Following are exerpts from an interview with the deposed shah of Iran:
Q: You look much better than your pictures. Do you feel well now?
A: Well, I have gained five kilograms in the last 10 days, that's why, but I was looking rather miserable a few days ago. I was very ill. I think the effect of the chemotherapy is gradually fading, but I will have to start again in three weeks and, for another five months, probably. I am not an addict. Otherwise I read in the papers the other day that doctors are saying that marijuana should be legalized for the people who cannot support chemotherapy anymore and morphine in big doses will hurt them more. And even some people went as far as saying that heroin should also be permitted to be used in such cases. Well . . . it is just for fun that I am saying these things. Heroin is a very dangerous, very dangerous thing.
Q: Are you able to get all of the medical care here that you need?
A: I would say yes. They have good doctors, and [much research] has been done in the field of chemotherapy both in the United States and France. bThere is a team of doctors -- local doctors -- and we have the advice of some American and French people.
Q: Some people have suggested that if you were to abdicate formally this might help the hostage situation.What do you think of that idea?
A: I don't see how, first of all, as long as the United States and others in the West are ready to deal with terrorists and bloodthirsty savages, which are now pretending to represent my country. How can anything be achieved? I don't know how people are prepared to shake hands with these people. First when they started to destroy my country and just assassinate all these people the West tried to almost excuse these people and give them some kind of respectability. I noticed that in the United Nations the British delegate was condemning the action of taking hostages but said let these people come and explain the revolution. What revolution? I know this question of abdication is in the back of the minds of the British and some American circles. I know that they wanted a change of my regime. Well, now you have it. Are you happy? Do you have human rights there now? Democracy? Liberalization? Do you have all that? Criticizes Huyser Mission
Q: You have been critical of the American and British roles in your downfall, and particularly critical of the mission the Tehran in early 1979 by American Gen. Robert Huyser. Why?
A: We saw in the International Herald Tribune that Huyser was coming to Tehran to prevent a coup -- military coup. We thought that was window-dressing for the Soviets. But then when I left the country we got reports that he really saw that the Imperial Army disbanded and was destroyed. Because he put in contact the chief of the general staff with Mr. dBazargan, who was just an unknown American puppet who paved the way for this fellow Khomeini. [Mehdi Bazargan was the first prime minister under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] to American and British advice? Was it before you left the country or after?
A: Well, before. Since the month of September. After I lift the country they wouldn't have any contact with me. Not that I tried to contact them.
Q: And what was the advice you felt was wrong?
A: (sigh). Now that I'm looking back, but I was doing that really there. . .in freeing all the terrorists from jail and letting them loose, giving them the possiblility of leading the band of arsonists and terrorists. And, always trying to water down or at least let the governments yield to the pressure of the looters and arsonists, that is, permitting the government to follow a policy of surrender to these bandits.
Q: During this time of turmoil in September and October was the American government, through its ambassador, William Sullivan, urging you not to crack down?
A: No, not in that, but . . . nothing was mentioned directly, but when all messages were, "We hope that you will continue your liberalization program," what was the meaning of that? Then we saw that Mr. Sullivan said that he knew in September -- that was again in the Herald Tribune that -- already in September he knew that it was the end of the regime. If he knew, why didn't he tell me?
Q: Did the British and American ambassadors continue telling you, "We are backing you 100 percent," as you say they did in September, until the day you left?
A: Not until the day. I think that they were keeping rather quiet, and for at least one or two months before I left, because all the policies in the last two months were to try and find a solution of bringing in the opposition to power. That was even my own policy. I can see that that was wrong. But in those days it was not so easy to make a decision because I was decided not to spill blood.
Q: Was that a mistake?
A: That's really not my . . . that should have been any government's attitude to establish law and order. The mistake was not to establish law and order. It's not a question of spilling blood or not. Either you have law that any government must enforce or you don't. In our case it was becoming a lawless country. That's the whole point. Now many people say that if my government had enforced law and order there would have been a hundred times less casualties than there have been in the past 15 months.
