International relations professor Stephen Walt points to a piece of current imperial folly that a couple of neo-cons are peddling about how the U.S. should deal with Iran. These are the same dangerous clowns who were sure that invading Iraq would bring hearts and flowers to the greater Middle East. Now they have more snake to sell. No worries here -- if we just push those dumb wogs a little harder, they'll give up their stupid assertion of national pride and do what the United States bids. From Walt:
In 2003 New York Times writer Steven Kinzer tried to educate the U.S. public about the 1953 coup carried out by the C.I.A. that removed Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. This event that remains the searing fount of Iranian preceptions of the United States: when Iranians sought to control their own energy resources, Washington overthrew the man Iranians had elected and imposed a dictatorial monarch. No wonder that all Iranians, very much including their own democratically oriented "Green" activists, want no part of a Western order for them not to develop nuclear technology that they believe they are entitled to.
Kinzer's account of the coup is a little over done for me. I don't admire C.I.A. man Kermit Roosevelt's imagination and daring, so I don't really care about the play by play. But I do appreciate Kinzer's exposition of the historical (racist?) ignorance with which the Brits, whose oil fields had been taken over by Iran's people, and most United States officials viewed that ancient country. Westerners have some dim idea that China and perhaps India are modern expressions of complex ancient civilizations. But when it comes to Persia/Iran (and even more the core Middle Eastern lands), we dismiss proud histories as if they had never been.
Mossadegh was a vexing irritant to the West because he belied their stereotypes that they were dealing with a primitive people. When Britain tried to condemn Iranian nationalization of the oil fields at the United Nations, the sophisticated Iranian Prime Minister (he was a lawyer) knew what to do.
In sum, Mossadegh was guilty of self-respect and assertion of national sovereignty. He blunted the attack on Iran at the United Nations; he had to go.
And so the C.I.A. got rid of him. Here are some of Kinzer's observations on the consequences of that decision. Kermit Roosevelt was brought home to report on his feat.
Not that Roosevelt ever thought his operation was wrong ... but apparently its very success raised his alarm in some way.
Within Iran and the developing world:
The United States is still thrashing around amidst the wreckage of empire, vacillating between trying to maintain control of peoples seeking their own ways and outright imposition of rulers we think are "friends." We ask "why to do they hate us?" Kinzer's account of the Iran coup answers that for one proud people and suggests explanations for many more.