Frank Giles, deputy editor of the Sunday Times of London, in interviewed Shah Mohammad Reza Palavi in Cuernavaca, Mexico, seven weeks ago, before he came to the United States for medical treatment.
Giles reports that the shah had not yet been afflicted with the jaundice that later was to turn his skin and eyes yellow. He seemed calm and collected, even detached.
The shah asserted that revolution that dethroned him "was unnatural and unpredictable."
"Driving through the city of Mashad in an open car only four months before the situation became desperate, I was acclaimed by 300,000 people," the shah said. "Just after the troubles in Tabrizz [in February 1978], my prime minister went there and had an overwhelming reception. I can recall nothing in the history of the world -- not even the French Revolution -- to compare with what happened subsequently."
What was the advice he was getting from his allies in London and Washington? His voice took a bitter tone.
"When President Carter visited me in December 1977, he spoke not only of Iran as 'an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world' but also paid me personally some very warm compliments.
"Twelve months later . . . " The shah's voice trailed away, but the shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes upward in evident incredulity.
How and when did the situation get out of hand and could it have been averted?
The shah's answer was that "while the liberation measures I had introduced helped to light the flames," they could also be used to put him out.