The threat is still there

Interview with Stephen Kinzer


The threat is still there
by Lalé Shahparaki Welsh

I conducted this interview with Stephen Kinzer in early February, before I heard him speak at the San Francisco book signing last week at Grace Cathedral (Feb. 11th. 08). His next talk and book-signing will be on Tuesday Feb. 19th in Chicago (details).

Having read his book, "All The Shah's Men" a few years back, my interest in interviewing Mr. Kinzer was at first only due to his literary contribution to our community, and given that he was embarking on a book tour to promote his new book, "Overthrow", I felt he'd be more open to an interview.

I was right. Turned out, he also wanted to promote a short video that encapsulated the essence of the book tour as well as to get people to support H.R. 5056, an initiative get Congressional representatives to push for diplomacy with Iran. It all sounded benign enough, and I thought it was a subject that would interest Iranians.

That video ran on last week [Part 1][Part 2][Patrt 3][Part 4]

, and people were interested! The video won all kinds of awards on Youtube, and had tens of thousands of visitors in one day. However, what I found curious was the venom which so many people were spewing in favor of war with Iran. This man who has researched so much about Iran to string together facts and retell our story cohesively, has become our unwitting poster boy for peace, and yet curiously, not everyone agrees with his "agenda". It certainly begs the questions; why? Who stands to benefit from moving ahead with war? Who are these people who want war?

While not all these questions were asked or answered (hindsight is 20:20) here is what he does tell us:

All the Shah’s Men exposes the details of how the US and the UK overthrew a functioning democracy in Iran, and contrived a dictatorship less than 60 years ago. Why do you think voters have been so slow to question the integrity of the current war to “spread democracy”?

Many Americans are compassionate by nature. They respond positively when their leaders call upon them to support a cause that will spread freedom and prosperity. At the same time, many Americans are ill-informed about the realities of life in other countries, and fail to challenge the view that we intervene abroad for motives other than spreading democracy. The press often serves as a catalyst in this process by becoming a cheerleader for intervention, with the assumption that it is acting on behalf of “our side.”

In your experience, are most Americans aware of the history of the coup against Mossadegh? Why/How has this not been a constant and recurring theme in the news, particularly during war time?

The true story of the Mossadegh coup was all but unknown until after the 1979 revolution in Iran. Over the next couple of decades, several scholars investigated and wrote about it. “All the Shah’s Men” has sold more than 100,000 copies, so I like to think that at least that many people know about the coup.

You’re very popular among Iranians. How do Americans respond when you share the account of the coup?

Older Iranian-Americans tell me that when they told American friends about the CIA coup against Mossadegh, many couldn’t believe the story. Only now that my book has been published, they say, can they point to a written description to prove they were not making it up.

Younger people in the community tell me they knew only vaguely what had happened and were grateful for having the story laid out. Some said it helped connect them more strongly to their ancestral homeland.

Do you feel that the tide is turning?

There is no doubt that more people are aware of Mossadegh than were aware of him a few years ago. As the US has engaged in an escalating war of words and sanctions and proxy conflicts with Iran, people have become more interested in the historical background to these events.

How likely do you think war is with Iran?

I fear that this prospect is still very real. The recent National Intelligence Estimate makes it impossible for the US to hope for broad support for new sanctions on Iran. This could mean that some people consider a military strike the only remaining alternative. People in the White House might decide that Iran is a looming threat that must be contained before it can rise. Manufacturing an incident, either in Iran, Iraq or the Gulf, would be easy, and it could become a pretext for war.

Who (if anyone) stands to benefit from such a war?

The only real winner would probably be President Ahmadinejad. He is unpopular, but being the victim of an American attack would instantly propel him to the level of Defender of Islam wherever Muslims live. In every country, people rally behind their leaders when they are attacked. A US attack is the only thing that can turn Ahmeadinejad into a hero in Iran and beyond.

Obviously your message is that there are potential benefits of diplomacy over war with Iran. Can you belabor those for us, and give us your ideas of the global impact of disregarding that advice?

