If you watch Fox News you already know the Iranian government is a force for maniacal evil, plotting our destruction. And it's true that they've done great harm to us over the years. But some of that hate and distrust they have for us is completely understandable. They blame us for doing awful things to them. You should probably consider that the next time you see some right wing jackass act like they are the source of all wickedness in the world.
What's their problem with us?
1. They had a perfectly decent democracy, and we toppled it in a CIA-sponsored coup. In the early 1950's the Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh was going to nationalize oil production, which would have hurt the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, as well as US and British interests in the region. The CIA overthrew the government and helped install the Shah. This isn't leftist conspiracy-mongering. It has been acknowledged by the US government. President Obama actually mentioned it in a speech in Cairo in 2009, and the CIA's own declassified reports are clear:
"The military coup that overthrew Mossadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government," the document says, using a variation of the spelling of Mossadegh's name.
Think about that whenever someone says we're launching a war for oil in the Mideast, and it seems paranoid to you. We have a clear record of toppling regimes we don't like to protect access to their oil.
2. After we helped topple that democracy, we trained the new leader's brutal secret police force. One of the major operatives in this effort was actually Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., the father of the key figure in Desert Storm. The International Business Times describes what happened:
Under a CIA operation called “Operation Ajax,” Schwarzkopf Sr. had been sent to Iran to encourage the Shah to return to power and, most crucially, helped him in the quest by forming and training security forces that would be loyal to the Shah. These security agents would eventually metamorphose into the dreaded and feared SAVAK secret police, one of the most brutal foundations of the Shah’s power.
Israel’s Mossad spy agency also assisted in training SAVAK agents in the arts of interrogation, surveillance and torture.
In the Huffington Post, Todd Green, author of The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West, writes: The CIA apparently trained the Shah's secret police force, SAVAK, in Nazi-style torture methods. SAVAK, in turn, employed these techniques on political dissidents opposed to the Shah's autocratic rule.
3. That regime and secret police we supported actually captured the current leader of Iran and tortured him. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, was targeted by SAVAK in the 1970s. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he spent three years in prison enduring torture and solitary confinement.
4. The leader of Iran also thinks we tried to kill him. The same article in the Herald also states that Khamenei "has a limp and useless right arm thanks to that attempt to kill him with a hidden bomb in 1981." According to an interview Goblinbooks did with retired CIA officer Bob Baer, Khamenei blames the US for that attack. The group that detonated the bomb is called the People's Mujahedin of Iran (known as the MEK, MKO, or PMOI). According to Frontline, this group has actually targeted Americans in the past. But the Iranians believe we work with them - and the evidence is troubling: After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the MEK was disarmed, but it remains under the protection of U.S. forces at its base north of Baghdad. Iran says the MEK is supplying intelligence to the U.S. on Iran's covert nuclear program and Iranian operations in Iraq.
5. We supported Saddam's use of chemical weapons against Iranians. Foreign Policy Magazine has an account of what happened: In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
The article details the extensive help the Reagan administration gave to Saddam's forces to launch "some of the worst chemical attacks in history" on at least four occasions. Then the US covered it up.
6. Our highest-level officials call for the destruction of their government. We know that Iranian officials are targeting US troops and calling for "death to America." But people in the most powerful positions in Washington have spent decades looking for ways to destabilize and topple their government. From the Telegraph in 2007: [President] Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs. Under the plan, pressure will be brought to bear on the Iranian economy by manipulating the country's currency and international financial transactions.
And we're all familiar with the clip of Senator McCain joking about bombing the country.
None of this should blind you to the danger of the Iranian regime or to their past actions. But Americans have a way of ignoring how others in the world see us. If you were a government official in a foreign country, and the Americans had propped up a nasty autocrat who ruled your people for a generation, trained brutal thugs to imprison dissidents, actually helped the people who locked you up and tortured you... If you knew the Americans helped hit your soldiers with poison gas, if you blamed them for an attempt on your life that crippled you, got reports that they were secretly launching attacks to topple your government, and saw on TV how their political leaders openly called for your defeat and joked about dropping explosives on you... how would you see these people?
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