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Intervention in Iran

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Intervention in Iran

As the people of the world begin to hear more and more about Iran on the daily news, many people start to wonder why relations between Iran and the western powers are so tense. There are certain religious differences between Islam and Christianity that cause animosity between both sides, and the topic of nuclear power is obviously controversial, but these things alone cannot be blamed for all of the problems. In this case, history describes how imperialism and hypocrisy have led to trouble. Though many are unaware, problems today stem from many years ago, when relations between the US and Iran were hidden. American influence and presence in Iran from the 1950's to the 1970's kept the Shah in power, which caused the Islamic Revolution to be much more powerful than it would have been and began the chain of events that has led to the tension between the two countries today.

US intervention in Iran in 1953, which led to the overthrow of the revered Prime Minister Mosadeq in exchange for the authoritative Shah, was unnecessary and caused irritation for the people of Iran. At the height of the Cold War, Britain persuaded President Eisenhower to join with them in Iran to secure the oil there for the US (United States CIA).

After World War II ended, [Prime Minister Mosadeq] threatened to nationalize Iranian oil. The Shah left Iran as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and British Intelligence organized a coup, called Operation Ajax, to overthrow Mosadeq. When the Shah returned, it was to a new arrangement: A conglomerate of U.S. companies would control 40 percent of oil production, and the British Petroleum Company would control another 40 percent. The Shah would receive 20 percent (Halfond).

The United States government sent the CIA to Iran to put the Shah back in power to ensure that they would continue receiving cheap oil by guaranteeing that the Shah would be indebted to them for his power. Although the United States has always been known for advocating a democratic government, they ousted Mosadeq, who was voted into power by the people of Iran, for their selfish desire for oil. Iran came into the United States' radar during the pinnacle of the Cold War when defeating communism was the excuse for all greed and imperialism. Truman was president when the controversy first began, but when the Brits tried to convince him to join them in Iran, "Truman refused, leaving his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, to be persuaded that the nationalization represented a threat to...communism's growth" (Jacobs). There was no significant change with the perception of Iran between the presidencies of Truman and Eisenhower, but somehow, Eisenhower thought it necessary to involve the US in Iran, while Truman, a foreign policy genius, did not. Although protecting the world from communism was used as an excuse for entering Iran, it was ironically noted that "US policymakers regarded Iran initially with 'disinterested optimism' and... deemed the country as safe from communism" (Marsh). With the protection of the world against communism as their excuse, the CIA began the coup; however, ambassadors educated in Iranian politics denied any threat of communism in Iran, which leaves the CIA's only motive for intervention as greed for oil. These materialistic gains would come at the expense of the millions of people in Iran, who, ironically, had done exactly what the US government always promoted by electing Mosadeq democratically. The US government did not want to seem hypocritical to other countries by condemning imperialism and then partaking in it themselves because it wanted to maintain its superpower title, but it is impossible to hide that its motives in 1953 were entirely selfish and had nothing to do with altruism. Once the US had taken control of the government in Iran, the lives of the people were disrupted greatly, and the disagreement over oil "...quite rapidly became a symbol of the Iranian nationalist struggle to exorcize...imperial power from their country" (Marsh). The people of Iran in 1953 and even today are culturally very proud of their country. It was unacceptable for them to allow a western power to reap the benefits of their oil, so when the Shah, backed by the United States, permitted just that, the people came to resent the Shah even more than they had before 1953. It was easy for the Islamic leaders to gain followers once the people came to hate their government; they just had to condemn the Shah and his western friends and the people would rally behind them in a common goal.

As a consequence of unnecessary involvement in 1953, relations between Iran and the US became strained as the Iranians looked at the US as the scapegoat for their political and social problems. The years leading up to the Islamic Revolution of 1979 were superficially successful, but underneath the thin layer of achievement were deeply dissatisfied citizens. Not only was the Shah's rule "authoritarian, elitist, and ruthless" ("The Iranian Revolution"), but pro-American in many of its policies, which the people came to resent, especially "...Iran's sale of oil to Israel, [which] seemed like slavish obedience to the American will and anti-Islam in purpose" ("The Iranian Revolution"). Without western influence, the Iranians never would be seen extending a hand to Israel, a nation many people refused to recognize existed, let alone to help its inhabitants. It was not necessarily the fact that their religious beliefs clashed, but that it was a symbol of western dominance in the Middle East that threatened every nation there, most of which were predominantly Islamic. However, once the tension began, there was no returning to 1953 to fix things, because "most Iranians since the overthrow of Mosaddeq in 1953 regarded their ruler as an American puppet" (Hambly). To the people of Iran, only the US was to blame for the Shah's rule, because it was Operation Ajax that gave all power to the Shah. As poverty increased among the masses, so did blaming the US for all social and political problems. It did not have to be this way; without US involvement in 1953, whether or not the Shah was given power,



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