ARMS AND THE SHAH

Klare, Michael T.

Arms and the Shah The rise and fall of the 'surrogate strategy' Michael T. Klare Between 1970 and 1978, the Shah of Iran ordered $20 billion worth of arms, ammunition, and other military...

...By 1978, an estimated 10,000 American support personnel were working on arms-related projects in Iran...
...A licensed pilot who often test-flew the warplanes he intended to buy, the Shah prided himself on his technical knowledge of military systems and made no effort to hide his zeal in buying arms as demonstrated by this comment in a 1973 interview with Arnaud de Borchgrave: "We now have 80 Phantoms which cost $2.5 million each, and another 100 coming in that will cost $5 million each that will give us a fighter-bomber force of well over 300...
...The critics argued that the arms projects would create a small enclave of capital-intensive, high-technology production in an otherwise underdeveloped economy, while more broad-based and labor-intensive projects were being allowed to languish because of Iran's budget crunch...
...analysts had warned that excessive arms sales were contributing to the regime's difficulties...
...Though Iran was considered an important ally of the United States throughout the Cold War period, it was at first no more important than the other garrison states which anchored the U.S...
...With such large contracts in the offing, and many companies competing for the same orders, it is hardly surprising that some of them took shortcuts in the marketing process...
...instructors could train Iranians to maintain and operate them, Iran was forced to hire tens of thousands of foreign technicians "white-collar mercenaries" to perform all the necessary back-up functions...
...Defense industries, both U.S...
...There are no inter-service rivalries or bureaucratic squabbles, either...
...technicians...
...It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the anti-Shah demonstrations eventually took on an anti-American cast as well...
...By 1973, an estimated 3,600 U.S...
...Gradually, more and more segments of Iranian society joined in the protests, until it appeared that the entire population was united in its opposition to the Shah...
...arms sales were also expected to perform other miracles: to wipe out America's trade imbalance...
...Other U.S...
...160 General Dynamics F-16 fighters for $3.2 billion...
...arms would make Iran the "guardian" of Western oil supplies in the Persian Gulf area...
...The United States would help Iran and Saudi Arabia to assume a regional peacekeeping role, but would otherwise stay out of the area...
...This consideration would almost automatically have ruled out Option 1, Stay Out...
...The Shah did not have to worry about Congressional budget-cutters or Treasury officials when he went shopping for still more arms...
...And the more arms we provided him, the greater our stake in Iran and in the survival of the Shah...
...With London now out of the picture and no apparent successor in sight for the "guardian" role, Washington had to construct its own Persian Gulf strategy...
...balance-of-payments position...
...Indeed, once Washington elected to convert Iran into a surrogate police power, it had no option but to honor the Shah's requests for the weapons he felt he needed to perform the job...
...Long before the Shah's final departure, it had become painfully obvious that the extraordinary U.S.-Iranian arms relationship would never be restored to its original stature...
...Never before had Washington sold such an advanced aircraft to a Third World nation, and there were feelings that such a move could compromise U.S...
...Consequently, each new purchase of sophisticated gear by the Shah created an additional requirement for backup support which could be provided only by U.S...
...326 Bell Model-214 troop-carrying helicopters for $496 million...
...Here again, we can reconstruct the main lines of reasoning: Although the United States was, at that time, importing less than 3 per cent of its oil supplies from the Gulf, all reliable projections indicated that such imports would have to rise significantly to meet U.S...
...What the Shah wants, he gets," one American arms salesman observed in 1974...
...As suggested by Sisco and Noyes, this policy assumed equal roles for Iran and Saudi Arabia...
...As the protests gained momentum, American arms sales again became controversial when Iranian troops began using their U.S.-supplied weapons against unarmed civilians...
...However, even the most prosperous and advanced nations of the region lacked the wherewithal to serve as regional gendarme...
...Not only had the 1972 agreement been concluded without any prior review of U.S...
...On January 16, 1979, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the "King of Kings" and "Light of the Aryans," Michael T. Klare is director of the Militarism and Disarmament Project of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D. C. was forced into permanent exile in the West...
...With the nation heading into a recession, the White House was under immense pressure to recover as many U.S...
...strategic interests in the area and then calculate the costs of each option...
