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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Name:
    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    US Regime Change in Iran in 1953 Still Shaping World Politics

    [...]

    STEPHEN KINZER: What happened was that the first half of the twentieth century, Americans had a super good image in Iran. The only Americans there were doctors and school teachers and people who really were selflessly devoting themselves to Iranians. Meanwhile, the British and the Russians and the French and other colonial powers were ripping Iran apart and stealing and looting everything of value there. So they, people in Iran, had a very high, exalted opinion of the United States, perfect country, the ideal country. And the words of Franklin Roosevelt in all his radio speeches during the Second World War also had a big impact on Iranians. And, of course, there was a big World War II conference in Tehran that just focused Iranians on the ideals of freedom that the Allied powers said they were fighting for.

    So in the period after World War II, Iranian nationalism came to focus on one great cause. At the beginning of the twentieth century, as a result of a corrupt deal with the old dying monarchy, one British company, owned mainly by the British government, had taken control of the entire Iranian oil industry.

    AMY GOODMAN: The company.

    STEPHEN KINZER: This one company had the exclusive rights to extract, refine, ship and sell Iranian oil, and they paid Iran a very tiny amount. But essentially the entire Iranian oil resource was owned by a company based in England and owned mainly by the British government.

    AMY GOODMAN: Called British Petroleum?

    STEPHEN KINZER: That was Anglo-Iranian Petroleum, later to become British Petroleum and BP. I’m still on my like one-man boycott, like I go to the Shell station, as if Shell is somehow morally superior to BP. But still, in my own mind, I feel like I’m redeeming Mosaddeq whenever I pass by one of those BP stations.

    Anyway, what happened was that Prime Minister Mosaddeq, who really was an extraordinary figure in his time, although he’s been somewhat forgotten by history, came to power in 1951 on a wave of nationalism aimed at this one great obsession: we’ve got to take back control of our oil and use the profits for the development of one of the most wretchedly impoverished nations on earth at that time. So the Iranian parliament voted unanimously for a bill to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Petroleum Company, and Mosaddeq signed it, and he devoted himself during his term of office to carrying out that plan, to nationalize what was then Britain’s largest and most profitable holding anywhere in the world.

    Bear in mind that the oil that fueled England all during the 1920s and ’30s and ’40s all came from Iran. The standard of living that people in England enjoyed all during that period was due exclusively to Iranian oil. Britain has no oil. Britain has no colonies that have oil. Every factory in England, every car, every truck, every taxi was running on oil from Iran. The Royal Navy, which was projecting British power all over the world was fueled 100 percent by oil from Iran.

    Suddenly, Iran arrives and says, “Oh, we’re taking back the oil now.” So this naturally set off a huge crisis. And that’s the crisis that made Mosaddeq really a big world figure around the early 1950s. At the end of 1951, Time magazine chose him as Man of the Year, and they chose him over Winston Churchill, Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower. And they made the right choice, because at that moment Mosaddeq really was the most important person in the world.

    [...]

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