It is in the US interest to work for stability in the world, especially in the Middle East. A process of direct, bilateral and unconditional negotiations would allow the two countries to explore their differences peacefully. No one can know in advance whether it would succeed, but simply making the offer might set off a new dynamic in Iran and even within the Iranian government. It would send a surge of encouragement through the democratic movement in Iran. Once negotiations are underway, the two countries might find that not only are they not fated to be enemies forever, but they have many strategic interests in common.

How do you think your 22 city tour of the US will impact voters, and people in general?

We are trying to do three things: explain the reasons why attacking Iran would be a calamitous mistake; warn that such an attack could happen between now and next Jan. 20; and urge people to work actively to assure this does not happen. We have already had hundreds of people at events on the West Coast.

What specific actions, if any, are you asking people to take?

We are asking people to sign postcards supporting a bill that has been submitted to the US Congress, HR 5056, which directs the President to name a high-level envoy “for the purpose of easing tensions and normalizing relations between the United States and Iran.” Our plan is to deliver these cards to Washington next month. Every concerned American should press for passage of this bill.

It is also important to keep this issue before the American people, in the form of letters to the editor, talks to civic and professional groups, calls to radio programs and contacts with members of Congress. If concern about a US attack on Iran is seen to fade, that could make an attack more possible.

Learn more at



Dr. Pourandokht

by Anonymously (not verified) on

you have your head firmly stuck in your a@#$#. You are proud to be Arabized?


The threat is still there

by Dr Pourandokht Rostamian from Sharifabad (not verified) on

The problem with all you fellows is that none of you guys takes the future into account. In a decade or so from now the USA will be one of the major powers in the world and no longer the super power only either militarily and economically. It will also not be white as it is now but the population will be a hybrid of blacks,latinos,whites,asians and arabs with Islam the number one religion. The newer powers which will include Brazil, China, India,maybe Russia and on a smaller scale Iran. These powers will have much more say in how the world will be run. So to hell with the USA. In order for the USA to be number one and its consumers well fed people living in the rest of world have to be miserable. So Inshallah for the day same as the day when the Islamic Arabs overthrew the Sassasina empire and established Islamic rule, for the USA also the day of its demise is arriving fast.
Long live Islam and the Arabized Iranians of Iran. Me and my sister Parvin have both Arab boyfriends and live a wonderful life. Doctor Pourandokht Rostamian of Sharifabad
Vancouver (now in Toronto)


mossadegh was lucky. he

by x- mossadeghi (not verified) on

mossadegh was lucky. he didn't stay in power to show his through evil by having the country ruined through his megalomaniac polices. he got off the hook so easily,and as for mr kinzer, just another wannabe iranolog who wants and beg for recognition BUT offers NOTHING new,


Well Put Khatat

by Jamshid Agha (not verified) on

I agree - programmer craig is just that :0)


"programmer craig"

by Khatat (not verified) on

I have seen that my Iranian friends have left a number of sayings in Persian for you.

I believe that this one perhaps encapsulates them all:

"Khar Dar Moghabelet Ebn Sina-st"

If you don't understand Persian, then have someone who speaks Persian Translate it for you :)

After that, go in front of a mirror, and say: "Yes, that's me, Craig"!!


EXPOSING THE Middle East Forum

by Thetruth (not verified) on

Look at where these agents of terror reall ycome from!
Prgrammer Craig, Truth seeker, Annonymous4now et al all come from this ideology and quote stuff from this site:

They claim to be a "think tank" (We all know what that's a euphamism for, right?)

Look guys, here's how they describe themselves: (No wonder they're doing back flips to pollute these's their "Duty" if not their "job".

The Middle East Forum, a think tank, seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East. It defines U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, whether terroristic or lawful; working for Palestinian acceptance of Israel; improving the management of U.S. democracy efforts; reducing energy dependence on the Middle East; more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia; and countering the Iranian threat. The Forum also works to improve Middle East studies in North America.



by thetruth (not verified) on

You just don't get it do you? This is my last post in this matter and I have nothing else to exchange with you.

