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Learn More – Teach More Content Module Topic Iran and Afghanistan in the Carter and Reagan Years Glossary People James Earl Carter, Jr. (1924- ) Educated at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Jimmy Carter was a naval officer before family obligations called him back to take over the family farm in Plains, Georgia, a rural community of fewer than 700 citizens. There he became a successful peanut farmer. Carter also entered politics and became Governor of Georgia. In the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, Carter capitalized on his status as a fresh voice, a Washington outsider, and a Democrat to become the thirty-ninth President of the United States. He also – in what was to be a harbinger of a tendency in the political life of the late twentieth century – affirmed his private devotion to an evangelical faith in a very public way. He publicized the fact that he was continuing to teach his Sunday School class at a local Baptist church in Plains. Though he was mocked for confessing in a Playboy interview that he had ―lusted in his heart‖ for women, the public seemed to believe that he was sincere, and they admired his religious commitment and his claims of absolute marital fidelity appealing. Carter’s affirmation of the importance of a spiritual life for public figures combined with an emphasis on making government smaller and more efficient anticipated some of the issues that would become staples of the Republican Party’s agenda in the 1980s and 1990s. Like Richard Nixon, he sought to enact prototypical controls on the abuse of the environment, his efforts to enact environmental legislation were often thwarted. At the same time, Carter reminded Americans of the environmental issues that had been brewing since Rachel Carson’s publication of Silent Spring in the 1950s. Nevertheless, government grew under Carter as it would under Reagan. He created two new cabinet positions—for Education and Energy. Carter also raised issues of human rights, and pursued peace in the Middle East. The Camp David Accords marked the apogee of his Presidency. The Panama Canal Treaty and the Iran Hostage Crisis probably marked the debacle. The triumph of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua also represented a perceived failure of United States foreign policy. In the Election of 1980 Ronald Reagan ran a campaign that announced that it was ―morning in America.‖ Reagan drew on the support of religious and political conservatives, promising a stronger defense, and a reaffirmation of America’s status as a world leader. Though his presidency was not entirely successful, Carter’s legacy on the environment, on human rights, and on the necessity of ethical commitment in political leaders has endured. Carter has also modeled the ideal role for former Presidents since leaving office. He has worked tirelessly on improving diplomatic relations abroad and at achieving social justice at home, particularly with his work for Habitat for Humanity. He has been a prolific author and speaker. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. See also http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/jc39.html Khomeini [Ayatollah Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini (Imam Khomeini)] (1902-1989) The man who presided over the Islamic Revolution in Iran was the descendent of a family with a long tradition of religious scholarship. In the Revolution of 1979 Khomeini managed to unite the middle and lower classes against the modernizing programme that had developed its agenda in cooperation with the United States. The revolution Khomeini inspired marked the first time that a major Middle Eastern state had declared itself to be a theocracy. Khomeini was not politically active until the 1930s, and even then he accepted the decision of the presiding Islamic establishment to avoid open conflict with the westernizing measures taken by Reza Shah. In the 1950s Khomeini took part in a campaign against the Baha’i sect. During this period, however, he began to attract a group of followers who opposed the Pahlavi dynasty’s westernized model for the future of Iran. With the publication of some of his writings in 1961 and the death of the reigning Ayatollah, he emerged as a central figure in the religious establishment. When the Pahlavi government enacted new laws that deleted the requirement that elected officials swear allegiance on the Qu’ran, Khomeini warned the Shah and the prime minister that they were in violation of Islamic law as well as the Iranian Constitution of 1907. With the ―White Revolution‖ of 1963 – which was popularly believed to be the result of American influence – and its six-point program of progressive reforms, Khomeini pressed his followers for support, and issued a denunciation of the Shah. Continuing protests resulted in Khomeini’s arrest, which itself resulted in an uprising. Khomeini was released in April, 1964. Later that year he denounced the Shah again for having reached an agreement with the United States that offered immunity from prosecution for all Americans in Iran. Khomeini charged that the agreement was no less than a surrender of Iranian independence and sovereignty in exchange for a $200 million-dollar loan that chiefly benefited the Shah and his regime. This time his protests produced exile to Turkey, where he was forbidden by law to wear the cloak and