US Intervention in Iran

Speech by veteran New York Times correspondent and author of "All the Shah's Men" Stephen Kinzer

See two clips:



Very informative, objective, and factual

by Farshad Z (not verified) on

I am highly impressed with Mr. Stephen Kinzer. I only wish his enlightening talks, and the words of scholars like him, receive mainstream media coverage and not be limited to C-SPAN, PBS or NPR; albeit I acknowledge it's wishful thinking on my part.
There are millions upon millions of ignorant people in the United States, along with many more millions of uninformed individuals around the world. It is through such ignorance that corrupt, unconscionable politicians are able to manipulate the masses into aiding and abetting their evil deeds.



Re: Malekeh_ What Are you Talking about ? ...

by Malekeh_ on

Mr Kadivar,

I guess you must have a short memory. I put in quotes below from your post to "mostaghlel". I took the liberty of responding to your post. 

You say to "mostaghlel" under the heading "Relations with US":

>>" It is time to forgive and forget. I am very impressed with Americans and Brits younger generation approach to world these days."

My argument to you is again that US government since 1953 has shown its UTMOST enmity to Iran and Iranian nation. To start with, what they did in 1953 was not only illegal, it was the worse terror that a foriegn government could have exerted on a nation. Then forwading to Iran's revolution and their support for Saddam to encourage and help saddam attack Iran. Lets not forget that over FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND of our countrymen (children of some parents, brothers an dsistersof some humans that happened to be Iranians) died, let alone the number on Iraqis. Then we have the sanctions that causes a poor Iranian say pay $2 for an aspirin while the rest of the world pays say 20 cents for the same. In most cases we are not talking aspirins, we are talking about medicine that a poor and sick needs. (Hitler would probably come out as a hero compared with the US government's acts!)  . and .... and .... and.... Why should you or I FORGET and FORGIVE? I stand by the rest of my comments to you in that earlier post.

 Have a Nice Cold Abjo


Darius Kadivar

Malekeh_ What Are you Talking about ? ...

by Darius Kadivar on

I never use aliases to express myself, never did nor never will, unlike you people.

As for your comments I think your confused Ol' Chap ...

I never claimed we had to forget, forgive or rewrite history. I simply say like every thesis there is an anti thesis.

I simply don't share all of Mr. Kinzer's views on the events of 1953. You are free to think otherwise. Whose Stopping you ? Not me.


Re: Relation with US (To: Kadivar)

by Malekeh_ on

Mr. Kadivar

You don't really need to post your comments under aliases and anonymously since your comments are neither against Shahis or anti Zio-Nazis. If your comments  were that way , then you would be in danger of losing your job or a promotion or other "privilages" in which case like poor me and many other iranians, you had to post under an alias or anonymous and hope that you are not known!.

Anyways, word of wisdom says "those who forget the history are bound to repeat it". Why should we forget and forgive? So that again some other foriegn power comes and screws us the way US government did  in 1953? What you stated  is just non-sense.

As for AMerican or Bristish people, you don't seem to realize that US government (and most likey the Bristish government -- I have not lived in Britain to know) are not American people or Bristish people. They are in fact AMerican and Brisths, but are for the most part applying policiies and rules that are not approved by their OWN PEOPLES. Not very different from our mollah's government and Iranian people. Therefore, I don't think you should confuse yourself between the two. Look at the acts of the two governments (support of blood thirsty zio-nasiz in palestine, occupation of Iraq, etc.,) and talk to ANY american or bristish PERSON. You really think they will tell you that they approve what their governmnets doing in thier names?


Have a Nice Doghe Sard


Liberal point of view , feel good, but no substance

by MRX1 (not verified) on

Folks like kinzer view the world and it's politcs like a child that just reached puberty. To this people CIA is always a bad guy, any body anti american no matter what is good.... In their childish mind if U.S does not intervene, the whole world would look like a paradise! He admits in an interview that he did not know a thing about Iran, but after writing this book (who financed this book?) he is an overnight expert on Iran!
He does not realize that 1950's was the height of the cold war. he does not realize soviets grand plan for Iran if not for whole mideast. He does not realize that all mossadegh supporters left him and in the end his only supporter was Tudeh the communist party. He does not relaize that chief of staff of armed forces at that time was a member of Tudeh. so the stage was being set for Iran to be taken over by soviets or some sort of regime change.
Not to say that I agree with any foreign intervention, but let's not redcue politcs to simple level.

Darius Kadivar

Kinzer curb your enthusiasm ...

by Darius Kadivar on

I have always had a problem with this enthusiastic approach that consists of seeing Iran at the time of Mossadegh as ripe for Democracy. My skepticism has nothing to do with the knowledge that Democracy is an ideal system of government or that I wish to question the virtues of democratic ideals but more with the naive assessment that one can acquire an enduring and viable democratic society by waving a magic wand and overnight solve all the countries problems by overlooking the realities of the time. Also I believe that the real issue to which Iranian society was confronted to during the events of 1953 had more to do with national control over our natural ressources: Oil and Gas and NOT about Democracy ...

