GDay World 383 – Jabiz R on Iran

My guest today is Jabiz R. Born in Iran, raised in America, now living in Qatar, Jabiz is an educator and blogger. I’ve really enjoyed some of his posts about Iran lately so I invited him onto the show.
Jabiz Raisdana

18 thoughts on “GDay World 383 – Jabiz R on Iran

  1. I’m friends with Jabiz so I listened to this with interest.

    If you haven’t already, you need to read this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Ashes-History-Tim-Weiner/dp/038551445X

    Over the course of 60 years, the CIA (and Western espionage in general) has been remarkably poor and ineffective around the world (but not for lack of trying) … This book is a good read and will inform your program. Not to say the West won’t try to intervene in Iran. You guys make good points.

    cheers,

    – Ted Burnham
    – Kalispell, Montana

  2. Hi, Cameron-

    I have great respect for your shows and views, but have to say that you totally missed the boat on this one. As opposed to having a guest who heard some stories from his grandmother, how about digging some more into the real historical record? How about having a more realistic view of the US, its policy development and its capacities? I am working largely from a book by Amir Taheri, foremost newspaper editor in the pre-revolutionary Iran who recently wrote “The Persian Night”.

    Going back to the Mosaddeq affair, it is absurd to think that Kermit Roosevelt could stage the whole thing as has become the standard story, even on the Wiki page, unfortunately. Mosaddeq was not just a nationalist and a nationalizer of Iran’s oil resources. He was also becoming a dictator and a dithering, ineffectual one at that, at a time when there was still substantial popular support for the Shah. The CIA certainly meddled and stired the pot. But they could not create groundswells of support, either then or now. Just how stupid do you think Iranians are?

    How much of a puppet the Shah was I have no idea. But here again, the US interests were simply to keep oil in private hands, and keep Iran out of the Soviet camp. The US would have had no further interest in Iran’s policies, so however bad the Shah’s system turned out to be, it was not a matter of puppeteering. Rather one of autocracy not being a very good system in the best of times, and particularly bad if the autocrat is paranoid, rightfully or not.

    Fast forward to today, and again Iran finds itself mired in a corrupt and autocratic system swept into place on high hopes (incidentally the idea that the CIA favored the Khomeini is absurd, not to mention that they again had zero levers to pull in any case). The CIA doesn’t even know what is going on, let alone have any influence on what is happenening. To drag Oliver North into the discussion is absurd, since in his time, Iran was in the desperate throes of its war with Iraq, and the US for its part was happy to arm both sides, so long as we did not get involved (which by way of the usual pathetic bungling, we did when everything came out anyway). To think that CIA is now sprinkling twitters into the Iranian winds goes against every bureaucratic fiber of their being. I doubt we even have enough translators.

    At any rate, the current unrest has been prefigured for years, even decades, as the younger generation in Iran has been browbeat and denied economic opportunity. The brain drain is intense, and the economic system is collapsing, all due to Iran’s own internal dynamics. Ahmadinejad isn’t just portrayed as a clown by the west and the CIA, he is a clown, hosting holocaust denial conferences and vowing to wipe Israel off the map. We make a mistake to take him too seriously, since the Iranian system has far more actors and complex dynamics than seems from the outside, and their bark has been much worse than their bite.

    At any rate, Iranians themselves are fed up with it, and the current agitation is the younger generation’s yearning to be part of a normal system, economically, intellectually, and politically. Iran is a diverse, cosmopolitan, and resourceful country, and the US interest is to to assist its development and to keep its meddling out of Israel and especially Lebanon. To equate US meddling in the 50’s and before with its meddling now seriously misapprehends deep changes in how the US operates. Take the Balkans- we went in there on a humanitarian mission, lifted heaven and earth to get Milosevich out (by velevet-type revolution methods, but not terribly intrusive ones .. just supporting the anti-fascist factions), and now are tapering down involvement as the area calms down and adopts sustainable and peaceful political structures.