turban which were the badges of the Muslim scholar. This symbolic detail embodied the conflict between a westernized vision of the future of Iran and the Islamic reformers’ vision. Khomeini left Turkey and lived in neighboring Iraq from 1965 to 1978. As the hostility toward the Pahlavi regime escalated, the Shah demanded that Khomeini be deported from Iraq. Khomeini left Iraq for Kuwait, which refused to allow him to enter. From Kuwait he went on to Paris, where he remained until his return to Iraq. The Pahlavi regime fell with the Shah’s departure in early January, 1979. Khomeini returned to Iran on January 31, 1979. The government collapsed in February, and in March there was a massive vote in favor of establishing a fundamentalist Islamic republic. Khomeini proclaimed April 1, 1979 as the ―first day of God’s government.‖ He became the Supreme Leader of the new theocracy. His regime proved to be as autocratic in its way as the Shah’s had been. He moved to suppress opposition groups and those who opposed religious regulations. He presided over a cultural revolution, which featured book burnings and mandatory revisions to make offending texts conform to Islamic teaching. Opponents of the regime were subject to long-term imprisonment and sometimes to death. Osama bin Laden (1957—) The son of a wealthy, Saudi Arabian father who had amassed a fortune in excess of $5 billion, bin Laden joined the Afghan resistance to the Soviet invasion of 1979. Bin Laden used his inheritance, which was reputed to be in excess of $300 million, to provide support for the Afghan freedom fighters. He formed Maktab al-Khudimat (MAK), a group composed of Muslim supporters from around the world. The fight against Soviet occupation was viewed as a holy war, or jihad, against the Soviets. Bin Laden probably received some training from the CIA at this point. The Soviets were forced out of Afghanistan in 1989, and the United States abruptly terminated its aid. Bin Laden viewed this as a betrayal, and he shifted his focus from fighting Soviets to fighting non-Muslims in the neighboring regions. He returned to Saudi Arabia, but was expelled in 1991. Bin Laden regarded the Saudi government’s decision to permit the United States to establish bases in Saudi Arabia as a reenactment of the Crusades of the Middle Ages. He returned to Afghanistan, where he was welcomed by the Taliban government. Bin-Laden was certainly behind the radical, internal Islamist group known as Al-Qaeda, and was the mastermind behind the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the devastating attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 in which commercial aircraft were hijacked and used as bombs to attack New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Another hijacked aircraft that was flying toward unknown targets in Washington, D.C. was taken over by crew and passengers and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Reza Pahlavi (Shah of Iran) (1919-1980) Sometimes called the architect of modern Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi assumed power as Shah in 1953. He was backed by the United States Fueled with American money and aided by the CIA-trained secret police, he attempted to make Iran a model of the positive possibilities for modernization and westernization. His policies ran counter to the sensibilities of Muslim intellectuals like, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the repressive measures of the secret police were perceived as excessive and oppressive. The Shah appears to have been blind to the groundswell of anti-western sentiment and to the ability of figures like Khomeini to cement bonds between disparate social, economic, and religious groups. Overthrown by the Iranian Revolution of 1979, he left Iran, and was eventually given permission to receive medical treatment in the United States in October, 1979. This prompted the attack on the United States Embassy and the seizure of American hostages in early November, 1979. Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) Ronald Reagan’s election as the fortieth President of the United States in 1980 marked a revitalization and transformation of the Republican Party. Born in Illinois, Reagan graduated from Eureka College. Though he began as a New Deal Democrat, he moved to the political right while he was President of the Screen Actors Guild. In 1962 he officially became a Republican. He entered the national consciousness when he made a speech in support of Republican Barry Goldwater at the Republican Convention in 1964. Stunned by the power of his rhetoric, wealthy Republican Californians recruited him to run for Governor of California. He was elected and served two terms. His mode of dealing with student unrest in the 1960s, with the university system, and with the state budget remains controversial. Though he was very unlike Jimmy Carter, there are some striking similarities between the two men that help describe their political success. Both were Washington outsiders and both cultivated a public perception of religious fervor. The difference was that Reagan’s political agenda focused on increased defense spending and a militaristic stance in international affairs, and what some critics saw as an abandonment of a commitment to social and economic justice that dated back to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The ―Reagan Revolution‖ thus not only involved the defeat of