Skip to main content

View Diary: Cheers and Jeers: Monday (237 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I find it hard to believe there was not a large (0+ / 0-)

    CIA presence in Tehran in 1979.  I agree the locals were probably far more knowledgeable than War Criminal Henry the K and Mika's Dad.

    The Global Research website has some interesting stuff, including a semi-tinfoil story that not only did the Reagan/Casey crowd take advantage of the hostage crisis (which we know to be true) but that:

    According to Iranian researcher Fara Mansoor:  “The U.S.-Iran hostage crisis was not a spontaneous act by Iranian mobs or a senseless act devised solely by the Khomeini regime. Rather, it was a politically manufactured event by the Bush-led CIA and top Iranian Islamic fundamentalists that was intended to promote the political goals of the Bush-Reagan coalition and Khomeini’s regime simultaneously.” (quoted in Saman Mohammadi, January 16, 2012)  

    Three related political objectives were sought:

    “1. Sabotage and destabilize the Carter administration, and get Bush-Reagan into the White House.

    2. Prop up the Khomeini regime and destroy all political opposition to the Islamic Republic.

    3. Establish Iran as a permanent enemy of the United States and vice versa, in order to bring about a future conflict and justify the existence of anti-democratic political and legal structures within the two nations. There were definitely other motives for keeping Iran and America isolated from each other, but those are two big ones.

    Tinfoil aside, the CIA backstory leading up to the hostage crisis is compelling.  Again from GR:

    T

    he dictatorship of the Shah was instrumented by a brutal police state under the control of the National Intelligence and Security Organisation or Savak. Thousands of dissidents or suspects, including communists, trade unionists, writers and intellectuals, were disappeared by the Savak. They were rounded up, incarcerated, tortured and executed in a manner not unlike the Gestapo of Nazi Germany or the worst excesses of the Pinochet regime in Chile that the US would also later install.

    The creation and operation of the Savak under the Shah was owed largely to the American Central Intelligence Agency. It was CIA personnel who taught the Savak all its techniques of surveillance, counterinsurgency, assassination, interrogation and torture. One former CIA analyst disclosed how the agency instructed the Savak in “Nazi torture techniques”. These included water-boarding, extraction of nails and teeth, the dripping of acid into nostrils, rape and mock executions.

    For nearly three decades under the US-backed Shah, Iranians lived in a state of terror, a veritable country-wide torture chamber. It was the CIA and American military that authored this living nightmare for Iran. Present day Iran may have its civil liberty flaws, but they are negligible compared with the crimes against humanity that prevailed under the US-backed Shah.

    The CIA torture apparatus under the Shah explains why the radical students descended on the US embassy in 1979 with such fury. There were CIA and military personnel within the embassy whom the students associated with the appalling crimes of the Savak. The embassy symbolised in a very real way America’s historic criminal role in Iranian affairs. When American personnel were subjected to blindfolding and mock executions and other degrading treatment, this was not born out of some irrational savagery. The Iranian hostage takers were replaying in macabre theatrical fashion the much worse conditions that American personnel had authored and overseen against thousands of Iranians.

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by bobdevo on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 12:19:36 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Many Iraninans espouse a slew (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobdevo

      of conspiracy theories related to the Revolution, the geopolitics and certainly the Hostage Crisis. I have not heard one that really makes sense. I talked to a guy who runs an Iranian TV station a couple years ago who swears with a straight face that the current SL Khamenei is a British Agent--no shit--really.  

      What you have posted there sounds pretty tinfoil indeed, and I don't see any connection between CIA trained SAVAK and a heavy CIA presence in '79 with the intention to reverse the revolution or some other grand plan. Moreover, I don't really think there was a heavy CIA presence in '79 or an intention to reverse the Revolution. In fact, I think US leaders were nearly blind to that perspective as possible or likely among Iranians. I rely heavily on JA Bill in The Eagle and the Lion for that perspective. He quoted a diplomat as saying something like "we should have kept a few people and a dog on staff in those days," instead of a large personnel infusion which was interpreted as forming a counter coup. State put many people in to know what was going on. Iran was still a huge intelligence asset as a listening post to the Soviet Union--we did not want to lose that. The Cold War was still the far more important policy objective at the time.

