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Mission to Iran

Sullivan, William H. (William Healy)

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ISBN 10: 0393015165 / ISBN 13: 9780393015164
Published by Norton, New York, 1981
Condition: very good, Hardcover
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About this Item

22 cm, 296 pages. illus., map, index, slight wear, soiling, & sticker residue to DJ, pencil erasure on front endpaper. William Healy Sullivan (October 12, 1922 - October 11, 2013) was an American Foreign Service career officer who served as Ambassador to Laos from 1964-1969, the Philippines from 1973-1977, and Iran from 1977-1979. An account of the events, the personalities, and the institutions in Iran as seen through the eyes of the last American ambassador to Iran during the revolution of 1978-1979. Sullivan served as U.S. Ambassador to Iran, arriving just before President Jimmy Carter's visit to the Shah of Iran in December 1977. In the 1970s, America had extremely close military and economic links with Iran. However, in early 1978, growing unrest due to inflation and other economic hardships fueled by the growing tide of fundamentalist Islam led to demonstrations against the Shah. During the next year, however, as the domestic situation in Iran was rapidly unraveling, Washington had few instructions for the Embassy in Iran. In late 1978, Sullivan cabled Washington that it might be necessary to consider policy options if the military proved unable to assure the shah's continuance in power and the shah should depart from Iran. In January 1979, the White House instructed Sullivan to inform the shah that the U.S. government felt he should leave the country.On February 1, 1979, the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran.On February 14, 1979, the US Embassy in Teheran was overrun by several different armed groups. The Embassy staff was briefly taken hostage, but later released to the caretaker Iranian government.[16]He wrote in his autobiography: "I had recommended that we accept the fact that a revolution was in progress and seek to use our not inconsiderable influence to steer its success toward its more moderate protagonists." This view, however, was not shared by Washington.On April 1, 1979, Iran officially became an Islamic Republic.After Sullivan left Iran, the Embassy drew down to a skeleton staff, under the direction of Chargé d'Affaires Bruce Laingen, who later became one of 52 Americans held hostage by militant Iranian students. He headed the American Assembly at Columbia University, which had been briefly headed by General Dwight Eisenhower before he was elected President, from 1979 to 1986. In 1981, Sullivan published Mission to Iran, a memoir of his time as ambassador. His autobiography, Obbligato: Notes on a Foreign Service Career, was published in 1984. Bookseller Inventory # 37687

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Mission to Iran

Publisher: Norton, New York

Publication Date: 1981

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: very good,

Dust Jacket Condition: very good

Edition: First Edition. First Printing.

About this title


This book reports the dramatic experiences of the last American ambassador to Iran during the revolution of 1978-79. It is an account of the events, the personalities, and the institutions in Iran as seen through the eyes of the man who, at the time, was the senior U.S. Foreign Service career officer on active duty. It is also a story of the policy failures of the Carter administration as viewed from the American Embassy in Teheran.

Ambassador Sullivan tells of his many meetings with the shah and gives a unique insight into the character, the moods, and the motivations of that complicated man. He explores the political, economic, and social backgrounds of the opposition to the shah, and in doing so shows us the force of Islam in Iranian society and the flat impossibility of the shah's attempts to industrialize the country. Other highlights of this eminently readable narrative include the General Huyser mission, which Washington mindlessly thought could reverse a revolution that was all but completed, the evacuation of 35,000 American citizens from a country in turmoil, and the destructive seizure of the embassy compound in February 1979, a full nine months before the taking of the hostages.

The policy recommendations that Sullivan made to Washington during the Iranian crisis were rejected by President Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski in favor of policies that seemed, then as now, unrealistic. This account is valuable not only as a record of recent history, but as an example of how United States national interests can be damaged by the absence of clear, informed leadership in the White House.

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