Iran was once a secular democracy. You would not know this from contemporary discussions of the much demonized country in U.S. politics and media.
What happened to Iran’s democracy? The U.S. overthrew it in 1953, with the help of the U.K. Why? For oil.
Mohammad Mosaddegh may be the most popular leader in Iran’s long history. He was also Iran’s only democratically elected head of state.
In 1951, Mosaddegh was elected prime minister of Iran. He was not a socialist, and certainly not a communist — on the contrary, he repressed Iranian communists — but he pursued many progressive, social democratic policies. Mosaddegh pushed for land reform, established rent control, and created a social security system, while working to separate powers in the democratic government.
In the Cold War, however, a leader who deviated in any way from free-market orthodoxy and the Washington Consensus was deemed a threat. When Mossaddegh nationalized Iran’s large oil reserves, he crossed a line that Western capitalist nations would not tolerate.
The New York Times ran an article in 1951 titled “British Warn Iran of Serious Result if She Seizes Oil.” The piece, which is full of orientalist language, refers to Iranian oil as “British oil properties,” failing to acknowledge that Britain, which had previously occupied Iran, had seized that oil and claimed it as its own, administering it under the auspices of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which later became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, and eventually British Petroleum and modern BP.
The Times article noted that the U.S. “shares with Britain the gravest concern about the possibility that Iranian oil, the biggest supply now available in the Near East, might be lost to the Western powers.” The British government is quoted making a thinly veiled threat.
This threat came into fruition in August 1953. In Operation Ajax, the CIA, working with its British equivalent MI6, carried out a coup, overthrowing the elected government of Iran and reinstalling the monarchy. The shah would remain a faithful Western ally until 1979, when the monarchy was abolished in the Iranian Revolution.
As Ben Norton tells us, "The soi-disant Land of the Free and Home of the Brave has a long and iniquitous history of overthrowing democratically elected leftist governments and propping up right-wing dictators in their place.
U.S. politicians rarely acknowledge this odious past — let alone acknowledge that such policies continue well into the present day.
In the second Democratic presidential debate, however, candidate Bernie Sanders condemned a long-standing government policy his peers rarely admit exists.
“I think we have a disagreement,” Sanders said of fellow presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “And the disagreement is that not only did I vote against the war in Iraq. If you look at history, you will find that regime change — whether it was in the early ’50s in Iran, whether it was toppling Salvador Allende in Chile, or whether it was overthrowing the government of Guatemala way back when — these invasions, these toppling of governments, regime changes have unintended consequences. I would say that on this issue I’m a little bit more conservative than the secretary.”
“I am not a great fan of regime changes,” Sanders added. “Regime change” is not a phrase you hear discussed honestly much in Washington, yet it is a common practice in and defining feature of U.S. foreign policy for well over a century. For many decades, leaders from both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, have pursued a bipartisan strategy of violently overthrowing democratically elected foreign governments that do not kowtow to U.S. orders.
In the debate, Sanders addressed three examples of U.S. regime change. There are scores of examples of American regime change, yet these are perhaps the most infamous instances.
During the Cold War, for instance, 26 of the United States’ covert operations successfully brought a U.S.-backed government to power; the remaining 40 failed.
Success depended in large part on the choice of covert tactics. Not a single U.S.-backed assassination plot during this time actually killed their intended target, although two foreign leaders — South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem and the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo — were killed by foreign intermediaries without Washington’s blessing during U.S.-backed coups.
Similarly, covert actions to support militant groups trying to topple a foreign regime nearly always failed. Of 36 attempts, only five overthrew their targets. Sponsoring coups was more successful: nine out of 14 attempted coups put the U.S.-backed leaders in power.
I found 16 cases in which Washington sought to influence foreign elections by covertly funding, advising and spreading propaganda for its preferred candidates, often doing so beyond a single election cycle. Of these, the U.S.-backed parties won their elections 75 percent of the time.
Of course, it is impossible to say whether the U.S.-supported candidates would have won their elections without the covert assistance; many were leading in the polls before the U.S. intervention. However, as the CIA’s head of the Directorate of Intelligence, Ray S. Cline once put it, the key to a successful covert regime change is “supplying just the right bit of marginal assistance in the right way at the right time.”
NATO Expansionism, Washington Interferes Globally.
Ukraine, Mexico, Korea, Venezuela: the US consistently interferes in the sovereign affairs of nations.
Russia, by contrast, simply wants security on its borders.
from Global Research by Shane Quinn
On February 2014, a United States-sponsored coup was initiated in the Ukraine in which President Viktor Yanukovych was illegally ousted from power. Over three years later, the putsch has done nothing but plunge the Ukraine, a tortured country plundered throughout modern history (by the West), into another abyss. In a 2015 interview with CNN, then US president Barack Obama openly confessed that “we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine”.
