Over half a century ago, Dwight D. Eisenhower penned his Presidential memoirs, Mandate for Change. The former army general, who served as the United States President from 1953 to 1961, documented his time as head of state and disclosed the US’s geostrategy, including his decision to interfere in Iran’s burgeoning democracy:
“Another recent development that we helped bring about was the restoration of the Shah to power in Iran and the elimination of Mossadegh. The things we did were ‘covert.’ If knowledge of them became public, we would not only be embarrassed in that region, but our chances to do anything of like nature in the future would almost totally disappear.”
After the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, organised by the CIA and MI6 in 1953, the soon-to-be Islamic Republic was destined for a future unaligned with the West. Yet to join the World Trade Organisation and shunning the IMF and World Bank, Ayatollah Khomeini and his successor were to sycophantically galvanise popular anti-US sentiment, while pursuing a politically independent path for Iran. President Eisenhower, was right.
Contrary to mainstream views, Iran’s history doesn’t begin in 1979, nor does it begin in 1953. The former Persian Empire and Iranian civilisation dates back to 7000 BC. At the height of its reign, the Achaemenid dynasty who founded the Empire, stretched from Macedonia and Libya to the Hyphasis River. The Middle Eastern nation produced some of the world’s most beautiful architecture, while giving birth to some of the world’s most famous poets.
Now, however, Iran appears to be only known for its human rights abuses, links to terrorism and its ever worsening relations with the US. But, is Iran’s disdain for the American government justified?
The Middle East is one of the richest regions in the world. Compromising the majority of the earth’s oil and natural gas reserves, the locale is known for its dictatorships, theocracies and Islamist extremists. Iran is the primary source of all three, according to President Trump. But, is America partly to blame?
In 1951, Mohammed Mossadegh was voted in as the new Prime Minister of Iran. Serving under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s last Shah, Mossadegh nationalised the country’s oil industry, retracting Britain’s ownership. Britain responded by boycotting and imposing a worldwide embargo on Iranian oil. The event damaged the economies of both countries, at a time when Britain was rebuilding itself after World War Two and when Iran was regaining its political independence. Ironically, the then leader of the Labour Party Clement Attlee, had recently begun the nationalisation of several British companies. Attlee however, wasn’t content with Iran following a similar path.
After the overthrow of Mossadegh both the US and Britain supported the Shah, who controlled the masses through fear and founded SAVAK, a secret police force in 1957 to stifle political dissidents. Throughout his 38-year reign the Shah received aid from both Britain and the US. However, after his overthrow in 1979, relations with both countries were rescinded. Which led to Iran’s geopolitical isolation. One year after the Islamic Revolution, Iran went to war with its neighbour Iraq, after Saddam Hussein invaded in an attempt to annex the country’s oil.
Throughout the conflict America assisted Hussein and even supported him in using chemical weapons against Iran. The Reagan Administration’s acquiescence in the chemical attack led to widespread condemnation from the international community.
So, is America partly to blame?
Iran is not a free country. Far from it. Its government elides with extremist ideology and its people are oppressed. Power is delineated by religious and financial standing, while the Supreme Leader commands absolute authority. Nevertheless, its enmity towards the American government is justified. Considering, its role in destabilising and influencing the country’s political downfall. If the Trump Administration truly values democratic morals and principles, it should reflect on its country’s own history before exporting its views. As a democracy built upon taking the freedom of others, is not a democracy.