Former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger has attributed the shah's loss of power in Iran in part to the "emasculation" of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Had the agency been spared press and congressional inquiry and new restrictions, the shah's opponents might not have dared to revolt, he said.
"Destroying the mystique of the CIA is in itself a psychological handicap," said Kissinger in an interview with The Economist.
Twenty-five years ago, the CIA helped overthrow a government in Tehran that had ousted the shah and thereby aided his return to power.
Kissinger contended that the oil states along the Persian Gulf may now doubt U.S. support and seek reassurance in Moscow or Baghdad.
Reiterating a point made in an earlier interview, Kissinger argued that the Carter administration contributed to the Iranian "revolution" by calling for the shah to act on human rights at a time when he was "under duress."
"A sophisticated human rights policy" is useful in deflating opposition before a crisis, he said, but "in dealing with revolutionary situations, it can be inflammatory."
Kissinger did not mention the Carter administration by name, speaking only of "American" policies, but his remarks are clear enough to provide fellow Republicans and other administration foes with the intellectual framework to ask, "Who lost Iran?"