Regime change in Iran

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Jul 23 11:28:10 MDT 2003

NY Times, July 23, 2003
Uncle Sam's Regime Change in Iran

Regime change has become the hallmark of President Bush's foreign 
policy. In two years Mr. Bush has dispatched two regimes (the Taliban 
and Saddam Hussein's), tried to sideline a third (Yasir Arafat's), and 
would like nothing better than to dispatch still others (Kim Jong-Il, 
the mullahs in Iran and the potentates that rule much of the Arab world).

In seeking to change regimes not to America's liking, Mr. Bush travels a 
well-trodden path. It started more than a century ago when, in the 
aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the United States found itself in 
charge of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Soon thereafter, 
President Theodore Roosevelt promulgated his Corollary to the Monroe 
Doctrine, which led to the occupation of the Dominican Republic, Haiti 
and Nicaragua.

Once colonialism was discredited, the United States adopted a different 
approach — covert regime change — with the C.I.A. rather than the United 
States military in the lead. The first of these attempts, which occurred 
almost 50 years ago to this day, is the subject of Stephen Kinzer's 
riveting new book. On Aug. 19, 1953, Kermit Roosevelt, a C.I.A. 
operative and grandson of Teddy, orchestrated the ouster of the Iranian 
prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh — a populist leader who had gained 
London's wrath by nationalizing the British-owned oil industry and 
frightened Washington for failing to oppose Communist influence 
vigorously inside Iran.

The C.I.A.'s success in Iran was but the first in a long list of United 
States coup attempts — in Cuba, Chile, Congo, Guatemala, Vietnam and 
elsewhere. Some of these coups succeeded. Others did not. But all 
suffered unintended consequences — perhaps none more than the coup that 
ousted Mossadegh.

That is why Mr. Kinzer, a veteran correspondent for The New York Times 
whose last foreign posting was in Istanbul (where he also covered Iran), 
decided to take another look at this well-known episode. He does so with 
a keen journalistic eye, and with a novelist's pen. In what is a very 
gripping read, he recounts the story of the coup and how it came about. 
In the process, he reveals much about Iran's history, paints a sharp 
portrait of British colonialism just at the point of its ultimate 
collapse, and lays bare the debate on how the United States should 
engage the world.


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