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View Diary: Aug. 19, 1953: When the Eisenhower Administration destroyed Iran's secular democracy (281 comments)

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  •  in addition to mb's response (2+ / 0-)
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    Don midwest, Russgirl

    much of the 1979 reaction was directly related to 1953. the shah had fled in 1953, just as he fled in 1979. and if you don't think iranians remembered how their democracy was lost just 26 years earlier, perhaps you haven't paid attention to this nation's cults about jfk and reagan. mossadegh was an icon to all non-theocratic iranians aspiring toward democracy.

    as for the cia- after the british were expelled from iran, they were effectively blind there. that was why they turned to truman, and then eisenhower. they could not have pulled off the coup without the u.s. coordinating it, and roosevelt singularly ran the show.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:36:14 PM PDT

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    •  again: Mossadegh was no democrat (2+ / 0-)
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      PriorityStrategic, eztempo

      LL, you seem to be falling into the all-too-easy view that everything the US did was for the wrong reasons, and therefore whoever we opposed was good. Kinzer's view is not the whole truth about Iran.

      Mossadegh was no liberal democrat.

      Indeed, one could argue it was Mossadegh who destroyed Iran's democracy, not Eisenhower nor the CIA.

      As I commented below, Mossadegh held a 'referendum' in August 1953 to dissolve parliament and give himself absolute power to make law. There were separate polling stations for yes and no votes, in different parts of town, which his loyalists could monitor. The referendum 'passed' with a not-credible 99.93% of the vote (2,043,300 to 1,350). As Time noted, this was an electoral farce.

      Before that, in late 1951 after a visit to the USA, Mossadegh stopped a parliamentary election in the middle of voting, when only 79 seats had been counted, mainly in urban areas that supported him. Alleging (correctly) that the British had funneled roughly $336,000/year to royalists, and with 30 seats for his National Front party (and with support for Fadayan-e Islam, which supported the National Front's call for oil nationalization), Mossadegh suspended the elections indefinitely. (Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton University Press, 1982, p. 269)

      And before that, in 1951, Mossadegh came to power when the previous Prime Minister Razmara was assassinated by the militant Fadayan-e Islam's hit-man, Khalil Tahmassebi:

      Ayatollah Kashani, along with other National Frontists, defended the [assassination] act as justified. The National Front declared Prime Minister Ali Razmara an enemy of Islam and a traitor to Iran for his opposition to the terms of the Oil Nationalization Law. Fadayan-e Islam distributed leaflets carrying a threat to assassinate the Shah and other government officials if the assassin, Khalil Tahmassebi, was not set free immediately. Threats were also issued against any Majlis member who opposed Oil Nationalization. [...] In November 1952, the Parliament voted a full pardon for Tahmassebi. He was hailed as a hero and was granted an audience with Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Mossadegh barred photographers from the meeting.
      Incidentally, Mossadeq belonged to the ruling Qajar clan. Ironically, the USSR refered to him initially as an "agent of American imperliaism."
      •  talk about simplistic (4+ / 0-)
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        Don midwest, eztempo, JesseCW, Russgirl

        so mossadegh is somehow at fault for having been elected prime minister after an assassination with which he had had nothing to do? would anyone then elected have been at fault? should iran just have gone on without a prime minister?

        and kashani was responsible for the pardon, after he had broken with mossadegh, and was vilifying him. there are also questions about the assassination itself, given the evidence that the gun was military issue. even so, tahmasibi was part of a terrorist organization, and not a good guy. but i've seen only one source on the audience with mossadegh.

        and yeah, mossadegh dissolved parliament, when operation ajax had thoroughly undermined the economy and government, and was on the verge of the coup, which came just days later. having not acted quickly enough, mossadegh was by then running out of options. to say mossadegh was no democrat is to ignore his entire life's work, dating back to the initial democracy movement, and even his slow response to operation ajax, which took advantage of mossadegh's championing of free speech and assembly to foment violent riots.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:44:45 AM PDT

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        •  straw-people are boring (3+ / 0-)
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          eztempo, charliehall2, Pete Cortez

          You're falling into the trap of "everything the US did was bad, and everyone we opposed was good."

