Forwarded from Robert Touraine (antidote to Bernard Lewis)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Jul 14 11:57:02 MDT 2003


The publication of "All the Shah's Men" is a welcome antidote to Bernard 
Lewis's main theme that Middle Eastern societies have only themselves to 
blame for their "failure to modernize" in the modern era.

In fact, all serious attempts to adopt "democratic" social, political 
and economic ideas have been undermined or destroyed by imperialist 
policies of the West, particularly Great Britain and the United States. 
The fanatic religious parties and regimes that they helped create serve 
both to check the radical impulses of the oppressed people of the middle 
east and as a convenient whipping boy when their actions spill over into 
violent anti-Western actions.

AFGHANISTAN A few months after 9/11, in an interview on National Public 
Radio, a former CIA official casually remarked that the Russian-backed 
government of Afghanistan had a program of "Westernization." Of course, 
since that Westernization was being put into effect by a pro-soviet 
government, it had to be overthrown.

Here again is part of the now famous interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, 
Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998: "Yes. According to the 
official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 
1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 
1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely 
otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, [6 months before Soviet 
intervention] that President Carter signed the first directive for 
secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that 
very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him 
that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military 

IRAQ Here is a contemporary U.S. government official's view of the 
February 1963 Baath Party's overthrow of the Kassem government (which 
included the massacre of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Communist Party 
members and began Saddam Hussein's rise to power) presented only one 
month after the coup:

"The February revolution in Iraq is basically a fulfillment of the 1958 
revolution which overthrew the country's Hashemite monarchy, Dr. J. 
Russell Andrus, U.S. rep. in Baghdad for the Agency for International 
Development, told Pomona [College] students today. ... The people, he 
said, were dissatisfied before the 1958 revolution with King Feisall II 
and his prime minister, Nuri Said. Both regimes, the people felt, failed 
to carry out the reforms they wanted. Nuri Said, who ran the Iraqi 
government until his assassination in 1958, was intelligent and 
well-meaning. However, his advances in hydro-electricity and similar 
projects failed to have an impact on the people. Kassem's rule, which 
followed, was marked by bloodbaths and by the infiltration of Communist 
'technicians' and equipment, Dr. Andrus continued. "He finds the current 
trends hopeful, saying that 'the Iraqi people are intelligent and there 
is no reason why they cannot build for themselves a nation they can be 
proud of.'"

Here's an analysis of the February 1963 coup by NY Times writer Roger 
Morris written this past March:

Forty years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency, under PRESIDENT JOHN 
F. KENNEDY [my emphasis], conducted its own regime change in Baghdad, 
carried out in collaboration with Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi leader seen as a grave threat in 1963 was Abdel Karim Kassem, 
a general who five years earlier had deposed the Western-allied Iraqi 
monarchy. ... America's anti-Kassem intrigue has been widely 
substantiated, however, in disclosures by the Senate Committee on 
Intelligence and in the work of journalists and historians like David 
Wise, an authority on the C.I.A.

By 1961, the Kassem regime had grown more assertive. Seeking new arms 
rivaling Israel's arsenal, threatening Western oil interests, resuming 
his country's old quarrel with Kuwait, talking openly of challenging the 
dominance of America in the Middle East ‹ all steps Saddam Hussein was 
to repeat in some form ‹ Kassem was regarded by Washington as a 
dangerous leader who must be removed.

In 1963 Britain and Israel backed American intervention in Iraq. ... 
[W]ithout significant opposition within the government, Kennedy, like 
President Bush today, pressed on. In Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and 
Baghdad, American agents marshaled opponents of the Iraqi regime. 
Washington set up a base of operations in Kuwait, intercepting Iraqi 
communications and radioing orders to rebels. [O]n Feb. 8, 1963, the 
conspirators staged a coup in Baghdad. For a time the government held 
out, but eventually Kassem gave up, and after a swift trial was shot; 
his body was later shown on Baghdad television. Washington immediately 
befriended the successor regime. "Almost certainly a gain for our side," 
Robert Komer, a National Security Council aide, wrote to Kennedy the day 
of the takeover.

As its instrument the C.I.A. had chosen the authoritarian and 
anti-Communist Baath Party, in 1963 still a relatively small political 
faction influential in the Iraqi Army.... [T]he 1963 coup was 
accompanied by a bloodbath. Using lists of suspected Communists and 
other leftists provided by the C.I.A., the Baathists systematically 
murdered untold numbers of Iraq's educated elite ‹ killings in which 
Saddam Hussein himself is said to have participated.... The United 
States also sent arms to the new regime, weapons later used against the 
same Kurdish insurgents the United States had backed against Kassem and 
then abandoned. Soon, Western corporations like Mobil, Bechtel and 
British Petroleum were doing business with Baghdad ‹ for American firms, 
their first major involvement in Iraq.


Fifty years ago, the CIA overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh, the popular, 
democratically elected prime minister of Iran, and reinstalled the 
country's exiled monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah. In "All the Shah's Men," 
Stephen Kinzer, a longtime New York Times correspondent, covers this 
event in an exciting narrative. He questions whether Americans are well 
served by interventions for regime change abroad, and he reminds us of 
the long history of Iranian resistance to great power interventions, as 
well as the unanticipated consequences of intervention.

Mossadegh's overthrow in 1953 undermined Iran's progress toward 
democracy and independence, shored up a dictatorial monarchy backed by 
the United States and ultimately strengthened the only opposition the 
shah could not suppress ‹ the Islamic opposition. Although Mossadegh's 
government was more popular than today's Iranian regime, it was depicted 
in the U.S. media as unpopular, and the coup against it was portrayed as 
a popular victory.,1,4994864.story


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