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tv   U.S.- Iranian Relations in the Cold War  CSPAN  November 27, 2015 10:50pm-12:01am EST

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book. the book looks at president nixon's relationship with the iran and its impact on u.s. foreign policy during the cold hosted this event. it's a little over half an hour. [ applause ] >> thank you all for being here. thank you roham for coming all the way from london for this talk. i urge everyone to read this boonl book if you really want to understand the u.s./iran relationship today. but let me ask you, what inspired you to write this, undertake this project? >> well, first of all, can i just say thank you to the nixon foundation and to jonathan for the very kind invitation to come. taken such good care of me. i haven't been to california since i was a child.
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and i absolutely love it. i look out my office in london. it's mostly raining, so to be here is a real pleasure. so this book was a labor of love, basically. i come from an iranian family. i was born very shortly after the fall of the shah. the revolution and the shah was something that was always discussed in my family and always debated. and so when it came time to write a ph.d. i naturally graph taited towards that, and it happened to be the time when many of the documents from the nixon administration were available. and my curiosity got the better of me, and i started to read these documents, and i was really surprised, because the image that came out of those documents, of nixon, of kissinger, of the shah, of the
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relationship between these men was so different to what i had heard, was so different to the orthodox view in academia that i got hooked. and i spent the next three or four years living with these three men and studying them and trying to understand them. >> now most of our audience -- all of our audience is familiar with the backgrounds of henry kissinger and president nixon. but who is mohammed shah pa labbe? >> he ascended the thrown in the midst of the second world war. he was not born a prince. his father came to power in iran in 1921 in a military coup. and he became the crown prince
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of iran after his father was crowned in 1925.[pp so he ascended the throne in possibly the most difficult circumstances you can imagine. his country was under occupation by the allied powers. the soviet union had occupied the north of iran, britain the south, the united states, persian command had been established. so he barely managed to ascend the throne. the monarchy, you know, was touch and go, whether the monarchy would survive. and he was only 21 years old at the time. his, the first american president that he met was franklin roosevelt. so it's an incredible life story. and he becomes, i think, a major political figure of the 20th
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century. i mean, somebody who played a role in world affairs throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s until his death in 1981. >> you talk about the allied powers, can you talk a little bit about the context, the world war ii and early cold war context of iran during that period of time. what was happening? >> sure. well, iran was the first battle ground of the cold war. the first issue that was on the agenda of the united nations security council after it was established was iran. the soviet union under stalin had occupied the north of iran and despite its commitment to leave iran six months after the end of the are whwar, the sovien
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didn't withdraw. and this created the cold war crisis. and this was a formative experience for the shah, who realized that a policy of neutrality was not enough to defend iran and iran had to look to a third power to defend its sovereignty against the imperial aspirations of brit fain aain a russia. in the 1930s the shah looked to germany. and after that they looked to the united states. they hoped that an alliance with the far super power, the super power that was on the other side of the world would help defend them and protect them from the near super power, the soviet union with whom iran shared a 1,500 kilometer border.
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>> there's a debate about this policy of mazavane, balance of powers who wanted to exploit iran's oil interests. can you touch a little on that and where the shah and other leaders, namely mohammed mosadek come into the picture? >> the left in iran was very active, the communist party of iran was the first political party in the country. had a military network and was supported by the soviet union. at the same time, the iranian national figure, whether they were republican or monarchist or liberal or conservative, they looked to the united states as a country that would be able to support the cause of liberty in
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iran. now there were some who thought that allying with the united states unnecessarily antagonized the soviet union. there were, there were others who thought that the strategy that you mentioned, the balancing strategy effectively surrendered iran's sovereignty to these great powers. because i mean the substance of that policy was giving one concession to britain in order to balance a concession they'd given to the russians, all right. and so mosade k's position was that, well, this is like, very famously, he said this is like a man who's had one arm cut off, cutting off the other arm in order to have balance. but even mosadev looked to the united states. he placed freight faith in
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president truman to help iran resist british influence and british imperialism, really, during the oil crisis of the 1950s, he hoped that the united states would back iran's claims to sovereignty and control of its own oil. and that worked for a while, but unfortunately, as iran became more and more unstable, ultimately the united states backed its ally, britain, rather than iran. >> so mosadek pau kchlmosadek f. how does the shah emerge in 1953 after this crisis? >> after a three-year battle between britain and iran for control over iranian oil, iran is able to nationalize its oil industry.