  3. @Burk,

    I want to start at a place that does not sound too defensive and hopefully ends there as well. I was asked by Cameron to come on the show and participate in a casual conversation about my ideas and views on Iran after he read a blog post of mine.
    I take offense to the idea that I am simply some guy who heard stories from his grandmother. While I may not be an expert on the issues, I would like to think of myself as somewhat knowledgeable, seeing that my life and subsequent exile from Iran has been more than profoundly influenced by the stories I have heard, not only from my grandmother, but other family members as well.

    In addition to the stories my grandmother told me, which were fairy tales to put a young child to sleep and had nothing to do with politics, coups, or revolutions, I have read my share of books on the topic. I think we would both agree that, “digging some more into the real historical record,” is a subjective act and neither of us should base our opinions on any one book. I have not read “The Persian Night,” by Amir Taheri, but it does look fascinating and I will add it to my book list. I suggest you take a look at, Revolution and Counter Revolution In Iran by Phil Marshall and All The Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer to help round out your views as well.

    The rest of your argument becomes a he said she said of conflicting view points.

    “It is absurd to think that Kermit Roosevelt could stage the whole thing as has become the standard story.”

    It is also absurd to think that the US could help fund and create a battle ready force of Afghan tribal leaders to fight the Russians, but it happened, or that US intelligence could establish a coup in Chile to oust another democratically elected leader for a dictator general in 1973, but again there is much evidence to prove that is exactly what happened.

    No one is saying that Kermit Roosevelt staged the entire affair, or that the coup even went as it had been, but it is not too far fetched to imagine that a team of people working together would throw a nation into chaos, especially since that was and has been the role of the CIA since in its inception. The Kinzer book may shed some light on the topic.

    Again your next point is subjective and seeped in conjecture. While I am sure many Iranians have romanticized Mosaddeq and his role in Iran, I have read little to show that he, “was not just a nationalist and a nationalizer of Iran’s oil resources. He was also becoming a dictator and a dithering, ineffectual one at that, at a time when there was still substantial popular support for the Shah.”

    The support for the Shah, then as now has always been by the elite Iranian ruling class, and not by any means a populist view.

    At least we agree here, “The CIA certainly meddled and stirred the pot. But they could not create groundswells of support, either then or now.”

    The level of support the CIA can or cannot create is another subjective point. As Cameron pointed out in the podcast, enough money and forces on the ground can make a large groups of people do powerful things.

    As for your next question, “Just how stupid do you think Iranians are?”

    I do not think we are stupid at all, but then as now, a nation that has had its political leaders, artists, and intellectuals disconnected from the general population take generations to regroup. Whether this type of leadership is on the ground in Iran remains to me seen, when the smoke clears, but I doubt there is anyone there capable of standing up top US interests in the region. A free and democratic Iran is the last thing the US wants. That would be the undermining of 50 years of foreign policy to control the religion.

    “How much of a puppet the Shah was I have no idea. But here again, the US interests were simply to keep oil in private hands, and keep Iran out of the Soviet camp.

    Well lets see, he used the CIA to train and fund his secret police Savak to murder, torture and terrorize a country just to keep oil in private hands, which at the end of the day is no small feat, especially when a pesky nation wants to get its hands on the wealth that oil could provide.

    You said that, “The idea that the CIA favored the Khomeini is absurd, not to mention that they again had zero levers to pull in any case.”

    As absurd as it may sound, this is an idea that many Iranians I have spoken to believe, While I am not sure I believe it myself or could corroborate any more information on it, let us not forget that the Reagan administration did delay the release of the hostages by several weeks in order to have the freed upon his inauguration. So it appears that they did have some levers to pull after all.

    “The CIA doesn’t even know what is going on, let alone have any influence on what is happenening.”

    I think you are underestimating our boys at Langley.

    To drag Oliver North into the discussion is absurd, since in his time, Iran was in the desperate throes of its war with Iraq and the US for its part was happy to arm both sides, so long as we did not get involved (which by way of the usual pathetic bungling, we did when everything came out anyway).

