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Bridge to Victory

Title: The Bridge to Victory: The Iranian Crisis and the Birth of the Cold War.
Name(s): Harper, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Frederick), author
Souva, Mark A., university representative
Hanley, Will, 1974-, committee member
Stoltzfus, Nathan, committee member
Frank, Andrew, 1970-, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Arts and Sciences, degree granting college
Department of History , degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Doctoral Thesis
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2016
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (202 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This work examines the Iranian Crisis of 1946 and its active role in shaping the Cold War that followed. It is intended to serve as a case study of how the United States was able to successfully flex its short-lived atomic monopoly and achieve its international objectives in the early postwar era by means of direct engagement with so-called "peripheral actors." This writing engages with the robust academic field of U.S. foreign relations that over the past number of years revisited and reimagined the origins and driving forces of the Cold War. My own international archival research and comparative historiographical analysis supports the growing synthesis of the field, and it has led me to argue the importance of peripheral actors, and specifically Iran, in establishing the Cold War system. The claims that Soviet expansionism or American economic agendas were the sole agitants behind the emergence of the decades-long struggle no longer satisfies in lieu of the new materials and analytical approaches now available. While the Russians and the British jockeyed for positions of leadership within wartime-occupied Iran, the United States was welcomed into the region by many Iranians as a potential balancing force and check on European imperialism. The Soviet Union's violation of a troop withdrawal agreement at the conclusion of the Second World War, coupled with its active support of Kurdish and Azeri separatist movements, aggressively tested the new and evolving international order. The primary objective of this work is to understand how the international community, in this case led by the United States, the Soviet Union, Iran, and the newly-formed United Nations, achieved a relatively peaceful withdrawal of Soviet forces from Iranian territory. I contend that: 1) Iran possessed, due to its wartime role and latent economic potential, a degree of leverage in negotiations with the United States and Russia that other nations did not; 2) that the Iranian prime minister, Ahmad Qavām, shrewdly manipulated both superpowers with his own brand of masterful statecraft while pursuing his own "Iran-centric" objectives; 3) that the United States used its preponderance of military, economic, and diplomatic might to effectively achieve its postwar aims; and 4) the primary actors in the crisis solidified the legitimacy of the United Nations and its Security Council, which had previously been in jeopardy. The Iranian Crisis presents a challenge to those scholars who present models premised on a rigid Cold War binarism, while it seemingly strengthens the case of those scholars who take account of other actors when assessing power dynamics and the ability of the superpowers to implement their will. Evidence indicates that Prime Minister Qavām was one of the principal figures behind the peaceful resolution of this matter. Representing a "third-party" force outside of Europe, Qavām skillfully used the tools he had at his disposal to transform the foreign policies of the superpowers while advancing his own country's agenda. Qavām would not have taken the bold risks that he did – which included offering highly sought after oil concessions to Soviet leaders while deftly wrapping them in legalistic parlance and damning requirements – unless he was positive that the United States would stand behind him militarily, economically, and politically, even if doing so risked the continuation and perhaps escalation of global conflict. While lesser known than the Berlin Airlift or the Korean War or the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iranian Crisis revealed for the first time what a superpower clash might look like. This event provides a stunning example of crisis management by the primary participants. The Iranian Crisis was indeed the birth of the Cold War, and it established a model for state actions during and after this long conflict. The Crisis also provides a powerful example of how third-party entities outside of Europe, despite possessing relatively meager military and economic might, had the ability to alter and occasionally manipulate superpower behavior.
Identifier: FSU_2017SP_Harper_fsu_0071E_13566 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester 2016.
Date of Defense: November 8, 2016.
Keywords: Azerbaijan, Cold War, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy, World War II
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Mark A. Souva, University Representative; Will Hanley, Committee Member; Nathan Stoltzfus, Committee Member; Andrew Frank, Committee Member.
Subject(s): History
Middle East -- Study and teaching
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Harper, B. F. (B. F. ). (2016). The Bridge to Victory: The Iranian Crisis and the Birth of the Cold War. Retrieved from