This blog, these notes, this discussion is NOT about Mossadegh! How come everyone esle gets that but you?
It is about THE US!!!!! Who cares how many references to Mossadegh are in these books. Mossadegh was just one expamle of how the US and England are incessantly bullying and highjacking the processes in other countries. (And actually the people in power go way beyond the petty borders of countries, they are central to money and power not contained by boders.
We are all Americans here, including Kinser and we want to defend the amazing truths that this countr was founded on; freedom of speech, freedom of religion and true democracy. The reason you are under attack is that you are an agent of those who don't want free thought to spread. Nobody here likes the propgandic attempts at PREVENTING anyone from reading a book that simply outlines FACTS. Historical, embarrassing facts that expose the dirty attempts at thwarting true democracy.

And by the way, I looked up the site you quote the old Kinser review from and if that's not a site for propoganda to discredit Islam, then I don't know what is.
I'm beginning to see why you guys are so mad about Kinser now. You do have an agenda and you have been brainwashed. And you can't stand it when people point that out!

I had no opinions about anyone when I started to read these posts and don't even disagree with what "Programmer Craig" or many people on here say. It's just HOW you say it. The systematic, boiler plate mission to thwart the truth that in invonvenient for your side. It is now obvious what you all are trying to "program".

Now I don't like the mullahs, and do like Jews in general, but I'm damned if I'm going to allow BS attempts at propoganda tactics a la Hitler, circa 1936 to go on here without exposing them!!!!

Get Lost! The truth will always prevail!
I'm done with you, as far as I'm concerned you are an agent of propoganda (whether you know it or not).


Programmer craig is a Zionist agent

by Observer (not verified) on

Programmer craig is a Zionist agent
Programmer craig is a Zionist agent
Programmer craig is a Zionist agent
Programmer craig is a Zionist agent


Dear PC, Or is that the

by sickofislamists (not verified) on

Dear PC,

Or is that the other kind of Iranian? The ones who are my friends? Your kind of Iranian (including many of the people in this website) seem to be the Persian equivalent of a redneck.

That is a perfect description of not only people like Arezu but the entire ruling class in the Islamic Republic.


Thetruth or should I call you Theideology

by Anonymous4now on

Why are you on this site?  To hear yourself have a monologue or drive out everyone with opposing points of view so you can have your space with olagh?  You are jumping to the defense of someone else based on ideology, regardless of which side is right or wrong and talk to me about ranting?  I posted a review of the book and if you disagree with it and have read the book then make an argument.  I have yet to hear anyone quote a word out of the book but they all claim is so good.  If you are as “informed” as Olagh then it does not surprise me that you find the book informative.  You should call yourself the Ideology not the truth, because it is obvious you are not after the truth.


Olagh, cited a number of references in defense of the Kinzer book.


One was Gary Sick’s October surprise which, as I said before, has two sentences regarding Mossdegh, another was Steve Coll”s Ghost Wars which is about Afghanistan and Bin Laden and has no reference to Mossadegh, and another was by Ronald Kessler which has this one paragraph in the entire book about the events of 1953:


“On Aug 21, 1953, CIA forces led by Kermit Roosevelt overthrew the left-wing government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran after he nationalized the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Co.  The CIA and MI6, the British Intelligence Service, handpicked General Fazlollah Zahedi to take power instead and funded $5 million to him.  Three days after the coup. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who had fled the country the previous week after a clash with supporters of Mossadegh, was returned to the palace.” 


Another reference was The Arrest of Hoveyda: Stories of the Iranian Revolution by Saideh Pakravan which is a fiction mixed with reality, novel.


You jump to the defense of Olagh from one side of your mouth and then attack programmer craig from the other side of your mouth.  What difference does it make who he is?  You can agree or disagree with him, but why speculate about who he is.  Who are you?

 Now, who is being silly? 


Arezu's answer

by Badbakht (not verified) on


I think that CRAIG needs to worry about this election right now. We have witnessed 6 dark years since 9/11 attacks and remains unsolved until today. Whether McCaine or Hillary win the next phase, i believe both should worry about reshaping the U.S. economy. We have spend over four years in IRAQ and have not understood the reality of the war and spend $9billion every year and should stop this year. Two wars was good enough. Many Americans believe we don't have the miliary capibility right now to attack IRAN at this moment. We are 200 miles apart from both border lines. AMERICA needs to get its hegemony back on track once again. Everywhere you take a U.S. passport, they think it is not safe. IRANIAN, too!!! hahahahahaha!!!! I was listening to a PBS show on that a Muslim cleric pointed out: BUSH and AHMADINEJAD have dangered the security of the world. They both believe that return of Jesus and Mahdi are very close.