    That last point doesn’t really make any sense. How is arming both sides not getting involved, and how is dragging Oliver North into the discussion absurd? Since he was involved.

    Moving on to today.

    To think that CIA is now sprinkling twitters into the Iranian winds goes against every bureaucratic fiber of their being. I doubt we even have enough translators.

    How so? Why wouldn’t they create a small team to manufacture a social networked PR campaign to get the world and American behind this latest upheaval? Why do they need translators most of the Tweets and other info is coming out in English anyway? Again, I think perhaps I am giving the CIA too much credit and you are understanding their skills. History will tell, but it will be up to us to decide if we will believe it.

    Great points:

    At any rate, the current unrest has been prefigured for years, even decades, as the younger generation in Iran has been browbeat and denied economic opportunity.( Please keep in mind that I have actually spoken to many of this younger generation as they are my father’s friend’s children.) The brain drain is intense, and the economic system is collapsing, all due to Iran’s own internal dynamics. Ahmadinejad isn’t just portrayed as a clown by the west and the CIA, he is a clown, hosting holocaust denial conferences and vowing to wipe Israel off the map. We make a mistake to take him too seriously, since the Iranian system has far more actors and complex dynamics than seems from the outside, and their bark has been much worse than their bite.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say,

    Iranians themselves are fed up with it, and the current agitation is the younger generation’s yearning to be part of a normal system, economically, intellectually, and politically.

    But as romantic as the idea of millions of people aspiring for freedom may be, there has to be some form of leadership and direction on the ground. I hope I am wrong. I hope Mousavi really is the knight in shining armor who has learned that he owes more to Iran and its youth than reforms, but I, unlike you will not underestimate the CIA and its dedication to US business interest. This is a big game and the stakes are high. Too high to expect the big boys to sit back and let young Iranians draped in green spill their blood for something like freedom.

    I wish it were as simple as this

    Iran is a diverse, cosmopolitan, and resourceful country, and the US interest is to assist its development and to keep its meddling out of Israel and especially Lebanon. To equate US meddling in the 50’s and before with its meddling now seriously misapprehends deep changes in how the US operates.

    You give an example of the Balkans, but I give Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel for better examples of how the US operates for its interests. I suggest you read more than one book on the Balkans as well, because your view of the humanitarian mission seems skewed as well.

    Here we are at the end of my response and I hope I did not sound too defensive or didactic . I appreciate the fact that you left such a lengthy and well though out comment. Looking at your blog I see that we may have a lot in common, one of the things being that you are form Marin county.

    I grew up in San Rafael and am head back there next week, perhaps we could meet up for coffee and continue this conversation.

  4. Burk

    I thought Jabiz was a great guest. I’m interested in what real people think, especially someone who was born in Iran, grew up in the USA and currently lives in the Middle East. He brings a somewhat unique perspective.

    Regarding the CIA’s abilities and involvement in Iran in 1953, my main reference is Tim Weiner’s “Legacy Of Ashes: The History of the CIA”. It’s a valuable reference because 100% of his sources are on the record. He goes into great detail about how the CIA used Zahedi to mount the coup, how they funded him and an extensive propaganda campaign to discredit Mossadeq, how Roosevelt used $50,000 of Agency funds to hire a crowd to pose as Communist “goons” to flood the streets of Tehran, looting, burning, smashing the symbols of the Government. Andrew Killgore, a State Dept official under Richard Helms from 72 – 76, is quoted as saying “The coup was regarded as CIA’s greatest single triumph. We had changed the whole course of a country.”

    It sounds to me like the CIA did a lot more than “stir the pot”, as you quaintly put it. And if they could engineer one coup, why not a second? They are certainly FAR more powerful and better resourced now than they were in 1953.

