Someone like Us: The Revolutionary Result of the United States’ Contradictory Foreign Policy toward Iran
Anthony M. Frenzel
Utah State University
Published in Utah Historical Review, Vol IV.
Shortly after being elected President, Ike Eisenhower was approached with a plan that would involve the participation of the CIA in the overthrow of the Iranian government. His predecessor, Harry S. Truman, had refused complicity in such a plan. However, given the escalating tension between the Soviet Union and the West and the geopolitical value of Iran, Eisenhower approved the plan. As the first of its kind, the CIA-sponsored coup ended Iran’s attempt at democracy and placed in power Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. In an effort to preserve Iran as a cold war ally of the West, the United States gave extensive support to the Shah for the next three decades, even at the expense of civil rights for Iranian nationals. As a contradictory foreign policy, the United States simultaneously attempted Americanization of the Iranians through curricular and exchange programs. This dichotomous approach introduced the internal conflicts of Iranians and Americans alike during the Jimmy Carter presidency, who similarly struggled with international distribution of American civil rights and the desire to maintain control of Iran. With this understanding, the Iranian hostage crisis is not the sudden and unexpected event of the late 1970s as portrayed, but is a natural culmination of thirty years of conflicting cultural and ideological foreign policy towards Iran. The current animosity between the two countries is a modern reminder of an intimate Cold War relationship that turned hostile because of infidelity.