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iranian oil finally belongs to the iranians, but it comes at a price. britain and the united states work together covertly to overthrow the government. britain, because they fear the consequences of allowing mosadek to stay in power. and the united states because they fear that a continuation of mosade k's government would lead to instability and a communist takeover in iran. and so the role of outside powers in the fall of mosadev and the installation of the shah as an absolute ruler rather than a constitutional monarch undermines the well of goodwill that existed for the united
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states in iran prior to 1953. and it's something that the shah never really manages to escape. no matter how much the substance of the u.s./iran relationship changes over the years, the popular perception of the shah as a dictator installed by the united states, that narrative is so powerful and so difficult for him to shake. and the figure of mosadev looms in the background constantly as the authentic iranian nationalist as opposed to the shah who is an instrument of american power in this popular view. the argument i make in the book, of course, is that this is a myth and the substance of the relationship was not like that at all. and the relationship between the united states and iran evolved. >> what was the policy of the eisenhower, kennedy and johnson
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administrations? it's interesting that you brought up that he was thought of as a puppet. i think it was the shah who said that the kennedy andionson administrations treat him as a kongs bien rather than a wife. >> that's right. >> how would you characterize policy during that time? >> in the 1950s and '60s, iran was a cold war liability for the united states. it was not a country that could really contribute to american strategies of containment. the issue was iran's place in the cold war was to act essentially as a bulwark against soviet penetration into the persian gulf. so the objective of american policy was to keep the shah in power, maintain a pro-american government in iran. and the, if you read the documents from the kennedy period or the johnson period, the debate is all about that. how do we ensure that?
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how can the united states preserve the shah's government. what's the most effective way of doing that? under eisenhower, the policy's largely one of supplying iran with arms and economic aid to maintain stability. during the kennedy administration, it's a policy of pushing the shah to modernize and reform in the hope of preventing some kind of popular revolution. so the shah is not an asset. he's a liability in that view. and, as far as his ambitions for iran are concerned, his idea about iran being a great power, exercising influence throughout the region, none of that is taken very seriously by any of these administrations. consistently, his argument to various american presidents is, well, iran needs more money. iran needs more arms.
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iran faces a threat from the soviet union. and from its allies in the arab world, and more often than not, the response from the eisenhower administration or kennedy or even johnson was that, well, you should worry less about the soviet union and worry more about the internal problems in your country. get your house in order rather than worrying about a soviet invasion of iran, because after all, if there's a soviet invasion of iran, even with all the arms in the world, you're not going to be able to stop them. that will be up to the united states to do that. >> how did the u.s. at the time view saudi arabia, its, iran's large rival to the south in the persian gulf? >> well, in the 1960s, an image
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emerges as iran as a rising country and a rising monarch. it was a contradiction. you can't at the same time claim to be wearing the mantle of cyrus the great in 2,500 years of monarchy. and then claim this. in the 1960s, the shah was perceived as being on the right side of history, and the saudis and house of saud, even during the reign of king faisal were seen as a very conservative monarchy, unwilling to reform, very religious and sort of destined for the dust bin of history. of course they couldn't have got that more wrong.
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the shah falls in 197 t9, and t house of saud is still ruling saudi arabia. but the perception is whether they would be able to weather the storm. and this is a narrative that the shah constantly reiterated to washington, to convince them to back iran as the dominant power in the region. >> president nixon becomes president in january 1969. but he first meets the shah as vice president in 1953. can you describe their meeting? >> it was a memorable trip. it was december 1953. it was about five months after the coup when vice president nixon goes to tehran.
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and from his notes of those meetings and the reports that he gave to president eisenhower when he returned to washington, he, the impression you get of the shah is of a very timid and shy character and that the real power in tehran is in the powers of general sahady who had led the coup effort. but nixon does say that well, i did sense something in him. i did sense that we would be hearing more about this man. and they seemed to get along very well and on a personal level. there seemed to be a good rapport between them. and they would, the interesting thing is that they would maintain that relationship throughout the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, even when nixon was
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out of office. >> they meet again in his wilderness years. >> yes. >> was there a change in policy between the two men? were they more politically mature? >> i don't know that they had changed so much. certainly, the shah was a much more confident fixture. he was older, more experienced. iran had developed quite a lot. so he was much more safe on his throne. what had really changed was the cold war. was the context in which they were meeting. the united states was involved in the vietnam war. the shah was quite frustrated and disillusioned as what he saw as abdication in the leadership in the cold war. he worried about the power and what this would mean for iran. and he was quite hopeful that a man like nixon could resurrect
