Turbulent Iran: Recollections, Revelations and a Proposal for Peace

By Eldon Griffiths | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

by Ambassador Bruce Laingen,
held captive in Iran for 444 days

For most Americans, Iran and its leadership are largely beyond comprehension. Iran first comes to mind as a place where American diplomats were held hostage, where bearded clerics arbitrarily rule, back movements such as Hezbollah, and who now seem determined to acquire nuclear weapons. But here is a book by an Englishman, now living in America, in which the author reminds us in a series of personal vignettes that Iran is much more than that; a country and a people rich in culture and purpose, deeply proud of their history and now of considerable strategic consequence for the entire region and for American interests therein. Americans, he tells us, need to look beyond the box in which they place Iran.

He can speak with authority. Sir Eldon Griffiths knew Iran before its revolution, watched it change over the years as a Member of the British Parliament and government minister and has traveled there since—wearing both British and American hats. Now living in Southern California in the midst of its large Diaspora of Iranian-Americans, still fascinated by Iran’s culture as there transplanted, he is active as a leader in the World Affairs Councils of America in efforts to build a better American understanding of the Middle East and today’s Iran.

Having been one of those hostages and having served in Iran in the American Foreign Service in the hostage period and for two years in an earlier period, I share Sir Eldon’s fascination with that country and with its people. I went there first in the immediate aftermath of the Mosaddegh affair in 1953, including a temporary assignment as the American Consul in the Holy Shrine city of Meshed. In the years that followed I watched from a distance as our embassy grew, in both size and

-vii-

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Turbulent Iran: Recollections, Revelations and a Proposal for Peace
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Part One 1
  • Discovering Persia as a Schoolboy 3
  • Brits and Persians 8
  • Mosaddegh Lifts His Nightgown 13
  • The Americans Move into Iran 19
  • The Shah's Dreams and Illusions 28
  • Ambassador Extraordinaire 34
  • Falling in Love with Iran 42
  • Bee-Pee and a Topless Beach 48
  • A Red-Haired Lady and a Blue Marchioness 55
  • Party at Persepolis 60
  • Radars and Trailers 65
  • Iranian Wheeler-Dealers 72
  • American's Iranian U-Turns 78
  • An Ambassador Poisoned, a Prime Minister Sacrificed 83
  • Black Friday 91
  • Could the Monarchy Have Been Saved? 95
  • Reaping the Whirlwind 101
  • The Flying Dutchman 106
  • Escape from Panama 115
  • The Corpses of Eagle Claw 125
  • Rescue at the London Embassy 129
  • Scuds and Chemical Weapons 133
  • Ollie North's Iranian Follies 140
  • Sanctions Have Failed 147
  • Reza Pah Lavi 154
  • They Came Not Empty-Handed 158
  • Orange County Opens a Dialogue 166
  • Histrionics at the Golden Mosque 174
  • The Reformer Whose Light Went out 182
  • Is Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad Bad or Mad? 188
  • Extracts from a Persian Letter 194
  • Part Two 197
  • Iranian Nuclear Turbulence 199
  • Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty 220
  • Part Three 223
  • Time to Talk 225
  • Engaging with Iran 236
  • Proposals for Peace 242
  • End Notes 251
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