In early November 1979, rioting Iranian students entered the American embassy in Tehran and seized fifty-two government employees. Whether this was a spontaneous act, or a planned operation by Iran’s revolutionary government, is still open to debate; but in either instance, the nation’s clerical leadership moved quickly to exploit the crisis. In the United States, the Carter administration was still reeling from the shock waves sent out by the fall of the Shah, who had long been an American ally in the region. There was a sense of confusion, even paralysis; and the problem was compounded by the fact that the Americans had very little knowledge of what was happening in Tehran. There were no eyes and ears on the ground.
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