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u.s. leadership. and their meeting in tehran is really extraordinary. first of all, the shah's advisers told him not to meet with nixon, of course because they were worried that he would be seen as taking sides in u.s. politics. what if hubert humphrey were to win that election, what would be the consequences. but shah insisted that he would meet nixon, who was his friend. and they have a really wide-ranging discussion for two hours. discussing everything from the situation in the horn of africa to vietnam. you can just imagine these grand geopolitical thinkers, very well versed, very well-informed. really good on the substance discussing these issues. but there's a very revealing moment when the shah says to
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nixon, you know, i'm really tired of these harvard boys telling me how to run my country. and of course he's talking about the kennedy administration, johnson administration and the people who are still in the white house. and of course this must have been music to richard nixon's ears. and he's very effusive in his praise for the shah. he comes back to the united states and makes a very complementary speech about the shah. and i think that really lays the ground work for the kind of relationship that's going to exist once richard nixon assumes the presidency. >> seven months or six months after he assumes the presidency, president nixon, he watches the apollo 11 astronauts splashdown in the south pacific. right after that on july 25th, 1969, he goes to the island of guam and pronounces his first or his foreign policy doctrine
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articulates it. there was no news, there's only news reporters, there's no television coverage, but he rearticulates that vision again on november 3rd, 1969 when he rallies support for his policy in vietnam called, properly known as the silent majority speech. it we cue that up? >> another leader of an asian country expressed this opinion to me when i was traveling in asia as a private citizen. he said, when you were trying to assist another nation defend its freedom, u.s. policy should be to help them fight the war. but not to fight the war for them. well, in accordance with this wise counsel, i laid down in guam three principles as guidelines for future american policy toward asia. first, the united states will keep all of its treaty commitments. second, we shall provide a
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shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or with a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security. third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments, but we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense. after i announced this policy, i found that the leaders of the philippines, thailand, vietnam, south korea and other nations which might be threatened by communist aggression welcomed this new direction in american foreign policy. the defense of freedom is everybody's business. not just america's business. and it is particularly the responsibility of the people whose free tomorrdom is threate. in the previous administration we americanized the war in
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vietnam. in this administration, we a streetna mizing. >> what does this mean broadly in the context of american cold war policy during the nixon administration? >> well, i mean, i can almost hear the shah saying exactly those words. he would frequently tell nixon that unlike many other countries, you know, we don't want to fight until the last american. look, the nixon doctrine was part of a comprehensive foreign policy strategy. it was one half of the strategy. the other half being detente. the goal of the administration was to redirect american resources and attention away from what they perceived as needless engagements,
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unnecessary commitments towards the issues that mattered, which they, by which they really meant relations between the great powers, china and the soviet union and the united states. so how to achieve that, well, the united states would have to peck and choose where in the world it confronted the soviet adversary rather than allowing the soviet union to determine where those battles would be fought. but this is a very difficult thing to do. if you're global super power, you have global interests. so even an obscure conflict in some far away place suddenly takes on very important significance, global significance. how do you do that? they resolved that dilemma with the nixon doctrine, that america's partners in these regions would be given the resources, the arms, the support, to be able to confront
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the soviet union and its local allies in those regions without direct american military intervention. and this was music to the shah's ears. this is exactly the role that he wanted for iran. a strong reasonabgional power we full support of the united states, able to contribute to strategies of containment, to be an asset rather than a liability in the cold war. >> over the course of the next year, 1970, president nixon, henry kissinger reevaluate national security and kissinger evaluates all the different american strategy options. just a couple of bullets here on the screen. assuming the role as protector ourselves, backing iran as our chosen instrument, the keeper of stability in the gulf, promoting
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saudi cooperation, dealing directly with new states in the lower gulf and actively promoting a regional security pact. they come up with a determined course of action. to promote saudi/iranian relations but to recognize that iran is the pp rantz power gulf and to do what we can to develop a working relationship with the new political entities in the lower gulf. nixon administration come to this conclusion? >> it was a very long process. it took at least two years. in part, it reflected the realities, political realities of the persian gulf. britain had withdrawn. the united states was unable to take on that role because of the vietnam war. and the only country in the
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region that had both the will and the resources to be able to maintain regional stability was iran, which was a close ally of the united states. the only other option, of course, was saudi arabia. but the saudis did not have the military capability to play that kind of role, nor were they particularly willing to play that role. they didn't want to be, they didn't want to open themselves to the accusation from the nasserists as being a proxy for the united states, whereas the shah had no such qualms and was happy to take on the amount of regional supremacy. but i would argue that is not a sufficient explanation, because the johnson administration in 1968 faced exactly the same dilemma and came to a different conclusion to the one you just listed.