...Westinghouse and Hughes Aircraft were invited to join with the state-owned Iran Electronics Industry in building a missile repair and assembly plant in Shiraz, and Bell Helicopter was commissioned to construct an entire helicopter industry in Isfahan...
...If the rise in oil prices created new incentives for Washington to sell weapons, it also furnished the Shah with a vast increase in funds with which to buy them...
...arms, but also the technology to produce them...
...Iranian society is like a pyramid," U.S...
...technology where military personnel first demonstrated their disaffection in December 1978 by sabotaging several F-5 fighter planes...
...The Shah responded in characteristic fashion: He hired still more Americans to help straighten out the mess...
...leaders did nothing to discourage the Shah's megalomania...
...petrodollars" as possible by selling the oil-producers whatever they could be persuaded to buy...
...policymakers, all these arms could not save the Shah once his subjects were determined to overthrow the monarchy...
...Never, in fact, have arms transfers played such a central role in U.S...
...interests in the area...
...And the first thing he desired was a modern air force, equipped with America's newest fighters, the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and the Grumman F-14 Tomcat...
...Volume: Since 1971, Iran has been the world's leading customer for American arms, accounting for 25 per cent of all U.S...
...arms program was meant to ensure that the "surrogate" never operated independently...
...When the Shah first proposed an Iranian purchase of F-14s or F-15s in 1971-72, some Pentagon officials were opposed...
...Planes, helicopters, and other sophisticated weapons are left in crates for weeks, waiting to be assembled...
...munitions...
...policy of converting Iran into the gendarme of the Persian Gulf we must begin by identifying some of its principal features...
...Not only do we have national and regional responsibilities," he told Ar-naud de Borchgrave of Newsweek in 1973, "but also a world role as guardian and protector of 60 per cent of the world's oil reserves...
...Such hesitations must have infuriated the Shah, who had come to view Iran's role in increasingly grandiose terms...
...In 1971, the Shah seized three strategic islands belonging to the United Arab Emirates at the entrance to the Gulf, and he began to build a navy capable of operating in the Indian Ocean and beyond...
...forces would be deployed in the Gulf to perform the "police" functions previously performed by the British...
...analysts believed the Shah's all-powerful position would be unshakable for the indefinite future...
...While he could talk in reasoned tones about Iran's role as "guardian" of Western oil supplies, his arms-buying activities were also motivated by his desire to recreate "the Great Persian Empire of the past...
...technicians working on arms-related programs in Iran jumped from 1,207 in 1975 to 4,473 in 1977 an increase of 270 per cent...
...Nixon ordered the National Security Council (NSC), then headed by Henry Kissinger, to explore the various policy options open to the United States and recommend a basic policy...
...Even more important, from the American point of view, the Shah seemed ready to act on this premise when real threats emerged: In 1973, for instance, he sent Iranian forces to Oman to help crush a leftist uprising in Dhofar Province...
...energy needs in the 1970s and beyond...
...By the late 1970s, U.S...
...Since the U.S...
...Perhaps no more symptomatic epitaph for the Surrogate Doctrine will be found than President Carter's extraordinary 1978 New Year's toast to the King of Kings: "Iran under the great leadership of the Shah is an island of stability in one of the most troubled areas of the world...
...Sophistication: Although Washington originally discouraged sales of high-technology weapons to Iran, in 1972 President Nixon agreed to sell the Shah the most advanced and powerful U.S...
...to underwrite the costs of U.S...
...Technology transfers: Not only did Iran acquire vast quantities of U.S...
...Grumman reportedly paid as much as $28 million in commissions to Iranian government officials while negotiating its $2 billion sale of F- 14s, and Northrop shelled out at least $10 million to expedite sales of its F-5E fighter telecommunications equipment...
...In addition to the F-14s, major Iranian purchases included: ¶ 169 Northrop F-5E/F fighters for $480 million...
...A certain amount of corruption had always been endemic in Iran, but it never approached the multi-million dollar bribes and "commissions" paid by U.S...
...At ceremonies marking the forty-second anniversary of the founding of the Imperial Iranian Navy, he declared, "In building up a modern navy our aim has not been confined to leadership in the Persian Gulf or Iran's territorial waters...
...25,000 TOW and Dragon antitank missiles for $ 150 million...
...Ultimately, Washington fell victim to its uncritical allegiance to its own misguided policies...
