The Spark (Spring 1978)
This chapter highlights human error as an additional factor in the maze of socio-political and cultural causes of the Islamic Revolution. It addresses the issue of “ineluctability” in the study of historical events. On the heels of Carter’s New Year’s Eve visit to Tehran, the Shah ordered a scurrilous article about Khomeini to be published in a mass circulation Tehran daily. The presidential visit contradicted the myth of “Carter ambiguity” from which the Shah could have drawn dividends, but his crass attempt at character assassination set in motion a cycle of riotous protests and commemorations for the dead that a despondent Shah proved unable to handle. While describing the surrounding events, the chapter explores factors that might have worked on the Shah’s psyche to influence him to commit the fateful blunder.