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they decided to continue with the policy of balancing iran and saudi arabia. their idea was that a balance of power between iran and saudi arabia was the best way to maintain stability in the region. this was the famous twin pillars policy. the nixon administration abandons that policy and shifts to one of what i call iran primacy. they still pay lip service to the saudis. but in effect, everybody knows is that the shah has assumed the role of regional primacy. the conclusion that i come to is that it has a lot to do with that personal relationship between nixon and the shah. that relationship went all the way back to 1953. there was a mutual respect, esteem. it gave him the confidence that he could trust the shah to play that kind of role. >> you brought up the nasserists
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and the saudi arabia's reluctance to cozy up to the united states. how did this affect, there's another track in the nixon administration of pursuing a middle east plan between the arabs and israelis. how did that fit in with their objectives? >> well, the ultimate objective, of course, was to diminish soviet influence in the middle east. in the minds of nixon and kissinger, and not just them, i think most of the foreign policy establishment at that time, this was one theater of a global cold war. of course that's not how the actors in the region saw it. you know, they don't see themselves as just a theater in the global cold war. they're fighting their own battles for their own reasons to do with sometimes very, very local issues. so the rogers plan, and
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secretary rogers' approach to the region and his sort of portfolio, really was the arab/israeli issue, not so much iran and the persian gulf. but in any case, his approach was really the more regional one. he was trying to solve, i think, a regional issue, the arab/israeli issue to try to gain some traction, some momentum. this was not something i think was of great interest to either nixon or kissinger unless it had some sort of consequence for the global cold war. and so the two, whereas their policy in the arab/israeli issue under rogers had this kind of regional approach, in the gulf, it's the global one. it's the cold war approach. and the shah understands this perfectly and uses the language of the cold war, uses the threat of the soviet union to get what he wants, to get what he wants
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from washington, to present himself as an asset to the united states in strategies of containment. now ultimately, he succeeds, and the rogers plan fails. so that tells you something about which approach has more traction in washington. and i think that probably allies as much today as it did back then, you know. where you satand depends on whee you sit, and the shah did that very, very well. >> you write that on may 30th, 1972, following his historic trip to moscow where anti-ballistic missile treaty was ratified and detente became a doctrine of the united states and russia during that period of time, nixon goes to, on returning, he goes, from that trip, he goes to tehran may 30th, and he, you write that
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that doctrine, that doctrine of iran's primacy was rat pifierat. wouldn't that have made them more vulnerable to the russians? >> they have two meetings on the way back from moscow. and one of the first things that nixon says to the shah is that iran shouldn't see detante as something that weakens iran. in other words, the united states is not going to sell out iran to the soviet union as some part of a grand bargain. the shah has anticipated this. he has his own strategy of dealing with the soviet union and the communist world. he has already normalized relations with the soviet union in 1962. he's trading oil and gas with the soviet union, with communist
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arias of eastern europe. his strategy is to deal with detente by making iran indispensable to the communist bloc, by supplying them with oil. so for example one of the countries that iran had the closest relationship with in the 1970s was ceausescu's romania, and iranian oil, this is extraordinary, iranian oil would reach the mediterranean via the pipeline that went through israel to the mediterranean coast from the red sea and then would be shipped to romania where the oil would be refined in romanian refineries and sold throughout the communist bloc. and this was a way for the shah to integrate himself, both into the east and to the west. and to buy a something of an insurance policy against
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detente. moreover, detante was also an opportunity for a country like iran, middle power like iran. a relaxation of tensions by the two super powers creates more space for countries like iran to assert themselves on the global stage. it reduces the barriers, the restrictions that are in place on iran flexing its muscles. because when tensions are really high between the super powers, the smallest action by iran could have very drastic consequences. for example, a conflict between iran and iraq could very quickly escalate into a super power confrontation between the soviet union and the united states. when those tensions are low, it allows a country like iran to maybe take some more risks and be able to assert itself more strongly. so he did, the shah did a very good job of responding to detente and taking advantage of it. >> in that context, you write of a really interesting exchange
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between president nixon and the shah in which the president says during the same meetings on may 30th, nixon says protect me. what did he mean by that? >> really it's extraordinary. he looks at the shah and says protect me. and i think this must have been the best day in the shah's life, you know. [ laughter ] president of the united states had come to tehran to ask him to protect him. what did it mean? i think that it meant that well, protect the interests of the western world in this really vital strategic theater. help maintain the stability of the gulf. keep oil flowing through the strait of hormuz. that was also iran's interests. iran's economy depended on its ability to export its oil to global markets, and the shah was
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very happy to play that role. and, in fact, that's a policy that really hasn't changed, even after the revolution. that is a consistent iranian interest and policy. so, yeah. i just remember the first time i read that document, i mean just extraordinary. by the way, the only record we have of those meetings are henry kissinger's minutes, because only these three men were prif tprify in what was said in those meetings. the shah would not allow another official to attend a meeting with another head of state. it was a way to control. so i guess it depends on how honest henry has been in those moy minutes. >> let's turn to iraq for a moment. in 1937, the shah's father
