chapter  2
15 Pages

The United States and Iran,1981-9

During its eight years in office the administration of President Ronald Reagan failed to develop a consistent policy for dealing with Iran. From outward appearances the policies pursued seemed quite contradictory, vacillating from programmes such as Operation Staunch, an effort to isolate Iran internationally by denying it weapons with which to prosecute its war with Iraq, to the initiative of trying to woo Tehran with secret arms sales and high-level negotiations, and culminating with a policy of military confrontation in the Persian Gulf. This ideologically conservative administration's perceptions of and reactions to regional political developments were largely responsible for the pendulum swinging nature of its Iran policy. Initially, it was necessary to adjust to the reality of the Iranian revolution of 1979, a completely unanticipated event that had transformed a dependable regional ally to a seemingly implacable foe. Owing to its preoccupation with the prolonged hostage crisis, which only ended as Reagan was taking the oath of office, the departing administration of Jimmy Carter had not determined how the Islamic Republic, which castigated the deposed monarchy for alleged subservience to US imperialism, related to historic American policy objectives in the Middle East. Thus, the new administration had to figure out the role of an anti-American Iran vis-a-vis three broad goals: containment of Soviet influence; maintaining the security of Israel and protecting US interests in the Persian Gulf.!