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It's all Kissinger's fault
on September 20, 2011
In this well-written, well-researched book about the Shah of Iran's attempts to make himself the new Cyrus, mixed with Richard Nixon's post-Vietnam search for agents of empire by extension and mixed with the Shah and King Faisal squaring off for oil hegemony, the "captain of the USS Titanic," steering the American economy for the iceberg of doing anything to help Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ... was Henry Kissinger.
This included him and Nixon writing a blank check to the Shah for unlimited arms deals, a blank check that Kissinger refused to tell either Ford or Carter about. (Kissinger refused interview requests for this book.)
Others were at fault, too. Nixon himself for writing that blank check, even if on Kissinger's advice. William Simon, for leaning too far the Saudis' way. Don Rumsfeld, whose arrogance 25 years ago under Ford was no less than under Bush.
But at the heart of it all was Henry Kissinger, enabling the Shah's every wrong-sized dream, while being ignorant of the inflation the Shah was inflicting on himself, and the wreckage he was inflicting on the United States, Western Europe and Japan, even while Henry claimed he knew more economics than most of Nixon's economics team.
The Shah might still be in power, or his son, rather, if we had reined him in. (Kissinger also missed the mullahs as the possible source of a revolution, seeing only Commies.) Energy shortages were happening before the first embargo of 1973, but might have been better managed to the benefit of the Shah, Faisal and other Arab oil states and the West, all alike. And, the Israel situation might have been better handled, too.
The book ends soon after Carter's accession, with Faisal dead and the Shah on his way. A sequel would be wonderful.
I learned a fair amount about pre-embargo 1972 energy shortages, which only increased realizing Kissinger was not only a megalomaniac and immoral (see Chile/Allende), but also grossly incompetent.
Faisal comes off well, overall. The Shah? A figure of tragedy, but a self-isolated one, as dictators tend to be.