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signed a treaty in tehran that gave, under pressure from the british that gave this waterway right off the persian gulf, gave the iraqis complete sovereignty of it. why, the shah then the current shah, the son, wanted to and row great this treaty and wanted to get this whole waterway back. why was this so significant to the shah to take at least a portion of it back from the iraqis? >> it's crucially important, because iran's, at that time, iran's largest oil refinery, the abu dan was located there. so it was absolutely vital. whoever controlled that waterway controlled the lanes through which iranian oil was shipped
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into the persian gulf and ultimately into global markets. now, for the iraqis, it's technically importantec particularly important. iraq has a very small coast line on the persian gulf through which it can export its oil. iran has a very long coastline that goes all the way past the strait of hormuz into the arabian sea. so it's always been a very sensitive and important border. and, of course, having a waterway as a border is always a bad idea, because any of you that know about waterways, they shift over time. they move. er they're not fixed. they change in seasons and over time. i don't know if you remember fairly recently british sailors were arrest bid the iranians for apparently wandering on to the wrong side. so it's a very sensitive and important waterway, and the shah
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didn't like the fact that iran had given this concession to the iraqis or then the ottoman governments, that iraq would have sovereignty over the entire waterway, that the border in other words would be on the iranian shore. and what he wanted was the convention, the international, the standard practice internationally, which was to have the border in the middle of the waterway, what was called the foul way, which is the deepest naf fwabl channel of the waterway. but this was something the iraqis really weren't willing to concede until of course we have a crisis in 1969 where matters come to a head and the shah uses force, he has a frigate with the flag and a mull military escort and the iraqis don't put up any resistance, and that establishes
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the de facto iranian sovereignty, at least on their half of the waterway. this is ratified in 1975 in an agreement between saddam hussein and the shah. the algiers agreement. >> another agreement encompasses the mountainous regions of both areas. in 1972, the shah covertly supports the kurds in their war against the united arab front in iraq. why does he do that? >> yeah, iranian intervention in iraq is nothing new. the ties between iran and iraq are very, very old. they go back to the era of the ottomans in the 15th, 16th century. in the 1970s, the shah's goal essentially was to paralyze the iraqi army, to keep the arab
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nationalist iraqi governments busy fighting the kurds in the north of iraq rather than making trouble for iran in the south and the persian gulf. the support for the iraqi kurds begins in the early 1960s in cooperation with israel. the israeli intelligence massad begin an operation. it's very important that iran has a role here because the iranian border was the only way for the israelis to be able to access kurdish territory. there was no other way physically to get in there. but of course for the iranians, it's very sensitive because iran has its own kurdish population. and the last thing that the shah wanted was an independent kurdistan in northern iraq, which could create all kinds of problems in iran. so he played this very, some would say cynical game of
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supporting the kurds enough to keep them fighting against the iraqis but never enough for them to actually triumph and achieve independence. and this was a strategy that he played throughout the 1960s into the early 1970s. of course the kurds and their leader, this epic man on horseback, heroic-type figure, they're not fools. they understand exactly what the shah's doing. and they start to flirt with the idea of making some kind of peace with the iraqi, some kind of deal with saddam hussein that would win the war and help them achieve their objectives, and this makes the shah very nervous. how can he keep this war going? how can he maintain this stalemate that perilizes the iraqis. he has to provide some kind of
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guarantee, he needs to give some sort of insurance policy that iran's not going to sell them out. well, there's only one country that can provide that kind of guarantee, that's the united states. the only country that barzani would trust. so the shah asks nixon and kissinger to come into the covert war in iraq, to, for the cia to provide money and arms to the kurds, but more importantly, to establish contact with the iraqi kurds and express sympathy for their goals. and this would represent a break with the policies of all previous administrations who had resisted getting drawn into this war in iraq. after all, the united states is fighting a war, another civil war in the jungles of southeast asia. the last thing anybody wants is to get involved in another obscure conflict in some place that most americans had never
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heard of. and not surprisingly, the entire foreign policy establishment in washington advises the white house to not do, to say no. to resist getting involved. but interestingly, nixon and kissinger overrule them. and on the advice of the shah, they agreed to become involved in the kurdish war in 1972, during those meetings in tehran. >> was there a soviet cold war context to their movement? >> absolutely. the argument that the shah makes to them is that the iraqis are backed by the soviet union. if the kurds and the baath come to terms this will represent soviet domination of iraq and this must be prepare thee prevented and the only way to prevent that is the united states becoming involved in the war. but here is the question i find really interesting. why does the president and his
