THE CHALLENGE OF KHOMEINI
Jimmy Carter's amateur style of diplomacy faced its most severe challenge and created its most lasting consequences in the face of Iran's furious retreat from the community of Western-looking, progressive nations during the late 1970s. While Carter's human rights initiatives evoked little more than scorn and censure in nearly every other world capital, a convergence of powerful realities, not the least of which was Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's curious infatuation with almost anything American, conspired during the Carter years to reduce Iran to unique vulnerability to U.S. pressure. That leverage the Carter team did not hesitate to exploit.
Unfortunately, the president's initiatives in Iran as elsewhere betrayed the cardinal sins of impatience and improportionality. By almost any objective reckoning, Iran during the 1970s was achieving, even prior to its access to the moral guidance of the Carter team, greater and more rapid social, political, and economic progress than any other nation on Earth; indeed, the velocity of change already had opened huge, potentially fatal fissures within Iranian society. Yet for Patricia Derian, David Aaron, Jessica Tuchman, Robert Hunter, and the other committed ideologues who had won political appointment in the infant Democratic administration, even the radical pace of change inspired by the Shah's extravagant visions seemed too slow.
What these extreme proponents of the human rights agenda demanded was nothing less than the impossible: complete and immediate capitulation by the Shah to their own perception of what Iran should become, and the integration into Iran's decision-making structure of those traditionalist elements of Iranian life to whom the very thought