Bush's Iraq Trip A Reprise of Carter's Trip to Iran in 1977

   George Bush's surprise trip to Iraq over the Labor Day Weekend, 2007, to meet with the American puppet President of Iraq, Nouri Al-Maliki is almost an exact repeat of Jimmy Carter's trip to Iran on New Year's Eve in 1977, almost exactly 30 years ago to meet with the Shah of Iran.  Like Carter's trip, Bush's trip was a quickie on his way to the APEC conference in Australia.  Carter went to Iran between a trip to Poland and Egypt.

   Here's how the New York Times described Carter's trip to Iran.  See if you can tell how many issues have changed in the past 30 years:

   "Mr. Carter praised the Shah, calling Iran 'an island of stability' that he said was a 'great tribute to the respect, admiration and love of your people for you.' [The Shah was in the 24th year of a dictatorship supported by Savak, a secret police force trained in torture by the CIA.  This trip took place 11 months before the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran.]

   "The President flew here from Warsaw, arriving in the afternoon.  There were some demonstrations outside American offices in Teheran, involving a total of 150 people, and a few arrests were reported.  Otherwise, there was no sign of great public interest, and flags were hoisted only along part of the President's route.

   "Security was strict, and there were crowds of quiet, curious people - 'literally thousands,' the President said in his dinner toast, adding that there were also 'hundreds, even thousands of American citizens' who live and work in Iran.

   "The dinner speech stressed the hope that peace would return in the Horn of Africa. 'Those of us who have any influence at all must use it for this purpose,' he said. 'We want Somalia and Ethiopia to be friends again.' [Somalia was the location of Black Hawk Down]

   "In his talks with the Shah, energy was also a central issue.  American officials said the two men had reached agreement on terms to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in connection with the sale of six to eight nuclear reactors to Iran.

   "The officials said Iran had accepted 'full international safeguards all the way down the line.'  The agreement is provisional and will have to be supplemented by detailed negotiation after Congress enacts legislation on the actual constraints on sales of nuclear energy equipment.

   "The President and the Shah also dealt with long range energy problems.  The Shah praised Mr. Carter's efforts to conserve energy and develop alternate resources.  The Iranian discussed his idea of developing non-petroleum sources to be financed through international energy bonds that would be guaranteed by industrial nations and would be subscribed to with surplus capital of the petroleum producing countries."

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf