Conscripting the State: Military and Society in Iran, 1921-1941
Zilfi, Madeline C
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Reza Shah Pahlavi came to power in an Iranian state on the verge of disintegration and dominated by foreign powers. In order to reverse this decline and protect national sovereignty, Reza sought to build a centralized state and strong national military modeled after those of Europe. The military came to dominate affairs within the country by consuming a large percentage of the national budget and by the favoritism given to its officers. The government also attempted to impose martial order on society by implementing conscription, requiring military instruction for students, and imposing national dress codes for citizens. Reza's elevation of the military, heavy-handed style of governance, and the systemic corruption of his regime made it unpopular with much of Iran's population. This thesis argues that Reza's reforms did much to alter the appearance of Iran and its military but failed to make critical institutional changes.