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national security adviser trust the advice of the shaw over the advice of the secretary of state, the director of the cia, the secretary of defense? why is it that they place so much faith in the wisdom of the shah? my argument is that it has to do with that relationship, that rather unique relationship that existed between nixon, kissinger and the shah. the united states didn't really have an iraq policy. it had an iran policy. and what they did with the kurds was a subset of that policy. united states policy was to support the shah. if the shah said this needed to be done, then it should be done. that is how the process evolved. i think if that relationship had not been there the kurds' appeals for help from the united states would have been ignored by the nixon administration just like they were by the johnson
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administration, kennedy and all the rest before them. >> so how does this war end? >> it ends in 1975. the problem is that as much as the iranians and israelis want to keep this conflict hidden and covert, it escalates over time. one reason for that is the massive increase in oil prices after 1973, after the october war. this gives both iran and iraq tremendous resources to be able to prosecute this war. and this escalates the war to the point that iranian forces actually cross the iraqi border dressed as kurds. iranian soldiers cross into ooerk and actually engage with iraqi forces. and the shah is very worried that this will lead to a full-scale war between iran and iraq. at a time when his american ally has been weakened by water gate,
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by the vietnam war. his fear is that iran will find itself in a position where they have to confront iraq without the support of the united states and with the soviet union supporting the arab nationalists in iraq. so he has a choice. either he escalates the war, or he makes a feet. and what he does is makes a deal. he meets with saddam hussein on the sidelines of the algiers opec summit. and they issue a communique, this is in march 1975. he issues a ncommunique in whic iran essentially agrees to seal its border, in other words e cut off supplies to the kurds, and saddam agrees to make the concessions that the shah had been making. >> so the shah, he comes out more powerful as a result of
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this war, and iran gets everything they want. you write that iran envisions that they become a super power, maybe even a nuclear power. >> the nuclear power begins under the shah. it was a very modest program in the 1950s, under the eisenhower's program, they built a very small research reactor in tehran. but in the 1970s, with all of this oil money flowing into iran, the shah makes a decision that iron is going to join the nuclear club. it's going to be one of the few countries in the world that can produce electricity from nuclear power. you have to remember, in 1970s, this was considered the height of modernity. only the most advanced economies in the world had this
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technology. he didn't necessarily want nuclear weapons. every indication i've seen is that he, he's thought that if iran developed nuclear weapon it would actually undermine iron's position as the power. because if iran develops nuclear weapons, so will iraq, so will the soviets. but nonetheless, he was of the view that iran should have the scientific base and access to the necessary technology to be able to develop a nuclear weapon if one of its adversaries did so. so, if the iraqis suddenly one day have a bomb, then iran should be able to respond. of course things have changed, dramatically since the 1970s.
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iran no longer has the conventional spreer majority that it did back them. the iranian military is very feeble compared to israel or saudi arabia, armed with the latest technology and latest weapons. so i'm sure the calculation is somewhat different now. but the ambitions are very similar, you know. iran is a country with a long history, with a memory of empire, of greatness. and that is something that's really central to the iranian view of their place in the world. of course, at the same time, and the irony of course is that not dissimilar to say china or russia, iran also sees itself as a victim of history. it's a kind of -- there are two sides of the same coin. they see themselves as a victim of kronialism and imperialism yet at the same time they have this memory of their empire and
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their public greatness. and i think these two things in a way actually reenforce each other. and for the shah, the challenge was how can iran's ambitions be integrated within an american world order? do these things necessarily have to conflict with one another? is there a way that the united states can accommodate an ambitious iran, and is there a way that iran's ambitions can reenforce america's interests? and nixon and the shah found a way to do that, and it worked very effectively as long as those three men were in power. of course it all falls apart after the iranian revolution. whether that's possible today, i'm very skeptical, but i do see a great deal of continuity. >> thank you very much, roham. >> pleasure. >> we have some time for questions.
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let's give him a round of applause, first of all, . [ applause ] we are going to take a few questions. i'm going to ask a question. basically the relationship between both men, what was it like? >> it's funny you ask that. i've just been here looking at the papers. i mean, the relationship didn't end with the fall of the shah or with watergate or nixon's resignation. when the shaw went into exile in january of 1979, nixon and kissinger worked very hard to try to secure safe haven for the shah in the united states. they were highly critical of the carter administration for not allowing the shah to come to the united states or very reluctantly. and in fact, they, kissinger secured a safe haven for the shah in mexico, in the bahamas,
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they visited him when he was stay being in mexico. president nixon drove up from california to see him. and when the shah died in 1981 in cairo, one of the few heads of state to attend the shah's funeral was president nixon, who made a point of being there. and was highly, highly critical of president karlter wh ecarter arrived in cairo. he referred to carter's policy as one of the black pages in america's book of foreign policy. >> next question. >> my name is lou. why is there so much hatred in the current iranian regime toward israel? because i mean i have heard they say if they had a nuclear bomb they would destroy israel tomorrow or yesterday. why is that hatred there?
