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United States Iran Policy 1979–1980: The Anatomy and Legacy of American Diplomacy

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The confrontation between the United States and Iran may now appear so ideologically entrenched and vitriolic that it is easy to lose sight of the importance that the United States placed on reaching an accommodation with the nascent Islamic Republic in 1979. Contrary to the claims of the current Iranian leadership, there was no instinctive American hostility. Rather than conspiring to bring down the nascent Islamic Republic, Washington fretted over Iran's fragility and saw its destabilisation as a likely precursor to Soviet adventurism in the Persian Gulf. The Carter Administration went to significant lengths to engage the new regime, but its good intentions were not enough. This analysis explores the misperceptions and faulty thinking that characterised the development and execution of Washington's engagement strategy. It then goes beyond the collapse of engagement to show how American objectives were refashioned after the hostage crisis and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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