The Pahlavi Kings were particularly respected for resisting foreign intervention but everyone remembered that Reza Shah the Great and the Royal Family had suffered the humiliation of having to accept the unconditional abdication of the founder of the Dynasty in favor of the then Crown Prince Mohemed Reza Pahlavi turned King at the young age of 20 under the ultimatum of the Allied forces. The fragile status quo required diplomacy and compromise at the wake of the post WWII era.  

The Fragilized colonial powers that is Great Britain and France were struggling to regain their Super Power Status that they had before WWII. Great Britain had already lost India in 1948 and Rule Britannia was no more the order of the Day by then. Both France and Great Britain ( also Belgium to a lesser degree) were to realize that a New World Order was on the table since the Cold War Began ever since Europe was divided into two spheres of influence on Soviet and One America at the WWII Yalta Conference.

Kinzer's approach in seeing the CIA as a "Gestapo" like organization aimed at toppling Democracies in the World underestimates the reality of the Cold War that was emerging on the Ashes of Europe's deadly 5 year old war. A continent devastated by destruction which was rebuilding itself from rubble and desperately depended on Oil in addition to US help thanks to the Marshall Plan. On the otherhand you had an equally devastated Soviet Union which communist regime was strengthened by the Victory over Nazi Germany ( despite the treachourous short lived alliance between Stalin and Hitler) and where Communism was seen as the True Victor over "Capitalism" in the minds of equally the intelligenstia and the average Soviet citizen but also most people in the Allied countries. The Sacrifice of the Soviets at Stalingrad and their ultimate victory was seen as a historical testament of the Russian dedication to come to endw with Nazi Germany.

What most people prefered to ignore was that the Soviets had tested their first Atomic Bomb by 1949. Now The events of Mossadegh's fall date to 1953 that is approximately 4 years after the begining of tensions between the US and the Soviet Union over world supremacy: Capitalism VS Communism. This culminated in 1961 with the Berlin Wall which as Winston Churchill quite accurately described as an "Iron Curtain" between East and West.

The Soviets had also expressed their territorial interests over Iran with the overthrow and creation of the Republic of Azerbaidjan which the Shah with the Help of the Americans overthrew and took control shortly after the War.

There is no doubt that the British did not wish to see a politically independant Iran take control of its natural ressources but Iran was not a colony as any of its neighbours and the Shah which Kinzer seems to dislike was reigning without Ruling for more than 12 years.

The question Kinzer fails to ask and ultimately answer is had the Americans not interfered would Iran become a democracy under the leadership of Dr. Mossadegh ?

Mossadegh as a Lawyer Brilliantly defended and won the lawsuit against British Petroleum at The Hague ( a Victory that the Shah actually admired and gave credit to him in his memoires Answer to History) But was Iran on the verge of becoming a truly democratic state for that matter ? If one looks at the events of 1953 that catalyzed a great deal of hope for Iran's political and economic independance little indicates that Iran both as a society or as a Free country was ripe for "Democracy" given the forces present on the international political arena.

Most Nationalistic movements in the Middle East ( nearly ALL Anti British) brought to Power either the military or dictatorships nearly everywhere in the Middle East where they took place. This pattern continued during the entire Cold War in the 60's and 70's not to say the 80's with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The best example to illustrate my point is Egypt during the Suez Crisis of 1956 ( Exactly 3 years after Iran)  that put a final blow to the French and British colonial ambitions and pretense of still being a super power in the nuclear Era. Nasser's Republic was never to establish a democratic rule in his country despite his victory in nationalizing the Suez Canal ( with a rare and dual benediction of both the Soviets and the Americans). Given Dr. Mossadegh's old Age, lack of political cynicism and calculation, one can only wonder how he would have countered the communists and ultimately the Soviets from taking over Iran or at best turning it into another Satellite country like Iraq ( where Saddam overthrew the Monarchy) or Egypt ( Also where Nasser toppled the Monarchy of King Farouk).

Mossadegh would most probably have been toppled by a power hungry general or even a religious zealot like Khomeiny or a populist politician who would take control and in turn become a Soviet or American puppet.

Iran's democratic landscape may not have emerged from the events of 1953 and the concentration of power in the hands of the Shah but Iran was nevertheless lucky not to become a Soviet Satellite State.

