Modernizing Iran, 1953–1978

  • Patrick Clawson
  • Michael Rubin
Part of the The Middle East in Focus book series (MEF)

Abstract

For 25 years, the shah’s agenda was to modernize and Westernize Iran. The country was transformed: income per person rose fivefold, and on average cities tripled in size. Almost half the population became urbanized, and 25 times more students graduated from high school than before World War I. Iran transformed from being a poor country like its eastern neighbor Pakistan to being a relatively more affluent developing country like its western neighbor Turkey or the Balkan nations. Iran also became a significant regional power, with a large and modern military. Paradoxically, the shah’s success at enriching and empowering Iran offended many Iranians’ nationalist pride since it depended not only upon Iran’s own power, but also upon assistance and close association with the West, and the United States.

Keywords

Steam Income Marketing Turkey Defend 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Shahrough Akhavi, Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran: Clergy-State Relations in the Pahlavi Period (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1980), pp. 76–90, speculates the shah’s aim was in part to secure clerical nonobjection Iran’s entry into the Baghdad Pact later in 1955; if so, he was successful.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ebtehaj’s career is sympathetically portrayed in Frances Bostock and Geoffrey Jones, Planning and Power in Iran: Ebtehaj and Economic Development under the Shah (London: Cass, 1989).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Mark Gasriowski, U.S. Foreign Policy and the Shah: Building a Client State in Iran (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), p. 112.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Julian Bharier, Economic Development in Iran 1900–1970 (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 158 and 165. This, the basic reference for the period, is the source for most of this paragraph.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Paraphrases of Arsanjani’s words in 1962, as reported in Ali Ansari, Modern Iran Since 1921: The Pahlavis and After (London: Longman, 2003), p. 154.Google Scholar
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  8. 9.
    An account of the period is in Bagher Agheli, Rouzshomar-e Tarikh-e Iran (Tehran: Nashr Goftar, 1991), volume 2, which is a day-by-day description of events in Iran from 1953 to 1978 (volume 1 covers 1906–1953).Google Scholar
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  10. 11.
    Khomeini’s activities during this period are chronicled in Sayyed Hamid Ruhani, Bar Rasi va Tahliyati az Nehzat-e Imam Khomeini, volume 1 (Tehran: Sherkat-e Afsat, n.d., which includes many documents from the time). See also Baler Moin, Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999), pp. 74–130.Google Scholar
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    This account, and the data (derived from BP), are based on Ronald Ferrier, “The Iranian Oil Industry,” in Peter Avery, Gavin Hambly, and Charles Melville eds., The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 7: From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 639–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    The full complexities of these deals, as well as the changes in the agreement with the consortium, are spelled out in Jahangir Amuzegar, Iran: An Economic Profile (Washington, DC: The Middle East Institute, 1977), pp. 55–59.Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    Keith McLachlan, The Neglected Garden: The Politics and Ecology of Agriculture in Iran (London: I.B. Tauris, 1988), citing the 1948/1949 U.S.-commissioned Overseas Consultants, Inc. report. McLachlan’s Chapter 5, pp. 64–104 is the basis for this account of Iranian agriculture pre-reform.Google Scholar
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    The description of the reform and its impact draws on McLachlan, The Neglected Garden, pp. 105–152, and Afsaneh Najmabadi, Land Reform and Social Change in Iran (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), pp. 50–168.Google Scholar
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    International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Current Economic Position and Prospects of Iran, Report SA-23a (restricted), May 13, 1971, Vol. 1, p. 13.Google Scholar
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  25. 24.
    These data, from Iranian government household surveys, are cited in Mohamad Pesaran, “Economic Development and Revolutionary Upheavals in Iran,” in Iran: A Revolution in Tarmoil, Afshar, ed. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), p. 30.Google Scholar
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  29. 27.
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  31. 33.
    For a general survey of Iran’s foreign policy after 1953 with particular emphasis on its relations with Middle Eastern countries, see Abdolreza Hoshang Mandavi, Siyasat-e Kharaji-ye Iran dar Duran-e Pahlavi 1300–1357 [1921/22–1978/79] (Tehran: Nashr-e Alborz, 1374 [1995/96]), pp. 395–503 covers the period 1972/1973–1978/1979.Google Scholar
