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US policy in Iran 1979-80: the Cold War dynamics of engagement and strategic alliance

Emery, Christian (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis examines the context, conception and execution of US engagement strategies towards the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1979 to 1980. Utilising a wealth of primary sources and interviews with former officials, it charts the assessments that guided US policy and considers the internal and geo-political dynamics that shaped it. It focuses in particular on attempts to establish a strategic alliance based on an assumed mutual interest in containing communist encroachment. To support this, it examines US perceptions and assessments of the Soviet threat in Iran and the Iranian left. It highlights severe deficiencies in the approach and findings of both. This thesis then examines how the hostage crisis and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan re-fashioned US objectives in Iran. It demonstrates that the Soviet intervention reinforced many of the original premises that had underpinned US engagement.

This thesis concludes that, whilst Washington went to significant efforts to restore working relations with Iran, America’s presentation of the communist threat as a starting point for rapprochement sat incongruously with its claim to have accepted the Revolution. More importantly, a Soviet-centric mindset obstructed a deeper understanding of Iran’s complex internal affairs. This approach does not dispute the major, possibly even insurmountable, obstacles facing the normalisation of bi-lateral relations. However, this does not obviate its analysis of some underlying flaws in how Washington approached engagement.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of Historical Studies, Department of American and Canadian Studies
Subjects:E151 United States (General)
JZ International relations
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1016
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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