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E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail

E-Seminars in This Series

E-Seminar 1
Islam, Revolution, and the Modern State

E-Seminar 2
U.S. Policy in the Persian Gulf

E-Seminar 3, Revolution, U.S. Policy, and Cold War Politics

Taught by: Gary Sick

If 99 percent of political decision making follows a rational, chessboard model, then revolutions are the remaining 1 percent, reflecting a refusal to abide by the rules. In the final e-seminar of his three-part series on Iran, Gary Sick, Adjunct Professor of International Affairs and Acting Director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia University, focuses on the Iranian revolution of 1979. A member of the U.S. National Security Council during the Carter administration, Professor Sick offers a firsthand account of how U.S. political leaders perceived and reacted to the events leading up to the revolution.

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Professor Sick explains why Washington believed that all odds favored the shah over his opposition.

While easily predictable in hindsight, at the time the Iranian revolution caught the Iranian leadership, its American allies, and even the Soviets by surprise. Professor Sick discusses how conflicting internal priorities, a Cold War mentality, and an overly dependent relationship on the shah combined to blind the American bureaucracy to the level of instability present in prerevolutionary Iran. He reviews the nature of political crises as a whole and explores what, if anything, the nations and the individuals involved could have done differently to avert the crisis.

NOTE: The content in this e-seminar was captured before the events of September 11, 2001.

E-Seminar Length:3-5 hours
Start Date:Anytime
Columbia Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni:FREE

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Note: Columbia students, faculty, staff, and alumni will need to use their University Network ID (UNI) to access e-seminars.

Outline | Instructor's Background | Recommended Reading | Technical Requirements

1. Introduction
2. The Nature of a Crisis
3. A Dependent Relationship
4. A Distracted America
5. A Failing Leader
6. The Revolutionary State
7. Conclusion

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Instructor's Background
Instructor's Background
Gary Sick served on the National Security Council staff under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis and is the author of two books on U.S.-Iranian relations. Professor Sick is a captain (ret.) in the U.S. Navy, with service in the Persian Gulf, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. He was the deputy director for International Affairs at the Ford Foundation from 1982 to 1987, where he was responsible for programs relating to U.S. foreign policy. Professor Sick has a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University, where he is Senior Research Scholar, Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, and acting director of the Middle East Institute. He is a member of the board of Human Rights Watch in New York and cochairman of the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch / Middle East. He is the executive director of Gulf/2000, an international research project—on political, economic, and security developments in the Persian Gulf—being conducted at Columbia University with support from the W. Alton Jones, Rockefeller, Ford, Soros, and MacArthur Foundations.

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Recommended Reading
Arjomand, Said Amir. The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Bakhash, Shaul. The Reign of the Ayatollahs: Iran and the Islamic Revolution. New York: Basic Books, 1984.

Bill, James A. The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Christopher, Warren, et al. American Hostages in Iran: The Conduct of a Crisis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

Keddie, Nikki R. Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History of Modern Iran. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.

Potter, Lawrence G., and Gary Sick, eds. Security in the Persian Gulf: Origins, Obstacles, and the Search for Consensus. New York: Palgrave, 2002.

Ramazani, Rouhollah K., ed. Iran's Revolution: The Search for Consensus. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.

Sciolino, Elaine. Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran. New York: Free Press, 2000.

Sick, Gary. All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran. New York: Random House, 1985.

Sick, Gary. October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan. New York: Times Books, 1992.

Sick, Gary, and Lawrence G. Potter, eds. The Persian Gulf at the Millennium: Essays in Politics, Economy, Security, and Religion. New York: St. Martin's, 1997.

Surush, `Abd al-Karim. Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam: Essential Writings of `Abdolkarim Soroush. Translated and edited by Mahmoud Sadri and Ahmad Sadri. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Vakili, Valla. Debating Religion and Politics in Iran: The Political Thought of Abdolkarim Soroush. Council on Foreign Relations, Occasional Paper No. 2, January 1997.

Wright, Robin. The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran. New York: Knopf, 2000.

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Technical Requirements
You will need to use a computer with Internet access to complete this course. We recommend the following minimum configurations:

Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 4 or above (Internet Explorer 5 strongly recommended) or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

MAC OS 8.6 or higher
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 5 or above or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

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