The Eagle and the Lion

The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations

JAMES A. BILL
Copyright Date: 1988
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 534
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bmgp
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  • Book Info
    The Eagle and the Lion
    Book Description:

    A thought-provoking exploration of the American-Iranian relationship, from the 1940s through the Iran-Contra affair and its aftermath. James Bill, a well-known authority on the Middle East, has not only lived in Iran but also closely observed U.S. policy-making toward that country. He draws on interviews with many of the key American and Iranian figures, embassy files, Persian sources, archival records, and other sources from both countries to write this definitive analysis of American-Iranian relations."A surprisingly fresh rendition of events. … Bill's well-constructed narrative will hold the non-expert reader's interest."-Jim Hoagland,Washington Post Book World"A searching study of America's relations with Iran since World War II. … A powerful book that should be widely read and taken seriously."-John C. Campbell,Foreign Affairs"Essential reading."-Andrew Gowers,Financial Times"By far the most searching study of contemporary United States-Iranian relations I have encountered."-George W. Ball"A carefully documented hard-hitting case study of the reasons behind America's trials and tribulations in the Third World."-Melvin R. Laird"The most detailed and vivid account yet of America's encounter with Iran."-Fouad Ajami,New York Times Book ReviewSelected byLibrary Journalas one of their Best Books of 1988.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15951-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Early on the morning of Sunday, May 25, 1986, six men boarded a black Boeing 707 aircraft in Tel Aviv, Israel. They were bound for Tehran, capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The six men, a team whose mission had been approved by President Ronald Reagan himself, carried with them a chocolate cake prepared in a kosher bakery in Tel Aviv, six Blackhawk .357 Magnum pistols in presentation boxes, and one pallet of spare parts for Iran’s Hawk missiles. Their mission was to exchange the badly needed spare parts for four Americans being held hostage in Lebanon. When they...

  6. PART I
    • 1 America and Iran: Early Entanglements
      (pp. 15-50)

      Americans developed divided attitudes toward Iran from the start. Their first contacts with Iranians on Iranian soil were spurred by a humanitarianism heavily tinged with ethnocentric strains of superiority and proselytization. In 1830, Harrison Gray Otis Dwight and Eli Smith traveled into northwestern Iran to reconnoiter the area for future missionary purposes. They were the first Americans known to have set foot in Iran. Five American missionaries took up residence in Urumiyeh in the present-day province of Azerbaijan in 1835. From this base, they worked among the twenty thousand Nestorian Christians who then inhabited that area. The Americans also periodically...

    • 2 Petroleum Politics and the American Intervention of 1953
      (pp. 51-97)

      The forces of nationalism and anticolonialism that developed throughout the Third World following World War II expressed themselves in dramatic form in Iran.¹ These forces were promoted and encouraged by the numerous social and political movements that burst into prominence with the withdrawal of the occupying Allied troops. The focal point of the deepening nationalist attacks in Iran quickly became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (aioc), Iran’s largest industrial unit and employer. In July 1946, a general strike of Iranian workers in the oil fields shook the country, and the British responded by anchoring warships off Abadan. The many political factions...

    • 3 The Politics of Reaction and Pahlavi Retrenchment, 1954–1961
      (pp. 98-130)

      Muhammad Reza Shah’s brush with disaster during the Musaddiq upheaval convinced the thirty-four-year-old ruler that it was time to take firm control of the situation and to crush whatever opposition existed to his leadership. He appointed Maj. Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi as prime minister and announced Zahedi’s cabinet on August 20, 1953, One third of its members were military generals. Martial law was declared, and the shah chose to rule by the bayonet rather than by the ballot.

      The centerpiece and dreaded symbol of the shah’s new system of control was formed in 1957. Known as savak (Sazman-i Ittili‘at va Amniyat-i...

    • 4 An Interlude of Reform: John F. Kennedy and Iran, 1961–1963
      (pp. 131-153)

      In his inaugural address of January 20,1961, John F. Kennedy summarized in somewhat idealistic terms the new Democratic administration's policy toward the Third World:

      To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.¹

      Although an element of altruism...