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what provoked that? i think it's a very cynical, instrumental policy. iran is a country in a region where it's in a minority. it's a shia country, and it's a persian country surrounded by sunni arab states who have a historically antagonistic relationship with iran. so if you want to make a case for leadership, iranian leadership, you need an issue that's going to allow you to rally support. and the issue of israel is one that the iranians use very effectively in the past to rally support. now that strategy has not totally collapsed because of the arab spring. easte iran's support for the assad regime in syria has can completely undermined its support in the rest of the
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world. but the same who professes to hates israel was quite happy to do arms deals with israel in the 1980s and is happy to engage with a cold war with israel as long as there are no iranians fighting. i wonder if there's really anyone left anymore who believes in it, to be honest with you. >> next question? >> my name is wayne scott. the u.s. has a long history of one administration standing behind a foreign leader in support of u.s. national policy. and then over time that, that leader possibly corruption, possibly some type of internal insurgency fighting against them, and then a future administration withdraws that support, that leadership is deposed, collapses, we end up
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being replaced by a government that's very hostile to the united states. vietnam, iran, philippines, egypt, there are several. >> absolutely. >> what would be your thought for how do we keep, how do we stop repeating this pattern? >> well, it reminds me of, i remember when, during the shah's first state visit to washington, during nixon's presidency, he had a number of demands, and he was asking for this and asking for that. and kissinger said to him, well, look, it's, it's much easier for the imperial ruler of iran to make policy than for us here in the united states. because united states is a democracy. and it's subject to all of the vagaries of domestic politics and it seems look there's an
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election year here every year. so, so that makes it very, very difficult to have a consistent, long-term foreign policy that's based on the national interests. there's only really one way of doing that, and that is to do everything in secret. which is what the nixon administration did for the most part. most of the biggest achievements in foreign policy were done in total secrecy and presented as a fait accompli. but then you fail to build public support for your policy, and it can backfire very badly. so how do you resolve that dilemma? i think it's very, very difficult. i think the only real way to do that is to appeal, rather than, as a leader, rather than trying to appeal to people's worse instincts is to treat people intel gently.
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and to speak substance to people. and i think that's something that has been completely lost, to be honest with you, in politics. it's so rare that you see a political leader that has enough respect for people to be able to discuss the substance of policy rather than small sound bites and vagaries of these are the good guys and these are the bad guys, you know. >> back there to your right? >> last night at the other presidential library here in california they had a gop debate. and i'm not sure if you watched it. they all had an opinion about what they would do with the iran deal. >> mm-hm. >> some of them, whether they would rip it up or make a first phone call. do you have any thoughts in regards to that and the new president who might come in and the whole iran deal? >> i did watch it.
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[ laughter ] it was a mixed performance, let's put it that way. well, foreign policy is often about making the best out of a very bad situation and choosing the least worst option. i think the deal with iran is our least worst option. the alternatives are so much worse that it's worth giving it a try. i don't think anyone can say with 100% confidence that it's all going to work and turn out as we expect, especially since this is a deal with a 10 or 15 year horizon. what's going to happen in a year is difficult enough to predict than 10 or 15 years. the middle east is a region rife with instability. every country in the region seems to be imploding, in a state of civil war or conflict. iran is the one country that
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seems to be fairly stable, has a government that's, the rouhani government which was elected in 2013, which is somewhat pragmatic and seems to want to reintegrate itself into the international system and into the world economy, it seems to me that it would be foolish to rip that up and to add even more fuel to the fire in the region. now that doesn't mean, of course, that you, you know, that you fool yourself in terms of the intentions of iran or the policies of the iranian government, both domestically and globally. but i think, as i say, i think it's the least worst option, and it's worth trying. >> question? >> the iranians and the iraqis were at war for eight, ten years, whatever that time period is. now it seems that the iranians are helping the iraqis. how do they go from such
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animosity to this coalition between the two? we >> well, you know, that anno, sir its between iran and iraq was really an animosity between two regimes. i don't think at the popular level there was really any anno, sir its between iranians and iraqis. of course what happened was the 2003 war in iraq. the overthrow of saddam's government allowed a shia government to come to power in iraq. which has, you know, and many of those people in their government had long-standing relationships with iran. and so the relationship between the two countries has improved dramatically. pause of that. since then, it has been a mixed picture. some of the things that iran has done in iraq have been very destructive. some of the things they've done
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have been very constructive at times. but that's, that's the nature of foreign policy. the back and forth of it. but i think the bigger question is whether it's realistic to imagine a world in which iran has no influence in iraq, a country with which it has hundreds of years of relations, of which, with which it has many common cultural links. i think that's not really a realistic strategy. actually, as far as the united states is concerned, iran and the united states have many common interests in iraq when it comes to fighting isis, when it comes to maintaining stability in the country. the question is whether iran is going to encourage a direction in iraq that is inclusive of the sunnis or whether it's going to be a winner takes all strategy. and that remains to be seen, i
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think. >> we have time for one more question. but before we get to that question, i want to let everybody know that roham will be available up in the front lobby to sign copies of his book which are available for sale just down the kol nad. last question. >> i want to ask the question that this gentleman in the back asked about the current iran deal, but in a different way. i was 20 years old when the iranian revolution came about, and by the way, before i get to that, be happy about all the rain in london. over here it's a problem. [ laughter ] that we don't have it. but since then it's always seemed to be that there's been this underlying thread of wanting to get back and work with iran, whether it's the reagan administration with arming them up or to today's deal. what is it about us wanting to take another run at iran to see
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what we can do to make friends with them under this, the fray that's going on out there that says "death to america." what is it about that? >> it's fundamental reality that iran is a very important country, economically, politically, historically and culturally. this is not a country that can be ignored. and u.s. policy, since the hostage crisis, understandably, has been to contain iran, to isolate iran. and that strategy has consequences. it hasn't worked very well. it creates, in a way, it creates more problems than it solves. and so every administration, as you said,leallelelelele over time flirts with the idea of maybe we can engage with them, maybe we can talk with them, maybe it's possible to have some kind of deal.
