The United States admires the efforts being made by Iran and her sov-
ereign, to strengthen democracy and make human rights respected.
— President Jimmy Carter,
The Shah of Iran was always more interested in foreign policy and defense than he was in domestic affairs. Encouraged by the U.S. and Britain, he shopped the world for the latest combat aircraft, warships and armored fighting vehicles. Iran’s defense expenditure in the mid 1970s exceeded that of every other country save the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and Germany. Arms salesmen occupied the best hotels in Teheran, selling weapons as if they were toys.
The Shah, wherever he traveled, was dined, wined and flattered as Iran’s procurer-in-chief of defense equipment. In London I attended a banquet given by the government in his honor at Lancaster House, and the British Secretary of Defense, Lord Carrington, organized a top secret briefing in Whitehall with the chiefs of staff. One of them was an Army general described by Carrington as “a cavalryman with a full-skirted tunic and bowed cavalry legs sufficiently wide apart for a horse to be inserted between them.” During the briefing, on a new class of armored fighting vehicle the British hoped to sell to Iran, the Shah interrupted.
“Tell me, General, how fast do those vehicles go?” The general, a master of foxhounds, explained in fruity tones, “about the huntin’ pace of the Beaufort (one of England’s most famous fox hunts), Your Imperial Majesty.”1