Last modified on 4 November 2014, at 08:44

Muhammad Reza Pahlavi

I envisaged future generations of Iranians proudly taking their rightful place among the vast family of nations, and fulfilling their responsibilities with dignity. I hoped to see dispelled for ever the mediaeval shadows from which Iran had emerged only half a century ago, and that the light which is the very essence of Iranian civilization and culture would prevail. Throughout my reign, I lived only for the realization of this dream which was beginning to become reality.

Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi (Persian: محمدرضا شاه پهلوی, pronounced [mohæmmæd-rezɒː-ʃɒːh-e pæhlæviː]) (26 October 191927 July 1980) was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from 1941 until he was deposed in 1979 by the Islamic Revolution.

SourcedEdit

Rest in peace [Cyrus], for we are awake, and we will always stay awake

SpeechesEdit

1963Edit

  • ... some parties think that only the rules laid down by their doctrines are the right ones. Our strength resides in the fact that our revolution does not desire the triumph of one class or of one ideology over another.... Ours is a White Revolution: we adopt no slogan but we embrace everything which seems good to us, whether it be labelled communism, socialism or capitalism....
    My final aim is to bring Iran, within twenty years, to the same level of civilization and progress as will be enjoyed by the most highly developed countries. During the last ten years the degree of our backwardness has been halved, but it is this remaining backwardness which will be the most difficult to combat.
    • January 27, 1963, as quoted in The Shah's Story, page 76

1968Edit

  • Why should we put up with the present evils in our society? As opposed to the society we are visualizing, the present one can be described as a diseased one. The evils are there on all levels, international and national, and even within the smaller units such as towns and families. Of course, the disease did not appear like a bolt from the blue, either yesterday, or last year. It is the result of factors that have deep roots and long lives. These consist of privations, discriminations oppressions, bigotries, hatreds, and hostilities; poverty, ignorance, hunger, and illiteracy. Each and all of these have been left to us as ar evil heritage from the past. The fundamental difference between our situation today and that of our forefathers is that now knowledge has enabled us to realize that these evils are neither natural nor inevitable in the same way as we have found that cholera or the bubonic plague are not necessary calamities.
  • Once more, the spectre of Cold War is everywhere. Defence budgets, a decimal part of which could free humanity from hunger, disease, illiteracy, and poverty, instead of decreasing, have grown. The gap between 'the haves' and 'the have-nots' is daily widening. Many nations seem to be politically independent but cannot use their independence to deal with their problems or to prosper because foreign influence and interference is still strong. Fratricide and similar savagery in the world sting the human conscience. Racial discrimination a mark of shame on twentieth-century man, although intolerable to most humans can still be seen in various parts of the world. And the power-seeking policies of the strong are hampering the execution of United Nations' ideals.

1971Edit

  • O Cyrus, great King, King of Kings, Achaemenian King, King of the land of Iran. I, the Shahanshah of Iran, offer thee salutations from myself and from my nation. Rest in peace, for we are awake, and we will always stay awake.
    • Opening speech on October 12, 1971, when Iran marked the 2500th anniversary of Cyrus' founding of the Persian Empire

1976Edit

  • Taking Iran's history as witness, I declare that we, the Pahlavi Dynasty, nurse no love but that for Iran, and no zeal but that for the dignity of Iranians; recognise no duty but that of serving our state and our nation.
    As the commander of this monarchy, I make a covenant with Iran's history that this golden epic of modern Iran will be carried on to complete victory, and that no power on earth shall ever be able to stand against the bond of steel between the Shah and the nation. We shall never again be caught unawares. The nation and the Imperial Arrned Forces, which come from the ranks of the people and derive their power from our inexhaustible national resources, are alert day in and day out to protect their country. No foreigner or his agents will ever have the chance to penetrate the unshakable structure of our national sovereignty because Iran's destiny is now shaped by Iranians and for Iranians - and this shall always be the case.

1977Edit

  • I perfectly understand the particular attention which you pay to the question of nuclear energy, and fully realize the possible dangers and catastrophes which might result for mankind from an irresponsible attitude. In this field my wish is for Iran to put all her efforts towards the peaceful use of atomic energy. We shall continue to co-operate with all the nations of the world to attain this end in the interests of human society.
    • Message to the White House, April 1977, as quoted in The Shah's Story, page 67-68

1978Edit

  • I heard the voice of your revolution... As Shah of Iran as well as an Iranian citizen, I cannot but approve your revolution... Let all of us work together to establish real democracy in Iran … I make a commitment to be with you and your revolution against corruption and injustice in Iran.
    • Broadcast to the nation. November 5

