Thursday, January 11, 2018
Very interesting read.
Part 2 will probably be published by ZeroHedge on Sunday, Jan 14.
From Shahs To The CIA: The History Of Western Intervention In Iran - Part 1
"Once you understand what people want, you can’t hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can’t hate them, because you can find the same desires in your own heart" - concluded Andrew Wiggins in the novel Speaker for the Dead. When Americans hear the word Iran, many have a sort of knee-jerk visceral reaction. The very mention of the word conjures up frightful images of be-turbaned bearded imams leading mobs of Kalashnikov-carrying Muslim men and women whose faces are grotesquely contorted by intense anger as they enthusiastically wave banners bearing squiggly lines, no doubt saying, "Death to America".
Such specters are no frightful flights of fantasy, but reflect a real time and place in Iranian history. The year was 1979 and the place was Tehran. But the Islamic Revolution and subsequent American embassy hostage crisis which shocked the world, catching the West completely off guard, did not materialize in a vacuum. The chaotic domino effect which would lead modern Iran into the hands of the Ayatollahs was set off from the moment the CIA intervened with its 1953 coup d'état in Tehran, which became known as 'Operation Ajax'.
The opening sequence from the 2012 movie 'Argo' features a brief history of aggressive Western intervention which shaped modern Iran.
But Western intervention in Iran's affairs actually started many decades prior even to the CIA's well-known covert operation with the establishment of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, or today's British Petroleum (BP). After this, the 20th century witnessed a series of external interventions in Iran - a pattern which could potentially be continued now at the beginning of the 21st century as officials in the US and Israeli governments are now calling for action in support of protesters.
However, few officials and pundits in the West understand or care to know the tragic and fascinating history of Iran and Western interventionism there, even while feigning to speak on behalf of "the Iranian people". To understand modern Iran and the chaotic events leading to the Islamic revolution of 1979, we have to begin with ancient history to gain a sense of Iranians' self-understanding of their national heritage and identity, and then launch into the 20th century Iranian identity crisis brought about by foreign domination.
Belief in "Persian Exceptionalism" and Revolution
Iranian historian and professor at Tehran University, Sadegh Zibakalam, once defined the idea of "Iranian exceptionalism" as the dominant cultural narrative of modern Iran. Zibakalam explained this as "One of the strange features of 20th century Iranian leaders has been a tendency to perceive themselves, their government, and Iran as serious challengers to the present world order. Given the fact that the present world order is very much a Western dominated system, the Iranian leaders’ historic “crusade” has been broadly anti-Western. Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi as well as his successors have perceived their respective regime as offering the world a different system of leadership - one that is far superior to that of the West in many respects. Thus, Iranian “exceptionalism” rests on two main pillars: the negation of the present world order and the belief in the inherent superiority of Iranian civilization."
This self-perception arises from the Iranian people being descendants of well-known historical rulers and an ancient people that civilized the desert of what was known to the rest of the world as Persia, and to us in our day Iran. The ruins of Persepolis hearken back several millennia to the days of the great Persian kings Cyrus, Xerxes, and Darius who in the magnificent Hall of Audience received the tributes of the various and sundry nations they conquered: the Elamites, Arachosians, Armenians, Ethiopians, Thracians, Ionians, Arabs, Assyrians, and Indians. They constituted an empire in every sense of the word, dominating some of the richest lands from Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean through Turkey in Asia Minor, northward to Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Libya and then to as far East as the Indus river, engulfing the Caucasus along the way.
In so doing, they spread their knowledge of science, poetry, painting, architecture, and their Zoroastrian faith to the ends of the world. This faith ingrained in them the idea that it is the responsibility of everyone, rich and poor, young and old, to strive to attain and establish justice here in this world in much the same way that the Hebrews sought it through their Torah and the Buddhists through their Tao. The Persians were among those first great civilizations that turned men’s faces to the heavens and the stars challenging them to find meaning and purpose in a world replete with suffering and misery and to prepare their hearts, minds, and souls for the judgement that awaited them upon departing this life. Rulers, great and powerful though they be, were not exempt from this the common lot of man and thus were expected to rule justly guided by the light of their revealed religion. When they failed to do so, their subjects had the right to rise up and overthrow them. In this they were not exceptional. This is pattern that repeated itself time and time again through the long history of the Persians.....