...firms, including Rockwell International and McDonnell Douglas, have also been accused of paying bribes to Iranian officials or unnamed "agents" in the course of arms negotiations, and it is safe to assume that Iranian officials pocketed much of the $200 million which US...
...Repression exports: In addition to all the conventional military gear, Washington also supplied vast quantities of police weapons and paramilitary hardware (tear gas, riot sticks, small arms) to Iran...
...In Saudi Arabia, a whole covey of princes (many of whom were inaccessible to U.S...
...And since the various services are often forced to compete with one another for Pentagon funds, a major sale to Iran could result in the procurement of one service's product at the expense of the others...
...While many factors undoubtedly contributed to the downfall of the Shah, the most critical may have been the ill-conceived U.S...
...military services lacked purely pecuniary motives for generating arms sales, they had their own reasons for promoting particular sales transactions...
...Whereas the Shah had once been dependent on the United States for aid and political support, now, in a sense, America had become dependent on him for preservation of its strategic interests...
...In a much-publicized report, U.S...
...In the case of the proposed F-14/F-15 sale, for instance, the Navy (sponsor of the F-15) sent teams to Iran in an effort to secure an Iranian purchase...
...To round out the Iranian shopping list, one would have to include billions of dollars worth of such mundane items as transport planes, armored personnel carriers, and artillery pieces...
...Eventually, he must have handed Washington an ultimatum: Either sell us what we want, or the whole surrogate arrangement is defunct...
...Only one viable choice was left: Find a Surrogate...
...The resentment was directed particularly at the Shah's efforts to create a modern military-industrial complex in Iran...
...These projects were described by the Shah as the cutting edge of his efforts to introduce modern industrial technology, but many Iranian intellectuals and economists viewed them as a diversion from less glamorous but more important development programs...
...and foreign, rushed to Iran to persuade the government to procure their products...
...to strengthening both free world security and the U.S...
...the Shah had gradually eliminated all remaining challengers to imperial rule...
...Military technical assistance: Because the Shah was importing high-technology arms faster than U.S...
...These tensions became most pronounced in the Air Force recipient of the most advanced U.S...
...Modern weapons require constant maintenance, servicing, and inspection by skilled technicians, and Iran simply lacked the trained manpower to perform these services...
...Although Iran's oil exports dropped by 12.5 per cent in 1975, the Shah ordered a 26 per cent spending increase much of it for arms and other military-related projects...
...weapons development...
...Looking back, it is easy to see how the U.S...
...The Shah's appetite for arms was also fed by what can only be called an obsession with weaponry...
...surrogate in the Persian Gulf, he expected to acquire military capabilities commensurate with his country's new stature...
...7 Boeing E-3A AWACS radar surveillance planes for $1.2 billion...
...efforts to wrest these countries out of the Soviet orbit...
...The only prudent course, therefore, was to reject Option 2, Move In...
...weapons systems...
...arms firms, the Shah was determined to create his own modern military-industrial complex by the late 1980s...
...American leaders, who cultivated and nourished the Shah's imperial visions, hoped in turn that U.S...
...Both companies were later forced to compensate the Iranian government for some of these funds when the payments became public knowledge in 1976...
...Arms and the Shah The rise and fall of the 'surrogate strategy' Michael T. Klare Between 1970 and 1978, the Shah of Iran ordered $20 billion worth of arms, ammunition, and other military merchandise from the United States in what one member of Congress has called "the most rapid buildup of military power under peacetime conditions of any nation in the history of the world...
...arms policies, but the President's decision also "effectively exempted sales to Iran from the normal arms sales decision-making process in the State and Defense Departments...
...policymakers, forced to grapple with the agonies of Vietnam and growing discontent at home, a U.S.-Iranian alliance must have seemed irresistible...
...Unwilling to curtail his massive arms programs and disinclined to listen to the advice of his economists, the Shah went on buying arms as if his wealth was inexhaustible...
...The number of U.S...
...After reviewing the recommendations contained in NSSM-66, President Nixon issued a National Security Decision Memorandum, NSDM-92, to govern U.S...
...For U.S...
...But there were several major obstacles to such a choice: It was 1969, and the United States was deeply embroiled in an unpopular war in Southeast Asia...