InterviewsEdit

A king, when he doesn’t have to account to anyone for what he says and does, is inevitably very much alone. But I’m not entirely alone because I’m accompanied by a force that others can’t see.
  • I don’t deny I’m lonely. Deeply so. A king, when he doesn’t have to account to anyone for what he says and does, is inevitably very much alone. But I’m not entirely alone because I’m accompanied by a force that others can’t see. My mystical force. And the I get messages. Religious messages. I’m very, very religious. I believe in God, and I’ve always said that if God didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him. Oh, I feel so sorry for those poor souls who don’t have God. You can’t live without God. I’ve lived with God ever since the age of five. That is, since God gave me those visions.
    • Oriana Fallaci (December 30, 1973), The Mystically Divine Shah of Iran (interview), Chicago Tribune
  • My visions were miracles that saved the country. My reign has saved the country and it’s saved it because God was besides me. I mean, it’s not fair for me to take all the credit for myself for the great things that I’ve done for Iran. Mind you, I could. But I don’t want to, because I know that there was someone else behind me. It was God.
    • Oriana Fallaci (December 30, 1973), The Mystically Divine Shah of Iran (interview), Chicago Tribune
  • When you think I’ve been wounded by a good five bullets, one in the face, one in the shoulder, one in the head, two in the body, and that the last one stuck in the barrel because the trigger jammed... You have to believe in miracles. I’ve had so many air disasters, and yet I’ve always come out unscathed – thanks to a miracle while by God and the prophets.
    • Oriana Fallaci (December 30, 1973), The Mystically Divine Shah of Iran (interview), Chicago Tribune
  • Nobody can influence me, nobody. Still less a woman. Women are important in a man's life only if they're beautiful and charming and keep their femininity.
    • Oriana Fallaci (December 30, 1973), The Mystically Divine Shah of Iran (interview), Chicago Tribune
  • What do these feminists want? What do you want? You say equality. Oh! I don't want to seem rude, but ...you're equal in the eyes of the law but not, excuse my saying so, in ability.
    • Oriana Fallaci (December 30, 1973), The Mystically Divine Shah of Iran (interview), Chicago Tribune
  • You've never produced a Michleangelo or a Bach. You've never even produced a great chef. And if you talk to me about opportunity, all I can say is, are you joking? Have you ever lacked the opportunity, to give history a great chef? You've produced nothing great, nothing!
    • Oriana Fallaci (December 30, 1973), The Mystically Divine Shah of Iran (interview), Chicago Tribune
  • All I can say is that women, when they govern, are much harsher than men. Much crueler. Much more bloodthirsty. I'm citing facts, not opinions. You're heartless when you have power. Think of Catherine de Medicis, Catherine of Russia, Elizabeth I of England. Not to mention Lucrezia Borgia, with her poisons and intrigues. You're schemers, you're evil. All of you.
    • Oriana Fallaci (December 30, 1973), The Mystically Divine Shah of Iran (interview), Chicago Tribune
  • A crown, a throne could not be based on the not too very solid foundation of blood.
  • Who are they to try me? They should be tried first. [They are] people who are rejecting the United Nations resolutions, who are rejecting the Hague Court resolution, who are rejecting the world public opinion, who have no respect for any internation law, and who are massacring people, executing people, just imprisoning thousands and thousands and thousands without any reasons. Who is going to try them?
  • It's always a tendency to compare our country in my time to the most perfect democracies of the world. I don't mind that. But now, what we hear is "oh let's try to understand these people. After all, Islam is something special," when what they are doing is absolutely contrary to Islam. Now, everybody is trying to say "well, let's try to understand these people", these people who are killing, massacring others, the people they don't like just like flies. But in my case, it is to compare it to the most perfect government of the world.
  • You think that Mr Khomeini, [an] uneducated person … could have planned all this? Masterminded all this, set up all the organization? I know that one man alone could not have done it … I know that a tremendous amount of money was spent … I know that top experts in propaganda were used to show us like tyrants and monsters, and the other side as democratic liberal revolutionaries who want to save the country.