PC guy I love Iran

by I love Iran (not verified) on

You are exposed now.
Take you venemous blog to another website.
We are Americans of Iranian decendants and we are proud of who we are.
You are wasting your time on this website advocating to bomb Iran!
What kind of moran are you?
How do you think Iranian nation has survived for 2000 plus years?
We love Iran.
We want peace between Iran and United States.
Go to an Israeli site.
There are thousands of them.
Go and blog there.

Peace and Love,
I love Iran


Go seek reform for the U.S. which is in desparate need

by Arezu (not verified) on

I wouldn't bother with Iran; again I suggest that you focus on seeking change right here where you live in the U.S.A.!

The vast majority of the people in this country want change and out of this rut!


wrong acronym for a person who wants to seek the truth

by Arezu (not verified) on

FYI: I have no clue who this Nazy Ghassemian is. And no I am not her! Wrong again!!

programmer craig


by programmer craig on

One last thing. Don't address any more commenst to me. I have no interest in interacting with you. I won't be so nice, next time.

programmer craig


by programmer craig on

So, who are you fooling? You are just on this websites to be another loud speaker for war, sanctions and regime change in Iran.

Yes, I am. I want regime change in Iran. When did I deny it?

Furthermore, you are so thick headed that when individuals provide you
with their view and analysis you continue to reject it all!!

Their views and analysis, is it? lol

I don't give a damn aboiut YOUR views and analysis. You are (by your own admission) a supporter of the regime. You don't want regime change. I suppose you want "reform" (those are sneer quotes btw), right? Well, that's so 1990s of you :P

This is my last comment in this thread. I had my life threatened on this webist yesterday. And you think I'M the one who is rude? I though you Iranians were supposed to be oh-so civilized? Or is that the other kind of Iranian? The ones who are my friends? Your kind of Iranian (including many of the people in this website) seem to be the Persian equivalent of a redneck. I have nothing to "learn" from people like that. If you feel you have nothing to learn from me, then so be it. I'm sure you talk about these issues every day with ordinary Americans, don't you? Wait, maybe not, since you don't realzie that 64% of Americans view Iran as an enemy of the United States.

Get real. Before you get dead. You aren't making any friends with this kind of behavior, and you are badly misatken if you don't think American publci opinion has anything to do with when America goes to war. 68% of Americans supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 - look it up - and it wouldn't take much to get US public opinion that high in favor of attacking Iran. You want to avoid that? Start talking about solutions that don't involve bullshit reforms, Arezu. We're not buying that one any more.


A fishy smell

by Thetruth (not verified) on

I've just read this entire thread, and there's something very suspicious about a guy (Programmer Craig) that claims not to be Iranian, or speak any farsi, and yet lets it slip that he's been reading stuff on this site for a couple of years, and is familiar enough with the substance of the site to remark on how it's changed in favor of the IRI!!!

I don't buy it. Either, he's lying about being Iranian (probably of Iranian Jewish decsent, and intellectually young) or he's "working" on here. What else would he be doing on here?

Tahvilesh nagirin!



by thetruth (not verified) on

Honestly, it's enough. On behalf of most of us on this blog, please stop.

You want to get away with slamming a book for no good reason and then you want to drone on about it.

I must say I agree with Olagh catcher. This isn't about Mossadegh (neither is Kinzer's book incidentally)! It's about your hostile remark to disuade people from reading a book we're all trying to discuss, then you want to act like the victim. You just don't get it.

You're not doing yourself any favors with your rants. They're silly as they miss the larger point.


My last and final response:

by truthseeker (not verified) on

My last and final response: You're lucky I even replied to you...I didn't even read half of your stupid diatribe... because I know who you are.

Arezu, aren't you that Nazy Ghasemian???Khar khodeti.BTW, you still make me want to puke.



by Anonymous4now on

Why Should I get over myself, and let you get away with BS, as soon as it becomes convenient for you?  You chose to have this intellectual brawl with nothing but broken logic, slander and intellectual dishonesty, with your hate filled clap trap telling me I am hateful for posting a review on an uninformed look at recent Iranian history!?

