By Greg Maybury
Given the recent ructions over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, it’s timely to revisit America’s own track record for interfering in the affairs of other countries. Although numerous past examples abound, Iran especially is an instructive case study. This is especially so given that after Syria, it appears to be next on Uncle Sam’s regime renovation dance card. Greg Maybury reports in a 2 parter.
‘It has been a splendid little war, begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune which loves the brave.’ US Secretary of State John Hay, referencing the Spanish-American War of 1898, in a letter to Teddy Roosevelt, July 27 of that year, the war ushering in America’s Imperial epoch and unambiguously heralding its hegemonic ambitions.
‘I’ve seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate [people]”.We’ve gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should be our pleasure and duty to make people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. [I] am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.’ Comments by Mark Twain, anti-imperialist, reflecting on the real objectives of America’s war with Spain.
‘War is the continuation of politics by other means.’ Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian general, military theorist.
‘Politics is the continuation of war by other means.’ Michel Foucault, French philosopher, social theorist.
‘And the circle goes round and round’. Anon
— In Regime Change, We Trust —
For those folks with the requisite sense of irony and historical perspective, many will be rolling their eyes at the rampant hysteria over the as yet evidence-free accusations of interference by Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Which is to say, one of the manifest realities attending this latest Beltway blockbuster soap opera is that of America’s own track record of meddling in the affairs of other countries, comprising as it does so many forms. I say “realities” rather than ironies here as “irony” almost by definition is infused with a measure of nuance and subtlety, neither of which could it be said are in abundance in this utterly contrived, self-serving political hullaballoo. (For a further measure of just how “contrived” and “self-serving” it is, see here, here, here, here, and here.)
Insofar as Russia’s alleged meddling in U.S. politics goes and the animus that attends the hysteria, as Oliver Stone discovered during his recent appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert— itself hot on the heels of his much publicised four hour meet ‘n greet with Russian president Vladimir Putin wherein it was earlier raised — he was at pains to impress upon his host that Israel had a much bigger case to answer than did Russia.
Of course Stone was on the money here. The unalloyed reality of the power and influence that Israel exerts within and across the morally and ethically desertified landscape that is the nation’s capital is a given, with the Middle East’s only ‘democratic’ settler-colonizer apartheid regime leaving few stones unturned — and exhibiting little discretion and subtlety yet more or less equal parts chutzpah and subterfuge — in how it wields then leverages that influence to its advantage and against the interests of its principal patron and benefactor.
But that’s clearly a narrative that doesn’t bode well in the Beltway at the best of times, and more rational, clear-eyed folks know the reasons why. For one, the corporate media, for the most part doesn’t entertain such verities. Even if they were inclined, the omnipotent Israel Lobby would cut them off at the knees. And for his part, the smarmy Colbert, presumably aware which side his bread is buttered on, was reluctant to take Stone’s bait, much it seemed to his interviewee’s frustration.
Beyond just interfering in U.S. politics, along with the parent Empire la perfide Albion, one of America’s steadfast partners-in-crime in the regime renovation business are the ubiquitous and iniquitous Israelis, an observation underscored by Against our Better Judgment author Alison Weir on her blog If Americans Knew.
Long targeted by Israel, for Weir Iran especially provides an instructive example herein. With the Saudis as back-up, it is Israel — ably supported by its Praetorian Guard AIPAC and its ilk along with its shills in Congress — that’s been the hard-core driver of Washington’s seemingly irrational animus towards all things Iran. Along with underscoring Israel’s clout in Washington, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 Congressional dog ‘n pony show fiercely opposing the Iran Nuclear agreement then being negotiated by the Obama administration provides some of the best evidence for this.