PublicationsEdit

Mission for my Country (1961)Edit

The truth seems to be that, no matter where you find them, the so-called proletarian dictatorships are actually controlled by a small elite who ordinarily lose little sleep in worrying about the rights of the common man
It is woman's peculiar gifts, as well as man's, which make nonesense of any literal-minded notion of 'equality' of the sexes
  • ... contrary to what many believed, my father was kind and tenderhearted, especially towards his family. His forbidding sternness seemed to melt into love, kindness, and easy familiarity when he was with us. Especially with me, his acknowledged successor to the throne, he would play lightheartedly. When we were alone together, he would sing me little songs; I don't remember his ever doing this in front of others, but when only the two of us were there, he would often sing to me.
    • Page 45
  • I remember that on one occasion Mossadegh swooned in the midst of a speech to our Parliament. When a hastily summoned doctor started to loosen his clothes, Mossadegh instantly revived enough to clap his hand over his wallet. The old hypocrite had not been unconscious at all ; he was merely pretending in the hope of impressing his audience. I think this incident, observed by many, illustrates one of Mossadegh's cardinal characteristics- namely, his insincerity.
    • Page 109
  • In examining any dictatorship, there are two good tests. Firstly, what is the relation between the rulers and the proletariat or common people? Are the rulers members of the proletariat, as they would have you believe? Do they even identify their interests with those of ordinary citizens? The truth seems to be that, no matter where you find them, the so-called proletarian dictatorships are actually controlled by a small elite who ordinarily lose little sleep in worrying about the rights of the common man. Secondly, have the proletariat any effective say in what the rulers do? In the proletarian dictatorships I am familiar with, ordinary people enjoy little or no control over their Government or over their own lives and futures.
    • Page 162
  • I personally object to the veil on aesthetic as well as other grounds; but I must admit that, for instance in the suburbs of American cities, I have often seen women attired more sloppily than our Persian women normally are.
    • Page 232
  • Many Westerners forget that when the Prophet spoke of four wives as the maximum allowable number, he had in mind a reduction to four as compared to the number then often prevailing; moreover, Mohammed specified that a man should acquire more than one wife only if he could treat them all with equal justice - obviously a difficult feat for even the most diligent man to achieve. In effect, then, the Prophet curtailed the number of wives.
    • Page 233
  • It is woman's peculiar gifts, as well as man's, which make nonesense of any literal-minded notion of 'equality' of the sexes. Nobody could do greater harm to woman's real progress than to confuse 'equality' on the one hand with 'equality of opportunity' on the other. The Moslem religion and all the other great world faiths teach the complementary relationship of man and woman. They all reject the idea of their being 'equal' in the sense of identical or synonymous. Observation and common sense teach the same truths.
    • Page 235
  • I am continually amused by the Communist argument that the United States tries to prevent the less-developed countries from industrializing in order to keep them subservient to herself. In our extended dealings with the American aid authorities, we have never found this to be the case; on the contrary, they have helped us with a wide variety of industrial projects, including those that compete directly with American industries. The Americans have enough sense to prefer strong and prosperous friends, and they realize that their most lucrative international trade is with other highly industrialized countries, not with weak and backward ones.
    • Page 301

The White Revolution (1966)Edit

  • I will frankly confess that I was convinced that God had ordained me to do certain things for the service of my nation, things that perhaps could not be done by anyone else. In whatever I have done and whatever I do in the future, I consider myself as an agent of the will of God.
    • Page 16

