point of view in a 'comment page'---it wasn't meant to be a deep analysis. A deep analysis with footnotes and quotes can be done. Instead it was a cursory passing comment/criticism of the Shah/what went wrong---I am not an Iranian political affairs expert.
" Simply because someone doesn't agree with you it doesn't mean he then must "idolize your enemy". It's ironic that you chose to launch your mostly unsubstantiated tirade against the late Shah of Iran under this particular post - where my intent is not to idolize but to prove wrong popularized and unfounded claims by individuals such as those brought up by yourself."
No I don't think people who disagree with me are my enemies; My language is a little abrupt, but that is influenced by circumstances and personal experience. I appreciate the complex world is quite nuanced, and nothing we can say or do can change that; and yes I am quite well educated--------if you go to my site and read. I'm not an extremist, though I have been the victims of them. I don't think you idolize the Shah but that for you he represents what was good about Iran, in comparison to the mullahs of today. He is something to hold on to and cherish in comparison to the nightmare of the present regime. Yes he was better than the mullahs but that he had flaws, some of which were quite fundamental, which later contributed to his down fall. Its OK to talk about the Shah's flaws through our own perceptions and acknowledge without being a Ph.D students. Its not just a case that the British/Carter/French got rid of him, but that through his own flaws HE ALLOWED THEM TO TOPPLE HIM. My over all point is all Third World societies if they have the will and power to resist, can over come First World interference.
"It's ironic that you chose to launch your mostly unsubstantiated tirade against the late Shah of Iran under this particular post - where my intent is not to idolize but to prove wrong popularized and unfounded claims by individuals such as those brought up by yourself. If you took time and listened to the clips you'd quickly realize that your whole argument that modernization/progress were "superficial" is a long-shot with all the progress and diversification that was taking place during the short-lived Pahlavi Era."
Just my point of view on a comment section---I'm not sitting an undergraduate exam. I don't think you idolize him, though by having his picture on your blog that may be the perception of some. I wouldn't say reigning Iran from 1921 when Colonel Reza Khan actually came to power, to 1979 when the last Shah left, was a short period of time. In terms of Persian history it might be, but more than enough time to modernize a country. Malaysia---a Second World country now modernized in just two decades, during the 1980's/90's; South Korea 1970's/80's. Taiwan 1970's/80's. Singapore 1970's/80's. Hong Kong 1960's/70's. Japan 1870-1905. Reza Shah and his son had plenty of time, even with evil British interference. All these countries just mentioned achieved success in two decades, and yes it helped that they were largely not Muslim, and the British/Americans weren't working against them-------------but the point is it is a fallacy that you need 'time' to develop. Yes, the Persian race can do/achieve as much if not more than these countries, as the average Iranian's performance has shown in America. The trick is to crack the British problem---and then you are partially on your way to success. Once strong willed Iranians recognize this and organize, a solution will be found.
" You seem to be one of those who expected nothing but flawless miracles when in reality substantial change requires time and will inevitably endure pro's and con's. The Pahlavi Era lasted 50 years which in historical terms is very little. The Pahlavi's succeeded in this short time-frame in rescuing Iran from the disastrous economic, political, and social state brought about by the incompetent Qajar Dynasty."
Few regimes are perfect; they all have their flaws; obviously since the Shah ruled for 26 years he would have his fair share of faults, which would allow anybody like me to pick on. In addition if you are a dictatorship, and all substantive decisions are made by one person, again more than the usual amount of mistakes must be made--------I take it you are implying that he did make mistakes. Let us thus agree that the best form of government for Iran is a secular democracy, as long as the British/Israelis/Americans aren't out to get you. They ruled for 58 years; long enough time to shift Iran from a Third World society to the Second World.
" As for your statement that too much was concentrated around the oil industry I only refer you to the Shah's "White Revolution" and the programs that were adopted to steer Iran AWAY from being an oil-dependent economy of which some issues are addressed in the clips posted here. Again the foundations had been laid and things were progressing but obviously not as quickly as the high expectations from some of our compatriots."
