Carter lauds shah of Iran, Dec. 31, 1977

Carter lauds shah of Iran, Dec. 31, 1977 ... 31/12/1977 History

Keywords:#AP, #Arabia, #Ayatollah, #Ayatollah_Ruhollah_Khomeini, #Belgium, #Egypt, #France, #Henry_Kissinger, #History, #India, #Iran, #Iranian, #Islamic, #Jimmy_Carter, #Khomeini, #Kissinger, #Mohammad_Reza_Pahlavi, #National_Security_Council, #New_York, #Nixon, #Pahlavi, #Paris, #Persian, #Persian_Gulf, #Poland,, #President, #Reza_Pahlavi, #Reza_Shah, #Richard_Nixon, #Ronald_Reagan, #Ruhollah_Khomeini, #Saudi, #Saudi_Arabia, #Security_Council, #Shah, #Tehran, #U.S._Embassy, #United_States

12/30/2018 11:59 PM EST
Updated 12/31/2018 12:02 AM EST
Nearing the end of his first year in office, President Jimmy Carter embarked on an extended overseas tour, visiting Poland, Iran, India, France and Belgium. He spent New Year's Eve in Tehran, where, on this evening in 1977, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi threw a bash for Carter.
President Jimmy Carter and Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran review an honor guard upon arrival in Tehran on Dec. 31, 1977. | AP

* * * The president used the occasion of the state dinner given by the shah in his honor to dub Iran, at the time a reliable U.S. ally, “an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” Clicking glasses with his host, Carter attributed the nation’s purported solidity to the shah’s “great leadership,” adding: “This is a great tribute to you, your majesty, and to your leadership and to the respect and the admiration and love which your people give to you.”
Below the surface, however, the “island” remained far from tranquil. Even as the shah increasingly relied on his secret police to quash dissent, opposition to his rule steadily mounted. By October 1978, strikes paralyzed the country. By December, opposition forces, led from Paris by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had taken over the streets of Tehran. On Jan. 16, 1979, less than 13 months after Carter’s visit, the shah fled to Egypt.
When the shah found out that he had been stricken with cancer, he asked Carter for permission to come to the United States for treatment. Carter was aware that it would cause problems, but decided that, out of humanitarian considerations, he would accede to the shah’s request. In October 1979, he extended a public invitation to the shah.
Carter later said: "I was told that the shah was desperately ill, at the point of death. … I was told that New York was the only medical facility that was capable of possibly saving his life and reminded that the Iranian officials had promised to protect our people in Iran. When all the circumstances were described to me, I agreed.”
On Nov. 4, 1979, a mob of young Islamic revolutionaries overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking more than 60 Americans hostage. They were held for 444 days, until they were freed on the day Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as the nation’s 40th president — having denied Carter’s bid for a second term in a landslide Republican victory.
Gary Sick, who served on the National Security Council during Carter’s term in office, has observed that “during the eight years before Carter’s election, President Richard Nixon and his foreign policy adviser, Henry Kissinger, had created a unique and unprecedented relationship with the Iranian ruler. As part of what was dubbed the ‘Twin Pillar’ policy, the shah was identified as the primary guardian of U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf. (Saudi Arabia was the other pillar.) In return, the shah was permitted to purchase whatever non-nuclear U.S. military technology he wished.”
SOURCE: “This Day in Presidential History,” by Paul Brandus (2018)
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