The Shah's Story (1980)Edit

On himselfEdit
  • I envisaged future generations of Iranians proudly taking their rightful place among the vast family of nations, and fulfilling their responsibilities with dignity. I hoped to see dispelled for ever the medieval shadows from which Iran had emerged only half a century ago, and that the light which is the very essence of Iranian civilization and culture would prevail. Throughout my reign, I lived only for the realization of this dream which was beginning to become reality.
    It will be seen that I worked tirelessly and keenly to this end. I had ceaselessly to struggle against all sorts of obstacles and difficulties. I had to confront innumerable plots and intrigues both inside the country and abroad. I combated the all-powerful, multi-national trusts and cartels when all my advisers warned me against such challenges. I may have made mistakes, of course, but this long battle was not one of them.
    • Page 11
  • They say that [martial law] would have cost my country less than the bloody anarchy which is there now. I can only reply that it is easy to play the prophet a posteriori and that a sovereign may not save his throne by shedding his compatriots' blood. A dictator can, because he acts, because he acts in the name of an ideology which he believes must triumph whatever the price. But a sovereign is not a dictator. There is an alliance between him and his people which he cannot break. A dictator has nothing to hand over. Power lies in him, and in him alone. A sovereign receives a crown and it is his duty to pass it on.
    • Page 182
  • I wanted to build up Iran while we still had oil and thus to guarantee the life of the country after our oil reserves were exhausted. Therein lay the solution. We had to move fast, we had no time to spare. Finally, it is unquestionable that the oil lobby contributed actively to my downfall.
    • Page 201
On Iranian historyEdit
  • No people can live in the past - not even in its own past. But if it no longer has a link with its history, it must of necessity perish. Persia, crowded with hardship and glory, ordeals and hopes. With the help of the Almighty, the lessons of the past constitute the best guide for the citizens of the future.
    • Page 15
On his fatherEdit
  • My father loved us dearly and deeply. There were eleven of us and our love for him was full of admiration. We held him in a kind of respectful awe, so powerful and formidable did he seem. I soon learned that beneath the exterior of a rough cavalryman he had a very good heart.
    • Page 33
On oil and nuclear energyEdit
  • The world petroleum story is one of the most inhuman known to man: in it, elementary moral and social principles are jeered at. If powerful oil trusts no longer despoil and humiliate our country it is not because these predators have become human, but because we have won a hard-fought battle which has been going on since the beginning of the century.
    • Page 59
  • One of my chief "crimes" then, was to have wanted Iran to move from the oil age into the atomic age before it was too late. Must I blush for that? The peaceful use of nuclear energy did not create problems for radiation and contamination for us since we have vast stretches of desert...
    I was accused of having adopted the plans for nuclear power stations among others for reasons of "personal ambition". Was it not obvious that I would be dead before most of these plans had been carried out? Why speak of personal ambition then? It was rather a question of forseeing Iran's needs. My "personal" ambitions are known to all men of good faith - to preserve national unity, to make the Iranian people as happy as possible and to prepare a more peaceful future.
    • Page 68
On world leaders and statesmenEdit
All ideological differences set apart, I cannot help having a sincere admiration for Mr Brezhnev.
[Léopold Sédar Senghor] is a statesman of international standing and a remarkable administrator, a master of the French language and an authentic poet.
  • I did not share the enthusiasm of certain politicians for the National Front leader, it was because I had noticed, in the past, some strange contradictions between Mossadeq's declared ends and his actions. Officially he defended nationalist anti-colonialism and was the most intransigent patriot who declared that no concessions or advantages should be granted to foreign powers. He described his doctrine as a "negative balance" and in fact his greatest failing was that he was negative.
    • Page 52-53
  • Mossadeq, the orator, is difficult to judge as a politician because of the perpetual contradictions between his words and his acts, and because of his sudden changes of mood from elation to depression before one's very eyes. His absolute certainty, violently expressed in hysterical speeches, would turn to tears and sobbing. He had frequent "diplomatic" illensses and he played out macabre comedies in which he would exclaim: "I am a-dying..." and so forth. He has been compared to Robespierre, to Renzi and even to characters from the Commedia dell' Arte.
    • Page 53
  • Nikita Khruschev was a difficult man to deal with, often very hard, always determined. But his peasant side which made him alternatively good-natured and cunning, also made him likeable.
    • Page 142
  • All ideological differences set apart, I cannot help having a sincere admiration for Mr Brezhnev. He is to all appearances an outstanding diplomat. He abides by the policy of peaceful co-existence as laid down by the Helsinki agreement. And he has succeeded in making his country as powerful as it is today: the first nuclear power in the world, soon to be he first maritime power; as for the land and air forces, their superiority is so great that it bears no comparison.
    • Page 142
  • No doubt history will say that Eisenhower was a soldier. For my part, I will remember, above all, his goodness. He was a fundamentally good man who knew how to be loved by the Americans. I was fond of Ike.
    • Page 143
  • Henry Kissinger is possessed of a truly superior intelligence, in addition to which he has two qualities which, unfortunately, many great men lack: he is able to listen and he has a very subtle sense of humour.
    • Page 144