October Surprise has two sentences on Mossadegh, and you bring it up as your source of information to back up your argument on Kinzer’s book.  This is not a mistake of the spelling type or the grammatical type.  It is an outright lie.  Total intellectual dishonesty.  Now, who is Anny?

It is so typical of people with your limited ideology, as evident form your recommended book list, to be so ill informed yet conceited, exactly because you limit yourself to the same type of reading that suits your limited sensibilities.  You have chosen to read, not about Mossadegh, but anything that is, or anyone who writes, against the Shah.   

You can be dishonest with me but be honest with yourself and read first hand, the account of the recent History of Iran by those who were involved in it, like Ali dashti, whose book’s foreword is by an ex leftist Mohammad Asemi, who would have nothing to do with dashti, but came around to admiring him, later in his life.  Like Ardeshir Zahedi, right here on this thread.  Read his write up.  He won’t bite you.  He will have some good (surprising) suggested reading for you.  Try to read balanced so you are not so rabid. 


To: Truth Seeker -Last and final response.

by Arezu (not verified) on

First: With all due respect please address the person you are referring to when you post a comment so that the person knows who you are referring to.

Second: I appreciate your attempt in providing me with your political views however, I am quite aware of the U.S. political system - It seems like you didn't read my response titled number Three. I already provided you with the answer if you would have bothered reading it carefully prior to jumping to respond.

Third: This is why I said update your article on Obama; it was your own fault that you decided to pick an article dated August 2007. This is why I indicated that candidates change their position depending on polls on a monthly basis and indicated you should listen to his Milwaukee speech. Please don't regurgitate what I have already said;

Four: Unfortunately, for some reason it seems difficult for you to grasp what I was trying to say.

I said you indicated that “Iranians will not be ready for democracy for 15 years - how the hell do you know??”

I am still sticking to my position, how do you know? You are speaking out of thin air with no clue as to what the Iranians believe is democracy for them, and where they are in this process and how they believe they can achieve it!! Neither you nor I are in their minds, nor active participants in their daily lives, struggles and their achievements.

I didn't say that you indicated how democracy was going to be achieved in a country; that was my personal comment and my own opinion. Please read carefully!

I also didn't say you indicated that I was pro-IRI; I clarified my own position; please read carefully!!

Fifth: Attacking Americans will not win their hearts and their minds – are you referring to my comments regarding PC?? If so, I provided ample reasons for why I responded the way I did to PC.

People have been far too kind, gracious and patient with PC and in return all they have received are attacks and insults back. This is not kindergarden, and we are not two year olds.

Furthermore, I beg to differ with you, the one thing Americans do not give a damn about is winning their hearts and minds. Of course I must say there are exceptions. However, generally speaking Americans - and more specifically the American Gov. only respect you if you speak their own language.

With a bully you have to speak like a bully; you don’t turn the other cheek.

One thing the Americans have not learned is respect. They don't respect countries, their people, their customs, their history, their traditions, their religion, their rights.. Just look at the U.S. history and how they have treated other countries! It speaks for itself? Their motto has been sticks when everyone else says where is the carrot?

You are confusing the rest of the world, with America. It is America which should attempt to win the hearts and minds of other people.

The complaint of countries and their people are that Americans are arrogant, they are full of themselves, they think they are the best, they speak down on us, they don’t respect us, they believe they can do what they want and feel justified in their actions.

This is exactly what Iran is saying to the U.S. – learn how to respect us as a country and our rights.

In fact even the American policy makers are finally beginning to acknowledge this. Just listen to the questions that the Americans are asking “why do they hate us so much”?

Answer is pretty obvious – because you don’t respect countries and their people. You occupy, you pillage, and you step all over international law when it suits you and what is good for America is not good for the rest of the world…..

People are tiered of this U.S. attitude and gun boat diplomacy - it is about time that the U.S. changes its behavior towards the rest of the world.

Sixth and Final: This goes for you as well. Learn how to speak politely when you address people otherwise you are going to receive the same type of language usage back!