...The conspicuous presence of affluent Westerners at a time of declining real income for most Iranians naturally created much bitterness...
...In May 1972, .' . . the U.S...
...As early as 1976, some U.S...
...By continuously expanding the Shah's dependency on American technical skills, the U.S...
...The final ascendancy of the "revolutionary government" of Medhi Barzagan on February 11 merely signed the coup de grace to the Surrogate Strategy...
...One U.S...
...imperialist" design, and thus would frustrate U.S...
...As then Deputy Secretary of Defense William P. Clements told Congress at the time, any slowdown in the export of arms "decreases the potential contribution of sales...
...Following the fourfold rise in oil prices announced by the OPEC nations early in 1974, America's balance-of-payments accounts went rapidly into the red...
...Iranian technicians, who lacked the privileges accorded to high-ranking officers, felt their skills and commitment were being short-changed by the Shah in his preference for Americans...
...And even the Shah's hand-picked successor, Dr...
...To understand how that program corroded and finally destroyed the Pahlavi Dynasty and with it, the U.S...
...Moreover, these foreigners recruited at high salaries and with lucrative expense accounts began competing with middle-class Iranians for apartments in Tehran's already tight housing market, thus driving up rents and adding to the growing inflation rate...
...The only remaining candidates, therefore, were the countries of the Gulf itself...
...Thousands of unarmed civilians lost their lives in these confrontations, and many more were wounded or taken off to Iran's notorious prisons...
...Within the military, the Shah's recruitment policies provoked the alienation of nationalistic junior officers, cadets, and technicians who found themselves under the de facto supervision of foreigners...
...Wilson's announcement came late in Lyndon Johnson's Presidency, so it was left to the new Administration of Richard Nixon to undertake the necessary policy-formulation effort...
...All told, the Shah ordered $20 billion worth of U.S...
...But there was to be a pricetag for this unprecedented partnership a modern military arsenal...
...Ultimately, the dispute evolved into a wide-ranging debate over the benefits of what the Shah and his supporters called "modernization," which many Iranians viewed as the introduction of foreign-dominated military ventures which contributed little to economic and social progress in Iran...
...publicized contingency deals for Air Force purchases which netted him millions...
...Moreover, U.S...
...arms between 1972 and 1978, or about double America's military sales to all countries of the world for the twenty-five years following World War II...
...official, writing in Armed Forces Journal, observed: "Senior military officers obtained vast wealth from commissions____ The Shah's brother-in-law and then head of the Air Force, Mohammed Khatemi, became involved in highly '. . . there is no doubt that high Iranian military officials became immensely wealthy...
...Other possible choices France, perhaps, or even India were too far from the scene or lacked the motivation to take on such a role...
...arms program exacerbated and in some cases created the problems that led to the monarchy's collapse...
...Lacking an alternative policy, Washington gave in...
...Since many of the arms were not scheduled for delivery until the early 1980s, however, actual shipments to Iran had reached only $10 billion of the $20 billion ordered when the regime fell in January 1979...
...was that the United States would not assume the former British role of protector in the Gulf area, but that primary responsibility for peace and stability should henceforth fall on the states of the region____In the spirit of the Nixon Doctrine, we are willing to assist the Gulf states but we look to them to bear the main responsibility for their own defense and to cooperate among themselves to ensure regional peace and stability...
...We've ordered 700 choppers, including 200 gunships plus ten large Chinooks and eighteen ASW [antisubmarine warfare] Sikorskys----We're also buying 800 Chieftain tanks from Britain which will cost us another $480 million and meanwhile we're modernizing 400 M-47 tanks that we have...
...President Nixon and Henry Kissinger flew to Tehran and signed a secret agreement with the Shah whereby Iran was permitted to order virtually any weapons systems it wanted...
...Not content with the obsolete hand-me-downs supplied through the Military Assistance Program, he began to eye America's latest and most sophisticated military hardware...
...In the halcyon days of 1973-74, the Shah had consumed his new oil wealth as if the petrodollars would go on accumulating forever...
...arms supply program...
...Not only would a Persian Gulf presence divert forces needed for the war effort in Vietnam, but it would arouse the ire of Congress, which had already become disenchanted with America's role as "the world's policeman...
...And there is no doubt what the Iranian government wanted to buy arms, arms, and still more arms...
