Excerpt from Necessary Illusions by Noam Chomsky The following is an excerpt from Necessary Illusions by Noam Chomsky.0 Here he describes something every American should know about, the manipulations of Iran by the U.S. for oil interests since WWII, and how we overthrew democracy and brutally oppressed a population for 25 years in order to maintain this control. From this history, which anybody can verify from the references given, we see much more clearly why they hate us as they do, and that maybe we can't just blame their religion for it as we are told to do by the state and media. Nothing justifies the means used by the terrorists on Tuesday, but nonetheless we must understand why it is such a dangerous world for us and the reality that we made it that way. Our leaders chose to create a dangerous world where we took by force other countries resources and freedoms, rather than to create one where the world's resources were shared with the local populations and one where we truly support freedom and democracy and self-determination of people. In fact in Iran we eliminated democracy and the reaction from the people should have been predictable. But we just blame it all on their "crazy" religion. The reality is, this is how we pay for our ill-begotten prosperity. Read below, check out the references, and see for yourself.

Nationalist currents [in Iran] developed during and after WWII as Britain and the Soviet Union jockeyed for influence, and the United States extended its presence as part of its growing role in the region, control over oil being a major factor. U.S. pressures were instrumental in expelling the Soviet Union from northern Iran at the Soviet border in 1946. The oil resources of the country remained a British monopoly, though the British were wary of U.S. intentions. The nationalist movement crystallized around Muhammed Mossadeq, an old-fashioned liberal and a beloved figure of enormous charisma to Iranians of all social classes. Mossadeq became Prime Minister in 1951, heading the nationalist bloc, committed to the nationalization of Iranian oil. By 1953, the United States agreed with Britain that he had to go. A CIA coup overthrew the parliamentary regime, restoring the Shah.1

One consequence of the coup was that U.S. oil companies took 40 percent of the Iranian concession, part of the general takeover of the world's major energy reserves by the United States. The Shah remained in power, with constant U.S. support that reached an extraordinary level in the Nixon-Kissinger years, through 1978, when he was overthrown by a popular mass movement.

Our assumptions would lead us to predict that Mossadeq would pass from insignificance to the devil category as the United States determined to overthrow him, while the Shah, generally supportive of U.S. goals, would be a hero until the Peacock Throne began to totter, at which point other devils would arise. In brief, that is the story told by William Dorman and Mansour Farhang in their review of press overage of Iran over this period. 2

When Mossadeq became Prime Minister in 1951, the United States was "generally supportive of Iranian demands" concerning oil policy, Dorman and Farhang obvserve, perhaps because "U.S. officials saw an opportunity to gain a foothold for American companies at the expense of British interests." Correspondingly, the press "portrayed Iran's position in relatively evenhanded terms." But after nationalization, the U.S. government reversed its stand, and "a new frame began to take shape in the press." "Over about a two-year period, then, Mossadeq's portrait would change from that of a quaint nationalist to that of a near lunatic to one, finally, of Communist dupe." In fact, he remained anti-imperialist nationalist seeking to maintain Iran's independence. It was U.S. plans, not Mossadeq, that had changed; the media shifted course, hardly a step behind state policy.

The New York Times observed that there are lessons to be learned from the restoration of the Shah in 1953 and the establishment of the U.S. concession. Crucially, "Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism," attempting to control its own resources. "It is perhaps too much to hope that Iran's experience will prevent the rest of Mossadeghs in other countries, but that experience may at least strengthen the hands of more reasonable and far-seeing leaders."3 A sage warning from the independent media.

As the United States geared up to overthrow the Mossadeq government, his media image deteriorated and he was routinely condemned as a dictator. The Shah, however, was virtually never described in such terms as long as his power held. From his restoration by the CIA coup in August 1953 until the revolution of 1978, the New York Times used the phrase once, referring to the Shah as a "benevolent dictator" in 1967, and "did not publish a major story on human rights violations in Iran during the period when the Shah was identified by Amnesty International and others as one of the worst human rights violators in the world.4 During the year of revolution in 1978, Dorman and Farhang found one reference to the Shah as a dictator, and that in a positive context. A Washington Post editorial wondered why he did not use the power available to him as "a dictator" to suppress the population even more violently.

Though Mossadeq's "style of rule was far more democratic than anything Iran had known,"5 Dorman and Farhang observe, and surely more so than that of the Shah, it was Mossadeq who was called an "absolute dictator" while the Shah was called a benevolent progressive reformer who "demonstrated his concern for the masses" (New York Times). "It is no exaggeration," they continue, "to say that the Times demonstrated more concern for Iran's constitutional system during the single month of August 1953 [when the U.S. was moving to "save" it by a military coup] than it would during the following quarter of a century." A familiar tale.

