All the Shah's Men

All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer

The major premise of this modern history of Iran is that the 1953 coup orchestrated primarily by the C.I.A. that ousted Mohammad Mossadegh from power can be linked to the 911 terrorist attacks. Kinzer argues that the coup caused a chain reaction of events that wouldn't have taken place had President Eisenhower's administration taken the same attitude toward interference in developing country's progressive, nationalistic governments that President Truman took. During Truman's admin., the U.S. was a real friend to Iran, despising Britain's tyrannical, greedy control of their oil industry and appalled by the working and living conditions Iranian oil laborers were subjected to.

Mossadegh's mistake, according to Kinzer, was not recognizing that neutrality or apparent indifference to the spread of communism was considered, during Eisenhower's admin., to be synonymous with complicity. The U.S. saw Iran as a Soviet target as long as Mossadegh was in power.

Imperialistic and racist attitudes towards Iran on the part of Great Britain's Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and Winston Churchill's administration were the prelude to this act. The refusal to compromise on shared profits and working conditions created the great rift between Iran and the west, with Mossadegh leading the charge against western imperialism. Today, he is considered a symbol of freedom (although many, such as Islamic extremists, are threatened by this symbol).

The U.S. pulled the rug out from under Iran: it was the great betrayal. Prior to the coup, Iran considered the U.S. a great friend and ally, but since 1953, the animosity has only grown. The U.S. supported the Shah's tyrannical reign, and Iranians were outraged when President Carter gave him asylum after he was ousted in the 1979 revolution. The coup and the Shah's reign fed into extremist views; weakened Iran's moderate, nationalist party, the National Front; and helped pave the way for the take-over of Islamic extremists.

This is a fascinating account of a dangerous success that served as a precedent to the orchestration and planning of coups in Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, the Congo, and Vietnam, all of which caused countless deaths and great bitterness against the U.S.

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