...Although the Shah belatedly tried to dissociate himself from the spreading infection by arresting a few cronies whose extortions could no longer be hidden, his government had been tarnished and he began to lose the support of the smaller merchants and businessmen who suffered from the pervasive corruption...
...The new government of Mehdi Bazargan has, of course, canceled all remaining orders...
...U.S...
...technicians were employed on arms-related projects in Iran, and the number was expected to rise to 25,000 or more by 1980...
...With control over Iran's abundant oil wealth, he could buy off the most ambitious bureaucrats and entrepreneurs, while the constant vigilance of SAVAK, the infamous secret police established with CIA help, ensured that all dissidents would be quickly dealt with...
...Saudi Arabia did not even possess a navy at that time, and its small army of some 30,000 men (most of whom were committed to internal security functions) was hardly capable of performing Gulf-wide peacekeeping missions...
...Under an ambitious billion-dollar scheme involving many U.S...
...Although the Shah briefly cut back on arms spending, his persistence in buying foreign arms at a time of widespread belt-tightening at home provoked much resentment...
...But as U.S...
...202 Bell AH-1J Cobra helicopter gunships for $367 million...
...With Washington anxious to recover as many "petrodollars" as possible, and with the Shah eager to modernize Iranian military forces as quickly as possible, Iran soon became the largest single outlet for U.S...
...This choice accorded nicely with the Administration's newly adopted "Nixon Doctrine...
...support for the faltering regime...
...The Saudi leadership was largely concerned with dynastic matters and intra-Arab affairs, but the Shah had long affirmed Iran's role as the "guardian" of the Persian Gulf and was not averse to assuming an even grander role...
...For this reason, the services often sent their own representatives to Iran to assist allied defense contractors in marketing their products...
...At this point, the presence of large numbers of foreign technicians also became a serious problem...
...Shapour Bakhtiar, announced on January 3 that Iran would no longer serve as "the gendarme of the Persian Gulf...
...Our [arms] supply policy is not the result of a series of improvisations," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Noyes testified in 1973, but followed directly from the 1969 decision to encourage Iran to assume "primary responsibility for peace and stability" in the Gulf...
...arms program was meant to ensure that the "surrogate" never operated independently of its assigned role as guardian of Western oil interests...
...Once Iranian troops were ordered to occupy Iranian cities, moreover, the distinction rapidly broke down between arms supplied for conventional defensive purposes and those provided for internal security...
...The results were predictable: Inflation, already a problem in suddenly affluent Iran, soared out of control...
...In attempting to choose among these three options, the NSC would weigh U.S...
...arms soared from $500 million in 1972 to $2.2 billion in 1973 and a staggering $4.3 billion in 1974...
...Military sales thus became a critical economic as well as military objective...
...With oil production down to zero and the economy devastated by months of turmoil, there was no money left to pay for imported arms...
...Lower-level officials took their cuts and money began to pour into safe hiding places in the West.'' Corruption on this scale could not be concealed, and by 1976 it was common knowledge that high government officials including members of the royal family were on the take...
...U.S...
...First, the NSC would have set forth Washington's basic policy options, which boiled down to three: ¶ Option 1: Stay Out: The United States would continue, as before, to provide military aid to pro-Western governments in the Gulf, but would not assume a direct military role in the area...
...policy in the region...
...arms companies paid to foreign sales agents between 1972 and 1975...
...In practice, therefore, the Surrogate Strategy inevitably became an Iranian Strategy...
...alliance, and thus facilitated further Soviet penetration of the region...
...strategists had always relied on London to serve as the official guardian of Western interests in the vital Gulf region...
...By 1977, it was running at the rate of 30 per cent a year, far outstripping wage increases for most salaried workers...
...Iranian spending on U.S...
...security by entrusting American defense secrets to foreigners...
...That will give us a tank force of about 1,700...
...Civil servants, oil workers, rank-and-file soldiers, and most of the middle class experienced a drop in real income at the same time that high-level corruption was becoming common knowledge...
...Most of the millions acquired by Iranian officials through shady arms transactions had, of course, long been sequestered in numbered bank accounts in Switzerland and Panama...
...Navy forces in the Mediterranean and the Pacific...
...Emphasis added...
...arms sales between 1970 and 1978...