A plebiscite called by Mossadeq was denounced by the New York Times as "more fantastic and farcical than any ever held under Hitler or Stalin." A plebiscite conducted by the Shah ten years later "under far more questionable circumstances," with a 99 percent vote in favor of the Shah, was lauded by the Times as "emphatic evidence" that "the Iranian people are doubtless behind the Shah in his bold new reform efforts." The Shah's fraudulent elections were lauded with equal enthusiasm.

While the Times was fully aware of the CIA role in the 1953 coup within a year, Dorman and Farhang conclude, seventeen years went by before the fact received passing mention. "Clearly Mossadeq was the single most popular leader until the rise of Khomaini," they observe, but for the U.S. press, it was clear that "the great majority of Iranians all but worship" the Shah (Washington Post). While strikes in Poland received enthusiastic applause, Dorman and Farhang could find only "a single editorial or column" that "commented favorably on the strikes" in Iran at the same time in the course of the popular uprising against the Shah.

The fall of the Shah elicited the first serious concern in twenty-five years for civil and human rights in Iran, with impassioned congressional and media commentary and the first Senate resolution condemning repression; "longtime apologists for the Shah and his government" such as Senators Jacob Javits and Henry Jackson were particularly outspoken in condemnation of human rights violations -- after the brutal tyrant was deposed. The media reaction was the same.

The pattern is characteristic. These quick transitions and their obvious cause scarcely arouse a second thought, another illustration of the effectiveness of indoctrination among the educated classes.

0. For audio tapes of speeches and discussions with Chomsky, I recommend getting the catalog from Alternative Radio.
1. read it direct from the CIA themselves in declassified documents:
or just do a google search on 'mossadeq' and see what else you find, I got over 1000 hits.
2. Amazon.com Editorial Reviews:
Robin Wright, Christian Science Monitor "Provides a thoughtful history of Iran in the postwar era. . . . It also dissects the press's performance during almost three decades of US involvement in Iran and its contribution to a foreign policy failure 'second only to Vietnam.' Most interesting, however, is its analysis of the interrelationship between foreign policy and the press during the 'age of media politics.'"
Book Description: No one seriously interested in the character of public knowledge and the quality of debate over American alliances can afford to ignore the complex link between press and policy and the ways in which mainstream journalism in the U.S. portrays a Third World ally. The case of Iran offers a particularly rich view of these dynamics and suggests that the press is far from fulfilling the watchdog role assigned it in democratic theory and popular imagination.
3. Editorial, NYT, Aug. 6, 1954.
4. Excerpt from Amnesty International's Annual report 1979:
In November 1978 an Amnesty International research mission spent two weeks in Iran interviewing released prisoners, relatives of prisoners and lawyers. The information obtained confirmed allegations spanning the past 15 years that the torture of political prisoners had been practiced systematically throughout the country and that although it appeared to have decreased since early in 1977, when the Shah announced that the use of torture had ceased, it had not stopped altogether. In a press release on II December 1978 Amnesty International published details of some recent cases of torture reported to its delegates. Methods of torture described included whipping with cables, the beating of the soles of the feet, kicking, punching, burning of parts of the body with cigarettes, prolonged sleep deprivation combined with forced standing, the application of nettles to sensitive parts of the body and long periods of solitary confinement.
5. Personal note: Graduate school was an interesting experience in that more than 50% of the other graduate students at my school were foreigners, visiting just to study. As such I met and spent much time with people from all over the world, including from the Middle East. I met many Iranians and I talked to them and they confirmed to me about Mossadeq stature in their society, and they were quite aggravated nobody they ever meet in the U.S. had ever even heard of the guy, who we ourselves overthrew. We have reason to be interested in Iran in this country, but we don't actually know any of the relevant history. Instead everything is phrased in terms of religious fanaticism. A convenient cover for the true story of how we created the mess we find ourselves in. And the story is not confined to Iran, we have been trying to maintain hegemony over the entire Middle East, with disasterous consequences to the indiginous people and giving plenty of fuel to extremist movements. Remember, we ultimately replaced democracy with extremism in Iran with our 25 years of interference. But also from this we have reaped great wealth in our country. As usual, we will take the path of war and force and inhumanity, instead of ask the difficult questions that would lead to conclusions that we should share the worlds resources more fairly. That would affect our standards of living, and so people are going to have to make a difficult choice. But with no infomration at their fingertips, no such choice has to be made and the solution seems simple: They hate us for no good reason and so we have to defend ourselves. So ultimately we are the bad guy on the block, and the talk about how much we care about human rights and democracy should be understood in these contexts.
Google searches can turn up an endless amount of information, I couldn't possibly list the links here, but here are two on the topic that caught my eye when searching for those cited above: