The United States and the Middle East: A Search for New Perspectives

By Hooshang Amirahmadi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
U.S. Policy toward the Islamic
Republic of Iran:
A Case of Misperception
and Reactive Behavior

Mansour Farhang

Since the fall of the Pahlavi monarchy in February 1979 U.S.‐ Iranian relations have been plagued with mutual distrust and hostility. This state of affairs cannot be attributed solely to the anti‐ American tendencies within the Iranian revolutionary movement, for the misperceptions of U.S. policy makers toward the Islamic Republic have had a provocative life of their own. Yet, given the interactive nature of all foreign policy making, any useful effort to comprehend the causes of Washington's failure to come to terms with the new reality in Iran has to include an analysis of the way in which the Iranian regime perceives or reacts to U.S. behavior. This chapter contends that a detailed examination of the admission of the Shah to the United States in October 1979 and the secret U.S. arms sales to Iran in 1985-86 (two policy decisions that exemplify the perplexities of the U.S.-Iranian relations over the past decade) can be used to illustrate how repeated miscalculation and confusion in the U.S. policy on Iran have contributed to the present impasse between the two countries. A candid discussion in Washington of the history of this impasse may well serve as a significant step toward ending it.

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