    BTW, I love it when Americans try to play the “oh you give our CIA way too much credit, they aren’t that clever” line. It’s true that, according to Weiner, they’ve screwed up pretty much everything they have ever touched. But on the other hand, they have MASSIVE resources and they have used them to interfere in geopolitics on a widespread scale over 60 years. That, sir, is FACT.

  5. Hi, Cameron and Jabiz-

    I apologize for getting overly worked up and disparaging in my remarks. I’d enjoy meeting you, Jabiz- I live in downtown San Rafael, so email me when you are in town.. [email protected].

    Let me just make a couple of observations. I’ll admit that Bush and Cheney were throwbacks to the 50’s operating style, favoring “toughness”, covert operations, and of course overt operations as well. The CIA toadies to its masters, as the Iraq WMD episode makes clear, but this also means that better masters (Democrats like Carter, Clinton, and Obama) keep it on a shorter leash. So what was the result in Iran while the Bush administration was spitting bile at it and rattling its sabers over the last 6 years? Nothing at all. Iran conducted its internal affairs unmolested, and ran its terrorist networks in Lebanon and Palestine with little problem, set up uranium purification, etc..

    It is only now, by way of Iran’s own internal dynamics, offering the false hope of democracy to its own people that they get themselves into difficulties. The activating factor here is not covert, but quite overt- the phenomenon of Obama, both in his free election in the US, and in his new tone vs Iran, in Cairo and elsewhere. Note also that as you say, change in Iran requires leadership. Mousavi is clearly not that leader, being totally unprepared for his own success. But neither is the CIA supplying leadership- th

    More generally, I would take issue with.. “A free and democratic Iran is the last thing the US wants. That would be the undermining of 50 years of foreign policy to control the region.” The US got itself into a quite a mess in the cold war (and previously, in the Phillipines, etc.) by trying to match the communists in agitation and destabilization techniques, and reflexively choosing authoritarianism over communism and over democracy. (I am reading Neil Sheehan’s a bright shining lie, on Vietnam- same story). Times have changed substantially, and the US is more firmly pro-democracy in general policy outlook. We took a gamble on the Palestinian Gaza elections, and what did that get us? We have tried desperately to get a democratic system working in Iraq (note that the Shia are in charge there through quite democratic means) and even in Afghanistan, which is so culturally unsuited for it that it has turned into a disaster.

    Our friends around the world are democracies, both sponsored by us (Japan, South Korea, Germany…) or not, such as Australia and India. Are we destabilizing them? I don’t think so. Are we telling them what to do? Not really. Do we run Mexico or Canada? No. The pax Americana, insofar as it exists, is predicated on peaceful mercantile relations between independent democratic countries. In the middle east, we would like nothing more than a democratic evolution of the whole region towards a European model. I would say that we played a not very positive role in acceeding the coup of Musharaf in Pakistan, but then have played a relatively positive role in getting him back off the stage more recently. US interests are well served by maintaining vibrant, strong democracy in Pakistan, as long as it does not devolve into chaos. One can see now that a democratic government is actually doing a better job against the Taliban than the military one did.

    The neocon’s wet dream was that their democratization of Iraq would trigger a similar transformation throughout the middle east, given the discontent with all the authoritarian governments there- cedar revolutions, etc. The fact that we are already closely tied to all the same authoritarian governments reflects reality, but it does not reflect US aspirations or ultimate policy goals. Our relationship with the Saudis is a case in point- we have to be friendly since they have the oil (with some administrations far friendlier than others). But their spreading of Slafiism is deeply against our interests, as is their basic form of government, being brittle, corrupt, and undemocratic. Ditto with Egypt. They are very useful as a counterweight to Iran, and in their tolerance of Israel, but all else being equal, we would prefer them being democratic, even if that leads to partial Islamism like it has in Turkey.

    One of the core connections we share with Israel, over all other countries in the region, is that their system is democratic. The very same would be true of Iran, and our overt policy there is completely clear- that insofar as true democracy is happening in Iran, we are for it, since it obviously goes in the direction of better relations with the US and the entire international system, as well as being basically in accord with our own values. Ditto for China as well- where US policy is for democratic opening whenever there is such a choice on the table.