          Please point out to me where you think I support Operation Ajax and the US overthrow of Mossadeq. I do not. It was a mistake, as seen clearly with the hindsight of history, which is why I rec'd your Diary and made the favorable 4th comment on it, less than 5 minutes after you posted it.

          My experience is that when someone reacts as strongly and defensively as you are here, it's often because they are reading or listening to only one side of things.

          To start with, I never said "Mossadeq is somehow at fault for having been elected prime minister after an assassination." Talk about a straw-person! I did suggest (indirectly) that pardoning the assassin and granting him a private audience raises some questions. (Authors who know much more than I do have suggested that the National Front was complicit with the Fadayan-e Islam, which wanted Razmara killed, but I don't know enough to comment.) Your subsequent two questions are rhetorical, empty, and not worth addressing.

          The extent of Kashani's 'break' with Mossadeq at that time is debatable, from what I've read. They were in opposition on some things but not others, and even when they disagreed they had common enemies with whom they disagreed more. I don't know the details, so I'm just curious: how was Kashani responsible for the pardon, if Mossadeq was Prime Minister?

          The conspiracy-theories about the gun used are not convincing. (In one, I read that an army officer used his more powerful pistol, at precisely the same time that Tahmassebi was shooting Razmara with a lower-calibre pistol! Riiiight. *laf*)

          The British boycott of Iranian oil no doubt hurt Iran's economy. If you think this justifies abolishing democracy, then we disagree on what it means to be pro-democracy. Fear of losing an election is no excuse for rigging a referendum, abolishing the secret-ballot which had been constitutionalized by the Persian Constitutional Revolution, and usurping all powers. Sometimes one must lose an election, in order to preserve democracy, and come back to win another election. Mossadegh was not willing to do that. What people write about before they gain power is less interesting to me than what they do once in power.

          Btw, Mossadegh and the National Front were great exploiters of street mobs and demonstrations, themselves.

          •  wrong again (4+ / 0-)
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            Don midwest, eztempo, JesseCW, Russgirl

            i'm discussing very specific and well-documented events, so your bizarre assertion that this is just general blaming america is itself nothing but straw. and kashani was vilifying mossadegh, which generally means a legitimate break. and kashani was responsible because he pushed it through, using strong-arm tactics. mossadegh was pm, but he was not dictator. and if you've read anything about operation ajax, including what roosevelt himself took credit for having done, then you should understand that the crippling oil embargo was the least of mossadegh's worries by august 1953. you're simply ignoring documented facts, which makes me not defensive but disdainful.

            The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

            by Laurence Lewis on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:12:20 AM PDT

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            •  address my points (1+ / 0-)
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              Starting in the 1970s, I was schooled on the view you portray, of Mossadegh and Iran. I often taught this view to my Master's students, up until recently, when I began to read more. (It still annoys me that when I was in college the US government officially denied that it had any role in the Shah's coup, which we now know is false.)

              Now, I have a more nuanced view.

              Attacking America is a time-honored tradition among progressives, including myself, I didn't mean that as a personal attack, just an observation. Ignore my first sentence, and focus on the rest of what I wrote, please. I, too, am discussing very specific and well-documented events.

              Would you like more detail and more documentation?

              In 1944, the 'democrat' Mossadeq introduced a bill which would disenfranchise illiterate people. (M. Mossadeq, "Bill for Electoral Reform," Ayandeh, 3:2 [1944], pp. 61-63, cited in Iran Between Two Revolutions, Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton U Pr 1982, p. 189) Repeat: Mossadegh wanted to take away the vote of people who couldn't read. The literacy rate in Iran was 15% in 1956 (presumably lower in 1944). Got it? Mossadegh introduced a bill to disenfranchise >85% of the population, in 1944. His argument was that peasants were easily manipulated by rich landowners. Perhaps so, but taking away their vote is not democratic. He also wanted to double Tehran's representation in the parliament.