...Before these divisions had become fully apparent, however, the Shah ordered Iranian troops into the streets to crush demonstrations by anti-government students, workers, and religious leaders...
...By 1976, he had signed contracts with several American and British firms to begin construction of new arms factories in Iran...
...arms sales to Iran were out of control...
...arms programs began to backfire in other ways...
...The resulting friction was further compounded by religious animosity as the foreigners began introducing Western behavior patterns public drinking, revealing clothing, sexually explicit movies which offended Iran's conservative Moslem population...
...Thus, a new doctrine, the Surrogate Strategy, was born...
...There was another dimension to the Administration's strategic design which it could not openly use in its defense, but which constituted an important justification for the Iranian arms program...
...Mountains of munitions are piling up in Iranian docks and fields," columnist Jack Anderson wrote in 1975...
...66 (NSSM-66) was submitted to the White House on July 12, 1969...
...These plans, too, were abrogated by the Bazargan regime...
...Just as the Shah was ordering martial law throughout Iran, the Carter Administration announced an emergency delivery of riot sticks, tear-gas, helmets, and shields to the Iranian army, providing a highly visible sign of U.S...
...The real problem thus became, who would protect Western interests in the Gulf...
...The United States also provided training to Iranian police officials including officials of SAVAK, the notorious secret police and advised the military on counterin-surgency operations...
...These included bribery and corruption, government mismanagement, and political intrigue, and they combined with the unintended and undesired consequences of the overt transactions to undermine the Shah's position...
...In one of the few public references to NSSM-66, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense James H. Noyes testified in 1973: "A major conclusion of that study...
...That meant, inevitably, that Washington would have to serve as the organizer and quartermaster of this delicate maneuver...
...Some policymakers may have suggested Israel, but that probably would have pushed the Arab countries into an anti-U.S...
...foreign policy as they did in Iran...
...Besides these relatively overt transactions, a number of covert or hidden dimensions to the arms program figured significantly in the U.S.-Iranian relationship...
...While the Shah was more than willing to serve as the U.S...
...Although the U.S...
...Option 3: Find a Surrogate: Instead of deploying U.S...
...He decides what he wants and those under him carry out his orders or else...
...Government regularly billed Iran for a share of the development costs of weapons ordered by the Shah, Iranian orders could result in a significant reduction in the price paid by the services for their own supplies...
...Although preoccupied with the Vietnam war, Kissinger apparently gave this project high priority and the resulting document National Security Council Study Memorandum No...
...Administration officials insisted, however, that the Nixon-Shah agreement was neither ill-conceived nor hastily contrived...
...to assure high employment in the aerospace industry, and to accelerate the "modernization" of Iranian society...
...But the OPEC price rise precipitated an economic recession in the West, and sales of Iranian oil began to decline...
...Other Americans (along with British, French, and West German specialists) were recruited to help manage Iran's overstrained transportation, communications, and energy systems...
...Moreover, an American presence in the Gulf would be viewed by the more radical Arab states as evidence of a U.S...
...The Vice Minister of War for Armaments, General Hassan Toufa-nian, acquired equal visibility for similar commission operations...
...These "white-collar mercenaries" rapidly became an essential component of the Shah's high-technology war machine and thus Washington, by threatening to recall these specialists, could exercise a form of "veto power" over Iranian military activities...
...Within months of the May 1972 showdown, the Shah ordered eighty F- 14s at an estimated cost of $2 billion, as well as dozens of other U.S...
...What we decided," former Under Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco later explained, "is that we would try to stimulate and be helpful to the two key countries in this area namely, Iran and Saudi Arabia that, to the degree to which we could stimulate cooperation between these two countries, they could become the major elements of stability as the British were getting out...
...The real turning point in the U.S.-Iranian relationship did not come until December 1967, when then Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that Britain would terminate its military presence in the Persian Gulf by the end of 1971...
...Furthermore, America's chief allies in Europe and the Far East had already become highly dependent on Middle Eastern oil, which was also used to fuel U.S...
...In the conventional wisdom of the time, the British withdrawal would create a "power vacuum" in the area which the Russians would inevitably fill unless someone else were there to stop them...
...In the decade following 1953, when the CIA had organized a coup against Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, the Shah had gradually eliminated all remaining challengers to imperial rule, and had established near-totalitarian control of Iranian society...
...alliance system that extended from Greece to Pakistan and around Asia to Korea...
...forces, Washington would recruit some other power to serve as regional "gendarme" in place of Great Britain...
...influence) was involved in decision-making, but in Iran all major foreign policy decisions were made by the Shah himself and no one dared defy him...
...Critics of Iran's extraordinary arms buildup have charged that Washington lost all control over the weapons program after the May 1972 agreement...
...As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee noted in 1976, "The 1972 [Nixon] sales decision coupled with the increase in Iranian revenues following the quadrupling of oil prices created a situation not unlike that of bees swarming around a pot of honey...
...This is not the kind of atmosphere that would promote restraint, and there is no doubt that high Iranian military officials became immensely wealthy as a result of the American arms programs...
...The Senate Foreign Relations Committee report of 1976 provided many indicators of the deteriorating situation...
...leaders would certainly have selected Option 2, a direct American presence, as the surest way of filling the impending power vacuum...
...because in the world today Iran enjoys a position which gives its duties regional dimension...
...firms to secure Iranian arms contracts...
...policymakers began to undertake the difficult job of carrying out the new strategy, it rapidly became apparent that the two countries were hardly capable of assuming an equal share of the burden...
...Weapons began arriving at an ever-increasing pace in the mid-1970s, placing enormous strains on Iran's technical support capabilities...
...arms exports...
...The only institution with the power to question the Shah's survival the army was kept in line by lucrative perquisites on the one hand and the oversight of SAVAK on the other...
...Having contracted with the Shah to assume responsibility for policing the Gulf on behalf of the West, the United States could take no action that would alienate the Shah or undermine his authority at home without threatening the survival of the Strategy itself...
...We especially look to the leading states of the area, Iran and Saudi Arabia, to cooperate for this purpose...
...But it still posed an awkward question: Who could be relied upon to serve U.S...
...A U.S.-Iranian alliance had another advantage: Washington needed to consult only one individual the Shah when critical decisions had to be made...
...4 DD-963 Spruance-class heavy destroyers for $1.5 billion...
...Although NSSM-66 and NSDM-92 were given a high security classification and their contents never made public, we can reconstruct their findings from assorted public sources...
...This extraordinary accumulation of war-making capabilities was intended to transform Iran into a major military power and thus fulfill the Shah's ambition of restoring "the Great Persian Empire of the past...
...The Shah subsequently ordered a wide array of super-sophisticated arms, including the swing-wing F-14 air-superiority fighter, the DD-963 Spruance-class missile destroyer, and the Boeing E-3A AWACS radar patrol plane...
...But Washington's hands had become tied by its unwavering commitment to the Surrogate Strategy...
...At this point, a new factor entered the arms picture: greed...
...As Iranian pilots fired into the streets of Tehran from their U.S.-supplied helicopters, and as Army units patrolled the streets in their American tanks and armored vehicles, the United States became irretrievably identified with the Shah's bloody efforts to retain power...
...News& World Report observed in 1973, "with the Shah at the apex and the army a privileged caste...
...If the Nixon Administration's original 1972 decision to sell the Shah "anything he wants" was prompted largely by strategic considerations, its continued adherence to the agreement was soon to be assured by another major consideration the oil-inspired balance-of-payments crisis...
...Wilson's announcement caused consternation in Washington: U.S...
...And this was just the beginning: Before he was forced out of the country in 1979, the Shah had announced plans to establish an indigenous aerospace industry and a tank production facility...
...Aside from such military considerations, however, the selection of Iran as America's principal surrogate was essentially predetermined by the attitudes of the rulers involved...
...Option 2: Move In: U.S...
...Military Sales to Iran, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee research team concluded in 1976 that "for at least three years U.S...
...209 McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers for $1 billion...
...Any interruption in these supplies would, therefore, constitute a major threat to Western security...
...Iran, on the other hand, possessed a sizeable navy and air force, and its well-equipped army of 150,000 was considered among the most powerful in the region...
...Many U.S...
...This is a great tribute to you, Your Majesty, and to your leadership, and to the respect, admiration and love which your people give to you...
...But whatever the assumptions of U.S...

Vol. 43 • August 1979 • No. 8


 
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