    To go briefly back to the Mosaddeq episode, the Shah was not then what he later become. He was a constitutional monarch, and as the CIA said deep in its report: “Forced with a choice between following the orders of the Shah and those of Mossadeq, the rank and file of the army and its officers would obey the Shah.” This seems on target, and reflects, not CIA meddling, but the political situation on the ground, getting to the heart of the issue (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB28/10-Orig.pdf). Thus it is Iran itself that bears the main responsibility of putting the Shah back on his throne (though the US bears large responsibility also, and for feeding the Shah’s worst tendencies as time went on), just as it is Germany that voted Hitler into office, and the Russians who were agitated in the October revolution into giving power to the Bolsheviks. The CIA worked hard to tip the balance, but it was less work to do so than the usual accounts portray.

  6. “the US is more firmly pro-democracy in general policy outlook”. Got anything to back that up? US administrations have always talked about being pro-democracy but their actions speak a different story.

    Let’s look at recent history of countries receiving huge amounts of US ‘aid’:

    Pakistan: Massive support from the USA. $10+ billion in ‘aid’. Previously a big supporter of the Taliban. Came to power via a military coup. Suspended elections constantly. His main political rival assassinated just prior to the last election. Pro-democracy? I don’t think so.

    Israel: Constantly ignoring (for 30 years!) UN resolutions (and now Pres Obama’s requests) to stop settlements in Palestine and turning Gaza into an illegal POW camp. Ranks amongst the lowest in the world in human rights abuses for its occupied territories (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Israel#Status_of_freedom.2C_political_rights_and_civil_liberties_in_Israel).

    Iraq: The current President Talabani is connected to 1993 murder of a journalist trying to expose his trade in illegal arms. As the US had something like 140,000 troops in his country at the time of his ‘election’, it’s hard to describe this as ‘democracy’ anyway. He’s obviously a puppet for the US.

    Getting back to The Shah – who, by the way, is enjoying his retirement in Maryland, USA – was brutal from the beginning. He set up SAVAK in 1957, trained by CIA and MOSSAD. Your claim that the CIA just ‘tipped the balance’ isn’t supported by the CIA’s own people and the US State Dept. Again, the quote from Killgore is “We had changed the whole course of a country.” And how can you even begin to try to defend the US supporting a “constitutional monarch” over a democratically elected Prime Minister? Didn’t your ancestors fight a whole WAR over getting rid of a monarch?

  7. Hi, Cameron-

    I am not defending what the US did in the Mosaddeq affair as right- far, far from. I am just saying that blaming the US 100% is not accurate. I would put the blame more 25% on the US, with more thereafter as the Shah went from bad to worse. It just seems fair to say that Iranians bear some responsibility for their own history, seeing as most of the people involved were Iranian, and they have major roles to play in the lability of their own political situations, even if the outcome is pushed by evil outsiders.

    What I am getting at is that the projection of blame that is habitual in the middle east is quite unhealthy. The place is a mess, in large part due to colonialism and the various sequelae, including our own nafarious doings. But for any viable politics to emerge, people have to take responsibility for their own systems (as many are in Iran right now), not wallow in narratives of powerlessness, however justified they may be.

    Connected with this is the point that if one is serious about democracy, then one has to hold one’s nose, just as with other systems as well. Are the leaders of Israel saints? Certainly not. Their settlement activity is abhorrent. But it is supported by the population of Israel, UN resolutions or no UN resolutions. That is what democracy is all about. Ditto with Hamas, and I think we have to be more serious about democracy by not gratuitously undermining Hamas. I posted on the issue…

    On the larger point of how I can make claims about the direction of US policy, speaking empirically.. I agree that it is difficult, since the one hand keeps doing what the other says it is not doing. And we have been through such an egregious administration just now. Yet I pointed to a few pieces. The fact is that it would have been far more convenient for us to keep the Sunis in power in Iraq and not bother with cobbling together a messy political system that gives all the players a piece of the action and voice, especially the Shia who are now running the show. And as I think everyone can tell, we are anxious in the extreme to get the hell out.