  • It was always with great pleasure that I met the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie who had shown great patriotic energy in his resistance to Italy. Our conversations were frank and animated and I occasionally hazarded to suggest various reforms to him. I was a young student when I heard him unsuccessfully defend his country from the rostrum of the League of Nations at Geneva. The League of Nations was powerless and today the United Nations is no more effective. What has happened to Ethiopia?
    • Page 145
  • I am tied by a very solid friendship to President Senghor. He is a statesman of international standing and a remarkable administrator, a master of the French language and an authentic poet. I spoke to him at length about the "negritude" which is a genuine doctrine of cultural synthesis. It echoed profoundly in me since, throughout my life, I have delved ceaselessly back to the deepest and most ancient roots of my own country.
    • Page 145
  • My friend, Hassan II,... is a sovereign of rare intellectual qualities. He is a descendant of the Prophet and holds a doctorate of Law from the University of Bordeaux and thus, perfectly combines two cultures, the European and the Koranic. It is superflous to add that I pray for him and his loyal people.
  • Page 145
  • As for King Hussein of Jordan, I cannot praise him enough. He is not only a friend, but a brother. His qualities as a man and his goodness of heart are enhanced by great courage and a true love of his country.
    • Page 146
  • Yugoslavia is, with Iran, the only country which under difficult, not to say agonising, circumstances stood up to Joseph Stalin. It was not easy to unite ethnic groups or to modernize a country like Yugoslavia, and it must be acknowledged that Marshal Tito achieved something extraordinary. May God grant that his successors be as capable as he.
    • Page 146-147
  • I wish to salute the intransigent patriotism and the unflinching determination for independence of the Roumanian president. I was allied to him by a true friendship.
    • Page 147
On Islam and the Islamic RevolutionEdit
  • ... I have always endeavoured, as my double duty of believer and sovereign dictated, to follow the precepts of the sacred Book of Islam: precepts of balance, justice and moderation. Although my religious education was very literal, in that I learnt to understand the precepts of the Koran precisely according to the text, we have seen that on several occasions throughout my life, I have felt myself to be very particularly in the hands of the Almighty.
    • Page 166
  • I am convinced that the majority of the religious hierarchy today deplores the hardship inflicted on our people. I am referring not only to the martyrs but of the families who have been dispersed and terrified, who have no resources, and to the four million unemployed who are suffering from the economic chaos of a country which only a year earlier was giving employment to a million foreigners. Those who have chosen to serve God must feel profoundly sad at seeing ridicule poured on the most sacred principles of our religion.
    • Page 167
  • I cannot avoid wondering about the feelings of those who are now the apparent rulers of Iran. They are, despite their mistakes and the crimes which they have instigated, men of faith who claim to be sent by God. I hope they will eventually realize that the revolution which they believe they have brought about is not to the glory of God, but serves the forces of evil.
    • Page 167
  • At no time during my reign were there more than 3,164 so-called political prisoners, most of whom were terrorists. Since February, it is certain that tens of thousands of men and women have been arrested and imprisoned under frequently inhumane conditions.
    • Page 198-199
  • It is a fact that throughout my reign, representatives of the Red Cross were allowed to visit the kingdom's prisons at liberty. Our penitentiaries were open to all official investigators. Every prisoner's lawyer knew the details of the charges against his client, and had time in which to prepare his defence and find the necessary witnesses. Finally, a condemned man had the right of appeal, after which I often excercised my right of pardon. It is no longer like this. The so-called "Islamic tribunals" are an insult to the elevated principles of the Koran.
    • Page 199
  • Since the beginning of 1979, it has often been said that the Shiite religion, like the ephemeral French Republic of 1792 is "one and indivisible". Nothing could be further from the truth. Those in power do not represent the élite of the hierarchy. Narrow-minded and mediocre, they are as far removed as it is possible to be from the noble ideas of the Prophet. They are ignorant of essential political, economic and social realities of the day, but nonetheless they claim to legislate.
    • Page 205
  • The consequences of the Ayatollah's blood-thirsty fiasco could be disastrous for the whole of Islam and particularly for Shiism. The systematic destruction, in the name of religion, of a state and a society which vigilantly safeguarded the peace, could have effects in this part of the world which would be disastrous for sincere believers of the Koran, and even for those who believe less wholeheartedly. The murderous megalomania and the agitation of Qom, combined with the miserable dictatorship of a handful of mollahs, are, I insist, all in direct contradiction with the essential principles of Islam.
    • Page 207
  • Government by inquisition has never been good. However, since January 1979, our country has been under the yoke of inquisitorial power. Five centuries after the Spanish Inquisition, Iran is living under the terror of a new Torquemada who is more pitiless and more sinister than its predecessor. In fact the Inquisition tribunals did not sentence men to be executed unless they were known to be heretics. They had the opportunity to recant and to repent; and they would call witnesses, which the Iranian Torquemada does not allow.
    The tribunals are said to be Islamic. But the truth cannot be overlooked, and genuine Islamic law insists on the right of an accused man to defend himself. Islam is never served by hatred, vengeance and murder, but by justice, goodness, forgiveness and high moral standards. This explosion of hatred, supposedly "in the name of God", is an insult to God and to our religion. And this insult, I repeat, unfortunately threatens to do great harm to Islam, just as the Inquisition did great harm to Catholicism.
    • Page 209