              In 1953, after he unconstitutionally dissolved the Majlis, Mossadegh ordered a national referendum to retroactively support him. Like a demogogue, he said: "The will of the people is above law." (Time, 17 Aug 1953). The 1906 Iranian constitution (on which we agree: Mossadegh as a young man supported and it led to his first election) required a secret ballot. But Mossadegh set up separate voting booths in Tehran: if you wanted to vote 'Yes' to support him, you did so 'secretly' in Sepah Square, where there was little control over how often you voted, and supporters were bussed in. If you wanted to vote 'No' to oppose him, you went to Baharestan Square, where you encountered signs saying: "Only Traitors Vote for Non-Dissolution." The result in Tehran was 166,550 in favor, 116 [sic] opposed. Democracy?

              You're resorting to increasingly heated and personal rhetoric ("simplistic," "wrong again" [in everything that I wrote?], "bizarre assertion," "if you've read anything," "you should understand," "ignoring documented facts," rhetorical questions, "makes me disdainful [of you]") -- that's unnecessary and unhelpful.

              Mossadegh supported democracy when it would lead to the overthrow of the old regime. When it came to his regime facing the loss of power, he did not. I'm not sure why you choose to ignore that fact.

              •  no (1+ / 0-)
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                i'm not playing your game, and i'm not wasting more time on this. you comtinue to misrepresent both what i wrote and documented history. i'll make this very simple for you:

                organizing a coup to overthrow a freely elected sovereign foreign government is wrong. not in retrospect, in principle. the cia bribed iranian miliary leaders to organize a violent coup that overthrew mossadegh and reinstated a brutal dictator. that was wrong.

                The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                by Laurence Lewis on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:37:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't know what "game" you're refering to (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm trying to get at the truth and historical perspective. Your condescension is unbecoming. You seem unwilling to acknowledge any point I make, and any nuance or complexity regarding Mossadegh and US-Iranian relations.

                  I've said many times (here in this diary, elsewhere on DailyKos, and more often beyond) that it was wrong for the US to support the overthrow of Mossadeq. On this we agree.

                  E.g., Sept 2010, I wrote:

                  So much foreign policy to apologize for. [...] Earlier, the overthrow of Mossadegh. Support for the Shah (and his Savak). Clandestine sabotage within Iran, for years.
                  Nov 2011, I wrote:
                  US-Iranian relations have been a nightmare at least since 1953, and the US has arguably been more to blame (Mossadegh coup, blind support for Shah as he grew more repressive and imperious; funding, arming and providing battle intel to Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war that killed or wounded 1.5 million people; ongoing covert ops; etc.).
                  How have I 'misrepresented both what you wrote and documented history'? Please be specific.

                  You seem to want to acknowledge only the good aspects of Mossadeq. That is not helpful historical analysis, in my opinion.

                  •  i acknowledge he was not perfect (0+ / 0-)

                    and in some ways he was actually naive. but by august 1953 his government had been thoroughly undermined, and was on the verge of having its democracy crushed by a military coup on behalf of a brutal dictator, and the coup was organized and led by the c.i.a., at the behest of the british.

                    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:25:44 AM PDT

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            •  Exactly. Read Roosevelts book. (1+ / 0-)
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              Laurence Lewis
      •  Imprisoned (2+ / 0-)
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        eztempo, Laurence Lewis

        for his intransigent advocacy of constitutional democracy.

        The most dedicated political proponent of financial accountability in the conduct of government ever seen.

        Mossadeq's career was shredded by the many times he had to resign rather than acquiesce to the shenanigans with which a feudal elite pretended to operate a democracy.

        His dodginess was not nefarious, as your post implies.

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