Yes I repeat that he did not industrialize the economy away from oil; By 1979---- 90% of all exports were still from the sale of oil and gas------please check the stats, and come back to me on that one. Since the inception of the 'White Revolution' in the early sixties into 1979-----he had ample time to industrialize Iran if you take the model of the Asian Tiger economies. UNLIKE THE ASIAN TIGER ECONOMIES he had access to a huge oil sale windfall, but where were the great steel mills, machine tools factories; heavy engineering factories; power plants; chemical plants-------NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING!----Where was the infrastructure?-----Iran in 1979, beyond the superficial glitter of Tehran was still a basket weaving country.
"Also it would not be fair nor rational of me to "idolize" anyone since every human being has his or her flaws. The Shah indeed had flaws and I can agree with you that in the beginning of his reign he was still young and indecisive (sorry I'm not a very good "idolater" even though you seem to think I am). Yes, he was not as strong-willed as his father. But what these two Great personalities in Iranian history had was love for their country and people and a strong will to improve the political, economical, and social standards in their motherland which both of them achieved to different lengths starting from scratch."
Know I don't think you idolize him. Yes we are all human, and we all make mistakes-----The Shah's picture half naked with a towel-----duh!---we are modern because we are half naked wearing just a towel ?---------was this his understanding of being modern ? As leader you must be decisive, and love for your country in itself is not enough to justify your rule over that country. I imagine of the 75 million Persians world wide at least 50 million must love their country-----------love of country is not a unique trait for a leader to have, though important.
"However if you want to criticize the late Shah you better do so on sound reasons. In the early 1970's the Shah had been diagnosed with cancer and up to the day that he passed away his health was deteriorating - being decisive and taking rational decisions in such a state is simply not something one should count on or expect. That is why I have said that from the time the late Shah was diagnosed with cancer he should have transferred powers to an Imperial Regency Council until his illness was cured or until the time the Crown Prince was fit to succeed him. However I believe the Shah had worked too hard to so easily abandon control of his honorable vision and plans for Iran. A negative issue related to this is that the late Shah had set up a system in which he was the ultimate decision-maker. Although this (centralized system) might have been a feasible option in the early years of building "modern Iran" it backfired in 1979 when Iranian Generals were not only ordered not to open fire on demonstrators but also because they weren't used to taking initiative on their own without seeking the counsel of the Shah and getting his go-ahead. Before addressing your other points let me make it clear here that after it had been deemed that society had reached political maturity I believe that many of the executive powers vested in the Shah should have been transferred to the Prime Minister and a transition to a real Constitutional Monarchy should have taken place."
Yes he was killed by the British defacto slowly--as articles in the Observer newspaper state, and probably his daughter too on her visit to London in 2001. As to the incidents of 8th September 1978, I do not know the full story---the mullahs say thousands of people were killed; perhaps as many as 15,000 by the Shah's security apparatus immediately before the Revolution whilst her Imperial Highness states it was just a few hundred, and that a lot of these were carried out by the mullahs to discredit the Shah, and SAVAK. Yes his decision making was deteriorating after the early seventies----so you acknowledge-----yes, decision/policy made by many is better than decision made by one---especially in a country like Iran.
"What me or you would have done when confronted with what you refer to as "British backed agitators" (i'd add that the U.S. Carter Administration was not that innocent either nor the French Government) might very well have been different but His Imperial Majesty's reason not to open fire on crowds was equally justifiable - that of HIM never keeping his throne by massacring Iranians and shedding Iranian blood - if he had done so then all these leftists/islamists and the misled crowds would indeed be correct with their slogans and references of the Shah being a "bloody dictator", which he was far from being."
I would do a lot better--but thats being wiser after the event I guess. I would have closed the British embassy in late 1977, and ejected all their citizens from Iran, and the same with the American embassy and their citizens. I wouldn't have sent 219,000 my students abroad to the UK/USA to be recruited as spies. I would have banned tourism. I would restrict all Iranians leaving and traveling abroad. I would installed powerful radio-transmitter jammers to prevent all broadcasting from the BBC, VOA...................a billion other Stalinist/North Korean counter espionage measures, WITHOUT being Communist. I would have established mass concentration camps capable of holding a few million people--------and executed a few mullahs, and burnt their bodies just to impress them. I would have eliminated Khomeini in Iraq, instead of wasting time killing his numerous sons. Then I would have turned on the Carter administration and sorted them out tactfully. He is still going around the world doing his pseudo- redemption work.