    • 5 Counterreform, Lyndon Johnson, and Pahlavi Retrenchment, 1963–1970
      (pp. 154-182)

      Lyndon B. Johnson came to the presidency with considerably more Iran experience than any American president in history. His vice-presidential trip to Iran when he had leaped from motorcades to shake hands with hundreds of Iranians from all walks of life had convinced him that he knew the Iranian people very well indeed. Furthermore, he had developed a personal relationship with the shah both during the Tehran visit and during the shah’s 1962 visit to the United States. In the end, it was his relationship with the shah and not his understanding of the Iranian people that determined Johnson’s foreign...

    • 6 Iran, America, and the Triumph of Repression, 1971–1977
      (pp. 183-215)

      On October 11, 1971, the shah of Iran inaugurated a week-long social celebration and political extravaganza in commemoration of 2,500 years of Persian monarchy. The celebration was held at the ancient capital of Persepolis, where three enormous tents surrounded by fifty-nine smaller ones were imported and erected especially for the ceremonies. These air-conditioned tents, furnished with Baccarat crystal, Limoges china, and Porthault linens, became the center of whatTimemagazine described as “one of the biggest bashes in all history.”¹

      Present for the festivities were high-ranking officials from sixty-nine countries, including twenty kings or shaykhs, five queens, twenty-one princes and...

    • 7 America and the Iranian Revolution, 1977–1979
      (pp. 216-260)

      Two years into his presidency, Jimmy Carter watched in helpless disbelief as Iran exploded in revolution and one of America’s major political allies in the shifting terrain of the Middle East collapsed like a pillar of sand. On January 16, 1979, the shah himself, with a few members of his family and inner circle, fled his country for the final time. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the stern, charismatic leader and inspiration of the revolution, arrived in Tehran from his Paris exile on February 1. And on February 9–11, the last remnants of the shah's once proud and loyal army fought...

    • 8 The Islamic Republic and America: Ruptured Relations and a Venture in Rapprochement
      (pp. 261-316)

      The revolution blew the lid off the Iranian social cauldron, in which a poisonous and explosive brew of personal, political, economic, and religious forces had long been fermenting. This boiling broth included the following ingredients: ethnic and tribal tensions, political repression and police brutality, institutionalized injustice and corruption, economic inefficiencies and inequities, gathering religious extremism, bureaucratic confusion and ineptitude, personal rivalry and persistent cynicism, and deepening class conflict. The forces of modernization, fueled by increasing oil revenues, outdistanced both social improvements and especially political development. As these gaps widened, the pent-up forces increased in explosive potential, and burst following the...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  7. PART II
    • 9 Pahlavism in America: The Informal Politics of Foreign Policy-Making
      (pp. 319-378)

      For nearly four decades, the Pahlavi regime in Iran carefully and consciously developed personal and professional ties with the American political and financial elite. These relations expanded and tightened over the years and came to include ties with American leaders in the fields of government, finance, industry, academia, and the mass media. In the 1970s, planeloads of American dignitaries descended on Iran, almost always at the invitation of Iranian leaders in Tehran and often at the insistence of the officials of the Iranian Embassy in Washington. Meanwhile, the shah and his financial advisers and friends had representation and low-key partnerships...

    • 10 The United States in Iran: Diplomats, Intelligence Agents, and Policy-Making
      (pp. 379-424)

      Just before Thanksgiving in 1923, a tall young lady who had graduated from college in Wooster, Ohio, arrived in the northwestern Iranian city of Rasht. She had taken a ship to Liverpool and, after a week in England, had sailed from Southampton for Basra via the Suez Canal. In Basra she boarded a train for Baghdad. And from Baghdad she traveled by Model-T Ford overland to Tehran. Helen Augusta Clarke, who was with the Presbyterian Board, had chosen to leave home, to live and work among the Iranian people to whom she dedicated much of her life. Helen Clarke had...

    • 11 The Politics of Foreign Policy Failure: A System of Reinforcing Errors
      (pp. 425-448)

      Although U.S.-Iranian relations began on a strongly positive note and the eagle and the lion lived well together in their international habitat, the situation deteriorated rapidly after midcentury. The American intervention in support of the shah and against the popular Musaddiq government in 1953 represented an end to the American honeymoon with the Iranian people. Yet it was clearly still possible for America to rehabilitate its image in Iran. Instead, U.S. policy gaffes exacerbated the situation; by 1977, when President Jimmy Carter took office, it had reached the breaking point. Carter’s actions only made the traumatic break inevitable. After the...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 449-461)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 462-509)
  10. Index
    (pp. 510-520)