In the early summer of 1978, Iran’s then monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, was informed that anti-regime activists were conspiring to overthrow him. At a private leadership meeting of the country’s Rastakhiz Party Politburo (the only sanctioned party), attended by Iran’s prime minister, the minister of court, the Shah’s chief of staff, and the party’s secretary general and politburo chief, the Shah was advised to take a hard line, arrest all troublemakers and deploy the army to the streets of Tehran.
He refused. “I’m not the colonel of a banana republic,” he told his advisers. “I won’t open machine guns on my own people to hold on to my throne.”