PC guy can take his hatefull blog somewhere else

by Observer (not verified) on

You can fool,
Some of the people,
some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Somebody observed this truth.
Go back and read his previous blogs.
He hates Iranians,
He hates Palestinians,
He hates moslems,
He wants war with anybody who critize him or Israel, and the list goes on.
And he doesn't even speak Farsi.


Forgive my typos. Too many

by truthseeker (not verified) on

Forgive my typos. Too many to


Observer: You're parnoid. PC

by truthseeker (not verified) on

Observer: You're parnoid. PC trying his hardest not to be vindictive because deep down he knows it's wrong...Why do you think he comes here to this site. He's been reading different Iranians blogs for many years now...but you people don't let him. You put salt on his wounds.


Arezu: In the final

by truthseeker (not verified) on

Arezu: In the final analysis, it doesn't really matter what you and I subscribe to. It's what Pentagon and state Department's subscribe too...Why do you thin Obama calls Iran an enemy he will talk to??? I'm paraphasing, "we should not fear our enemies and we should negotiate with them"...THink about that? Here is Obama's speech from Last night:


PS.Attacking Americans will not win their hearts and minds and will not help Iranians either inside or outside. At least 45% of the US think like McCain...

US is not California, Berkeley or San Francisco or Los Angeles...


There is a difference between grief and aggression

by Observer (not verified) on

You must be very naive to believe that.
This PC guy is very cunning and knows exactly what he is writing.


Observer: Sure

by truthseeker (not verified) on

Observer: Sure're a genius, aren't you?

PC has already explained his position but it seems like you people can't get it through your head where he is coming from...He is not here to debate nuances. He can't. He is still grieving. This is very personal to him...unfortunately, and by attacking him, you make it even worse.


Vaay! Get over yourself

by Olagh Catcher (not verified) on

Vaay! Get over yourself digeh Anny joon!

Nemoodi Maro!
You get on here just to slam a book everyone's talking about and tell people not to read it. Beekhod! You don't like the book, go read another blog. Why do you want to slander the poor author?

You have been caught in the act of being an olagh. That's all.


You made a comment about

by truthseeker (not verified) on

You made a comment about democracy and that Iran will not be ready for it for 15 years – how the hell do you know?

Democracy is not something you can put on the backpacks of the American soldiers and deliver it to countries the American way; via bombs and missiles, or "shock and awe".

You're regurgitating inanities and in your arrogance your presumptuousness is sickening. When did I say democracy can be bestowed upon a people. Democracy is in the spirit of the people. It is a learned behavior and attitude. It would take years for Iranians to achieve that even here in the US IRanian can't let go of the little ayatollahs inside, let alone poor Iranians. Stop your stupid accusations and boring diatribes.


Olagh joon

by Anonymous4now on

You “despise haters” like me, based on my posting a review on Kinzer’s book?  How do you justify your hate?  I posted a review on a book, you hate me because of it?  Can you see the idiocy in your own comments?   I SAID, BROKEN ENGLISH OVER BROKEN LOGIC ANY DAY! 


You suffer from chaghookesh mentality.  You want to force your opinion by making condescending remarks and personal attacks.  You don’t know anything about my reading habits, or me for that matter, but you are ready to fit a line to through a single point.  


“Then rather than make your own intelligent objections you rely on some paltry review by a no name reporter from 4 years ago that wrote articles based on which the way the winds of readership were blowing.”  

First: How did you assume I have not read the book? 

Second: Who do you think Kinzer was when he wrote the book, on a topic he had no expertise on?

Third:  Why are you afraid that the review I posted is going to hurt the reputation of the book you are trying to push?  If it is as “paltry” as you say it is, then it would be obvious to others too, unless you are conceited enough to think yourself more qualified to think for them, and attack me, rather than argue against the review.     

Fourth: I did not tell you which other books I have or have not read.  You are extremely presumptuous.  As it turns out I have read some of the books you mentioned, in addition to others, but, just as your opinion with your broken logic, can be meaningless, so too, some of what you read in these books are biased and sometimes uninformed views of the writers. 

 You have a bone to pick with me and you could not have done it around a more irrelevant argument.  If you want to practice free speech, learn to respect others, so you and your views can be respected too.