    I do not understand why you bring up Talabani- he has hardly any power. I am sure that the US has tried to influence things in Iraq in many ways, fair and foul. But the primary policy aim is to have a happy, free country that we will not have to return to. It sounds to me like they are pretty much in charge of their own oil resources, for one thing.

  8. Burke,

    Do you really think the US wants to be out of Iraq and have a happy country not to return to?? That seems to me to be a pretty naïve interpretation of US foreign policy. How much has the US spent on first dismantling and then ‘re-building’ Iraq so far? Nearly $700 million? Do you really think that money was spent so you could… leave and never come back?

    Oh please.

    And hasn’t Obama admitted he’ll be leaving 35,000 – 50,000 troops there? That’s not getting the hell out. That’s the same size force the US has had sitting in Japan and Germany for the last 50 years. It’s an occupying force.

    And your perspective on the overthrow of Mossadeq in 1953 just doesn’t take into account the facts. There wasn’t any kind of mass movement to overthrow him before the CIA got involved and engineered riots in the streets. The CIA got involved because Mossadeq was going to nationalize the oil interests of the British Empire.

    Even today’s column in The Atlantic (http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/06/mousavi_and_mossadeq_how_history_relates_to_irans_protest.php) states is clearly and unambiguously:

    “In the middle of the last century, the U.S. overthrew Iran’s democratically elected leader, Muhammad Mossadeq.”

    There’s really no disputing this fact.

  9. Listen gentlemen, we could go back and forth, tit for tat indefinitely, exchanging arguments that attempt to prove our individual world views, but ultimately all of our arguments boil down to one question:

    Is America a force for freedom and democracy world wide, or is does act imperially in order to pursue American business interests?

    From what I have read about history, I choose to believe the latter.

    I would love to believe America is only the bad guy when it embarks on its adventurous world policing through right wing policies, “Bush and Cheney were throwbacks to the 50’s operating style, favoring “toughness” and that Obama and the democrats are “more firmly pro-democracy in general policy outlook.”

    But from I have read, this scenario seems naive to me. Burke you ask, “Are we destabilizing them( European allies)? I don’t think so. Are we telling them what to do? Not really. Do we run Mexico or Canada? No.

    This is where our ideas diverge. I see Pax Americana as more than a policy that “is predicated on peaceful mercantile relations between independent democratic countries.”

    I see American its cabal of international global corporations (military, large pharmaceutical, agri-business, energy, etc…) using the organizations they have created, IMF, world bank, global finance, and ultimately military forces to make the world a safe place for them to monopolize and privatize the markets, (communication, energy, water…)

    This need to establish and maintain markets friendly to American interest is the cornerstone of American government policy regardless of which corporate party is in power.

    So the question remains:

    Is America looking to create autonomous regions and nations to do business with or is it looking to control global resources and markets to benefit and enrich its ruling class? Everything else is rhetoric.

    Iran is a key player in creating a “free trade” zone that will empower US business interests, not only through direct access to resources, but as a global statement as to which system is winning.

    This victory for American business interest has nothing to do with Freedom or democracy.

    Let’s see if we can meet for coffee in a few weeks.

  10. Allow me to direct you to the link I supplied above on Iraq’s oil resources as to whether the evil global business elite have monopolized energy. They have not. There are plenty of companies bidding, and oil itself, as you have learned over the last few years, sells at market prices the respond, not to monopolistic control, but to supply and demand. Sure, the profits are obscene, but the companies have less and less influence as time goes on. In Iraq they are getting service contracts, not production sharing. They were just boxed out of Russia’s Kamchatka fields by the government oil organization. They meekly do whatever Venezuela wants- service contracts, etc. The US government is just not going to give them East-India-Company style support any more. That time has passed.