Around 10,000 people have been killed in the time since, with the conflict generating 2.5 million refugees who relocated to Russia. The putsch led to Crimea’s annexation a month after the coup, with a 96% vote in favour of joining the Russian Federation – the majority of Crimeans already considered themselves ethnic Russians.
The new Western-backed government, led by billionaire Petro Poroshenko, has been riddled with corruption and sees meagre support from the Ukrainian people. Just 1.9% fully trust Poroshenko personally, according to an unreported survey conducted in June. Poroshenko’s dismal backing is hardly surprising considering the disastrous economic conditions millions are enduring in the country. What’s more, the 2014 coup has led to an unseemly rise in far-right groups.
In contrast, the Russian president Vladimir Putin has an 87% approval rating according to a poll also in June. This makes Putin “one of the most popular leaders in the world”, with even mainstream networks like CNN reporting on his consistently high approval ratings.
Thinking objectively one can quickly identify the enormous pretense at work here. Picture the Western reaction had Russia performed a key role in, say, toppling governments on the US border, in Canada or Mexico. What would the superpower’s reaction be? To adopt CIA lingo, any efforts to install pro-Russian governments on the US frontiers would be “terminated with extreme prejudice”.
Examining Mexico’s case, it’s worth remembering that the US is illegally sitting on half of its territory. After the Mexican-American war in 1848, the US stripped of Mexico lands that later became known as California, Arizona, New Mexico, etc. This is already taking into account the annexation of Texas from Mexico in 1845. Such huge land-grabs have been wiped from memory, except from the minds of Mexicans that is.
The West has acted with seeming abhorrence on what they deem as Russian interference in eastern Ukraine, the majority of whose people view Russia positively. One of the West’s principal goals in initiating the 2014 putsch, was to integrate the Ukraine into NATO – a hostile, expansionist foreign entity receiving three-quarters of its funding from Washington. George Kennan, former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, described NATO enlargement as “a tragic mistake”. Kennan later joined other American statesman in penning an open letter to the White House condemning NATO expansionism as “a policy error of historic proportions”. To no avail.
NATO is simply one arm of American imperialism. Since 1945 the CIA, with US government and military support, has toppled numerous foreign regimes and installed military dictatorships. Around the world, the US has violated international law at will. Right now, for example, the US is conducting aggressive military exercises to intimidate an isolated and threatened North Korea. There are almost 30,000 American troops in South Korea, and another 50,000 in another client state slightly further east, Japan. On top of this is a significant American air and naval presence in south-east Asia.
It seems reasonable to query the presence of tens of thousands of US soldiers situated 11,000 km from Washington. It can be safely called imperialism. With this state of thinking, US military personnel have no qualms about telling China how to behave in the South China Sea, or the East China Sea. The problem being that China is thousands of years old and difficult to intimidate. The West might have reacted differently if, for example, Russia was rebuking Japan for conducting exercises in the Sea of Japan.
US policy towards North Korea can be put under the grill too. What right does the US have to bully a poor, deprived country, and in doing so provoke inevitable responses? North Korea has a duty to protect itself, seeing as it was utterly levelled by the US Air Force during the seldom-mentioned Korean War. This past aggression can largely explain why the North developed nuclear weapons to begin with: as a deterrent against further invasion. Under current circumstances, it seems certain Kim Jong-un and company are glad they have their small nuclear arsenal. After all, the US have never invaded a nuclear-armed country, just weak, vulnerable ones like Vietnam, Iraq or Libya.
It sends a dangerous message to the world: arm yourself with nuclear warheads if you want security from US aggression. Yet, in the Western mainstream, it is North Korea who are continuously portrayed as the villains in all this. The main reason the US are maintaining a presence in south-east Asia, is that it’s one of the richest energy producing areas on earth. To stall their long-declining power, and thwart a rising China, the US wants desperately to retain a presence in this region.
Switching 14,000 km westwards, the US is again inciting conflict in Venezuela, a country with a long troubled history. As the superpower has lost much influence in South America this century, the Trump administration are supporting right-wing groups with the aim of removing president, Nicolas Maduro. The US have imposed various sanctions on a country rich in oil reserves, hence the superpower’s interest.
The corporate media are portraying the “dictator” Maduro as the antagonist, much as they did with Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. US military figures like General H. R. McMaster have voiced concern that democracy is being lost in Venezuela (and reported seriously it appears). As history portrays, American concern for democracy goes down as one of the more grotesque myths mankind has ever conjured.