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Shah’s Illusions and Spiritual Beliefs

April 1, 2018 by  

Reza Vaghefi, Ph.D

His Majesty said “We have no doubt that God looks after us until we complete the mission we have adopted for the people this land”. Assadolah Alam’s Memoire Volume 6, page 177, edited by A.N. Alikhani. And so goes Shah’s understanding of his standing with the Almighty. One wonders what to make of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s mind at that moment. This statement by Shah at the time was accompanied by similar one in the sense that Shah was so emboldened, or given absolutely wrong information about a host of things including a statement that” We will soon arrive at the gate of great civilization”. It had also been circulated through the Office of the Prime Minister Hoveida that Iran will be one of the world’s five major economies in a few years. All such statements were either based on total lack of knowledge about the economy or were simply mentioned to make Shah happy. Assadolah Alam did not at least, in his memoires, hesitate to mention that he was quite sure that officials attending the highest gathering in in Shah’s presence, the High Economic Council, did not tell Shah the truth about the chaotic nature of the economy, deterioration in the physical infrastructure of and complete lack of coordination among economic actors in the system. They did not dare say a word, or they may not come bac

Desperate Moments

Jamsheed Amoozegar was a competent civil servant who had served in Government in many position beginning with the Ministry of Health portfolio. Many other prestigious responsibilities followed when he was finally appointed the Prime Minister I 1977. In about less than a year into his term, a movie house was put on fire in Abadan, in South-west of the country and Amoozegar resigned’. Sherif-emami, another Shah loyalist and proven incompetent in previous job, was put in charge of Government but the turmoil accentuated after that tragedy, did not stop. 

Rumer began to circulate and find an audience that previous prime minister, Dr. Ali Amini, may get the job. Dr. Amini was an experience politician and probably he could muster enough capable people to stabilize the conditions. In preparations to present his slate and a plan to the Shah, Dr. Amini had asked one of his aides, a Tehran University professor, to assemble a group of well-informed people to meet with him and recommend some solutions. As a former Dean of College of Economics at Teheran University, I was one of the people to meet with the potential prime minister.

Dr. Amini had been in politics for a long time. An Iranian Ambassador to Washington during the late John Kennedy’s presidency, had created an opportunity for him to show-case his penchant for structural change in Iran. Upon his return to Iran he was appointed Prime Minister when he brought in to the government people like Arsanjohny who was eager to initiate some land reform and convince the Shah that such reform was absolutely essential for the country’s progress. Dr. Amini was also the signatory to the debatable Oil Agreement (Consortium) signed a year after the overthrow of legitimately elected Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh who pioneered nationalization of Iranian oil industry. Such colorful professional history made Dr. Amini, himself, target of the emerging mass opposition although not pronoiunced. Regardless of such background there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for Dr. Amini to assume the role of the Prime minister at such critical time. And that is why he was trying to find the market conditions, sort of, limited as they were. As we were seating around Dr. Amini asked what would be the appropriate questions that he may utter at the presence His Imperial Majesty the Shah. The audience raised some issues that had created the turmoil and the strata of society that were responsible for the disturbances. Then he began to raise questions and all of sudden asked me (the author) my opinion. Here I found an opportunity to lay out what had been going on, dangerously, and creating potential social and political vacuum. I referred to actual decision by the Shah which had created the political crisis. I told Dr. Amini to please tell the Shah that he and his father had done remarkable things for Iran in terms of physical infrastructure. The objective facts that every Iranian recognized. Some top-rated universities, a cross-country railroad connecting North to South, creation of steel mills, modern roads and a host of other things including national security and unrivaled army and air force in the region. But they had failed in creating political leaders that could lead these institutions and assets in times of crises. As a matter of fact, they both had eliminated the possibilities that such leaders would emerge and lead the nation. Experienced and honest and well respected people like Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh who was put under house arrest after a foreign- inspired Coup, and deprived of specialized medical help when, if available, would have saved his life. And of course, there were quite a few others who had earned respect of the nation and would have followed their guidance but they were isolated and sent to exile. Also, Hid Majesty had done worse that his father. When his father was sent to exile by the Allied forces, at least he had left a great statement like M.A. Foroughi who took the helm and stabilized the country. His Majesty has left no none.

Dr. Amini listened to my comments and he seemed to have agreed with me. The session ended in about three hours and I had a feeling that he agreed with most of the issues raised by the audience. Dr. Mossadegh’s main crime was that he had told the Shah that he should reign and not rule. This was the in Constitution of 1909, which would have saved the regime. But this was not to Shah’s liking and he over short period after the Coup, took control of major levers of power: security forces including Intelligence, energy sector the main stay of the government and foreign policy, which meant when things went really bad he had no one to blame and the people blamed him for all sorts of shortages and mismanagement. 

 

Shah’s Religious Beliefs

On numerous occasions, Shah expresses his deep belief in religion as mentioned in the preamble. Sometimes in July of 1977, in a conversation with late Assadolah Alam, the Minister of the Imperial Court, and at this time Shah’s most intimate subordinate-friend, Shah mentions that” because of his experience (two assassination attempts on his life) he believed that God will protect him as he has in the past”, (Alam’s Memoire Vol.6, p.538) It seems that the man with so much power in his hand depended on almighty to save his regime too. He seems not to differentiate between his personal affair and the affairs of the state and that they both will be protected by God.

While Shah believed in such a metaphysical force to protect him and his regime there were forces proceeding methodically and meticulously to uproot the regime and apparently extensive security system was unaware or unwilling to counter these offensives forces, under the radar.

Therefore, when the eruption of massive demonstration was reported to the King, he shockingly asked “Where are our supporters”, the ones that had been organized by the government on special occasions, the answer was “At their homes and warming up” because it was winter and the weather was unusually cold in January 1979. Shah got the message. But there were no Foroughis or Mossadeghs to calm the people by taking the helm and bringing tranquility to the scene. Out pouring of anti-Shah continued until he left. She did not realize the affairs of the state that required implementation of Realpolitik cannot be relegated to Almighty and expect some spiritual being resolve shortages of basic necessities which are true functions of meticulous planning of scarce resources or a competitive market system. In the absence of the latter he would have had to allow the former function. But he had dismantled the former’s analysis and recommendations in l973 which had predicted massive inflation which indeed created the much of the turmoil. Obviously, God had nothing to do with such outcome, but unwarranted ambitions did.

 

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