Magazine May 17, 2021, Issue

America’s Honorable Record in Iran

President John F. Kennedy shakes hands with Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, at the White House, Washington, D.C., April 12, 1962. (Abbie Rowe/White House Photographs/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)
The U.S. saved it from Stalin, and the shah was not a puppet

In 1943, Franklin Roosevelt held his first wartime summit with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, in Iran. The country was impoverished and led by an inexperienced 22-year-old Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Persia seemed to have made an impression on America’s patrician president, who informed his secretary of state, Cordell Hull, “I was rather thrilled with the idea of using Iran as an example of what we can do with unselfish American policy.” Roosevelt went on to claim, “If we can get the right kind of American experts who will remain loyal to their ideals, I feel certain that our policy

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Ray TakeyhMr. Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Last Shah: America, Iran, and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty.

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