Crafting the Iranian Enemy: Part 1

In so many cases in American history, if we'd just mind our own beeswax like George Washington counseled us, we'd be so much better off today. In perhaps no other case is this axiom more true than with regard to Iran. Our involvement in Iranian political affairs beginning in the early 1950's has caused chickens the size of vultures to come home to roost.

By 1951, Iranians had had a gutful of the British hegemon whose state petroleum company had expropriated a significant portion of Iran's oil revenues. After the assassination of General Ali Razmara, Mohammed Mossadegh, an elected member of Iranian Parliament, having (by his intent to nationalize Iranian oil) largely created and become popularized by the wave of anti-western nationalism, was appointed as the new prime minister by the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

Mossadegh's nationalistic rise to power marked him as a hated target of the West. A CIA- and MI6-sponsored coup caused the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953. The shah returned from exile to resume the throne and

Actually, Bill O'Reilly, we do need a history lesson, because far too few people understand how our history got us to where we are today with a megalomaniacal madman staring us down with intent to barbecue us from afar with nuclear warheads.

piss off the ayatollahs, who--without CIA help this time--overthrew him in 1979, taking 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.

We need to care about how our interference in Iranian affairs got us where we are today, but for some, history is very inconvenient.

O'Reilly Doesn't Care About History When it Is Inconvenient

In a September 10, 2007 interview of Ron Paul on the O'Reilly Factor went, in part, like this:
RON PAUL: [The neocons] want to spread this war. This has been the plan by the neoconservatives to have this major overall — this revamping of the whole Middle East, precisely the reason the Al Qaeda is growing. The Al Qaeda is growing because of our policy. Our national security is threatened because of our policy. And it makes it much worse.

So I see the Iranians as acting logically and defensively. We've been fighting the Iranians since 1953. We overthrew their government through the CIA in 1953. We were allies with Saddam Hussein in the 1980's. And we encouraged him to invade Iran...

O'REILLY: All right, so I just want to — we don't need the history lesson...

RON PAUL: But you have to understand...

O'REILLY: I do understand the region...

RON PAUL: You have to understand the history.. If you don't understand the history, you can't....

O'REILLY: But we don't have time to do the history lesson tonight.
Actually, Mr. O'Reilly, we do, because far too few people understand how it got us to where we are today with a megalomaniacal madman staring us down with intent to barbecue us from afar with nuclear warheads.

Especially now because even Barack Obama has stated that he will do everything possible as president to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.


  1. I find it refreshing to hear another person who isn't buying the establishment line that we need to prevent Iran (or any other nation we don't like) from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I certainly don't want Iran to have nukes, but I'm not thrilled that we have them either. Trying to monopolize the world's nuclear weapons will only get us into further trouble.

    I find it interesting to note that it isn't only decades old actions which have crafted the Iranian Enemy. I think there is real evidence that the previous reform government was subtly trying to thaw relations with the U.S. The Bush administration's cowboy foreign policies and hyperbolic rhetoric (think Axis of Evil) caused the conservative Iranian backlash, put Ahmadinejad in power, and restored hostilities. Not coincidentally, the conservative Iranian government's attitude and words seemingly justifies the administration's aggressive stance towards them. It is very much a symbiotic relationship between the hawks on both sides--and a parasitic one they have with the rest of us.

  2. We can look back at the events of the Cold War -- and the overthrow of Mossadegh was part of that -- with 20/20 hindsight. Maybe we should not have gotten involved in Afghanistan, Vietnam, Central America, the Caribbean, and a bunch of other places either.

    Maybe we should have just let the Soviets and the puppets have their way. Maybe they would have collapsed under their own weight anyway. Maybe they would not have. Don't forget we did win the Cold War after all, despite making several mistakes (in hindsight) along the way.

    Either way, we cannot ignore the Iranian threat now no matter what has happened in the past, unless you aren't too worried about Israel being wiped off the face of the earth and the Iranians funding terrorists. Nor can you assume that things would be different in Iran if we hadn't overthrown Mossadegh in the 1950s. Islamic extremists are a problem in nearly every Muslim country from Algeria to Indonesia but the U.S. wasn't overthrowing people in most of those places.

