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US foreign policy and the Iranian Revolution: The Dynamics of Engagement and Strategic Alliance


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Speaker(s): Dr Christian Emery
Chair: Dr Roham Alvandi

Recorded on 2 December 2013 in Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building.

During this talk, Dr Emery will discuss the main findings from his new book: 'US Foreign Policy and the Iranian Revolution: the Cold War Dynamics of Engagement and Strategic Alliance'. In February 1979, a revolution led by a seventy-six year old cleric espousing a relatively obscure interpretation of Shia Islam succeeded in dislodging one of Washington's most powerful allies in the Middle East. Although low-level analysts had long warned of a crisis looming in Iran, Carter's senior foreign policy advisors, distracted by more pressing foreign policy initiatives, had resisted any serious rethinking of US strategy. Dr Emery will examine the nature of the adjustment they were forced to make. He will show that, contrary to the claims of Iran's leaders, US diplomats tried in good faith to build bridges with the new regime. Good faith was not enough, however, and Dr Emery will discuss how Cold War dogma and a range of misperceptions undermined America’s 'new' policy. His talk will then focus on how US policy objectives in Iran were refashioned in light of three major and converging crises: the Iran hostage crisis, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, and the onset of the Iran-Iraq dynamic. Dr Emery will provide a fresh perspective on the origins of one of the most bitter and enduring confrontations in international relations.

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