To Make Up With Iran, U.S. Must Fess Up to 1953 Coup
demonization of Iran as a member of the 'Axis of Evil' was only the latest
chapter in a long line of political blunders. … Iran would perhaps have a
functioning democracy today if the CIA, under the direct orders of President
Dwight Eisenhower, hadn't overthrown the first democratically-elected prime minister,
Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, 1919-1980. He dreamed
of a resurgent Persian empire, and according to some
Arab accounts, after putting him in power
courtesy of a CIA coup, the U.S. removed him for it. (above).
Ex-Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq.
Arousing the jealousy of the Shah and the anger of
British oil companies, Mossadegh was removed in
a CIA-run uprising. He spent the rest of his life in
'internal exile.' Here he is in 1967. (below)
U.S. President Barack
Obama wants peace with Iran. But a deep-seated mistrust of the United States
must first be allayed.
Barack Obama gave his
political advisers two months after he took office to come up with a new
strategy for dealing with Iran. Slowly, the first recognizable outlines of change
have become evident - even if harsh comments between the two sides blithely continued
over recent weeks. First, while on tour in Europe, there was
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's invitation to Iran to participate in an
international conference on Afghanistan at The Hague on March 31st. Now, just in
time for the Persian New Year, Obama himself has reached out to
Tehran with a video message [watch below] which is more than any of his
predecessors have done for the past 30 years.
The reaction hasn't exactly
been exuberant. Clinton's invitation to Iran's leadership has yet to be
responded to. Meanwhile, Obama's historic offer was met with a mild response from
Tehran, which was immediately garnished with the usual high praise for Iran's
nuclear program.The road back to normal relations
between the two countries will be long and rocky. The chasm that opened since
the 1979 revolutionary taking of hostages at the American-Embassy in Tehran is
But Obama's video marks a
good beginning. The U.S. President promised an end to the isolation of Iran and
he said he wishes for the country to resume its place as a respected member of
the community of nations. Tehran must now consider whether to continue with its
provocative fiddling with missiles and uranium centrifuges or from now on, be
more transparent and cooperative. And it isn't only the U.S. - Iran's nuclear
ambitions are a thorn in the side of Europe and Israel as well. Furthermore, almost
all Arab countries are becoming increasingly irritated by Iranian aspirations
for dominance in the region. They accuse Tehran of sponsoring radical forces
everywhere. And because they fear a nuclear arms race, Arabs, too, are preparing
to build a large number of nuclear reactors.
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S NEW YEAR MESSAGE TO IRAN
But Obama's initiative also calls
for a significant course correction from the United States. The demonization of
Iran as a member of the "Axis of Evil" was only the latest chapter in
a long line of political blunders. For many Iranians, the 1953 regime change staged
by the United States remains clear in the mind. The country would perhaps have
a functioning democracy today if the CIA, under the direct orders of President
Dwight Eisenhower, hadn't overthrown the first democratically-elected Prime
Mosaddeq, and restored the fallen Shah Reza Pahlavi.
Mosaddeq wanted to nationalize the Iranian oil fields because Western companies
were taking all the profits out of the country.
During the eight-year war
between Iraq and Iran, the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein, providing billions of
dollars in cheap loans for weapons purchases. About 20,000 Iranian soldiers
were killed with poison gas without so much as a protest raised by Washington. Finally,
a U.S. missile cruiser [the USS Vincennes] in
the Persian Gulf mistakenly shot down an Iranian Airbus [Iran Air Flight 655]
with 290 passengers and crew. The officers and their superiors were promoted - but
never held accountable. Up to now, there has been no official apology from
Washington to the families of the victims.
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