The Carter Administration
- When President Jimmy Carter took office in January 1977, he inherited a unique relationship with the shah of Iran, who had been returned to his throne by a U.S.-British covert action and who had accepted the role of protecting U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf. The shah had some of the most sophisticated arms in the U.S. inventory.
- When the monarchy was overthrown, the United States and other countries in the world got their first real introduction to radical political Islam, not only during the revolution against the shah but also in the 444-day captivity of American diplomats in Tehran. That experience shaped the U.S. relationship with Iran for decades thereafter.
- The Algiers Accords ending the hostage crisis returned only a fraction of Iran’s frozen assets. It created a claims tribunal that settled hundreds of U.S. claims against Tehran. Those costs, plus Iran’s alienation from much of the world, suggests the hostage model is not likely to be repeated.
- The Carter administration’s effort to build an independent military capability in the Gulf established the initial framework that was completed by its successors.
- The Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis dramatized to U.S. policy-makers the gap between U.S. regional interests and its ability to project force.
- The shah had been anointed as the substitute for a robust U.S. military presence at a time when U.S. forces were tied down in Southeast Asia and the American public was opposed to any new overseas commitments. When the shah fell, the United States was left strategically naked, without a safety net.
- The Carter administration began to rebuild a regional capability in the form of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force and to undertake urgent negotiations with regional states for operating facilities.
- At the end of Carter’s four-year term, however, those plans were more intention than reality. They would be completed by his successors.
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"The Iran Primer"--Book Overview
The world’s most comprehensive website on Iran, “The Primer” brings together 50 experts—Western and Iranian—in concise chapters on politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and the nuclear program. It chronicles events under six U.S. presidents. It also has leader bios, timelines, data on nuclear sites—and context for what lies ahead. Click here for a hardcopy. New articles are added at the top.