      I think many people see a course of events, and then interpret or project a rationale on them that did not necessarily exist. From the time that Khomeinei arrived back in Iran to the time that the Embassy was taken there was a great deal of uncertainty and chaos. There is no doubt that the Hostage Crisis helped the fundamentalists further isolate Iran and drive the Revolution to a more absolute phase, however, as much as I'm not a Khomenei fan, I don't think he orchestrated or ordered the Embassy to be taken. He let the students do what they did--he could have stopped it any time--so it did serve his purposes. The Embassy was stormed and taken early on in Feb. but Khomenei got them to relinquish. This should have been a clue to the US officials back in Washington that they should have been more sensitive. The lesson certainly was not lost among State Department officials on the ground.  

      As to the tit for tat justification of US diplomats being given the SAVAK treatment, that may be true, but they were released unharmed, albeit after a long ordeal. Interestingly, the hostages were never really properly debriefed--Reagan clearly was not interested in what they had to say. That went against policy--as a matter of practice, after recovery, they should have been thoroughly debriefed.

      Are there interests who benefit from US/Iran hostility? Sure, but that's not as clear cut as you might think either. Trita Parsi's Treacherous Alliance outlines and subsequently debunks a great deal of conventional wisdom on US/Iran/Israel relations. Moreover, over the 30+ years since the Revolution, those interests and positions have shifted somewhat as global geopolitics have changed.

      Lastly, the US backed Shah was a terrible and petty brute. He did horrible things. However, if the current regime is better than the Shah, that's not really hard. Two wrongs don't make a right. There is a great deal to credit to the Revolution in general, and I certainly do not scoff at its accomplishments. For a long period of time Iran became a more egalitarian place, and education has been greatly expanded. However, that does not change the fact that a new privileged class has arisen out of the fire of the Revolution and the horrible Iran/Iraq war, and that privileged class of conservative Mullahs and Revolutionary Guard commanders and their business interests are an oppressive lot. Saying the US is bad does not make that reality go away. It could have been different, and I would argue it flows largely from Khamenei's ascendency to SL after Khomenei. When the Iran/Iraq war was over, things should have returned to a more normal footing. They never did, and US policy aside, the 8 years of Khatami did not change much, and in fact the conservative backlash after Khatami has made things as bad as ever. Leading the world in executions per capita by a long shot is not a sign of a healthy government or civil society. Could US policy be better? absolutely, we do little but reinforce the conservatives in Iran, but that does not change the fact that they are a repressive regime.

      You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

      by FrankCornish on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 01:47:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But not as repressive as the Shah . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FrankCornish

        whom we installed and forced upon them.

        I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

        by bobdevo on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 03:10:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't disagree with that, and I (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bobdevo

          never have. The Shah was the worst--you get no argument from me on that. However, just because the Shah was really really bad does not give the current regime a lifetime pass to do whatever keeps them in power.

          You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

          by FrankCornish on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 07:27:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No - but it does give the Iranian people (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FrankCornish

            a reason to be perpetually pissed at the US, until such time as we can demonstrate they are more than pawns in geopolitical endgames . . .

            I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

            by bobdevo on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 12:46:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  True, but I would bet that right now (0+ / 0-)

              they are more pissed at their own government. They'll never forget the US support of the Shah, but I do think that if a US government started to behave differently they would be pretty forgiving. They remember, but I don't think they would be spiteful about it.

              I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon, however, because there's too much riding on Iran being one of the big bogeymen of the ME. Even if Obama were to want a sort of detente with Iran, domestic US politics and Israel would not let him patch things up very much.

              It is good to be rid of Ahmadinejad. He had a real knack for saying stupid things and being a lightning rod. If Rowhani turns out to be more effective, however, I am sure you will see a shift in coverage that emphasizes how irrelevant the President is. When Ahmadinejad was in power his every utterance was interpreted for maximum threat and aggression, as if he actually commanded the armed forces.

              You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

              by FrankCornish on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 01:32:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site