Wolf Blitzer was
astonished by the claim made by Retired Air Force General Sam Gardiner that the
US has been conducting
military operations in Iran for 18 months. "The evidence is
overwhelming," said the general, to which Blitzer responded by suggesting
that this may be a US propaganda campaign to intimidate Iran's President Mahmoud
Not so, said the
The order for the
ongoing intelligence and dissident-herding operations in Iran issued from the
White House, bypassing Congress and the Pentagon, just as similar military
operations in Iraq in the summer of 2002 predated congressional debate over the
wisdom of funding the invasion of Iraq. In other words, Bush was waging war in
Iraq behind Congress' back as early as the summer of 2002, before asking
Congress for funding in October 2002.
Iran, the general
suggests, is subjected today to a similar, secretive, US executive-driven war,
intended to "soften-up" the country together with the projected
sanctions for the full-scale illegal bombing that the willing, patsy,
collaborationist Congress will no doubt fund if so ordered by the ruling
The media is
incredulous. How can this be? Blitzer has no knowledge of this!
So what can't be
true, isn't true.
Well, done, Blitz:
you have served your corporate/military masters well. You have
"revealed" the rumors no doubt echoing Pentagon dissidents and
dismissed them at the same time. Propaganda accomplished: your public is in a
terminal state of skeptical confusion. Chalk it up to one more propaganda
victory for US imperialism by the mythical "liberal media," actually
a fief of the war party.
coincidentally, Tuesday night I listened to a BBC Radio 4 program on the role
of the BBC in the 1953 Anglo-American coup in Iran against the secular,
constitutional, elected government of Premier Mohammad Mossadeq.
It may come in
handy for American readers to get a little background on this very elegant
(speaking from the point of view of the CIA) coup. The rest of the world knows
its details full well, so international readers can skip the part that follows.
Mossadeq was a liberal aristocrat and avowed secular constitutionalist. He
believed in civil liberties, separation of powers, pluralism and electoral
democracy, and separation of church and state. He was supported by Iran's
modern, professional middle classes, progressive elements of the clergy
(including the impressively liberal cleric, Ayatollah Mahmud Taleqani), the very
popular and energetic Tudeh (communist) Party, the socialists, reformist
liberals of all stripes, and the university and national intelligentsia
(rushanfekhran). In other words, Mossadeq represented the combined social
forces of modern, democratic Iran.
democracy-addicted (at least in words) West -- ever eager to promote popular
freedom on the planet as tyrannically oppressed people all over the world can
attest -- he was a dream come true. Imagine: democracy was breaking out in the
Middle East. And it looked exactly the way it looked in the West. Who would
dare to say, looking at Iran in 1953 that the "Muslims" were not
capable of engineering democracy?
But there was one
catch: Mossadeq also represented the liberal bourgeoisie's desire to own their
own natural resources and to use them for national development. In short,
Mossadeq intended to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian (later British Petroleum)
In a jiffy, the
British government moved to protect the interests of the British oil
corporation and democracy be damned in uppity, cheeky Iran and the Middle East.
In a choice between profits and people, Western democracies have never
hesitated to stand for the moneybags.
Britain had a
problem, however. It did not have diplomatic relations with Iran, so any
British seditious or spying movements in Iran could not operate under the
traditional cover of "embassy business." At last, British officials
hit upon the genial idea that their American cousins, lately embarked on a
crusade to save the world from international communism and make it safe for
American multinationals, might be called upon to help. Cleverly, the Americans
were told what they wanted to hear: the USSR had design over Iran; Mossadeq was
their agent; if Iran "fell," the rest of the Middle East would
Ah, said Eisenhower
in so many words, that is exactly what our "Domino Theory" for fighting
communism says. We will help you with the coup. After all, why not crush
democracy in the Middle East if it is in the service of saving the people of
Iran and the world from the Great Satan, communism. America has always had such
a noble and far-reaching vision -- wise beyond its years! And never wiser, more
good, and more self-sacrificing (of its own people and their resources) than
where oil is concerned.
So the coup was on.