Last but not Least, I think that Mr. Kinzer also neglects an important aspect. As he said quite rightly Iran had already had a Constitutional Revolution that put an end partially to divine Rule in a country where nevertheless secularism was still not the order of the day and where religioun still played a major role as a national cement of unity after that of the King himself. The establishment of lets say a Republic where the Shah would no more be a symbol of national unity was never EVER the case in our country for more than 25 centuries. How could Mossadegh fill in the vaccum of Power as a result ? I don't think that democratic ideals but more importantly practice was something Iranians at large understood or experienced except for the intelligenstia. In a country where people mention the word of God and King to help them for nearly every problem faced it seems obvious that educating Iranians to the simple idea of Democracy was not an easy task. I do not claim that it was impossible, I just want to say that it would not have been done overnight given that expectations would have been high to immediately satisfy people's individual needs and desires. Something that the Shah did with the White Revolution in 1963.

Also I have another problem in the use of the word "Coup" used to describe the overthrow of Mossadegh. The latter was after all a named Prime Minister by the Shah himself. That the Shah was forced to name him as prime Minister under social and political pressure is one thing but that the he took the liberty to kick the Royal family ( Ashraf the Shah's sister) and ultimately the Royal couple itself ( Soraya and the Shah) seemed a very "unconstitutional' thing to do. It seems to me that it was only logical and legitimate for the Shah (whose father had after all been a Nationalist too and founder of the Dynasty) to be offended and take Mossadegh's attitude as a personal offense. Which king would like to be bullied by his prime Minister may I ask ?

The issue was about Nationalism and economic control over our natural ressources NOT Democracy, even if democratic ideals were shared by a minor few particularly the intelligenstia. But the Large Masses of Bazaris, peasants and populace hardly had "Democracy" on their mind but well being and benefiting from the distribution of riches they rightly considered being exploited by foreign forces.

In the light of these arguments I think that Mossadegh may have lacked diplomacy, vision and political subtlness in overestimating his own persona very much like the Shah in later years. But the Shah ( however wrong)  had good reason to think that for he was after all ... A Shah in the eyes of his people.

To underestimate the importance of the Monarchical institution in Iranian psyche ( whether we like it or not) is particularly  naive on behalf of the serious scholar and historian Kinzer aims to be.

The "Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall, Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall" Anaology in the title of his book may be a catchy good one and would make a great script for a movie but I very much doubt that it corresponds to the reality of how the monarch was percieved by the average Iranian citizen at large back in 1953. The Status of "A Shah" In Iran had deep significance in Iran's social life. One can think it was wrong or unfair but one cannot deny the importance of the monarchical institution in Iran's history and compare the Shah to a "Pinochet' Like general with no real historical role legitimacy (regardless of the fact that his father took power by force to establish his dynasty as all his predecessors). I have no problem with people who consider the monarchy as obsolete, unjust of unfair as an institution as Kinzer seems to fill in this criteria. It is the right of every historian like any individual to have an opinion shaped by his philosophical preferences and political concepts. Kinzer has a thesis on the events of 1953 from the point of view of a democrat and someone who is not Iranian. I simply think that in order to fully understand those events one has to give a full picture and also understand the dillemas of those Iranians ( equally patriotic) who opposed Mossadegh's approach in this crisis. To boil down the entire history of contemporary Iran and find the roots of the advent of the Islamic Revolution to the overthrow of Mossadegh and the so-called "Coup" seems an overused  statement that has been repeated constantly ad repeatadly by many Western Historians when speaking about Iran. They tend to project their own desires in describing the events than actually dissecting them for a better understanding. Its like stating the obvious like: "Democracy is a Good Thing", "Dictatorship is Bad". Where is the debate ?   

More than half a century after I think that we need to look at those event with more introspection and with a more balanced view than the "Good Guy" Vs "Bad Guy" approach that Kinzer seems to self indulge in and which overshadows much of the realities of the time.

My Humble Opinion,






Relation with US

by sharizie (not verified) on

Dear mostaghel

I disagree. Both people and the world have changed since 1950's

It is time to forgive and forget. I am very impressed with Americans and Brits younger generation approach to world these days.

GW, McLooney and Blair represent the Old approach to the world - a Total failure of human spirit and nature


His book is about the story ....

by mostaghel on

His book about the story of how starting with 1953, a corrupt US government agency (CIA), destroyed the life and livelihood of iranians. How a bunch of hologans from CIA and Shaboon Bimokh can destroy and take away confidence of a great nation. A nation that in every aspect is smarted, wiser, and more historic than America or  most other nations on the face of earth. A nation that in the word of an Iranian journalist "I don't cry for what we are, I cry for what we could have been" . This is why most iranians are not at all in favor of relations with the US, and are suspecious of every move that US government makes. I bet if many Americans know this hiostroy as well, they will all line up against their government and for Iran.

Maryam Hojjat

A more than honest American!

by Maryam Hojjat on

He is great author & scholar in american histroy & politics.


Dead ON

by shirazie (not verified) on

notice.. they are no young people in the audience.

20th century was the 2nd dark ages. Over 200 million people died from war and starvation