The Second Crucial Historical Episode: The Revolution and Hostage Crisis (1978-1981)

The Iran-US game in Figure 15.3 following the CIA-led coup to replace the Mossadegh government with autocratic rule by the Shah in August, 1953 assigns a Client role to Iran and a Patron role to the United States. It has two nonmyopic (NME) equilibrium solutions. The (3,4) solution of mutual cooperation (+ +) is the equilibrium solution from each cell as the initial state except for the upper right cell when (4,3) Iranian submission and US domination (+-) is the solution as well as the initial state. These outcomes reflect the power asymmetry between Iran and the United States, in which Iran’s choice as a Client is to choose cooperation (+) no matter whether the US choice as a Patron is cooperation (+) or conflict (-).

The United States thereby replaced Britain as the dominant external power in the Middle East during the Cold War and became the focus of Iran’s resentment against foreign influence in their domestic affairs via the US exploitation of Iran as a junior diplomatic partner and military ally. The political opposition to the Shah’s government and to the US presence in Iran was led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. He returned in February, 1979 from political exile in Paris following the Shah’s ouster by revolutionary forces at the end of 1978 and departure later in 1979 from the country to seek medical treatment for cancer. When students stormed the US Embassy in early November, 1979 and demanded the Shah’s return from the United States for trial in Iran, relations between Washington and the new government in Tehran deteriorated rapidly (Malici and Walker 2017).

Binary Role Theory Analysis

The analysis of the dynamics between Washington and Tehran in Table 15.4 indicates that Iran and the United States engaged in a pattern of role enactment as mutual Rivals from the seizure of hostages by Iranian students

Table 15.4 Summary Analysis of Iran-US Rival-Rival Role Games, 1978-1981“

Games

Iran

United

States

Games

Iran

United

States

Games

Iran

United

States

11-10

6.50

6.00

XI1-20

8.00

8.25

X21-30

7.25

7.00

Mean

.65

.60

Mean

.80

.83

Mean

.73

.70

XC1-5

3.00

2.50

XI1-15

4.00

4.00

X21-25

3.25

4.00

Mean

.60

.50

Mean

.80

.80

Mean

.65

.80

XC6-10

3.50

3.50

XI6-20

4.00

4.25

X26-30

4.00

3.00

Mean

.70

.70

Mean

.80

.85

Mean

.80

.60

XMean 1-10

.63

XMean

11-20

.83

XMean

21-30

.70

“Data source: Malici and Walker (2017).

in November, 1979 until their attempted rescue by US commando forces failed in April, 1980. The boundary episodes for this 1978-1981 period in Table 15.4 are Episode #5 and Episode #20. Between these boundaries, the prediction algorithms of the Rival-Rival model consistently fit the roles enacted by each member of the dyad with congruence scores averaging well above (C > .70) for this period with both Iran matching their actual behavior to the model’s predictions. In contrast, there is a poor fit between the predictions of the model and the strategies of the agents during the first five episodes (E#l-E#5) with low Mean congruence scores for Iran (C = .60) and the United States (C = .50). The fit for the final ten episodes (E#21-E#30) is volatile but still has a ZMean C = .70 score. The entire sequence of games is in the Appendix.

Operational Code Analysis

An OCA in Table 15.5 of the moves selected by Iran and the United States in the hostage crisis provides additional insights into how each player enacted their respective Rival roles toward one another. The VICS indices for the hostage crisis in Table 15.5 reveal that their conflict strategies (1-1) were very similar (-.24 vs. -.20). The intensity of their tactics (1-2) was also very close (-.23 and -.22) with virtually the same risk-averse orientation (1-3) regarding the escalation of conflict (.06 and .05). Their propensities to shift between conflict and cooperation (I-4a) displayed the same symmetry (.76 and .80), as did their shift propensities between words and deeds (.44 and .50). The symmetry pattern extends to their use

Table 15.5 Social Operational Codes for Iran-US Dyads, 1978-1981“

1978-1981 Revolution!Hostage Crisis

Index

Iran

United States

Dyad

1-1. Strategy

-.24

-.20

-.26

1-2. Tactics

-.23

-.22

-.23

1-3. Riskb

.06

.05

.05

1-4. Timing1

Л6/.44

.80/. 50

Л4/.46

1-5. Sanctions a. Reward

.100

.117

.108

b. Promise

.067

.067

.067

c. Support

.217

.217

.217

d. Oppose

.350

.317

.333

e. Threaten

.150

.150

.150

f. Punish

.117

.133

.125

“Data source: Malici and Walker (2017).

bIQV Index = K.(100%2 - XPct2/100%2 (K-l) where К = 6 (the number of 1-5 categories a. through f.) and ZPct2 is the sum of each percentage (a. through f.) of 1-5 scores.

‘Flexibility of tactics: coop vs. conf./words vs. deeds.

of positive and negative sanctions (1-5) in Table 15.5, which is consistent with the enactment of a Rival role by each agent with reciprocity strategies of contingent conflict.

The collective operational code profile for the Iran-US role dyad in this crisis period mirrors these symmetrical patterns regarding the direction of strategy (1-1), the intensity of tactics (1-2), risk orientation (1-3), and the management of risk (I-4a and I-4b). This crisis is marked by moderate conflict strategies (-.26) and tactics (-.23), a very risk-averse orientation (1-3 = .05), a very robust flexibility (1-4) to shift between conflict or cooperation (.74) and a lower propensity to shift between words or deeds (.46). The collective propensity to use words (.77) as positive or negative sanctions (1-5) was three times greater than the propensity to use deeds (.23) in this crucial historical episode, a pattern exhibited by both Iran (.78 vs. .22) and the United States (.75 vs. 25). Following the failure of the US attempt to rescue American hostages held by Iran in April, 1980, the two protagonists were able to negotiate their release with the signing of the Algiers Accord in January, 1981, which ended the crisis. The timing of the agreement coincided with the ascendance of the Reagan Administration in Washington, DC.

 
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