Iran and the West

Iran and the West

2009, Politics  -   34 Comments
Ratings: 8.25/10 from 51 users.

Iran and the WestIran and the West is the name of a three part British documentary series shown in February 2009 on BBC Two to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

The documentary looks at the relationship between Iran and the countries of the west and features interviews with politicians who have played significant roles in events involving Iran, Europe and the United States since 1979.

The series is produced by Norma Percy, whose previous series include The Death of Yugoslavia and Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace.

Militant Islam enjoyed its first modern triumph with the arrival in power of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran in 1979. In this series of three programmes, key figures tell the inside story.

Inside stories are told by two ex-presidents of Iran and leading westerners. Subjects covered in this edition include the Lebanon hostage crisis, the Iran-Iraq War, the death of Ayatollah Khomeini and the changing political climate of the Middle East following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War.

The inside story of the West's continuing nuclear confrontation with Iran. Subjects covered in this episode include the rise of the Taliban in Iran's neighbour Afghanistan, the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Iraq War and Iran's emerging nuclear program.

The playlist above contains all three episodes each one hour long: The Man Who Changed the World, The Pariah State and Nuclear Confrontation.

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34 Comments / User Reviews

  1. KK-Kasra

    Am I the only one or does the ''Hilary Mann'' lady has many different job descriptions.
    I am a bit skeptical about her authority. hmm....!

  2. W H Oami

    WTF!!!!!! Another significant doc missing seriously important, interesting and entertaining facts. In particular the escape of 6 of the hostages in 1979 known as "the Canadian Caper" organized by Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador to Iran, cooperatively with the CIA.

  3. Steven Corningstone.

    Why does Iran deserve respect, where pedophelia and a general fascism i prevalent. Ass.

  4. Steven Corningstone.

    Before you even start I know there are Muslims everywhere. Buddhists are having to battle them for crying out loud. Bring me a doctrine of peace.

  5. Steven Corningstone.

    In my supremely humble opinion as an American. I guess just to simplify things. Our foray into the ....Middle East....Areas controlled by Muslim Philosophy, is...We will help you out until you quit doing that Muslim thing. Yknow cutting off heads, crushing women spiritually and in every other way, quit touching young boys...yknow stuff like that. We are certainly an imperfect concept for Right perspective for a country that is exceptional right now in every way. The Ayatollah is a truly evil man I don't care what you say. Islamic Republic in any fashion will kill humanity quicker. Behind the eyes of all muslim men whether friend or foe (and I have many even in Somalia.) Is that whole, well i could just cut your head off.

    Who will save humanity is the question.
    Dare I say, Namaste.

  6. Steven Corningstone.

    It's funny nobody likes the newer documentary concerning Iran and America, but they are so similar.

  7. joel

    It was long.

  8. threebop

    This is a chronicle of the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy with Iran beginning from the Iranian revolution; it makes clear why the situation between the West and Iran has escalated to its current tense state of affairs. The interviews with top officials from the U.S., Iran, and Europe are candid and fascinating. This is a highly informative piece on Iran, which holds close to the facts, and, thus, it is a must-watch documentary for those who wish to understand Iran’s position today. The following are three important facts that capture the importance of this documentary:

    1) The U.S. supported Saddam Hussein and provided intelligence and weapons to Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, fomenting the ire of Iran.
    2) Iran and the Taliban were enemies during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Iran provided intelligence to the U.S., which failed to reciprocate; President Bush responded by placing Iran on the Axis of Evil. What’s more, Iran supported the U.S. invasion of their long-time enemy, Iraq.
    3) Vice President Cheney was responsible for John Bolton's appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., who in turn is responsible for shutting down talks with Iran. To the European Ambassadors’ dismay, he quashed all progress in negotiations with Iran, which provided Iran with a clear motivation to support insurgents with training and weapons during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    In summary, U.S. foreign policy time and time again has failed to meet Iran with mutual respect. Because of this, the people of Iran have reason to support leadership that is more hostile to the U.S. and its allies, which effectively destabilizes the region and prevents favorable regime change. Whether this was the intent, or merely a symptom, of U.S. foreign policy is a controversial and ongoing debate. Regardless, it is interesting to see the evolution of foreign policy from President Carter, who clumsily navigated a hostage crisis interrupted by a disasterous rescue attempt, to implicit and seemingly rash threats of military action from President Bush, who famously left “all options on the table”. Today, efforts by President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to keep military action off the table have paved the way for a hopeful, but uncertain, future with Iran. It will be interesting to see what consequences unfold in the region given this new era of U.S. foreign policy; will it fundamentally change the relationship between the U.S. and its long-time allies Israel and Saudi Arabia?