the ―Evil Empire‖ of the Soviet Union, it also involved massive cuts in spending for social programs, a move toward deregulation of many industries – the airlines for example, – a retreat from emphasis on environmental and energy issues – and a ruinous increase in defense spending. Reagan endorsed ―supply-side‖ economics, and his tax cuts coupled with the defense budget helped build a gigantic deficit that would only be corrected during the tenure of Bill Clinton – who, paradoxically, was a Democrat. Reagan helped turn the hamstrung Republican Party of the Watergate era into a monolithic powerhouse. He managed to find something to attract blue-collar Democrats and religious conservatives, while at the same time keeping pro-defense advocates, big business interests, and anti-communist forces in the Republican fold. The Iran-Contra affair marred his second term, but Reagan has also been credited with helping end the Cold War by bringing down the communist regime of the Soviet Union. Reagan also backed anti-Communist forces in Nicaragua and El Salvador, though the legacy of those actions has been mixed. Reagan died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease in 2004. The personal popularity that bought Reagan his nickname of ―the Great Communicator‖ remained at stunning heights, even after his struggle with Alzheimer’s made him disappear from public view. Crowds lined the streets of his funeral cortege in Washington and in California. An ailing Margaret Thatcher flew from England to honor her old ally, as did dozens of other world leaders and dignitaries from all walks of life. See also http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/rr40.html Cyrus Vance (1917--) Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter who helped broker the Camp David Accords between Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel, Cyrus Vance ultimately resigned from Carter’s cabinet over his opposition to Carter’s abortive attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980. As Deputy Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson, Vance initially supported the Vietnam War, but he resigned his post at the Pentagon in 1967, and by 1968 was encouraging Johnson to stop the bombing of North Vietnam. In May, 1968 Johnson made Vance deputy chief delegate under Averill Harriman to the Paris Peace Talks aimed at ending the war. Vance returned to the private practice of law in 1969. When Jimmy Carter named him Secretary of State, Vance sought to continue the policy of detente with the Soviet Union. He also worked to produce the SALT II Arms-control Treaty of 1979, and was a primary architect of the Camp David Accords. He worked tirelessly to secure the release of the American hostages until his resignation. Events Camp David Accords (1978) With President Jimmy Carter as mediator, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin engaged in two days of complex negotiations. Israel agreed to return all lands in the Sinai, and Egypt agreed to recognize Israeli sovereignty. This first part of the agreement was fulfilled in 1982 with the departure of the last settler from the Sinai. The second part of the agreement presented more difficulties. It called for Israel to continue negotiations with Sadat over Palestinian refugees. Begin and Sadat returned to Washington in 1979 to sign a formal treaty. Begin had emphasized his refusal to prevent Israelis from settling on the West Bank of the Jordan River. Sadat had seen the West Bank as a potential Palestinian homeland. Though the Camp David Accords were a moment of diplomatic success for President Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance many Arab nations viewed Sadat as having acted the part of a traitor to the Islamic cause. Sadat was assassinated in 1981. Iranian Revolution (1979) The Pahlavi regime in Iran had been restored in 1953 through the intervention of the CIA, which had helped install Muhammad Reza Pahlavi on the Peacock Throne in 1953. The CIA had hoped that Iran would be a friendly, westernized ally and a point of political stability in the Middle East. Cold War policy-makers in the United States in every administration from Eisenhower to Carter found it convenient to ignore the repression and the excessive methods engineered by the Iranian Secret Police (SAVAK), who had been trained by the CIA. Access to Iranian oil reserves was as important for Carter, as was the Shah’s antiSoviet, anti-communist, pro-western stance. The Shah had been dogged by Islamic reformers, including Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini since the 1950s. Khomeini had been exiled for his protests against the regime (See ―Khomeini‖ above), but upon the Shah’s departure in early January, 1979 returned to Iran on January 31. The government collapsed in February, and in March there was a massive vote in favor of establishing a fundamentalist Islamic republic. Khomeini proclaimed April 1, 1979 as the ―first day of God’s government.