World View: How Iran’s Khomeini Fooled Jimmy Carter Before the Great Islamic Revolution

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • How Iran’s Khomeini fooled Jimmy Carter before the Great Islamic Revolution
  • Khamenei accuses ‘evil’ Britain of fabricating the BBC report

How Iran’s Khomeini fooled Jimmy Carter before the Great Islamic Revolution

Ayatollah Khomeini and Jimmy Carter
Ayatollah Khomeini and Jimmy Carter

An analysis by the BBC of a trove of newly declassified US government documents – diplomatic cables, policy memos, meeting records – shows that in 1979 Iran’s new leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini tricked the administration of president Jimmy Carter into supporting the Great Islamic Revolution.

That Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, had ruled Iran since 1941, and was a staunch ally of the United States, though he was heavily criticized by liberals for human rights abuses. A rebellion against the Shah began in 1978. Since the Shah’s army was heavily dependent on American arms and advice, President Carter could have done a great deal to keep the Shah in power, and prevent Khomeini from coming to power. Carter has been accused of refusing to support the Shah in the rebellion, allowing Khomeini to come to power, because of the human rights abuses, although he’s denied that accusation.

The new declassified documents reveal that Khomeini courted the Carter administration, sending quiet signals that he wanted a dialogue and then portraying a potential Islamic Republic as amenable to US interests. Said Khomeini:

You will see we are not in any particular animosity with the Americans, [and the new Islamic Republic will be] a humanitarian one that will benefit the cause of peace and tranquility for all mankind.

The documents reveal that, in return for Khomeini’s assurances, the US said that they were not opposed in principle to the new government, and the US provided key intelligence information about Iran’s military leaders. Carter administration officials advised Iran’s army generals to simply let a coup occur.

The Great Islamic Revolution was a generational Crisis war, and as such was driven by powerful generational forces that would not have been affected by a bit of intelligence. The rebellion was a major civil war between the Shah’s security forces and a growing population of revolutionaries supporting radical clerics, led by Khomeini.

At any rate, once Khomeini was in power, he did a 180 degree U-turn, and immediately became a vitriolic enemy of the United States. In particular, Khomeini created the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis by allowing students to storm the American embassy in Tehran and take the 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.

What the documents reveal has powerful symbolic significance even today. Khomeini’s successor, Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, is widely believed to have repeatedly lied to American negotiators to get agreement last year on the nuclear deal that resulted in the lifting of Western sanctions. BBC and NY Post

Khamenei accuses ‘evil’ Britain of fabricating the BBC report

Whether by coincidence or design, the BBC report was published on the 27th anniversary of the June 3, 1989, of the death of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In a speech on Friday commemorating Khomeini’s death, Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei said that Britain was “evil” and the US is “Satan.” He denounced the BBC report as fake “propaganda”:

Britain’s malice against the Iranian nation has never stopped… The same enmity continues as the British government’s propaganda apparatus spreads propaganda against the dear Imam of the Iranian nation [Khomeini], with the help of the Americans and forged documents, on the anniversary of the great and holy Imam [Khomeini’s] death…

The enemies are increasing their pressure on Iran because they are afraid of the Iranian nation’s ‘Revolutionary spirit’ – a legacy of the late Imam Khomeini. Before Revolution, the United States and the UK were ruling over us. Our grand Imam changed Iran’s path and changed the rail-track. Imam Khomeini guided country toward great objectives that can be summarized in Divine religion and they are uprooting ignorance and oppression as well as establishing Islamic values system.

In the same speech, he called trust in the U.S. a “big mistake” and asserted that U.S. interests are “180 degrees opposed” to those of Iran. He said that he had no intention of cooperating on regional issues with these enemies.

Khamenei’s speech was interesting for another reason – his call to maintain the same revolutionary fervor of 1979: “If we act Revolutionarily, progress is certain; otherwise, as Imam said ‘Islam will be slapped in face’… I will mention five characteristics for being revolutionary and we have to create and maintain them in ourselves.” These five characteristics are:

  • Commitment to the basic values of the (Islamic) Revolution;
  • setting aspirations of the Revolution as targets and striving to achieve them;
  • adherence to the country’s all-out independence;
  • not complying with enemies;
  • and exercising the Greatest Jihad (combat with the self) and adopting religious and political piety.

Khamenei referred to himself as an ‘old revolutionary’ person, so “now every modern youth can become even more revolutionary than me.” Perhaps he was joking, or perhaps he was desperate.

This is wishful thinking on Khamenei’s part. As I’ve written many times, this kind of “revolutionary fervor” will not be maintained, because Iran is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the end of the Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war, just like America in the 1960s-70s, one generation past the end of World War II. In fact, Iran has been fraught with many anti-government pro-American and pro-Western demonstrations by college students, just like America in the 1960s, as I described in “18-Jan-16 World View — Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran”.

That explains why Khamenei, in his speeches, keeps returning to these themes of maintaining an anti-American “revolutionary” spirit, but he is fighting a losing battle because the “revolutionary” spirit of the generational Crisis era in 1979 cannot be maintained by the next generation, as it rebels against the harsh restrictions of the revolution in an Awakening era. That is why Khamenei’s government has had send out the security forces to massacre, torture and kill peaceful demonstrators.

(In a recent article, “29-May-16 World View — Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela’s businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise”, I described Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, which ended up killing tens of millions of Chinese. Mao’s motivation for the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution that followed was exactly the same as Khamenei’s motivation — to invigorate the “revolutionary spirit,” and end the anti-government demonstrations by college students.)

The point, as I’ve said in the past, is that those college students in pro-American demonstrations of the early 2000s are now in their 30s and increasingly in positions of power. Just as America’s Awakening era climaxed with the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, Iran’s Awakening era climax will bring about the end of the hardline regime of the old geezers in Khamenei’s generation, and result in a pro-Western victory for Iran’s younger generation. BBC and IRNA (Tehran) and Mehr News (Tehran) and AEI Iran Tracker (3-June)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Iran, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Great Islamic Revolution, Iranian hostage crisis, Seyed Ali Khamenei, Mao Zedong, China, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, Richard Nixon
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