  32. 36.
    The phrase is from the masterful study by Faisal bin Salman al-Saud, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Power Politics in Transition (London: I.B. Tauris, 2003), p. 129.Google Scholar
  33. 38.
    This paragraph relies on the excellent account in Keith McLachlan, “Economic Development 1921–79,” in Peter Avery, Gavin Hambly, and Charles Melville, eds., The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 7, pp. 627–637.Google Scholar
  34. and Robert Graham, Iran: The Illusion of Power, revised edition (London: Croom Helm, 1978), pp. 77–127.Google Scholar
  35. 39.
    Najmabadi, Land Reform and Social Change, pp. 169–191. Grace Goodell, The Elementary Structures of Political Life: Rural Development in Pahlavi Iran (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), is a fascinating account of how these corporations appeared to the residents.Google Scholar
  36. 40.
    Farhad Kazemi, Poverty and Revolution in Iran: The Migrant Poor, Urban Marginality and Politics (New York: New York University Press, 1980), p. 14. Kazemi presents the results of his surveys of migrants, discussing inter alia their economic situation and political involvement.Google Scholar
  37. 41.
    The best account of changes in nomadic life in the 1960s and 1970s is Lois Beck, The Qashqa’i of Iran (New Haven: Yale University Press,1986) as well as her account of life with the Qashqa’i in 1970/1971, Nomad: A Year in the Life of a Qashqa’i Tribesman in Iran (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  38. See also Richard Tapper, Frontier Nomads of Iran: A Political and Social History of the Shahsevan (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press,1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. and Jacob Black Michaud’s highly political anti-shah Sheep and Land: The Economics of Power in a Tribal Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) about the Lurs.Google Scholar
  40. The best single book about nomadism in Iran—which shows its continuing importance (e.g., how the first census of nomads in 1987 found 1.2 million people) is Richard Tapper and Jon Thompson, eds., The Nomadic Peoples of Iran (London: Azimuth Editions, 2002), which has many stunning color photographs from the 1980s by Nasrollah Kasraian.Google Scholar
  41. 46.
    David Menashri, Education and the Making of Modern Iran (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), pp. 191 and 216–219 (by comparison, 3,000 students were studying at foreign universities in 1956). University entrance problems are discussed on pp. 205–209.Google Scholar
  42. 51.
    Graham, Illusion of Power, p. 150 and pp. 144–151 describe SAVAK as generally incompetent. An interesting account of SAVAK’s structure and activities is provided by a high-ranking intelligence official who defected to the Islamic Revolution, Hossein Ferdust, Zohur va Sequt-e Saltanat Pahlavi: Jeld-e 1, Khatarat-e Arteshbod Sabeq Hossein Ferdust (Tehran: Entesharat-e Etelaat, 1369 [1990/1991]), pp. 379–519.Google Scholar
  43. 52.
    Ervand Abrahamian, Tortured Confessions: Prisons and Public Recantations in Modern Iran (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 119–120.Google Scholar
  44. 53.
    On the arms procurements, see also Barry Rubin, Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 133–137 and 157–176.Google Scholar
  45. For a detailed account of how the corruption worked in the case of one important general, see Safa’addin Tabarraian, “Serab-e Yek General: Bazshenasi-ye Naqsh-e Arteshbod Tufanian dar Hakemiyat-e Pahlavi-ye Dovom” (“General Toufanian: A Review of his Part in Second Pahlavi’s Rule”), Tarikh-e Mo’aser-e Iran (Iranian Contemporary History), 1:3 (Fall 1997), pp. 119–182. This publication from the Institute for Iranian Contemporary Historical Studies (Moasseh-ye Motala’at-e Tarikh’e Mo’asser-e Iran) in Tehran, has many fine articles on Qajar and Pahlavi history.Google Scholar
  46. 54.
    Ann Schulz, Buying Security: Iran Under the Monarchy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1989), p. 135.Google Scholar
  47. John Stempl, Inside the Iranian Revolution (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981), p. 74, cites State Department data showing 53,941 Americans in Iran in 1978.Google Scholar
  48. 55.
    Schulz, Buying Security, p. 152; cf. p. 157 for the military budgets 1948–1977. For a contrasting sympathetic view, see Alvin Cottrell, “Iran’s Armed Forces Under the Pahlavi Dynasty,” in George Lenczowski, ed., Iran Under the Pahlavis (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  49. 57.
    For examples of exaggerations about imperial Iran’s economic problems and understatement of its accomplishments, see Kenneth Pollack, The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict between Iran and America (New York: Random House, 2004), pp. 110–114, or James Bill, The Eagle and the Lion, pp. 168–169.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Clawson
  • Michael Rubin

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