AttributedEdit

Alphabetized by author
You approach the Mullahs as if they are normal people. They are not. You see them in your own image; you should not.
Thank God we in Iran have neither the desire nor the need to suffer from democracy.
The great powers claim that whatever they possess is theirs by right, but whatever we, the smaller countries possess is negotiable.
What's happened recently in Pakistan, India and Kuwait only goes to show that it's futile to imitate Western democracy. They've ended up exactly where they started.
Pride comes before a fall- although in his case it's more conceit than pride
  • Let the dog bark; the moon shall beam on.
    • As quoted in Gholam R. Afkhami (2009) The life and times of the Shah, page 261
    • The 'dog' was a reference to Khomeini
  • You approach the Mullahs as if they are normal people. They are not. You see them in your own image; you should not.
    • As quoted in Gholam R. Afkhami (2009) The life and times of the Shah, page 591
  • We may be delighted to see Israel putting the Arabs in their place, but we have repeatedly condemned their occupation of Arab territory.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 65
  • For all its apparent tolerance, the USA maintains a peculiar balance between the forces of capitalism and democracy. To achieve this I feel sure the country is guided by some hidden force; an organization working in secrecy, powerful enough to dispose of the Kennedys and of anyone else who gets in its way.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 169
  • If [the British] have the fucking audacity to advise me ever again, I shall fuck them so rigid that they'll think twice before crossing my path in future.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 173-4
  • I have learned by experience that a tragic end awaits anyone who dares cross swords with me; Nasser is no more, John and Robert Kennedy died at the hands of assassins, their brother Edward has been disgraced, Krushchev was toppled, the list is endless.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 202
  • Thank God we in Iran have neither the desire nor the need to suffer from democracy.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 233
  • We were wrong to believe that the British are our friends. You are obsessed solely with yout own selfish interests and treat us as a people beyond the pale. But your attitude is a matter of profound disinterest. Your democratic system has already erupted into chaos. We shall soon overtake you and in a decade you will be struggling in our wake. Perhaps then you will remember how you treated us.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 236
  • He [the King of Morocco] spends half his time asleep and the rest of it buried between the legs of the fairer sex.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 237
  • Better that he take risks than that he ends up a shrinking violet like Ahmad Shah Qajar.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 241
    • In colloquial Persian, Ahmad Shah Qajar is a byword for ineptitude.
  • Nixon is a strong leader with a good grasp of the world's problems. He knows that the only way to argue with the communists is from a position of strength.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 254
  • The great powers claim that whatever they possess is theirs by right, but whatever we, the smaller countries possess is negotiable.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 262
  • Nixon has the audacity to tell me to do nothing in the interest of my country until he dictactes where that interest lies. At the same time he threatens me that failure to follow his so-called advice will be to jeopardize the special relations between our two countries. I say to hell with such special relations.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 278
  • Nixon would like to consign us to to the level of the most backward countries in the whole Middle East. Why lower us to the standard of the Saudis rather than raising the Saudis to meet us?
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 281
  • Muslim brothers be damned; they're our greatest enemies. You know yourself that I'm a Muslim, even a fanatical Muslim. But that does nothing to alter my opinion of the Arabs.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 330
  • To be first in the Middle East is not enough. We must raise ourselves to the level of a great world power.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 360
  • Pride comes before a fall- although in [Henry Kissinger's] case it's more conceit than pride.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 391
  • ... the Jewish press in the USA is solely responsible for our poor publicity.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 427
  • It would serve the Americans right if we emptied the prisons and let the subversives take power. They'd soon show Washington just how much they appreciate good old American values.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 465
  • Who on earth do the Americans suppose their allies are amongst the Arab world? Even Saudi Arabia they seem to regard as nothing more than a resevoir of oil and money.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 474
  • The Times and the Guardian accuse us of operating a police-state. The BBC Persian programme has made similair allegations, saying that countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia should be denied access to Western military technology. What are the bloody fools on about? Do they seriously regard Iraq, or Algeria, or Libya as liberal regimes?
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 490
  • What's happened recently in Pakistan, India and Kuwait only goes to show that it's futile to imitate Western democracy. They've ended up exactly where they started.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 506
  • Soviet propaganda is remarkably effective and the Americans are even more remarkably stupid.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 508
