Iran must be high on President Obama’s agenda. Their campaign against Israel and other Middle Eastern governments, as well as the fear that a nuclear arsenal is being developed, will ensure that.
Being both head of state and head of government for a fixed term, an American President is, as Theodore Roosevelt explained, an elective monarch.
But he is more. By a mixture of convention, consent and commonsense, he is for want of a better term, a benign Emperor, the Emperor of the West.
To those who think this an exaggeration, just watch over the next few months the procession of satraps eager to render public obeisance to him in the White House Rose Garden.
American Presidents succeed by a combination of sound policy and effective communication. Effective communication does not require great oratory – Harry S Truman was not a great orator, but he carried the free world with him.
By way of contrast, President Obama is a superb orator. Let us hope that he is as wise as that most unassuming thirty third President proved to be.
It is now thirty years since the fall of the Shah of Iran, probably President Carter’s and perhaps the United States’ greatest foreign policy failure.
This was exacerbated by the disgraceful way the President, out of deference to the revolutionary and theocratic regime in Tehran, was even inclined to prevent the dying Shah from obtaining medical treatment in the United States.
Sound presidential policy requires wisdom and good intelligence. President Carter was badly served by the CIA’s failure to understand what was going on in Iran.
This was exacerbated by the President's naïveté. As Alan Gold put it, "against the strongest advice from the US State Department, (he) went out of his way to meet some of the world's most egregious dictators and leaders of terrorist organisations, believing his qualities of openness, Christian faith and belief in human rights would encourage them to change their ways. " (Desperate Diplomacy, Review, The Weekend Australian, 21-22 February, 2009.)
( Alan Gold was reviewing Jimmy Carter's 2009 book, 'We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan that Will Work,'which he says "…seems an attempt to atone for his previous, 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,' which, when published, prompted the resignation of 14 top-level advisers from his Carter Centre. That title alone shows him to be unsuitable as a mediator for Obama, a role for which he patently yearns. Released on the day of Obama's inauguration, his book seems to be little more than a job application.")
If presidential advisers are not well informed, the chance that a President will come to an unwise decision increases.
That is why I made what David Marr in The Sydney Morning Herald on 23 January called my “killer point” about the inauguration speech. (I choose not to react his description of me as “a man beyond flattery and immune to awe.”)
A superficial knowledge about the way the United States was born may cause an adviser to lead a president in a wrong direction. This has sometimes resulted in a cavalier attitude to one of the world’s most successful forms of government, constitutional monarchy.
Before republican readers scoff, just look at the two decades of results in the annual UN Human Development Index.
This shows that constitutional monarchies make up only 15% of the world but are clustered among the best countries to live in. That is a fact.
Constitutional monarchies -crowned republics if you will – do vary in form, but wherever you go they tend to be successful countries. That too is a fact. (Saudi Arabia with its tribal theocratic government is a monarchy but not a constitutional one.)
When monarchies have been overthrown in the Middle East, the resulting regimes have not always been beneficial either to their populations or for the peace of the world, as shown in Iraq and Iran.
The controversial intervention in Iraq and then in Afghanistan gave the occupying authorities a rare opportunity to correct that. But I do wonder how many of the advisers on the Iraqi occupation had read ‘U.S. Policy in Post-Saddam Iraq: Lessons from the British Experience’?
( This short collection was published in 2003 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and edited by Michael Eisenstadt and Eric Mathewson.)
…who lost Iran?…
Back in the late 1970’s the Carter administration seemed more concerned about the banning of the Iranian Communist (Tudeh) Party and the gaoling of communists than either the Shah's successful modernisation policies or the need to support Iran as a Western friend.
Certainly the Shah ran an authoritarian government, but it paled in comparison with what followed. The Shah once justified his firmness with these words “When my people are as nice as the Swedes, I will reign like the King of Sweden.”
Lowell Ponte, writing in FrontPageMagazine.com on 8 August 2006, said that while the Shah was “heavy-handed… his government was establishing equal rights for women, modernity, and a friendly open door between America’s culture and the Muslim world”.
The Shah, he said, provided the oil that kept Israel afloat during Arab oil embargoes of the 1970s.
Iran was America’s ‘pillar of strength’ in the Gulf region during the Cold War and thus a prime target for Soviet subversion. So the Shah came down very hard on the up to 3,000 Soviet agents in Iran.
When the Shah most needed US government understanding and support, experienced people Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller warned that the US must stand behind their old ally.
But at the vital moment President Carter prevaricated, ultimately failing the Shah, the Iranian people and the interests of peace and stability in the region.
Grand Ayatollah Khomeini had in the meantime established himself at Neauphle-le-Château in France where he hid from his allies his plans for a theocratic dictatorship. From there he was allowed to fly back to Iran a chartered Air France jet.
If the French government thought the Grand Ayatollah would be forever grateful to him, they were to be as disappointed as the Germans were to be about the work of their High Command in delivering Lenin in a sealed train to Russia in 1917.
Churchill said, “They transported Lenin in a sealed train like a plague bacillus from Switzerland to Russia.” Similarly the French transported someone far more dangerous then they understood, and certainly someone beyond their control.
Among the Ayatollah Khomeini’s first acts was to execute more than 20,000 people, including ironically, most of the 3,000 communists President Carter wanted to protect from the Shah’s police.
….a new Shah…
Today,as a counter to the rule of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his like, there is a force for sense and reason in Iran.
Born on 31October 1960, he is the elder son of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Shahbanu (the Empress) Farah Diba Pahlavi.
A modern democrat, he wishes to unite monarchists and republicans in bringing democracy to Iran, and in liberating her women and her minorities.
The impression is of a great communicator who is sophisticated and caring – the ideal person to be at the head of his country. Just watch this video, and you may read more about him below:
…Reza Shah Pahlavi II….
His supporters refer to him as ‘His Imperial Majesty Reza Shah Pahlavi II,’ but he says it is not this title which is in issue-what is an issue is the governance of Iran. To the West of course and to the nations of the Middle East, what is also in issue is the nuclear policy and the foreign policy of the present government.
In 1978, the then Crown Prince went to the United States to complete his education at the University of Southern California. He also trained as a jet fighter pilot at a US Air Force Base in Texas. In 1980, his offer to serve in the air force during the Iran-Iraqi war was rejected by the Islamic republican government. He now lives in the United States in Maryland, with his wife Yasmine and their three daughters.
In 2004 he was named as the unofficial godfather of Princess Louise of Belgium, the eighth granddaughter of King Albert II of Belgium. This was criticised by the Islamic Republic.
As to a restoration, Rob Sobhani, an academic told BBC News on 30 July, 2003:
“… Iran today is thirsty for leadership….for someone with vision. I think what's lacking in Iranian politics today is someone with a vision. I think if that individual – a man or a woman – appears on the scene and grabs the attention of the Iranian people, with a vision of what he or she would like the country to move towards, they will certainly be the beneficiary of that goodwill, that thirst for a leader”.
And there seems to be a growing curiosity about Pahlavi, and not only in the Western media. A Wall Street Journal report in November 2001 quoted a 17 year old Iranian student as saying “We didn't know who he was. But as soon as we heard him, we felt it was our own words that we couldn't say. He said them beautifully”.
Imagine if he were the Iranian head of state rather than the present incumbent.