Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Iran Contra

To understand why negotiations with Iran represent a historic opportunity, it is instructive to recall events that defined U.S.-Iranian relations since the 1950s.

In 1953, the American CIA and British MI6 intelligence forces instigated the overthrow of Mohammed Mosaddegh, Iran’s first duly elected Prime Minister. Mosaddegh’s policy goals were the establishment of a constitutional democracy and the nationalization of Iran’s oil resources. Nationalization of the oil industry was the singular event that angered American and British interests in the region and inspired the coup against Mosaddegh.

In effect, Mosaddegh’s removal ended Iran’s first – and last - fully democratic government and gave unprecedented power to the Pahlavi monarchy, which ruled Iran in oppression and brutality through a secret police network known as Savak.

The U.S. role in Mosaddegh’s overthrow was kept secret for many years. In retrospect, it is now widely regarded as “paranoid, colonial, illegal, and immoral” and the leading cause of national resentments culminating in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 led by Ayatollah Khomeini.

In essence, it was a seriously misguided policy decision that created generations of Iranian enmity towards the U.S.  We overthrew their government. We did this to them.  We brought this anger and resentment upon ourselves. And you can better understand Iranian attitudes against this backdrop of history.

Most importantly, current negotiations give us an opportunity to right a historic wrong and work towards normalizing U.S.-Iranian relations.

Since the 1950s, Iranian demographics have changed dramatically. The current population is young, Internet savvy, and Western-oriented in terms of aspirations. More to the point, younger generations do not carry the historical baggage and resentments of their forbearers. In time, this generation will take over Iran and alter the future course and direction of the country. That is why it is vitally important to pursue a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear program. Any military option would seal the enmity of the Iranian people through the end of time.

Netanyahu is a neo-conservative and a militarist whose views of history are simply counter-productive. Perhaps Shimon Perez said it best: “The people of Iran are not Israel’s enemies, and the people of Israel are not Iran’s enemies.” This time, I hope the voices of reason prevail.


  1. Too many Americans do not know this. We've interfered in more than one country's political affairs to the benefit of American corporations. The assassination of Salvatore Allende is another.

  2. I rest nightly knowing that the voice of reason will NOT come from the Iranian Mullahs.

    It easy to criticize and chastise the American government and the economic system of capitalism.that drives it. However, I for one am damn glad I live in a country that allows such criticism and by and large has done more good than evil in this wretched world we live in.

  3. It will allow that criticism only if we take care to keep it that way. It's been a long time since we were unique in that respect and other nations have just as much and don't have to put up with a corrupted government teaching fake science to students or censoring what they can learn. We would be better off if Americans knew the history of the Middle East, the history of the things we have done in the name of fighting Communism, the dictators the murderers, even the cannibals we've supported out of fear of Communism. The millions we've killed to support colonialism against Communism. We've had our wealth and welfare and our economic opportunities curtailed by our fear of Communism. We've had our freedom to travel limited by fear of Communism, our freedom to make a living.

    I'd rather we'd spent more time and money protecting our freedom against our own selves than against an economic system that doesn't work and maybe remembering that Capitalism is no more than greed and ambition and it's goodness depends on keeping it honest.

    We could be better.


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