  • ... the Saudis have never shown any respect for human rights, either now or in the past. Even a petty burglar faces having one of his hands chopped off. The liberal press in America prefers to ignore all this, although they don't hesitate to blacken the reputation of Iran.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 535
  • How can you hope to build up a nation by fragmenting its politics into opposing camps? Whatever one group builds, the other will endeavour to destroy.
    • As quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1968-77, page 552
  • Growing terrorism, permissive societies, democracy collapsing through lack of law and order. If things continue on their present track, the disintegration of Western societies will occur much sooner than you think under the hammer blows of fascism and communism. Freedom is not something that does not have a breaking point, and your enemies would like you to reach that point.
    • As quoted in Jimmy Carter (1995), Keeping faith: memoirs of a president, page 444
  • I must enforce the Iranian laws, which are designed to combat communism. This is a very real and dangerous problem for Iran- and, indeed, for the other countries in my area and in the Western world. It may be that when this serious menace is removed, the laws can be changed, but that will not be soon. In any case, the complaints and recent disturbances originate among the very troublemakers against whom the laws have been designed to protect our country. They are really just a tiny minority, and have no support among the vast majority of Iranian people.
    • As quoted in Jimmy Carter (1995), Keeping faith: memoirs of a president, page 445
  • Ashraf, keep this gun with you, and if troops enter Tehran and try to take us, fire a few shots and then take your own life. I'll do the same.
  • Do you remember the afternoon, at one of our first meetings, when we'd been playing quoits? There were a lot of us, quite a crowd. Most of the quoits fell on the ground instead of the target, and you were kind enough to run and pick them up for everyone. You had already charmed me, but on that day I loved the way you were so natural.
    • As quoted in Farah Pahlavi (2004) An Enduring Love: My Life with the Shah, page 11
  • I am not bloodthirsty. I am working for my country and the coming generations. I can't waste my time on a few young idiots. I don't believe the tortures attributed to the SAVAK are as common as people say, but I can't run everything. Besides, we have ways of using psychological pressure that are much more effective than torture... My people have every kind of freedom, except the freedom to betray.
    • As quoted in Gérard de Villiers (1975), The Imperial Shah: An Informal Biography, page 259
  • If I take a liking to someone, I need only the smallest shred of doubt to make me break it off. I am alone, but I don't feel alone... because God is up there. I know people sometimes make fun of me because I am religious, but I feel this profoundly. God is my only friend.
    • As quoted in Gérard de Villiers (1975), The Imperial Shah: An Informal Biography, page 273
  • There was a sharp break in my life after 1953. I came to realize that I couldn't have the same relationships with my friends. Friendship involves the exchange of confidence between two people, but a king can take no one into his confidence. I have even had to put some distance between myself and my old friend Hossein Fardoust whom I trust implicitly. I even observe certain distances with members of my family. I had to tell my mother- who is a very dictatorial woman- that it would be better if she didn't ask me for favours for I might have to refuse her.
    • As quoted in Gérard de Villiers (1975), The Imperial Shah: An Informal Biography, page 273-274
  • This criticism is ridiculous. The twenty-five hundreth anniversary celebration cost me less than the inauguration of each new president of the United States.
  • You Westerners simply don't understand the philosophy behind my power. The Iranians think of their sovereign as a father. What you call 'my celebration' was to them the celebration of Iran's father. The monarchy is the cement of our unity. In celebrating our twenty-five hundreth anniversary, all I was doing was celebrating the anniversary of my country, of which I am the father. Now, if to you, a father is inevitably a dictator, that is your problem, not mine.
    • As quoted in Gérard de Villiers (1975), The Imperial Shah: An Informal Biography, page 284
  • I want the standard of living in Iran in ten years' time to be exactly on a level with that in Europe today. In twenty years' time we shall be ahead of the United States.
    • As quoted in Marvin Zonis (1991), Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah, page 65
  • A person who does not enter the new [Rastakhiz] party... is either an individual who belongs to an illegal organization, or is related to the outlaw Tudeh Party, or in other words is a traitor. Such an individual belongs in an Iranian prison, or if he desires, he can leave the country tomorrow... because he is not an Iranian, he has no nation, and his activities are illegal and punishable according to law.
    • As quoted in Marvin Zonis (1991), Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah, page 75
  • They want liberalization! I'll give them liberalization. I'll loosen the screws until the Americans beg me to tighten them again.
    • As quoted in Marvin Zonis (1991), Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah, page 109
  • The real difficulty was caused by too precipitate liberalization... The Americans and the British kept pushing me; they wanted a democratic republic. They wanted me to be more liberal with my opponents. The changes were genuine on my part. But Iran is not ready for Western-style democracy.
    • As quoted in Marvin Zonis (1991), Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah, page 109