    Yes, as Jean Kirkpatrick said in 1984, it's real easy to blame the U.S. (and Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh) for every thing.

    In the end, invading or attacking Iran isn't a viable option. We won't subdue the Iranian enemy until we drive down the price of oil and bankrupt their corrupt economy.

  3. It's incredible to me that our politicians are repeating the history of 2002 only six years later. The intelligence agencies told the Bush administration that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program. Bush told us, "the smoking gun could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

    The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran tells us that there is NO Iranian nuclear weapons program. Yet presidential candidates keep talking about this nonexistent threat. Barack Obama was a disappointment when he pandered to AIPAC by adopting Hillary Clinton's willingness to nuke 70 million Iranians to make some right-wing Israel leaders happy.

    I'm getting worried. President Bush just met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and apparently promised that the nuclear bombs will be dropped on Iran before Inauguration Day.

  4. I think its kind of funny how many within the U.S. assume we "won" the Cold War. To hear some conservatives, Reagan single-handedly felled the giant--the determined efforts of many reformers and revolutionaries behind the Iron Curtain were apparently inconsequential. And are we really so sure that the Soviet Empire did not collapse under the weight of its own inefficiency and corruption? One might even suggest that our confrontational policies may prolonged the strength of the Soviet hard-liners in the exact same way our tough talk and policies have strengthened the Iranian hard liners. Once again, they just feed off each other.

    Yep, RWarnick, I was very disappointed with Obama's blatant pandering to AIPAC. Disappointed, but not terribly surprised. Few U.S. politicians have the courage to challenge conventional wisdom about Israel.

  5. Richard,

    I'm afraid that this (his propensity to attack Iran) will yet be the reason that we should have impeached Bush before he left office.


    I agree that our confrontational posture toward the Soviets, including building up King Saud as a bulwark against communist expansion, leading us further into the problems we have with/in the Middle East today.

    You're right that some reasons for the fall of Communism (revolutionaries behind the Iron Curtain, the inertia of its own dead weight) are glossed over in our current history books, but I do believe that Reagan was there at the right time to help it reach its tipping point.

    I support Ron Paul, who says that we should stop giving aid to Israel, and we should at the same time stop giving aid to Saudi Arabia. So many of our current problems can be traced to (a) our appetite for Middle-Eastern oil, and (b) our inordinate fear of Communism. I'm afraid many of our future problems will be traced to (a) our appetite for Middle-Eastern oil, and (b) our inordinate fear of radical Islam.

  6. Yes, Paul is one of the few politicians willing to stand outside the mainstream on Saudi Arabia and Israel, among other things. I should probably amend my statement; mainstream politicians are unwilling to challenge conventional wisdom on U.S. foreign policy, our relationship with Israel in particular. There are quite a few fairly marginal politicians out there who take that stand (Nader, Kucinich, Wellstone, etc). Paul is perhaps the most successful marginal candidate of the past few decades.

    Here’s a pointless chicken and egg question to ponder: Does the public adopt conventional wisdom (such as unwavering U.S. support for and aid to Israel) because all the mainstream politicians promote that view? Or do the mainstream politicians adopt the conventional wisdom because it is already widely accepted among the general populace?

  7. I agree with you very much about Kucinich and Nader, and if I knew Wellstone a little better, I would probably agree with you there as well.

    It's dismaying how Americans somehow always jump on the bandwagons of making fun of those candidates for public office who are EXACTLY the antidote to our current malaise.

    I was at first shocked that Barack Obama worshiped at the feet of Israel (AIPAC) the other day, but it all makes sense from an establishment point of view. What the establishment has wanted over the last 100 years, the establishment has almost always gotten. I think so many Americans are minds full of mush that they think whatever Rush Limbaugh "programs" them to think.

    Whenever I go to my kids' baseball/basketball/football games I have a book with me. Several people have commented that I seem to be always reading. (If I could get paid to do it, I would be!!) I've decided that my response will from now on be, "I'm preparing to save the world when all you people let it fall to crap." Actually, it will be something like that, but probably a little nicer.



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