Turbulent Iran: Recollections, Revelations and a Proposal for Peace

By Eldon Griffiths | Go to book overview

THE CORPSES OF EAGLE CLAW

The Lady would never exploit an American military disaster to score
political points against any president of the United States.

— British MP on Margaret
Thatchers’ approach

The Shah’s death brought another abrupt change in Washington. Deprived of the former ruler as a bargaining chip, President Carter abandoned his efforts to win the release of the U.S. hostages by diplomatic means. The U.S. would now “lance the boil” by covert military action.

No one knew anything about this outside the White House and the Delta force commandos who ever since the Embassy was seized had been practicing a rescue attempt, but on Sunday morning April 27, I got a strange telephone call from the chairman of my local Conservative Party in England. The previous night, his daughter’s boyfriend who worked for a local undertaker had brought her home in one of the company’s hearses. Asked why, the young man explained that early the next morning he and all the other undertakers he knew had been asked to present themselves at the USAF base at Lakenheath for a highly confidential assignment. Intrigued, the girl’s father asked if I knew anything about this. Had an airplane crashed or had there been an explosion at the airbase?

The following day, I learned that a long range U.S. aircraft had flown into Lakenheath with a large number of corpses aboard. Many were so badly burned that they were unrecognizable. The bodies had been taken to the base mortuary but since no U.S. staff morticians were available to

-125-

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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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