I’m currently reading the book, All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer. What seems to be ‘in-your-face’ and oh, so obvious is the role the British has played in Iran. It has been or had been Britain (most especially) and Russia who were the major players in Iran, more so Britain whose presence in Iran for 100 years or so was the typical colonial response to all their ‘subjects’ so to speak. The involvement of the United States, at least as I’m reading it, doesn’t really begin until the Truman administration although there was undoubtedly ‘involvement’ with the Allies during WWII when using oil from Iran, which the British controlled. But I’m going to digress.
So, I’m watching Fareed Zakaria’s show on Sunday on CNN, ‘Global Public Square’ (GPS) and there he is, Tony Blair, talking about how he doesn’t understand the reasoning behind the events in Iran wherein the laying of blame is placed upon Britain. A transcript is posted at CNN/GPS’s website illustrates this:
ZAKARIA: The supreme leader singled out Britain for special condemnation, interfering with Iranian affairs. Why do you think that is?
Is the British embassy in Iran — I mean, you were in effect running it for 10 years, running the whole British government — do you fund espionage activities? Do you do things that — why are the Iranians so focused on you guys?
BLAIR: This is nonsense. I mean, they know it’s nonsense. I guess they’ve got to choose somebody to go after, so they choose us.
And, you know, I have been very clear, obviously, in the statements that I’ve made, both as prime minister and afterwards, that nuclear weapons capability of Iran is the red line, and that Iran should stop exporting terrorism, destabilizing people within the region. I mean, I think that’s pretty obvious to say.
And let me make one thing very clear. For us in Britain, we greatly value Iran as a country, its people as a people, its civilization, which is an ancient and proud civilization, as indeed just that.
But the fact is that there are elements within the Iranian system that do cause genuine instability, and worse, around the Middle East. And what we hope very much, whatever happens over these next weeks in Iran, is that over the time to come that we can have a relationship with Iran in which they are trying to be helpful and constructive and conciliatory.
An ancient and proud civilization, eh, Tony? And that’s how the ancient and proud civilization was treated by the British while under ‘colonial rule?’ By the way, this has absolutely NOTHING to do with nuclear arms – this is about history.
In 2007 Robert Tait wrote an article in the Guardian UK, “most Iranians see Britain as an old colonial power that’s still meddling in their affairs” entitled, ‘A Bitter Legacy.’ The piece gives a quite succinct history of Britain in Iran although it was written in the context of the 15 British sailors who were held by Iran for a time in 2007. More succinctly – the British took what rightfully was belonged to the people of Iran, used it to provide monies to the crown “back home”, as well as for those British citizens working and living in Iran (Abadan) living the good life while the Iranian people lived in squalor. Of course this was all in collusion with Iranian rulers.
Actually, I’m reading two books on Iran, Kinzer’s book, along with ‘The Rise & Fall of the Shah‘ by Amin Saikal. Both books provide some background with the primary focus on the role of United States overthrowing Mossadegh in 1953 and the propping up of the Shah. Interestingly, Harry Truman who brought about the creation of the CIA when confronted about overthrowing Mossadegh told the enquirer (the British ambassador) that “we don’t overthrow governments.”
The reasoning of the British in attempting to goad the U.S. into ‘helping’ overthrow the democratically elected government of a sovereign nation – the British had for decades taken advantage of Iran natural resources, particularly oil, getting rich whilst the Iranian people scavenged. Suddenly when Dr. Mossadegh’s intent was on ntaionalizing Iran’s oil industry, the British went ballistic as this would cut the British out completely. As President Truman wouldn’t do it, Eisenhower would need convincing and the convincing was simplistic. According to the British since the Iranian Communist Party (ICP) had supported Mossadegh they would then require themselves and press for a role in Mossadegh’s government. Fueling the anti-communist hysteria in the U.S., the British laid out how the ICP would influence Mossadegh and thus the Middle East. Mossadegh was not a Communist and as with other political affiliates the ICP was simply another party supporting the prime minister of Iran versus that of the monarchy and pseudo-monarchical Pahlavi family.
So Eisenhower got duped.
And, a tidbit FYI: The Anglo-Iranian oil company that was the oil company in Iran, it’s now BP . . . . British Petroleum. And – a primary sponsor of Fareed Zakaria’s program ‘GPS’ – BP. I about fell out of chair yesterday.
What a tangled, tangled web – however interesting it might be.