I think that the one mistake was to decide to adopt this policy in those circumstances, because then they [the opposition] saw that now we were surrendering under duress and presure and they decided they could go all the way. And this is precisely what happened when Huyser prevented the Army to preserve the constitution. And the Army gave up for this ridiculous man, Bazargan, who was just an Anglo-American puppet and paved the way for Khomeini. These are old mistakes made by the Western countries, started by the British . . . So the Americans thought that these so-called National Front people, who were not more than 27 [in number], were the agents they would do what they wanted. But they were badly mistaken. Because in the meantime the terrorist organization, the so-called Islamic Marxists and the communists had the rank and file. So you had Mr. Bazargan, but his orders were not carried out more than one or two blocks from his office. He was absolutely powerless. These are the big mistakes that the West committed. Constitutional Monarchy
Q: Some of your supporters say that the crucial mistake came when you allowed your closest associates, such as former prime minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda, to be arrested. Do you think so?
A: That was not me. That was the civilian government I had appointed and then the policy was followed by the so-called military government that came after. I did not become involved in those decisions.
The big mistake was there. I had decided to become a constitutional monarch and to let the government take all the responsibiliy. Not that I was an unconstitutional monarch before. Not at all. But since that September I was not even suggesting things to the government. The military government . . . well, when I appointed it, it was supposed to be military government. But it was following the same path as the civilian government. Well, Gen. Azhari had a stroke. That was some more bad luck. [Gen. Gholam Reza Azhari was prime minister in the military government appointed Nov. 5, 1979.]
Q: Can you tell us why you left Panama?
A: The main thing is that what happened in that hospital in Panama was not very reassuring. Dr. [Michael] DeBakey, [the shah's U.S. physician], was treated like an itinerant doctor or surgeon. And it was very difficult for doctors to operate upon me in such conditions. I think that I have the right to choose my doctor.
Q: Did you make a request at that time to come back to the United States?
A: That was one of the things that were considered because they promised me that I would receive all the necessary medical attention in the United States if need by when I left Lackland [Air Force Base in Texas].
Q: Why did you decide not to ask? Did you fear that the Carter administration would not respond to your request?
A: Well, I don't know. Maybe the price would not have been worth it.
Q: When you say price, what do you mean?
A: Well, it's not easy to elaborate now.
Q: Do you feel any responsibility for the events that led to the hostages being taken?
A: No. Because they [the Carter administration] said that they had sent their Marines to the embassy and they had been given assurance by Bazargan and they were so confident that they withdrew many of the Marines and then the embassy was taken over by this bunch of people.
Q: You were told this after you were admitted to the United States?
A: Yes. Not before. There was such a short period of time I was very ill in Mexico, and the decision to go to the United States for treatment was a very quick one. My gall bladder could have been obliterated with all the consequences.
Q: Had not Washington received some warnings from the embassy that a takeover was quite possible?
A: Maybe, but if we remember that until 10 years ago [American officials] were talking about the Americans being taken as hostages either by the Russians or God knows by whom. When were you talking about that? Were some people really interested in seeing Americans taken hostage in my country?
It's very strange because we've heard that music before. Oil and Iran's Revolution
Q: What does this revolution mean for Iran and for the rest of the world?
A: So many things. Two are oil and the geopolitics of the region.
A: In order to have this price augmented, someone must decrease its production. From million barrels of export per day they have fallen now to maybe 500,000 barrels -- 4 1/2 million barrels per day less. If I was there I would not have cut our production because by the time our oil would have started to diminish, I wanted out country to have all the necessary nuclear plants to produce electricity and all the dams that should have produced that kind of electricity from the water. And all the infrastructure of the country. Electrifying the railways, subways in every city and starting to mine our beautiful coal mines, newly found, and going all the way with solar energy and gasification of coal, thermal energy and all the rest. Someone had to cut down on their production because how could you start to gasify or liquify your coal if the price of oil was so low?