And indeed, it’s another of Washington’s worst best-kept secrets that — the nuclear agreement aside — Iran remains a high priority on the ‘to do’ list for the Regime Renovators. (See also here, here, and here.) In addition to the relentless propaganda campaign pursued by Israel the aim of which is to paint Iran as the existential threat du jour, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies and others in the know didn’t support the allegations about its mythical nuclear weapons program, Weir had the following to say:
‘Israel and the U.S. deployed a computer virus against Iran in what’s been called the world’s first digital weapon. Iranian nuclear physicists [were] assassinated by Israel, and the U.S. instituted a blockade against Iran that caused food insecurity and mass suffering among the country’s civilians. (Such a blockade can be seen as an act of war.) Democratic Congressman and Israel partisan Brad Sherman admitted the objective of the sanctions: “Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”‘
Most folks then who don’t dine out on the McDonald’s (‘would you like lies with that?’) media diet that is the corporate news are as well aware of Uncle Sam’s recidivistic predisposition towards meddling in the affairs of other nations, engineering coups and colour revolutions, and ousting democratically elected leaders as they are of the bespoke misinformation and disinformation — the ‘real’ fake news — that’s tailored to suit the official narrative that goes with it.
Along with the ongoing Syrian War, the 2014 Ukraine coup is one of the most egregious, more recent examples of this, with again Stone’s confab with Putin providing an alternative perspective on both counts. Yet even here the majority of Americans would attribute the Ukraine crisis to “Russian aggression” and the Syrian War largely to Bashir Assad’s ‘despotism’; it’s simply what they are told by the MSM, and insofar as they’re concerned [they] have little reason to doubt this. Much the same goes of course for the Iran WMD narrative, despite the fact that we’ve heard that one before with Iraq around fifteen years ago.
And all of this mayhem and chaos is premised as usual on exporting freedom, democracy, justice, liberty, human rights, the rule of law, along with peace, love, understanding, the pursuit of happiness and all of the things that America is purportedly so accomplished in embracing on the home front, albeit more so in the breach than in the observance. What makes U.S. transgressions so much more brazen in this respect is the hypocritical, fraudulent and existentially dangerous nature of the umbrage and pique being directed towards countries like Iran, Syria and, especially Russia and China.
And what makes the righteous animus being served up to the latter nations in particular so frightening and so portentous is that it’s wholly reminiscent of the hegemonic mindset directed towards Germany by the high-minded mandarins of the British Empire in the two decades leading up to the War to End all Wars. By 1914, even for that small cohort of folks who might’ve smelt the imperial rat, it was too late of course, for them and for so many others. In this few other imperially motivated gambits have been more consequential or more far-reaching across time and space, a conclusion we can safely draw with all the benefit one hundred plus years of hindsight brings.
As for today’s “cohort” of news consumers, it is much the same: Such awareness is embraced only by a small minority of people with most blissfully ignorant of their country’s inability or unwillingness to, well, mind its own bloody business. They are as equally oblivious to the economic, social, physical and political havoc, mayhem, and destruction it creates in the process, sometimes catastrophically so. Whilst the events of 9/11 might’ve otherwise provided a visceral reality check in this regard for most Americans of the blowback that frequently attends its own country’s meddling, very few would’ve been prepared or motivated to engage in any ’cause and effect’ reflection therein, much less act in sync with that.
Yet we might opine here that given the frenzied and chaotic state of America’s own internal affairs — to say nothing of the hysterical incoherence and ‘through the looking glass’ irrationality of the public discourse that has seemingly become a permanent fixture of U.S. political and media forums, the Russia-gate affair being all the evidence ones needs to underscore this — there’d be numerous benefits to be gained from doing just that. Minding its own “bloody business” that is.
And let there be no mistaking it, what an assuredly “bloody business” regime renovation is. For the ‘cognitive dissidents’ disbelieving or doubtful of the extent or measure of this geopolitical mischief, in a recent PressTV interview focusing on America’s history of interfering in Iran’s political affairs in particular, former NSA intelligence linguist Scott Rickard is one amongst many of his professional ilk who dispels such scepticism or uncertainty with unadorned veracity: ‘[Americans] have been probably one of the most notorious nations behind the United Kingdom in manipulating not only elections but also overthrowing governments around the world for decades.’
