To Create a New World? American Presidents and the United Nations

By John Allphin Moore Jr.; Jerry Pubantz | Go to book overview

leader Nelson Mandela, who had been incarcerated for almost three decades. A year later, de Klerk, in compliance with UN resolutions, announced the end of all apartheid laws. Mandela would be elected the first black president of South Africa. Within just over a decade from Carter's reelection defeat, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa were all independent, ruled by democratic majorities, and full members of the United Nations; and apartheid was a curse of the past.


The Iranian Hostage Nightmare

Iran had once been the heart of the great Persian Empire. In the seventh century, Arabs brought to the Persians the Islamic faith, which displaced the indigenous Zoroastrianism. By the nineteenth century, Iran had become a pawn in the imperial competition between Britain and Russia, which were both trying to influence the ruling native dynasty. During World War II, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, with British collaboration, replaced his abdicating father as shah, and in 1945 Iran become one of the charter members of the United Nations. As the cold war hardened, the new shah, facing a Soviet threat to the North, tilted toward the West. Washington considered Iran a major source of petroleum, a key listening post, and a defense barrier against Soviet intentions. Following the CIA's overthrow of the Mossadegh government in the early 1950s, the shah pursued a vigorous policy of modernization and secularization, seeking to "westernize" his nation.

Early in his presidency, Carter had met with and toasted the shah as a valued friend. It was a friendship that would soon be sorely tested. In early 1978 conservative religious leaders of the majority Shiite Muslim faith, resentful of the shah's secularism, joined with unhappy students, merchants, and dissident political opponents in growing complaints about the shah's rule and about the presence of some 50,000 Americans training the Iranian military and operating the oil fields. More secular opponents condemned the Shah's violations of human rights in the treatment of his subjects. The burgeoning opposition united around a curious Islamic religious figure— Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, an eighty-year-old exile living in France. Street demonstrations accelerated. In early September the shah announced martial law; troops fired on civilian protesters, killing hundreds. In late December 1978, the shah appointed Shapour Bahktiar as prime minister and then, in the face of growing revolt, left the country. The following February, Ayatollah Khomeini returned victoriously from Paris, ordered the arrest of

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