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we came very close during the clinton administration. i mean, there was a real meaningful detante between the government and iran which was a reformist government and the clinton administration. but any attempt at detente, any change in the status quo is going to upset a lot of vested interests. there are many, many other countries, maen domestic players, both in the united states and iran to benefit from the status quo, who are invested in it, and who will fight tooth and nail to prevent it from happening. so with the current engagement effort, to be honest with you, i'm quite amazed thatrl has gotten this far, that we are really at this point where the u.s. secretary of state and the iranian foreign minister regularly talk to each other and where american diplomats and iranians sit and negotiate and come to agreement.
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that's really something after 30 years of never talking to each other. in the very, very long run, there has to be some kind of relationship between the united states and iran. these are two important countries in a, who have very significant interests in a very important region. so the idea that there can never be some kind of relationship i think is unlikely. when that actually happens, when the conditions will be right for that to happen i don't think anybody can foretell in any kind of confidence. >> thank you, roham. >> thank you. [ applause ] . >> he'll be available in the lobby, signing books. again, they're for sale, pick one up. >> thank you. thanks so much. pleasure. [ applause ]
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♪ on the eve of the american revolution, williamsburg, virginia was a bustling capital city, home to colonial politicians, trades people and a large enslaved population. american history tv will return to the williamsburg of the 1770s on december 5th where we'll be live from the historic district. we'll see revolutionaries and british loyalists mingle on the street. the house of burgesss where george washington once served and the colonial palpalace. we'll hear about colonial slave life and go behind the scenes of williamsburg's costume design center where the city's 18th century look takes shape. and visitors can ask questions from cure ators throughout the day. live from williamsburg, beginning at 11:00 eastern on
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c-span 3. all persons having business before the honorable, the supreme court of the united states are admonished to draw near and give their attention. >> coming up on c-span's landmark cases. >> this woman came and showed a piece of paper. and she demanded to see the paper and read and see what it was, which they refused to do, so she grabbed it out of his hand to look at it. and then a scuffle started, and she put this piece of paper into her bosom. and very readily, the police officer put his hands into her bosom and removed the paper. and there after, thereafter, handcuffed her. while the police officers
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started to search the how long. >> in 1957 the police went to her home. they forced themselves into the home and searched the premises, not finding their suspect, police instead confiscated a trunk containing obscene pictures in her basement. she was arrested and sent to prison for seven years for the contraband, she sued and the case made it all the way to the supreme court. we'll explore mapp v ohio and how this and other supreme court rulings transform police practices nationwide. that's coming up on the next landmark casing, live monday on c-span, c-span 3 and c-span radio. and for background on each case while you watch, order your copy of the "landmark cases" book. it's available at
11:59 pm cases. over the next few weeks, c-span's american history tv will air a selection of oral histories with african-american community leaders. the project titled explorations in black leadership was a collaboration between university of virginia professors, phyllis loeffler and julian bond. next we hear from supreme court justice clarence thomas. he talks about his upbringing in the segregated south and the influence of his grandfather on his career. this program's about 90 minutes. >> justice thomas, thank you for being with us in explorations in black leadership. >> thank you. >> i want to begin with a question about brown v board. i know it was decided a year before you entered elementary school. but did you have some sense that this was a big deal? >> well, not at the time. the big deal was learning the multiplication table and how to add, those types of things.
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but as the years went on, particularly, '56, '57, you got a sense of it, my grandfather was very involved with the naacp, for example. so you heard that. you also heard, as i mentioned and when i wrote my memoirs that we saw them impeach earl warren signs along highway 17 going to liberty county.


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