As Rickard observes, to this day the U.S. continues nation-building in other states, sells weapons in massive scales and pours bombs on other nations in order to ‘carry out its regime-change policy throughout the world.’ This, to say little of the proxy wars to which errant countries are subject (such as in Syria), psy-ops and the like (in Venezuela), and the economic sanctions frequently applied by Washington, of which both Russia and Iran to this day are also subjected to, and which themselves are often part of the arsenal used against countries not complying with Washington’s diktats. On the latter, it’s enough to recall how the sanctions imposed during the 90s against Iraq after the Gulf War under the Clinton administration played out. For confirmation of this, one only needs ask Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton‘s then Secretary of State, who in a ‘Kissingeresque’ display of imperial hubris as pitiless as it was asthma-inducing, averred [that], “it was worth it”.
To be sure then, Uncle Sam’s “track record’ in this respect is as well documented and [as] well known as it’s abhorred by most commentators in the alternative media space and their more enlightened readers. At the same time, it’s one subject that doesn’t raise an eyebrow much less a mention from those in the mainstream media universe, no matter how pertinent it might be to the narrative in hand. It’s another of what I’ve come to calling the ‘no-fly zones’ of conventional political discourse and public debate.
Given the degree of complicity of the corporate media in facilitating these coups, proxy wars and colour revolutions, then camouflaging them as something entirely different from what they really represent is, whilst reprehensible and indefensible, this is of course understandable. The mainstream media long ago forfeited any integrity and honesty in the pursuit of the filthy lucre and in servicing the interests of the power elites of the political economy.
— Kermit’s ‘Sesame Street’ Coup —
Interestingly, Rickard’s remark was prompted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s most recent statements about the U.S. seeking regime change in Tehran as all but a matter of public policy with marginally less fervor than they are accusing Moscow of meddling in their own democratic processes in last year’s election.
Again, for those folks “in the know”, the very mention of the words “regime change” and “Iran” in the same breath will also summon pronto a profound sense of deja-vu. As with the little known 1975 Australian coup (the details of which to be unveiled in a future ‘episode’ of The Regime Renovators), it was Britain (MI6) and the U.S. (the CIA) in a tag team play that cut its teeth in such joint-venture partnerships back in Iran in 1953.
Now the much-cited Iran experience is worthy of further exploration, if only because this exercise in regime change later turned out to be doubly ironic in a ‘reap what you sow’ kinda way, but not necessarily as the received wisdom would have us believe. We’ll return to this point shortly, but for context and perspective, the 1953 Iran adventure begs for another trip down memory lane, especially given all the chatter about the U.S. returning to the ‘scene of the crime’.
Placing to one side an early dress rehearsal in Syria in 1949, the 1953 Iran coup was the first post-War exercise in regime renovation upon the part of Anglo-American alliance — one which officially at least was only just admitted to by the CIA after decades of not so plausible denial — when they successfully conspired to relieve the democratically elected prime minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh from the burdens of power.
The CIA and MI6 jointly embarked on a plan to stage a coup that would ensure that the West maintained control over the country’s vast oil reserves (shades of things to come). This coup is widely believed to have provided the ‘business model’ and the bravado for future coups by the CIA during the Cold War, including in Guatemala in 1954, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1961, and the ill-fated attempted coup in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs (BOP) in 1961, where the renovators’ business model came spectacularly unstuck, these representing just a few of their Greatest Hits!
In true CIA custom, in Iran not everything went according to plan. The man who would be Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, by all accounts something of a reluctant usurper, succumbed to ‘stage fright’ at the eleventh hour and did an unexpected runner to Italy. But the CIA quickly recovered its composure and schlepped their ‘under-study’ back in time for the opening night curtain raiser of the new regime. For both the CIA and the Shah, who went on to rule his country with an iron, bloody fist avec unerring American support for almost twenty-five years, in true show business fashion, everything was ‘all right on the night’; the Shah’s show went on to enjoy an extended run with generally positive reviews.
(That most of these “reviews” were written by the Iranian intelligence agency SAVAK, the Shah’s political and security muscle throughout his ‘regime’, is axiomatic, especially since writing was apparently one activity SAVAK agents both excelled at and enjoyed. Their torture manuals were as notorious for their prescribed brutality as for their invention.)
