What happened after the 39th presidential
election in the US well showed that the candidates’ campaign mottoes
would not go beyond the billboards and flyers. This was proven after
Carter was elected president in 1976. His electoral use of the words
human rights made it clear that the phrase a different meaning in the
American dictionary. What you read in the following is part of the book
"Political Ties between Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the US during Carter
Administration”, published by Islamic Revolution Documents Center. This
part attends to the electoral hustle and bustle of the 39th election.
The long-lasing relations between Iran and the US during the monarchy of Mohammad Reza and his knowledge of the Democrat and Republican wings had taught him that he could do better with Republicans than with Democrats. In the 1953 coup he regained power during the presidency of the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. During the presidency of Dickson, again a Republican, he received positive answer to his military demands, so much so that this period shaped the zenith of relations between the two countries. But the Democrats would limit him on military grounds and would pressure him for changes in Iran.
The people of Iran, like other peoples of the world, got to know the name of Carter in 1976. He used to be unknown even for Americans up to 1976 and had political activity in Washington. This is why it was thought that he had no chance to win the election. The Shah would closely follow the developments to the election and, in May 1976, he asked Alam for the first time to make some inquiry into Carter the rising man via the American ambassador. He also attempted to make more acquaintance with Carter through Iranian ambassador to the US Ardeshir Zahedi and find some way of contact with him. Although he could not predict the outcome of the election, Zahedi believed that if Carter rose to power, he would not adopt a destructive approach in foreign policy.
Stample, the first secretary of the US embassy, was also one of the people that thought one from the Democrat camp would be elected. The Shah also used to get information about the election via the Israeli ambassador. The Shah and Alam would play down the election and candidates in their own circle. Carter was not only famous within Shah’s circle as a redneck and peanut boy, we was famous as peanut boy in the US as well. To help the Republican Ford, Carter’s rival, the Shah announced some one month later that he would not change oil prices to the end of the electoral campaign. Mohammad Reza felt some degree of threat after Carter’s successive victories in the primaries, his endorsement by Democrats, and having in mind Carter’s record on human rights. He felt greater threat especially in September when he found Carter’s view of weapons.
The reason for the Shah’s fear was the strong bond that had recently been formed between him and a power triangle in the US, the Nixon-Ford-Kissinger group. Reza Shah tried to promote Ford. He had ordered Zahedi to fund Ford’s campaign. After the election, it was raised among political circles in the US that the sumhad been about $120 million. The Democrats got to know of this, and Berschinski considered it a pity how Zahedi had acted in throwing magnificent bash parties and distributing valuable gifts among congressmen and the media. Even the wife of Holmes, an American ambassador, said flocks of Americans used to fly to Iran using tickets that Zahedi had given them free of charge. They would come under this pretense or that and attend governmental parties.
The Shah had even explicitly expressed joy in the victory of Ford over Carter. He used to consider Carter’s vows as mere works to win the election. In mid-September 1796, carter found some headway over other candidates. A few days later Ford and Carter met for their first negotiations. A few days after that, they met for the second time. Many believed that Carter was more successful in the talks. Iran was one of the topics of debate.
At last Carter was made president in November. After the Election Day, Zahedi said in an interview: "As you know, relations between Iran and the US have never been better and I think if we know what the reason is, we will well realize what the relations will look like in the future. I have no doubt that our relations in the future economy will have great significance for world peace and stability. We see that our circumstances have changed since the past. We are an ally to the US and are bound to cooperation to save our mutual interests. The free world shows interest and respect to Iran, even if it is for shared interests.”
Having met defeat, the Shah decided to trigger the second phase of his policy by sending a congratulatory telegram to Carter.
On the other hand, in an early speech after being elected, Carter said his country would pursue justice and freedom for all. However, the US policy toward Iran did not change a bit, since their "national interests” were enough for Carter to support one like Mohammad Reza Shah. Although he talked of human rights, Carter set Mohammad Reza’s Iran as an island of peace to pursue its regional policies, proving what human rights meant in the American political jargon.