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The U.S. Destroyed Iranian Democracy


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Given the protests by Iranian women that are roiling Iran, the response of the U.S. mainstream press is predictable — that the U.S. government should support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people. A good example of this phenomenon appeared in an op-ed in last Saturday’s Washington Post, entitled “What the West Should Learn from the Protests in Iran” by Karim Sadjadpour. The article states in part:

It is time for the Biden administration to broaden its Iran strategy not only to focus on countering the destructive aspirations of the Iranian regime, but also to champion the aspirations of the Iranian people to live in a free society at peace with the world. Iran’s transition from theocracy to democracy may not come easily, peacefully or soon. But it is the single most important key to transforming the Middle East.

Unfortunately, however, Sadjadpour and the Post failed to point out what would seem to be a rather important point: That it was the U.S. government, operating through its Central Intelligence Agency, that destroyed Iran’s democratic system in the first place. 

In fact, while the mainstream media often traces Iran’s theocratic dictatorship to the Iranian revolution in 1979, that simply is an incorrect — or at least an incomplete — analysis. What is correct and complete is that today’s dictatorship is actually the result of the CIA’s regime-change operation in Iran in 1953.

In 1953, the CIA orchestrated a violent coup that ousted the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, from power and installed in his stead the brutal unelected Shah of Iran. Mossadegh was highly respected in Iran and other parts of the world and, in fact, had been named Time magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

The U.S. Destroyed Iranian DemocracyThe CIA justified its violent regime-change operation by claiming that Mossadegh was leaning communist, as if that somehow magically granted the CIA the authority to destroy a country’s democratic system. In actuality, the CIA was operating at the behest of British oil interests whose operations had been nationalized by Mossadegh.

After the CIA’s coup, and with the full support of the CIA and the rest of the U.S. government, the Shah proceeded to implement and enforce one of the world’s most brutal tyrannies against the Iranian people. In fact, the CIA helped organize, train, maintain, fund, and support the Shah’s internal domestic police force, the SAVAK, which was a combination CIA, Pentagon, NSA, and FBI, all wrapped into one fearful agency.

For 26 years, the Iranian people were made to suffer under this unbearable U.S.-supported tyranny. Of course, U.S. officials didn’t consider things like arbitrary arrests, brutal torture, indefinite detention, and political executions to be tyranny — or at the very least didn’t care about such things — because the Shah was a loyal friend, partner, and ally of the U.S. government. 

It’s probably also worth mentioning that the Pentagon, the CIA, and other parts of the federal government partnered with Saddam Hussein, the brutal dictator of Iraq, in his war of aggression against Iran during the 1980s, which took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iranians. Of course, that was before U.S. officials converted Saddam into the “new Hitler” during the 1990s — after they had lost international communism as their official enemy with the end of the Cold War. 

The Iranian people certainly considered the Shah’s regime to be tyranny, which is why they decided to risk their lives in 1979 in a violent revolution that succeeded in ousting the Shah from power, much to the anger and chagrin of the CIA, the Pentagon, and other U.S. agencies. That was when they illegally took U.S. diplomats hostage to prevent U.S. officials from restoring the Shah to power. In fact, the U.S. national-security state has never forgiven the Iranian people for ousting their dictatorial stooge from power, which is why they continue engaging in regime-change operations even today.

Unfortunately, after their successful revolution, the Iranian people were unable to restore their democratic system that the CIA had destroyed 26 years before. Their revolution against the CIA’s brutal puppet regime instead brought the theocratic dictatorship to power under which the Iranian people suffer today.

Thus, it is the height of hypocritical irony that today the U.S. mainstream media calls on the U.S. government to take steps to restore the democratic system in Iran that the U.S. government destroyed back in 1953. 

I’ve got a better idea. How about having Americans focus on ending their own tyranny here at home rather than on ending the tyranny abroad for which the U.S. government is responsible? Wouldn’t it be better to lead by example? 

We could begin by abolishing the CIA, the entity that is responsible for what has happened in Iran in the first place. It just happens to be the most evil agency in U.S. history, especially given its powers of engaging in state-sponsored assassination, torture, and indefinite detention (not to mention MKULTRA) — that is, the same types of omnipotent powers wielded by the Shah and by Iran’s current dictatorial regime.

We could also end the U.S. government’s foreign policy of interventionism. A good place to start would be Iran. Hasn’t the U.S. government done enough damage already to the Iranian people? How about just leaving them alone and letting them work out the difficulties that the CIA has caused them? A good way to begin would be by lifting the U.S. sanctions that target the Iranian people with death and suffering as a way to achieve, once again, regime change in Iran.

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Jacob G. Hornberger
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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