Fifty years ago, President and Mrs. Nixon visited Tehran as guests of Their Imperial Majesties The Shahanshah and Shahbanu. The visit was of great strategic importance and immediately followed an historic trip to the Soviet Union. President Nixon used the visit to reinforce Iran’s primacy in maintaining regional stability and project Western influence in the region.
To mark the 50th anniversary, leaders of the Iranian-American community in Southern California gathered at the Nixon Library on May 5, 2022. Colonel John Brennan (Ret.), who was part of the Tehran visit as Marine Military Aide to President Nixon, and Dr. Andrew Scott Cooper, author of The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran and The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East, participated in a panel moderated by Jim Byron, President and CEO of the Richard Nixon Foundation. The panel explored lessons for today while looking back on a bygone era of cooperation between Washington and Tehran by analyzing U.S.-Iranian relations during the critical Cold War juncture and examining how the personal Nixon-Pahlavi relationship translated into a strategic partnership.
As Vice President and Second Lady, the Nixons first met Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1953 in Tehran. In 1969, President Nixon said, “He saw his country in the future, and he proceeded to move his country into the future, and that story of progress is now one of the most exciting stories of all the development that has occurred in the world… Progress in education, progress in economic development, progress in social development… Iran stands as one of the strongest, the proudest among all the nations of the world.” In 1980, former President Nixon was the only American dignitary to attend The Shah’s funeral in Cairo and marched through the streets alongside Queen Farah and Crown Prince Reza.
View the program here: