The failure of American and British governments to predict the fall of the shah in 1979 was one of the biggest intelligence failures of the twentieth century. In the aftermath of that monumental mess, the British government ordered a policy review to learn what went wrong. They identified three main errors: inattention to the brutality of the regime’s secret police (SAVAK), insufficient knowledge of the corruption of the ruling elite and a lack of focus on the intellectual life of Iran.
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