  9. Guest

    Does anyone here really seen in any docu that the british MI5 took part of the Mossadeth overthrow? As swifty mentioned in this docu.

    I seen 2 docu about the case. The oldest of the 2 featured the testimony CIA Ex-Officer retired in central america. Not at all legal as such, only for the historical value of that docu.
    Oh! Elizabeth Montgomery was the main speaker.
    A pretty old one.

    I simply think that the BBC producer (For this docu) was "Boasting" a little when he implied that the MI5 was of an help to the overthrow.

    The only possible thing is that Shell was a little tiny mad about the forecoming nationalisation. Even though the iranians would have contracted a loan on the installations & equipment.

    I understand that this is not exactly the topic as such but I'm curious to figure out of the BBC simply fetched that out of thin air.
    For the least, within the 2 other docus I viewed about that, they never came close to that assumption. At most, it could be the Brits who pushed some USA Orgs. but never really took part in any manner.

    So, if anyone can confirm through other docus or anything else, please do.


    1. PrincipeAzzurro

      Pierre, you correctly point out the UK's "participation" in the 1953 coup against the legitimate Mossadegh government. Well, it was a little more than that. BP was unhappy about loosing its "oil concessions" in Iran, so big oil + big money pressed Downing Street. A bit more, I would say, than a "participation"…

  10. Guest

    As a docu on history, the join CIA & MI5 shows to be lacking.
    Severely lacking considering the title that BBC gave to it.
    Understandingly, a viewer needs to be very carefull with any & all BBC documentaries.
    I.E.: Believe only what you see (And/Or) what's corrobared.
    The rest is subject to hoax,

    But all the corroborations into this docu are obviously right.
    Only one thing crooked is the Mossadeth case that occured in the mid-50's. Usual standard biaised detail one should expect from the BBC.

    Just as if this Mossadeth thing is not part of Iran history.
    No doubt that the Brits got familiar with a life under the abusal of monarchy. They simply love it.


    1. lakhotason

      well certainly the mossedth is part of history but it is not all of history.

    2. Guest


      No for sure but a heck of an important one that ought to be given more pespective that what's given in this BBC docu.
      If it wouldn't had happened, history would sure be different.
      But it did happen. It is just as if they consider it as a minor affair.
      They don't even give any detail what so ever.
      I'm surprised a little coze I always seen all Brits with a deeply rooted sense of "Honor", same as knights.
      But days, months, years and centuries went by.

      Speaking of he BBC, I feel that the Brits have less free speech than the Americans. Or should I say, less bold.

      Oh! Lakhotason, I think I gave replies on the wrong comment page. Twice, I think...
      I was sunk into the
      Lost Ships of Rome" and got lost...
      Anyway, I want to go back at it right away....


    3. lakhotason

      Maybe a little too much prospective.

