History in the Making

Document Type



The Iranian Revolution of 1979 marked the end of the diplomatic relationship between Iran and the United States. This relationship, cultivated by the United States throughout the Cold War, served the interests of the United States’ hegemonic quest to contain communism while also appealing to the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s political goals. This paper analyzes the complex and contradictory nature of the U.S.-Iran relationship during the reign of the Shah, specifically focusing on the role of the Shah’s brutal secret police force Sâzemân-e Ettelâ’ât va Amniat-e Kešvar (SAVAK), created, directed, and funded by the United States to consolidate the Shah’s regime. Using Mark J. Gasiorowski’s framework of client-state relationships, this paper argues that SAVAK embodied the inherent contradictions of the autonomous state (autonomous from their people) and that its bloody tactics of repression are primarily responsible for the ultimate downfall of the Shah’s regime - enabled by the United States.