Three weeks before 19 August, the day of the coup, the CIA shipped its agent
Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore, to Tehran with some money. Roosevelt
promptly hired Tehran's criminal elements and mafia chief to provoke street
clashes, false-flag incidents blamed on Mossadeq's loyalists, and to invent
"dissidents," scandalously victimized by the police under
provocation, against the regime.
On 19 August 1953,
the Anglo-American coupsters' monarchical candidate returned to power. He was
the reviled, democracy-allergic, militarist dictator Muhammed Reza Shah
Pahlavi. Over the next 26 years, the Iranian democracy of the constitutional
reformists died -- its exponents persecuted, arrested, and tortured or killed.
An immense political vacuum followed where pluralism had once thrived.
anti-imperialism failed to be eradicated because it was an idea, and ideas
cannot be arrested, tortured, and killed. The Ayatollah Khomeini, who along
with conservative clerics had supported the coup against Mossadeq, seized the
political stage in 1963 during the bloody uprising of June 15 (15 Khordad
Uprising). His fiery anti-Shah, anti-imperialist stance caught the imagination
of a new generation of militant youth, who combined democracy fervor with
religious commitment. These became the fabled party of the Mojahedin whose
ideology is best described as a combination of Islam and Marxism. Seeing that,
as in 15 Khordad, the people could not "fight tanks with their bare
fists," they declared an "armed struggle" against the Shah's
pro-imperialist regime. They were joined by the secularist Marxists and
Feday'an and by Mossadeq's loyalists. They would be at the forefront of the
battle against the Shah for 16 years, which would prevail in an eventually
national, popular, non-fundamentalist revolution that triumphed on 11 February
1979. On that day, at 6 pm, Radio
Tehran came on the air and said:
"This is the
voice of Iran, of true Iran, the voice of the Islamic Revolution."
revolution swallowed its children as the conservative clerics, with a social
base in the traditional, merchant and bazaari middle class, took over and moved
to crush first Mossadeq-style liberal, constitutional reformists and then the
mighty Mojahedin, who wanted a radical transformation of the state into a
non-capitalist institution. Khomeini's populism was anti-capitalist,
anti-imperialist in public and conservative behind the scenes. He refused to
nationalize the oil industry, shelved revolutionary provisions for land
redistribution, and abandoned progressive labor laws initiated in the first
days of the revolution. The clerics' regime, in effect, proclaimed the right of
private property as practically a "divine right," willed by God and
And that's the
tragic and complex story of the Iranian people's struggle for democracy and
social justice -- none of which our media, our scholars, our diplomats, our
schools allow us to know. With typical amnesia, the US and Britain take no
responsibility for today's clerical regime in Tehran. On the contrary, it
threatens to nuke the very people they have helped to bring to their knees by
denying them the democracy they so indefatigably fought for throughout the 20th
century. What we are allowed to know is that Iran is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fellow who does not wear a tie, denies
the Holocaust, and is planning (against all evidence) to build an
"Islamic" atomic bomb -- the Holocaust-denial a claim of possible
national interest to Israel, no doubt, but one that should have little to do
with our own foreign policy toward Iran. As for the bomb threat, pure piffle,
like Saddam's evanescent, protoplasmic WMD. Wearing a tie, on the other hand,
is no proof that the person is a torture-hating, peace-loving, magnanimous
spirit. I point to the obvious suspect.
Ah, yes. The BBC.
Well, the BBC, like our media today, was a willing and assiduous participant in
the British assault on Iranian democracy. It broadcast disinformation through
BBC-Iran. It demonized Mossadeq. And it carried the code word to the Shah that
signified the coup was on. On midnight between 18 and 19 August 1953, the BBC
announced the hour with a variation no one noticed -- except the Shah. The BBC
announcer said: "It is EXACTLY midnight" The code word was
"exactly." The Shah moved.
The rest is history
and history in the making, as the bloody legacy of that nefarious Anglo-American
1953 coup against Iranian democracy continues to affect the lives of Iranians,
even if Blitzer refuses to believe it. When "we" bomb Iran, let us
perhaps remember that "we" bomb what "we" have created --
along with living, breathing people whose freedom "we" had first
Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.