Interestingly, the CIA’s Iranian operation was directed by none other than Kermit (Kim) Roosevelt, the grandson of former Republican president Teddy Roosevelt (he of the “walk softly, carry a big stick” infamy), and a not too distant cousin of former Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). At the time Roosevelt was the senior spook in The Company’s Middle-East station (he’d been recruited by no less a personality than Frank “The Mighty Wurlitzer” Wisner), and was their point man on the ground in overseeing the Iranian adventure, dubbed Operation Ajax. Despite his name, for Teddy’s ‘grand-sprog’ this was no Sesame Street romp. No sirree Bob! This was serious spy sh*t.
Notwithstanding the apparent success of the mission, the coup was to have profound, far-reaching, and plain scary, geopolitical, economic and national security consequences for the US and the West in general. For starters just ask Jimmy Carter for further confirmation of this, and for any still standing and in control of their metacognitive faculties, go from there president by president! (Although Albright sort of apologised to Iran in 2000 — possibly the closest thing to a mea culpa ever offered by the U.S. for their wayward imperial ways — it didn’t apparently count for much.)
Yet one of the most surprising revelations about Kermit’s coup was the following. In his must-read book a Century of War, Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, F William Engdahl recounted the less familiar story that the demise of the Shah (aka the ‘Peacock Potentate’) was engineered by the same forces that brought him into power in the first place. As we know this went on to produce sizable blowback for the U.S. with the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The much reviled Shah had for a variety of reasons outlived his usefulness, with the onset of the 1979 oil crisis presenting said forces both the ideal opportunity and pretext — albeit according to Engdahl, one largely manufactured in this case — to proceed to the next phase of their (ahem) Persian renovation project.
If indeed Engdahl is correct in this assessment, from this we can safely deduce the subsequent ’79 Revolution, the storming of the U.S. embassy in Teheran, along with the kidnapping of the embassy personnel (a world changing event by any measure), was not what many have deemed an organic — nor an entirely predictable or welcome — development for those who’d decided the Shah had passed his use by date. Moreover, the reality (there’s that word again) of ‘client-dictators’ overstaying their ‘welcome’ will be one familiar to ‘buffs’ of Uncle Sam’s regime change history, with the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2002, again on prefabricated pretexts and for not dissimilar reasons, providing a most consequential exemplar thereof.
According to the author, in 1978, President Carter named diplomat George Ball to head a White House task force under the direction of Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, the proud, now recently departed, father of Islamic terrorism and patron saint of jihadists, Wahhabists, and Salafists and the like. In doing so, Carter effectively gave Brzezinski the nod on opening another Pandora’s Box in the Greater Middle East, and as the Law of Moral Causation (trade name: ‘karma’) would have it, brought about the president’s own political demise. As Engdahl explains it:
‘Ball recommended Washington drop support for the Shah and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini…and the CIA led a coup against the man their covert actions had placed into power 25 years earlier. The coup against the Shah, like that against Mossadegh in 1953, was run by British and American intelligence, with the bombastic Brzezinski taking public ‘credit’ for getting rid of the ‘corrupt’ Shah, while the British characteristically remained safely in the background.’
To Be Continued……
Intermission: Stay Tuned for Part Two
In the interim, I highly recommend readers check out the following. Herein, the inimitable Robert Newman gets to grips with the wars and politics of the last hundred plus years – but rather than adhering to the history we were fed at school, he places oil centre stage as the cause of all the commotion. Newman’s truly unique presentation — equal parts vaudeville, stand-up comedy, performance art, and history lesson — will help explain the rationale behind America’s deliberately antagonistic military and economic provocation of Russia (with similar plans for China, Iran, and now it would seem Qatar), and why this geopolitical one-upmanship is such an existentially dangerous gambit for us all going forward.
Newman’s presentation also helps explain why the British Empire was hell-bent on preventing Germany at the turn of the century from becoming a major economic power, an imperial-minded foreign policy gambit which knowingly and deliberately paved the way for World War One, a conflict which shaped the geopolitical world as we know it today in more ways than can be recounted herein. Younger folks – especially those that dozed off in history class wondering what all the fuss was about – prepare to be enlightened.
Greg Maybury is a Perth (Australia) based freelance writer. His main areas of interest are American history and politics in general, with a special focus on economic, national security, military and geopolitical affairs, and both US domestic and foreign policy issues.