Nothing like doing a little fantasy fascist dictator game from a distance!
"You make an accusation (point 3) that the Shah executed one of his own cabinet members? Who was this? If you are referring to PM Hoveyda you are twisting the facts. PM Hoveyda along with other politicians were to be tried to ease tension created by the inflamed and radical demonstrators that were destabilizing the country (PM Hoveyda was accused of corruption if i'm not wrong). The trials would have proved the accusations, fed to the crowds, wrong and the tensions were supposed to have eased. However this didn't happen since in hindsight those who wanted the Shah removed didn't care of proving their baseless accusations but were rather only focused on removing the Shah. PM Hoveyda had the chance to leave his prison cell but chose to stay and face his accusations - which resulted in an Islamic kangaroo court in which a muslim cleric in the newly installed Islamic Republic issued his death sentence without any due process."
This episode is unclear, but in essence you protect your own through thick and thin, and don't throw them to the wolves when the going gets tough.
"Knowing the true intents of the architects of the Islamic takeover or so-called "Islamic Revolution" do you honestly think that social welfare programs would have averted what was about to take place? Seriously? Please do give some due consideration to your recommendations - this issue is much more complex than your recommendations suggest."
Lack of food has triggered many revolutions. When people have no food they become senseless, desperate, and loose their inhibitions. The French Revolution 1789 was triggered by lack of food; as was the Russian revolution of 1917/18-------too many troops had been mobilized to fight up the front, so that nobody was left to till the land. The stupid mullahs recognize this fact, and hence they make basic food virtually free in parts of Iran and heavily subsidies it to the poor. We are not talking of huge amounts of money here, in comparison to the Shah's defense budget, but a little organization and thoughtful planning. Sometimes it is the gesture that counts. Social welfare work could have softened the pressure of the artificial revolution created by the British/Americans, so that the Shah could have handled the situation from a stronger position.
"You also accuse his late Majesty of spending too much on arms. If it wasn't for those arms you'd probably be speaking arabic today and living under Saddam Hussein's rule. It was the Imperial Armed Forces of Iran formed by Reza Shah the Great and his son Shahanshah Aryamehr who defeated the Iraqi troops and defended the territorial integrity of Iran during the 8 year war. Iran is a country of strategic importance and being able to defend itself is an issue of top priority and your accusations don't do justice to the realities faced by our country."
Please don't exaggerate! Don't give me that----------The Shah's defense budget was a big fraud -----allowing his cronies to make money buying none-existent military hardware. Do you know what makes a nation's great military? Do you think simply importing state of the art equipment from first world nations turns you into a super power. If that were so, Saudi Arabia would be a super power by now, but isn't. There are many complex factors which contribute to making a great military. 60% of the Shah's military personnel had deserted by September 1980, when the Gulf war started, and from my understanding a good deal of the initial fighting was done by volunteers and not regular forces-------Revolutionary Guards, Basij and local people, with what ever they could muster--including sticks, knives, rocks..........the conventional military was conspicuously absent, and the mullahs wouldn't allow former exiled officers to fight for their country. As to Saddam invading ALL Iran----come on, his objective was Khuzestan, the Arabic part of Iran, with its oil, thats all. As a military leader he was mercifully incompetent, and his invading force of 500,000 were not very effective, so that the rag tag Iranian defense force with mixed units of military, paramilitary and civilians were able to eventually push back the Iraqis to the border.
"It's easy to criticize in hindsight and putting things out of context of the times they actually occurred in only serves to distort the real picture even more, I believe you should take these things into consideration in your analysis."
Yes indeed hindsight would be wonderful. My brief comments was NOT analysis, it was passing comment----------analysis, serious analysis is where you give references for your assertions, with footnotes. I don't think I am important enough, or widely read enough for me to be able to 'distort the picture' whatever that may be.