Q: But you are said to have led this earliest price increase.
A: Yes. This is because it was ridiculously low. Do you know that, for instance, the taxes levied by the Germans or French and others on the liter of gasoline or oil was higher than the revenue that we were getting for our oil. Do you know that the price of a liter of oil was less than the price of a liter of mineral water in Europe: If I had exported 5 million barrels of oil per day the prices could not have gone so much higher. It's a question of market. The British must be delighted because they have the North Sea oil. Delighted that the price is going up.
All I know is that for the last year of my reign -- I mean, the last year that I was in my country -- the consortium never signed an agreement with us for the purchase of oil . . . For one year they stalled -- they never signed an agreement with us. [the 14-member Western oil consortium, led by British Petroleum, had produced the bulk of Iran's crude, which it then purchases at a discount, during the shah's rule.]
Q: In your own country, have you thought that you could have gone faster, or slower? Some people have said that one reason for the downfall of your regime was too much progress not too little.
A: Yes, I think too slowly is not the case really. Eventually we went faster than some people could digest. In all areas. Democratization, liberalization, decentralization, in dramatic increase in the income of people -- they could almost afford anything. In my time, the per capita income was $2,540 from $60 and now it would have been at least $4,000. We had 1.5 million workers and technicians in our country. Many people had Filipino and South Korean people working in their houses, and now we have 4 million unemployed people. One million additional people every year on the market to find jobs, and now these people send boys of 15 and girls of, they say, 13 -- I've heard even at 9 -- to get married. Just imagine what will happen to our country, which [had a] demographic explosion of 3 percent. Now they will have an explosion of at least 5 percent per year. What do they care? Because all their philosophy is to tell our people, needy people and just this is their motto. Never will they say that you are a proud, happy people with tremendous possibility of becoming a prosperous people. They only speak of needy.
Q: There was a television program in our country that accused the Kissinger policy of giving Iran everything it wanted in the way of arms as one of the reasons for your downfall.
A: I don't agree. Our arming is no more dangerous than arming the Federal Republic of Germany, or any other country. Especially that I was not looking for atomic weapons. I know that some liberal circles in the United States, three to four years before these events, were talking about the danger of the Americans being taken as hostages by the Soviets. In my country, I don't see how, short of a world war. But again, I don't see you our becoming strong militarily would have precititated these events. Just the opposite. A stong military Iran would have established and kept peace in the region. A balance of power.
Q: There are accusations of corruption in the arms deals.
A: Corruption has nothing to do with the arms because arms was a government-to-government deal . . . That's absolutely untrue. Corruption on the American side, yes. Not on ours. Some American companies paying some kind of intermediaries which had nothing with our government. On our side no. Because all the deals were financed, that is guaranteed, by our government.
Look around us now. With a solid Iran, we could have stopped every incursion in this direction. Even from the Soviets if they had used only conventional weapons. They would probably have been forced to use atomic weapons, and engage in world war, if they wanted to try to dominate the region. w Collapse of the Army
Q: Then why did the Army collapse so quickly in front of Khomeini when you left?
A: For good or for bad, in our country, they look for leadership. That leadership was created by my father. The Army knew me as their commander-in-chief. Throughout our history, an able leader comes and the country goes up. And then a few years later, it goes completely down.
It happened that way centuries ago. We had a weak leadership and a band of Afghan people came and surrounded the king in his palace and he could do nothing. Fourteen years later we had a great ruler and he was conquering India.
Q: Do you have any pleasure in life now?
A: We are still very much traumatized. Every day they tell us of the terrible things that are happening in our country, the destruction, the killing. It is painful for us. For our country, we were thinking life could be enriched by art and by spirit, by the blossoming of thought and spirit. And now it is all destroyed . . . You don't know how many people have been massacred. The mullahs are just looting. They have bought houses on the Riviera or in some of the big cities in Europe. And the country is destroyed.