    I am no more a fan of global super-companies than you are, but one has to be realistic. They are amoral, but they are not supernatural.

  11. Apologies, but I have been reading… I’d recommend chapters 6 and 7 of “The Iranians”, by Sandra Mackey, giving a relatively non-thriller account of the Mosaddeq episode. Again, the defects of Mosaddeq’s situation were numerous, inspiring the major Shia leader to oppose him. As I understand it, that is sort of a kiss of death in Iran. Ayatolla Kashani assisted the CIA plot, which I would have to say implicates the clergy themselves in the mess they now blame on the US. (Once the Shah was installed, the Shia clergy organized a progrom against the Bahais as their due in the new system.) Likewise, the Shia clergy played a major role in installing the Shah’s father in 1925 as king, fearing republicanism and secularism as they saw in Turkey. The deep problem of reconciling democracy and Islam recurs again and again in Iran and throughout the middle east. It is circle that seems impossible to square.

    Scapegoating the US is somewhat like blaming the US Supreme Court for the election of George Bush. Sure they were at fault, but would killing off the supreme court resolve our political difficulties or fundamentally alter the conservative-liberal dynamics of our system? No. They took upon themselves to throw out a few million votes, but about 49% of the voters had voted for Bush, so they were tipping a pretty close balance. They were not 100% at fault for the consequences of the election, so we have not spent years marching in the streets demading “Death to the Supreme Court!”. Again, what the US did in Iran was not right by any means, but Iranians themselves bore plenty of responsibility and should take up the responsibility of putting their history into a more reasonable perspective.

  12. Burk, you continually try to position the CIA’s involvement in Iran in 1953 as merely tipping the scales or something and that is just not supported by any history I’ve read. I’ll admit though I haven’t Sandra Mackey, which I will seek out. The evidence I’ve seen, in reputable tomes such as Weiner’s, indicates that the CIA totally funded and engineered the circumstances of the regime change. I’m sure there was political opposition to Mossadeq – there is always opposition to every government – but does that justify the US’s involvement in creating riots, assassinations, and supplying the military with fund, weapons, training, etc, the supporting their unelected, illegal government?

  13. I am enjoying “All the Shah’s men” (The Mackey book makes no different points, really, or brings up different data). The appalling behavior of Britain is remarkably reminiscent of its behavior in the Napoleonic era. Chants of “Death to X” seem to be a long-standing leitmotif in Iranian politics.

    But I have to make one basic point- what does it say about a political system when $100,000 buys a new government? It says that system has serious problems not confined to foreign interference. What would you think if, say, Japan spent a couple million dollars to buy the Australian political system and arrange a coup, putting Prince Charles in charge (just to be a bit fanciful)? You would certainly be mad at Japan, but far madder at your own “representatives”, religious leaders, military leaders, and whoever else was in charge of the country at the time. (I should think.)

    I am not trying to paint the US or Britain as good here, just saying that excessive pawning off of responsibility from one’s own countrymen to others is politically / emotionally convenient and corrosive in the long run, as we are seeing with the continual re-enactment in Iran of nationalistic fervor, demagoguery, political mismanagement, corruption, repression, and scapegoating, all heading to new revolutions, mobs, and demagoguery. A proper accounting would have the Shia clergy marching around shouting “Death to Ayatollah Kashani”, but apparently, that is not happening.

    The Wiki page:
    “Curiously, despite his assistance in the 1953 coup, Kashani is often portrayed as a victim of the coup, in the Islamic Republic of Iran today on the grounds that the coup was a prime example of American aggression in Iran, and that politically active clergy act as bulwarks of Islam against from Western predation. The hard-line Entekhab newspaper, for example in 2002 anniversary story on the coup asserted the coup was launched `against Mossadegh and also Kashani`
    Ayatollah Kashani died in Tehran in 1962, and his death paved the way for Khomeini to gain influence.”

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