    4. Danny Bevan

      it would be MI-6 if those names existed... MI-5 was home office MI-6 foreign office... however, its just security services now. just saying

  11. Suwas Gautam

    I found the first episode ‘The Man Who Changed The World’ of the documentary ‘Iran and the West’ very informative. It acquainted me with the history of Iran, and the causes of conflict between the US and Iran in the eighties. The title of the first episode itself explains that it is about the man who not only changed the history of Iran but the whole world. The man is Ayatollah Khomeini, a religious leader, who led the revolution against the Shah dynasty, and ended the 2500 years old monarchy in 1979. The revolution turned Iran from a kingdom to Republic of Iran.
    I did not know that Iran, and Iraq fought about a decade long war. One of the reasons that caused this war was Saddam’s lust for power, and his opportunistic attitude. He attacked Iran at the time when the US had frozen all of Iran’s assets in the US, and held payments for arm. Iran had held 52 US hostages from the embassy of the US in Iran, and Khomeini reluctance to set them free forced the US to do so. I think it was a childish act of Khomeini to approve the student’s takeover of the US embassy. The reason to held them hostage was to force the US to send the Shah back. They were held as hostages for 15 months, and during that time Iraq attacked Iran. Although the US was supporter of the monarch, the government of the US might had send Shah back, or, at least, it might not had let Shah stay in the US. The government of the US was also well aware of the fact that Iran has the fifth largest army on earth. However, the choice that Khomeini made to approve the act of students worsened the situation. I think that particular choice of Khomeini was pivotal because had he not approved the takeover history had been written differently. His choice had a ripple effect. President Carter had sent a troop to rescue the Americans out of Iran, but unfortunately his plan failed, and eight Americans died in a crash with the refueling tank in the desert of Iran. Carter might had been re-elected for president if his plan was successful.

  12. relament

    Hilarious! How can this documentary have the audacity to spend almost three hours on it's subject without addressing the psychotic elephant in the room: Israel???????? Classic BBC propaganda.

    1. Winston Smith

      Not to mention that the US provided Saddam Husein with weapons and millions of dollars -including illegal weapons (like mustard gas) which he used on the Iranians and later on the Kurds up North. Every news report we got in the US during the fear-mongering lead-up to the Iraq war, and what a dangerous monstrous threat Hussein was that he had gassed his own people..Never once was it mentioned he used American gas. _Some of which was found (still unused) when we invaded Iraq

  13. Norman Pascual

    this documentary missed vital pieces that would allow viewers to see and understad the history of modern Iran.

    The Man Who Changed the World

    First - as mentioned by a CIA agent in the first part of the documentary, why did america regarded the corrupt Shah who ruled Iran for 40 corrupt years as America's most important ally? Why was the west so bothered to save the Shah's corrupt regime?

    Second - WHY DID THE US and BRITAIN set up the coup that intalled the Shah of Iran in 1953 in the first place? Was it because the Iranian oil was nationalized by the governemnt that was replaced by the Shah? For everyones information, BP (Anglo-Iranian Oil Company before) was kicked out by the said nationalization. So what was the response of the west you ask? A coup to set up a puppet government. Codename "Operation Ajax."

    But why set up a coup? why install a puppet government? you ask yourself.

    Third - When the US embasy people in Tehran were taken hostage, were the conditions for their release mentioned?

    I could not continue watching this. They should not vilify a nation so their aggression can be justified. And oh by the way, are we aware that Sadam hussein was a former ally of the US before they decided to sack him up? I wonder why..

    The people of Iran are the only ones who should determine the fate of their nation. The international Atomic energy agency confirms that Iran is not developing nuclear arsenals.

    If the west particularly the US wants to democratize the world, why dont they look a little south of mid-east -- AFRICA. But of course they wont do that becuase democracy is just a banner.

    This is a big disappointment to the agency who commisioned this nonesense -- BBC.

  14. Arielle

    Dude, the helicopter and the refueling aircraft crashed, what retards! I mean, really?!?!

  15. Godona

    History has shown that students are notorious for uprisings, although they mostly fail due harsh clamp-down by either the police or military. Yet, in the case of Iran, the uprising in 1970s can be considered as a success because it resulted in change in government and policy, yet very little lives were lost.

    However, in the big picture, it failed because it brought upon Iran much stricter rule and much less tolerance for democracy.

