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Posts Tagged ‘Shah

A Pyrrhic Victory?…

From the History Atlas of Europe (Macmillan).

The most monumental failure of the past two millennia:  ironically, our pick—Charles Martel’s victory at the Battle of Tours in the year 732 A.D.—is considered by most Westerners to be a great success, and the so-called victory made Martel (a.k.a. Charles the Hammer), one of the heroes of European history.

At first glance, the results of the battle seem clear cut, as the Arab defeat marked the turning point in their unsuccessful attempt to conquer the world. But what would have happened had Charles been defeated at the Battle of Tours and the Arabs went on to overrun the rest of Europe? It is not only possible, but probable, that the development of modern science and technology would have been accelerated by several hundred years, making our lives that much better than they are today…

Read more of this provocative alternative history at the always-fascinating Failure Magazine.


As we agree or disagree, we might recall that it was on this date in 1979 that the Shah of Iran fled his country.  Installed by the British in 1941 (to replace his father, whose coup they had aided in 1921), the Shah ruled with steely firmness– and with the aid of close Western allies.  By 1978, opposition to what many Iranians considered a dictatorship, put and held in place by non-Muslim Western powers, boiled over– amid reports of oppression, brutality, corruption, extravagance, and a series of functional failures: e.g., economic bottlenecks, shortages and inflation; and an overly-centralized royal power structure.  The Shah’s attempts to control the populace, including increasing use of his army and SAVAK, his secret police, simply inflamed the uprising.

Finally, faced with an army mutiny and violent demonstrations against his rule (during which most of the statuary celebrating him throughout the country was pulled down and destroyed), the Shah abdicated the Peacock Throne and fled Iran.  Fourteen days later, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the Islamic revolution, returned after fifteen years of exile and took control of Iran.  The Shah visited a series of countries before entering the U.S. in October, 1979 for cancer treatment.  In Tehran, Islamic militants responded on November 4 by storming the U.S. embassy and taking the staff hostage.  With the approval of Khomeini, the militants demanded the return of the Shah to Iran to stand trial for his crimes.  The U.S. refused to negotiate, and 52 American hostages were held for 444 days.  Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi died in Egypt in July, 1980.

The Shah and Empress Farah shortly before leaving Iran in 1979


Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

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