The Islamic Revolution in Iran represented a seismic shift in the internal and geopolitical orientation of a formerly close ally of the United Kingdom.
This document, now released for the first time, was commissioned in 1979 by the then Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon David (now Lord) Owen, in order to enable a detailed examination of the context of the events leading to the Revolution, and for the FCO to identify any lessons that might be learned from the UK’s reactions to, and analysis of, the events concerned.
The intention, as mentioned by the then Permanent Under-Secretary in his foreword, was not to apportion blame for the fact that the FCO, in common with others, failed to predict the Islamic Revolution. Rather, the intention was to “examine where, if anywhere, we had gone wrong and how we could do better in the future”. In this context Chapter XI, “Conclusion: Lessons for the FCO”, is of particular interest.
As a whole, this document shows the value of analysis and historical perspective in formulating policy not just with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran, but to other countries and regions which remain of vital interest to the UK.
It is important to bear in mind that this is a historical document and does not necessarily reflect the views of the current UK government. It has been released for publication on the web following the FCO’s standard clearance procedures.
This afternoon Russian President Dimitry Anatolyevich Medvedev spoke at Stanford University.
Here are some notes I took during his speech:
He noted 10 tasks for Russia’s government to allow every Russian to succeed within the framework of law.
Reform and improve education to realize every citizen’s full potential.
Citizens must have access to full information, foreign and domestic. HDTV and broadband in the future to 90% of all Russians. Access to information serves as a guarantee of freedom of speech.
Promote intellectual property rights. Laws are not enough as we must educate people to respect the law. Compliance with court rulings is a priority.
Develop Russian natural resources and high tech companies.
Strong financial system. Health stock market, currency and banking sector. Balanced basket of currencies is important.
Most important task is health of citizens. Death rate is going down. Demographic situation finally stopped deteriorating last year. Reform of health system is a top priority.
Democratic political system based on the constitution is a work in progress. Improve political system in Russian way without foreign mentoring. Judicial power will improve. Raise authority of the courts and create a reliable judicial system.
Stability – last 20 years of Russian history were harsh and turbulent. Those times changed people’s attitude toward life. Last 20 years were a trial for Russians. Stability is precondition for modernization and development; however, Russia must be open to change. Caucasus and terrorism: threat of extremist in north Caucasus caused by dire socio-economic
International Relations: Russia is a predictable international parent with a consistent foreign policy. Russia will be firm in protecting her interests while being open to foreign partnerships on based on equality and respect for international law. G20 and G8 meetings in Canada will focus on stability, climate change, nuclear free world, energy, and security efforts.
Russian is becoming open to many partners, open to trade, economics and cultural life. Invite all to work with Russia.
He closed his formal remarks with a quote from Anton Chekhov: “we must work, work, work, for happiness is something only for our distant descendants.” From Act 2 of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” I believe.
Highlights from Q&A
Russia has capital/money but not a silicon valley.
Relations with Georgia are “dramatically bad” Russia defended its citizens in South Ossetia. No chance of improving relations with the current president of Georgia (Saakashvili)
He did not rule out running for a second term, but stated that being president is a hard job.
A nice complement to the “CIA World Fact Book” are the Country Profiles from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Although not as detailed as the World Fact Book, the FCO site does provide historical information with important dates and details on trade and investment policy for individual nations. Some country profiles also include paragraphs on environmental and climate change policy (e.g. Brazil).
Country Profiles – Foreign and Commonwealth Office