For centuries, Iran has been a center of struggle between opposing ideologies and ways of life. Now, in the twenty-first century, it will be a decisive battleground for progress versus calamity.
Thirty years of Islamic theocracy presents not only Iranians but the international community with a historical turning point and the opportunity shadowed by responsibility to make the right decision or be held accountable for its ramifications.
In the 1970s, the Shah and a secular, wealthy Iran were the balancing tools in the volatile Middle East. The Shah’s regime was not without its faults and far from perfect. But his progressive vision and invaluable geopolitical knowledge were sought by foreign policymakers, who had realized Iran was following the path of its ancestors credited with championing tolerance, diplomacy, and the first known bill of rights.
Examples abound: during a meeting on July 27, 1973, Henry Kissinger and other diplomats asked for the Shah’s advice on the role of oil and international affairs, the Egyptian-Israel problem, the Pakistan-Indian conflict, the Kurds and the Baath Party in Iraq as well as his views on the newly-designed F-14 jets. [Memorandum of Conversation, transcribed by H. H. Saunders, The White House, Washington, DC, July 27, 1973, 5:00 p.m., 14 pages.] In hindsight, the late Shah was a 20th century renaissance man.