‖ On November 4, 1979, in response to the United States having admitted the Shah to the United States for medical treatment, Islamic students, with Khomeini’s approval, seized the American embassy in Tehran and took hostages, in violation of the internationally honored principle of diplomatic immunity. Khomeini became the Supreme Leader of the new theocracy. His regime proved to be as autocratic in its way as the Shah’s had been. He moved to suppress opposition groups and those who opposed religious regulations. He presided over a cultural revolution, which featured book burnings and mandatory revisions to make offending texts conform to Islamic teaching. Opponents of the regime were subject to long-term imprisonment and sometimes to death. SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger had attempted to hammer out an agreement to reduce the number of nuclear arsenals. Jimmy Carter made such a reduction a central feature of his foreign policy, partly in recognition of the fact that producing and maintaining a network of such weapons required a significant drain on intellectual and economic resources. He aimed for the drafting and ratification of a second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II). As the existing policy of nuclear deterrence was predicated on the concept of preventing an attack by constantly increasing the size and range of weapons, it actually encouraged the proliferation and development of more and more weapons. By 1979 Carter had such an agreement, but the way to ratification was fraught by political, diplomatic, and military obstacles. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the hopes of ratification were lost. The United States retaliated against the Soviets by limiting the sale of grain and boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics, which were held in Moscow. As a sideline, both Carter and Reagan provided covert aid to a group of Afghans who called themselves holy warriors. The CIA provided these Islamic fundamentalist reformers, which eventually included Osama bin Laden, with training and support. Groups Islamists Often referred to – somewhat erroneously as fundamentalists – Islamic reformers sought to wed Islamic religious practice to political organization and government. The triumph of an Islamist regime in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 marks the first time in the history of the modern Middle East that Islamic reformers/fundamentalists had staged a takeover of a major state. The triumph of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the wake of Soviet defeat and the collapse of a Soviet-dominated regime marked a similar moment in world history. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries): Founded in 1960, OPEC was created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Between 1961 and 1994, eight other countries became members: Qatar (1961); Indonesia (1962): Libya (1962); the United Arab Emirates (1967); Algeria (1969); Nigeria (1971); Ecuador (19731992); and Gabon (1975-1994). From 1960-1965, OPEC was headquartered in Geneva. The central offices moved to Vienna in September, 1965. OPEC’s stated objectives are to set shared prices on petroleum for member countries, and to secure fair and stable prices and a regular supply of petroleum for the use of consumer nations. It also seeks to serve the interests of investors. OPEC’s five original members produced 80% of the world’s oil. Until the midtwentieth century, the United States was, in fact, the largest producer and consumer of oil. In World War II, the U.S. produced about 66% of the world’s oil. By 1972, it was producing only about 22%. The Middle Eastern nations that dominated OPEC, by contrast, had increased their production by 1500% during the same period. The five original members of OPEC were producing 80% of the world’s oil in the early 1970s. OPEC was a manifestation of a new brand of nationalism in the world, one which sought to assert the power of colonized or client nations against the economic and military might of the West. OPEC had realized that oil could be used as a potent political weapon. Oil-rich states in the Persian Gulf region had been successfully seizing control of the vast European and American oil companies that had dominated oil production and exportation in their homelands. In the 1970s as world demand increased, and the supply of oil reserves fell, OPEC nations took advantage of the market to maximize their profits. Between 1973 and 1975 the price of a barrel of oil went from $3 to $12. By 1979-80 the price had jumped to $34 a barrel. The skyrocketing price of oil triggered spiraling inflation in the U.S. In 1973 OPEC initiated an oil embargo on the United States, Western Europe, and Japan after these nations supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War, which had begun with the invasion of Israel by Egypt and Syria. The embargo resulted in long gas lines in the U.S. and gas prices which had increased by 40%. To deal with the problem, American consumers turned to cheaper, smaller, more efficient Japanese and West German cars – a move that produced a dramatic slump in the U.S. auto industry. Despite conservation campaigns and the gas shortage of 1979, which resulted from the Iranian Revolution, Americans remained dependent on foreign oil. Taliban The radical Islamic regime established in Afghanistan in 1996 in the wake of the departure of the Soviets and the collapse of a Soviet-backed regime. Osama bin Laden was allowed to establish training camps in Afghanistan as a special ―guest‖ of the Taliban. The Taliban government of Afghanistan was defeated by United States troops sent in 2002 by President George W. Bush in response to the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by forces trained by El-Qaeda terrorist cells in Afghanistan.
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