  16. paranoia

    So, who got the shah's money?

  17. ReligionIsntAllBad

    Ah, the documentary does not touch at all on Mosaddegh.

    However ... it is a brilliant documentary, including everyone from hostages in the US embassy to Khomeinis closest advisors to the former president Jimmy Carter to Mohammed Khatami. The breadth of first hand accounts is staggering.

    Very well done docu!

  18. ReligionIsntAllBad

    Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about Iranian-US relations (which is all I know) knows about Mohammed Mosaddegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran in the early 50s who proposed the restructuring of the Anglo Iranian Oil Company. At the time, the AIOC was the Brittish run Iranian national oil company. The Brits, none too happy about the restructuring of their oil company to serve the needs of the Iranian government, convince the CIA to overthrow him in a coup dètat. You can imagine how that has framed our relations with Iran since then ... this is not conspiracy theory stuff. The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America overthrew a democratically elected government to support its own imperialist interests. Lame! If only we were any different today as 60 years ago ...

    Cant wait to watch the docu :)

  19. Tonkin

    This series was quite informative. I learned several key items that I was not aware of previously.

    1. The kidnapping of U.S. Embassy employees in Tehran was initiated by a small group of students and the Ayatollah Khomeini reluctantly agreed to it, after the fact.

    2. Iran's presidents were democratically elected. They each had some kind of political struggle with the country's Supreme Leader, who was more focused on upholding the ideology of Islam and blocking the so-called "moral influence" from the West.

    3. Iran's domestic and foreign policies had been "reactive" in the last 30 years and seemed to inconsistent from one president to another.

  20. jaan

    A "goodwill" agreement to free the hostages was made on 11.sept. and US did not keep his end of the bargin not to say
    totally f***ed iran over.


  21. Cat Masters

    Firstly, I thought the documentary did an excellent job of highlighting the fact that generalizations like "the Iranians" and "the Americans" are over-simplified and counter-productive. Both sides have hawkish factions but there are also people willing to compromise in each government. The fact that some commentators so blatantly missed this important theme is baffling to me.

    My major criticism of this segment of the documentary (I'm viewing them out of order, so I can't speak to the other segments) is that Israel's role -- particularly in America's decision making-- was completely over-looked. Israel has nuclear capabilities. If Iran comes within spitting distance of weaponizing its uranium stores, the middle east will be a parking lot. America cannot control them.

    And in response to the question "Why won't the Americans attack the English, etc?"-- The answer is the high degree of interdependence between these nations. It has very little to do with the relative strengths of their armies. There is no REASON to go to war. Wars are expensive, there has to be an issue of vital national security to justify one, no matter the country.

  22. Sherwood

    This doc made it all so clear.
    It was awesome

  23. Ramtin

    A great documentary. Although it does not focus on the details of each period, it gives a good view of the post-revolution Iran-West relations. I will certainly suggest it for getting a good overview of the Iran-U.S. relations.
    Rabin, although on the one hand it is the right of Iran to develop defensive missiles to protect itself, keep in mind that those defensive missiles can be used for offensive purposes. Hence considering the nature of the current Iranian government, the Iranian missile and nuclear program is justifiably concerning. However, I agree that the West has been abusing the situation by exaggerating the threat.

  24. Adam

    I cannot trust a bbc documentary

  25. Samar

    Great Video, enjoyed the balance of both sides. Its sad how the US missed the opportunity when Khatami was president. I also recommend watching documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis with Robert McNamara

  26. WTC7

    I'd recommend it to anyone interested in international relations. Good documentary!

  27. Kamran Khan of Shabqadar

    Iran has always played the roll which the nature has given to it. Fearless, bold and intelligent Iran is going to be the super power of the future and those who acted as stooge (Saddam)of carter they went straight to hell. Thanks to Bush for sending that traitor to hell.

  28. Pj

    Excellent documentaries. Highly recommended to anyone a bit "thin" on modern Iranian history. Thank you for posting this Mr. V.