Quotes about the ShahEdit

Alphabetized by author
There is only one thing I can say about the Shah- he knows how to draw a crowd. ~ Jimmy Carter
Reza Shah perpetrated many injustices on the people, such as usurping their lands, but compared to his son he deserved gratitude. ~ Hussein Fardust
  • Rather than respond to the spiritual and material needs of his people, a course which would have immortalized him as a great reformer, [the Shah] chose to pursue a personal, fleeting glory. A system which might have been capable of rescuing Iran from backwardness and misery was allowed to collapse. The Shah could not bear the idea of democratic participation in the political decision-making process, nor could he tolerate the prospect that someone else might gain a degree of popularity. Herein lay his tragedy. He saw any successful or respected personality as a potential opponent.
    • Alinaghi Alikhani, as quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I, page 9
  • By no stretch of the imagination - as people who knew him closely, personally, or professionally would testify - was Mohammad Reza Shah a dictator in either the historical or contemporary sense of the word. He was not ruthless, mean-spirited, bloody, or tyrannical. A twentieth century man in the street would identify a dictator with Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Idi Amin, Bokassa, Duvalier, Doe, Ceausescu. Mohammad Reza Shah resembled none of them. He may have been an autocrat in the genre of Tito and Franco, but he was not a dictator.
    • Jahangir Amuzegar (1991) The dynamics of the Iranian revolution: the Pahlavis' triumph and tragedy, pages 214-215
  • The Shah's rule was a mixture of failures and successes; neither all one nor all the other. Some of the vaunted economic and developmental achievements were impressive- others were shallow and superficial. But in the end the important failures were primarily political- the Shah had no programme for restoring representative government and his only solution for dissent was repression.If he had succeeded in making the monarchy truly popular, perhaps he could have sustained that for a time- but instead the monarchy became more remote and disconnected from the attitudes and concerns of ordinary Iranians.
    • Michael Axworthy (2008) Iran: Empire of the Mind, page 257
  • Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability in one of the most troubled areas of the world.
    This is a great tribute to you, Your Majesty, and to your leadership and to the respect and admiration and love which your people give to you.
    We have no other nation on earth... closer to us in planning our mutual military security. We have no other nation with whom we have closer consultation on regional problems that concern us both. And there is no leader with whom I have a deeper sense of personal gratitude and personal friendship.
    • Jimmy Carter, New Year, 1978, as quoted in Marvin Zonis (1991), Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah, page 239
  • There is only one thing I can say about the Shah- he knows how to draw a crowd.
    • Jimmy Carter, as quoted in Steven F. Hayward's (2004) The real Jimmy Carter, page 126
  • Mohammad Reza was the centre of power. He differed from his father in behaviour and understanding of power. To me, Mohammad Reza was more [despotic] than his father. Reza Shah perpetrated many injustices on the people, such as usurping their lands, but compared to his son he deserved gratitude.
    • Hussein Fardust (1999) The rise and fall of the Pahlavi dynasty: memoirs of former general Hussein Fardust, page 51
  • You may say, and keep repeating that this marriage will never take place. I shall not change my mind. I will never marry a man I am not in love with. I don't love the Shah of Iran; I will not marry him.
  • The people will not rest until the Pahlavi rule has been swept away and all traces of tyranny have disappeared. As long as the Shah's satanic power prevails, not a single true representative of the people can possibly be elected.
    • Ruhollah Khomeini's response to Shah Pahlavi's announcement of elections (August 1978); quoted in "The Shah's Divided Land" (18 September 1978) Time
  • I watched president Carter on TV toasting the Shah on New Year's Eve, and thought it was one of the silliest things I'd ever seen, especially when the Shah lifted his champagne glass. And I thought "We're in a muslim country, he's celebrating an American holiday, by toasting with alcohol. Isnt this dumb? Doesnt he know anything about his own country? The people in his own country?"
    • Michael Metrinko, The Fall of the Shah (2009), BBC World News documentary
  • Was the collaboration of some slaves any different than the silence of some Iranians who stood by and did nothing as Savak thugs murdered and tortured opponents of the Shah? How could we judge other men until we had stood in their shoes?
  • I calculated the amount of time I spent with my father during my entire life... the total amount of time I had with him, if you add up the hours, was about two months. My father was a busy man... we had very few opportunities to really sit down and talk as father and son.
    • Reza Pahlavi, as quoted in Marvin Zonis (1991), Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah, page 57
  • Your Empire was founded by Cyrus, Xerxes extended it and Darius preserved it. Your present ruler seems to me to possess something of the qualities of all three of these mighty kings.
    • Michael Stewart, as quoted in Asadollah Alam (1991), The Shah and I, page 71
  • The Shah regarded politics as the province of demagoguery, an art in which only charlatans could excel. He had no time for what he saw as the tedious process of achieving consensus through debate and discussion and tried to justify his solitary exercise of power by insisting it was what Iran needed to catch up with lost time. He believed he was more patriotic than anyone else and needed no advice on how best to promote and protect the highest interests of the nation.
    • Amir Taheri (1991), The Unknown Life of the Shah, page 3
  • It seems that amassing a fortune is not the Shah's chief aim in life. What appears to motivate him most, the thing to which he devotes all his energies, has much vaster implications: He wants to become a part of history, to engrave his name for all time not only on the history of his country of his country but on that of the entire world. With his mysticism, he might even hope to fill the spiritual void in the Western countries which, in his view, are floundering in materialism.
    • Gérard de Villiers (1975) The Imperial Shah: An Informal Biography, page 286

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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