Iran: Two lies and why By William Bowles

21 October 2003

Lie #1: That Iran is an ‘Islamist’ state bent on destroying the West with nuclear weapons.
Lie #2: That only the US (and its allies) has the right to possess nuclear weapons.

These two lies are historically connected via the role Iran used to play in the Cold War and of course because of its possession of oil, lots of oil. And like Iraq and its changing role in the making of our current reality, Iran’s relationship to the West has changed to suit whatever policies of the West are, and principally of the US.

Back in the ‘good ol’ days’ of the British Empire, Iran or Persia as it was named by the British, was pretty well owned lock, stock and oil barrel by the British oil conglomerate, Shell. But things changed big time following WWII. The overthrow of the Pavlevi dynasty by Dr Mossadegh in 1951 ended once and for all, British ownership of Iran’s major natural resource.

“The first thing he [Mossadegh] accomplished after introducing his nationalist cabinet, was the enforcement of the Oil Nationalization Bill to terminate the British ownership and influence on the Iran’s oil industry. The British immediate reaction was a lawsuit against Iran in the United Nations Security Council and Hague International Court…. The battle between Dr. Mossadegh and the British government in the Hague International Court concluded with a big historical victory for the Iranian people…. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was dissolved and the 1933 oil agreement between the Government of Iran (Reza Shah) and the British was cancelled. The British ownership and influence on the Iran’s oil industry was terminated and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the first national oil company in the Middle East, was established on March 19th, 1951.”

But in the post-WWII situation, British power in the region had wained and it was no longer able to regain its lost possession without US assistance, assistance that effectively removed the British and replaced them with the US as the major power in region and its antagonist, the USSR.

“By the summer of 1953, the British and American governments initiated a joint Anglo-American plan for the covert overthrow of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the Prime Minister of Iran. The plan called Operation AJAX with Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA Mideast Agent in charge (a grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and a distant cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt). “So this is how we will get rid of the madman Mossadeq in Iran” announced John Foster Dulles to a group of top Washington policy makers in June 1953. The U.S. Secretary of State held in his hand a plan of operation to overthrow the Prime Minister of Iran. There was scarcely any discussions amongst the high powered men in the room, no probing questions and no legal or ethical issues raised.”

With the overthrow of Mossadegh, the Shah was restored to the throne and USUK oil interests recaptured, that is until 1979 when once more, the Shah was deposed. There followed an intense political battle between the Mullahs, representing the entrenched landed interests and the progressive movement that had led the struggle against the Shah and his Western backers. The progressives lost.

An interesting aside on the struggle that unfolded following the overthrow of the Shah is that of changing US attitudes during that very brief period. In the early days of the Iranian revolution when it looked like the progressive movement would win, the US mounted an intense propaganda campaign supporting the Mullahs and ‘religious freedom’ as opposed to the ‘anti-religious’ elements who would, if they came to power, suppress the power of Mullahs. But with the defeat of the progressives and Ayotollah Khomeini coming to power this changed, virtually overnight, and especially in the mass media when it became apparent that the Mullahs had no more love for the West than the progressives did, even if for very different reasons. The hostage crisis merely cast the die.

Which brings me back to the present and the two lies being fed to the populace. Let’s consider lie #1 first, that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. First off, I’d like to say that much as I hate nuclear weapons no matter who possesses them, given the stated intention, indeed the official policy of the US that advocates its (God-given) right to “first use” of nukes, it’s not surprising that any country that’s been demonised and attacked by the US over the decades, wouldn’t want some guarantee that they’re not going to be ‘liberated’ by the US. And if possession of nuclear weapons decreased that possibility, then it makes a lot of sense, and if not to possess them then at least to threaten to develop them. What else is a poor country to do? And moreover, history is great teacher in this regard.

But that aside, there is no evidence whatsoever that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and even less that if they did have them, they would fire them at the US. Morever, if the world seems to be unstable and continually on the brink of disaster, where should we look for the cause, Iran or the US? I’ll let you be the judge.

Which brings me to lie #2, that only the US has the right to possess nuclear weapons, a lie that August 7, 1945 should convince you otherwise. The first country to possess them was also the first country to use them and note that once other countries got hold of them, the US was not so keen on the idea. And in any case, what right does the US have to tell sovereign nations what they can and cannot do? Is it in any position to use the ‘moral high ground’ as a reason? It resisted the abolition of nuclear testing, it has renéged on its nuclear arms limitation treaties with Russia, it wants to roll back the non-proliferation treaty even as it tells other countries to get rid of theirs or threatens to nuke them if they dare develop their own!

But I suppose most important of all, how is the US able to get away with such brazen lies in the face of a diametrically opposed reality? Key to the propaganda war are two things, first the hostage crisis of 1979, that gave the US an enormous propaganda weapon to play with, to such a degree that it’s entered into the mythology of America, a nation under siege. This is further reinforced by introducing the idea of ‘anti-Americanism’ into the propaganda. ‘They’re out to get you’ and predictably in the UK, by the time Blah had exhausted all his other excuses for invading Iraq, the final one he rolled out was that ‘rising anti-Americanism’ was really at the root of opposition to the invasion. Needless to say, it came and it went along with all the other lies. In the UK at least, it didn’t work, not that it made any difference. Blah was finally forced to say, ‘Screw you, I’m doing it anyway’.

Second, and intimately connected, the role of racism as an integral component of the propaganda war. A war that transforms ordinary working people going about their business in far-flung places into aliens bent on destroying a ‘Christian’ nation as part of a ‘jihad’. Bush and Blah’s continual references to ‘Western Civilisation under threat’ and of ‘dark forces’ bent on destroying us, all form part of a web of lies designed to separate us from them. Ultimately, it rests upon keeping the truth from the citizens, by isolating them from the reality of a world run by global corporations and in whose interests our rulers operate.

On August 19th, 1953 with the Shah’s dictatorship restored, he is reported to have said to the CIA’s Mideast Agent, Kermit Roosevelt “I owe my throne to the God, my people, my army and to you.” He might have added, and the oil corporations.

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