[Passage from my journal, written 4 December 1979 at 11:46 pm PST]
he things are crawling out from the walls of the nation now; the wood is rotten. This is not a good time for the United States, nor for my own country [Cascadia]. It is revolting when it is somehow treasonous to criticize the Shah of Iran, ex-Shah really and ex-Iranian, a bloody tyrant who—bluntly—deserved to lose his country. I am not going to change my beliefs just because his replacement is another of his ilk and further has showed his true colors by not only supporting the murderous PLO but also by holding hostages with his own already bloody hands. For my part I support this Iranian revolution—stupid though many of its manifestations be—as a return to the basics of the cultural fabric. But it has shown itself bankrupt in its fruits and in its leader. It has massacred Kurds and Arabs, slaughtered its political enemies, and directed violence against its women. Were it not for this last incident, Khomeini’s regime would have collapsed by now, or would be in the process of collapsing—if it hasn’t collapsed already.
The things are crawling out of the rotten wood. God help us when the Ku Klux Klan—which only recently massacred unarmed folk at a rally—is cheered for planning a counterdemonstration in favor of the Shah. God help us all when the PLO can appear as a savior, as a responsible organization—when still engaged in its illicit traffic in human lives. And God help us all when holy men call for war.
The logic of the situation inevitably is leading to war, because there is literally no way out for either party, short of intervention from heaven. Consider this—there is no way that the terrorists in Iran can back down now, without losing face and in any case it is clear that they are living in a very alternative universe. They may seriously believe that there is a chance of the US handing over the ex-Shah—although it is difficult for me to imagine how, given my mindset. More probably they realize that there is no chance of this happening (and have realized this from the start) but are caught up in the push of events. In either case they cannot moderate their demands now—how? Would they be satisfied with the handing over of a ransom from the ex-Shah (always assuming the ex-Shah is willing to pay such a forfeit)? I wouldn’t be, in their place. What then? A UN inquiry, rather than justice? When the UN is obviously dominated by the CIA? I may well be caricaturing their views, but I feel that has to be the direction they’re going, to judge from their rhetoric—a poor source, but what I’ve got. What compromise is possible?—the ex-Shah cannot be halfway handed over.
But they are trapped, nonetheless. They cannot get the Shah, and their only alternative is to sit forever in the embassy with the hostages. Really, they cannot proceed to the next step without great difficulty. Killing the hostages would likely provoke US reaction and (discounting the words involved) would be avoided. Even staging a mock trial I believe is more dangerous than they dare to go. They may of course go ahead with such shows, but they must realize what toboggan they are climbing on in that instance; they will escalate the shouting but must hold off on action.
Neither can the US act now. Again, there is no way that the US can give in on this point. But military action is basically impossible until the hostages are killed—at which point it becomes pointless. Economic actions on either side will have no real results. So—
So it’s a deteriorating stand-off. Deteriorating, because both sides must give the appearance of taking steps, and sooner or later one will have to cross the line. The US must move closer to military action, while the terrorists towards their trials. We both realize that the other is bluffing; but we also both know that our bluffs will sooner or later be called.
If any of the US folk are put on trial (perhaps with confessions extracted under torture) then the US will have to take action—either that or back down. If it invades Iran, then the interests of the Russian Empire are threatened inevitably (just as they were when the US had a military presence there). The US would certainly take a dim view of Russian maneuvers in say Mexico—and the reverse holds true. A US/Russian Empire conflict in Iran is not out of the question, although I do not think it would go further. I don’t think it would, but it is not a desirable thing to have happening.
I had intended to say a few things about the perceptions of the Iranian terrorists, who can see the CIA as being so powerful. It is sad to think of the kind of oppression that would produce this misconception—misconception outside of Iran, I mean, not necessarily inside. But I am tired, and the night is wearing on, and soon, when I turn out the lights, the things will again creep out of the woodwork. [4 Dc 1979]