Monday, February 27, 2006

In the service of power

As U.S. destabilization of Iran continues to unfold, the New Yorker features an archived 'Letter from Iran' from December 1978 (via Laura Rozen).

The opening paragraphs were enough to confirm that I'd read it when it first appeared, and that I'll have to put it aside for now. Should I feel old, or young again? Lunchtime near Dupont Circle... a brisk walk past the usual dozens of young men in masks screaming about torture by SAVAK. Wince, sighing, try to put it out of mind long enough to eat. Open up the magazine... oh, look. Oh. The old master of the field of courtier reporting, Joseph Kraft, at pains to make clear that his interview with "our kind of Shah" is not that of a journalist but an advisor:

There had been demonstrations in many parts of the country, and strikes, but Teheran, apart from the university, seemed calm, and the Army was in thorough control. Moreover, the opposition was headed by the Moslem clergy, and they were clearly divided. Surely, I said, the factions could be played off against each other.
...I further noted that, while there was obvious unrest in the country, the Shah himself had lifted the lid by easing up on security and initiating reforms. Maybe all that was required was a slower pace and more publicity for the changes he had made.

Much more of the same if you'd like to recreate the atmosphere of official Washington back then. Excuse me; I need something to settle my stomach.

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