‘It has been a splendid little war, begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune which loves the brave.’ US Secretary of State John Hay, defining the Spanish-American War of 1898, in a letter to Theodore Roosevelt, July 27 of that year, the war ushering in America’s Imperial era and unequivocally heralding its hegemonic ambitions.
‘…I’ve seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate [people]…. We’ve gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should be our pleasure and duty to make people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions their own way…. I’m opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.’ Comments by Mark Twain, anti-imperialist, reflecting on the real objectives of America’s war with Spain.
‘War is the continuation of politics by other means…’ Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian general, military theorist
‘Politics is the continuation of war by other means…’ Michel Foucault, French philosopher, social theorist
Synopsis: For those Americans au fait with their country’s fondness for engineering coups, ousting democratically elected leaders, and interfering in the political affairs of other nations – to all intents the perennial bedrock principle of U.S. foreign policy — Iran is a well-documented exemplar. Given the supreme ironies inherent in the political imbroglio in the U.S. attending Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, along with America’s resolve to seek once again regime change in Russia’s ally Iran, it’s timely we revisit this slice of history. Doing so presents us an opportunity to view the so-called ‘Russia-gate’ furore, the Iran regime change ambitions, and the increasingly bloody war in Syria – itself an ally of both Russia and Iran — within a broader, more nuanced historical context. From there we might derive a more informed perspective on the contemporary geopolitical zeitgeist and the hegemonic forces that have fashioned it. And attending that deeper perspective should be a sure sign of the existential dangers for civilization and humanity at large of allowing our leaders in the West to continue down this path unchallenged, one that is as well-worn as it’s fraught with peril.
In Regime Change, We Trust
For those folks with the requisite sense of irony and historical perspective, many will be rolling their eyes at the rampant hysteria over the as yet evidence-free accusations of interference by Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Which is to say, one of the manifest realities attending this latest Beltway blockbuster soap opera is that of America’s own track record of interference in the affairs of other countries, comprising as it does so many forms. I say “realities” rather than ironies here as “irony” almost by definition is infused with a measure of nuance and subtlety, neither of which could it be said are in abundance in this utterly contrived, self-serving political fracas. (For a further measure of just how “contrived” and “self-serving” it is, see here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
Insofar as Russia’s alleged meddling in U.S. politics goes and the animus that attends the hysteria, as Oliver Stone discovered during his recent appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert – itself hot on the heels of his much publicised four hour meet ‘n greet with Russian president Vladimir Putin wherein it was earlier raised – he was at pains to impress upon his host that Israel had a much bigger case to answer than did Russia. Of course Stone was on the money here. The unalloyed reality of the power and influence that Israel exerts within and across the morally and ethically desertified landscape that is the nation’s capital is a given, with the Middle East’s only ‘democratic’ settler-colonizer apartheid regime leaving few stones unturned – and exhibiting little discretion and subtlety but equal parts chutzpah and subterfuge — in how it wields then leverages that influence to its advantage and against the interests of its principal patron and benefactor.
But that’s clearly a narrative that doesn’t bode well in the Beltway at the best of times, and more rational, clear-eyed folks know the reasons why. For one, the corporate media, for the most part doesn’t entertain such verities. Even if they were inclined, the omnipotent Israel Lobby would cut them off at the knees. And for his part, the smarmy Colbert, presumably aware which side his bread is buttered on, was reluctant to take Stone’s bait, much it seemed to his interviewee’s frustration.
Beyond just interfering in U.S. politics, along with the parent Empire la perfide Albion, one of America’s steadfast partners-in-crime in the regime renovation business are the ubiquitous and iniquitous Israelis, an observation underscored by Against our Better Judgment author Alison Weir on her blog If Americans Knew. Long targeted by Israel, for Weir, Iran especially provides an instructive example herein. With the Saudis as back-up, it is Israel — ably supported by its Praetorian Guard AIPAC and its ilk along with its shills in Congress – that’s been the hard-core driver of Washington’s seemingly irrational animus towards all things Iran. Along with underscoring Israel’s clout in Washington, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 Congressional dog ‘n pony show fiercely opposing the Iran Nuclear agreement then being negotiated by the Obama administration provides some of the best evidence for this.
And indeed, it’s another of Washington’s worst best-kept secrets that – the nuclear agreement aside — Iran remains a high priority on the ‘to do’ list for the Regime Renovators. (See also here, here, and here.) In addition to the relentless propaganda campaign pursued by Israel the aim of which is to paint Iran as the existential threat du jour, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies and others in the know don’t support the allegations about its mythical nuclear weapons program, Weir had the following to say:
‘Israel and the U.S. deployed a computer virus against Iran in what’s been called the world’s first digital weapon. Iranian nuclear physicists [were] assassinated by Israel, and the U.S. instituted a blockade against Iran that caused food insecurity and mass suffering among the country’s civilians. (Such a blockade can be seen as an act of war.) Democratic Congressman and Israel partisan Brad Sherman admitted the objective of the sanctions: “Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”’
Most folks then who don’t dine out on the McDonald’s (‘would you like lies with that?’) media diet that is the corporate news are as well aware of Uncle Sam’s recidivistic predisposition towards meddling in the affairs of other nations, engineering coups and colour revolutions, and ousting democratically elected leaders as they are of the bespoke misinformation and disinformation – the ‘real’ fake news – that’s tailored to suit the official narrative that goes with it.
Along with the ongoing Syrian War, the 2014 Ukraine coup is one of the most egregious, more recent examples of this, with again Stone’s confab avec Putin providing an alternative perspective on both counts. Yet even here the majority of Americans would attribute the Ukraine crisis to “Russian aggression” and the Syrian War largely to Bashir Assad’s ‘despotism’; it’s simply what they are told by the MSM, and insofar as they’re concerned [they] have little reason to doubt this. Much the same goes for the Iran WMD narrative, despite the fact that we’ve heard that one before with Iraq around fifteen years ago.
And all of this mayhem and chaos is premised on exporting freedom, democracy, justice, liberty, human rights, and the rule of law, all of the things that America is purportedly so accomplished in embracing on the home front, albeit more so in the breach than in the observance. What makes U.S. transgressions so much more brazen in this respect is the hypocritical, fraudulent and existentially dangerous nature of the umbrage and pique being directed towards countries like Iran, Syria and, especially Russia and China.
And what makes the righteous animus being served up to the latter nations in particular so frightening and so portentous is that it’s wholly reminiscent of the hegemonic mindset directed towards Germany by the high-minded mandarins of the British Empire in the two decades leading up to the War to End all Wars. By 1914, even for that small cohort of folks who might’ve smelt the imperial rat, it was too late of course, for them and for so many others. In this few other imperially motivated gambits have been more consequential or more far-reaching across time and space, a conclusion we can safely draw with all the benefit one hundred plus years of hindsight brings.
As for today’s “cohort” of news consumers, it is much the same: Such awareness is embraced only by a small minority of people with most blissfully ignorant of their country’s inability or unwillingness to, well, mind its own bloody business. They are as equally oblivious to the economic, social, physical and political havoc, mayhem, and destruction it creates in the process, sometimes catastrophically so. Whilst the events of 9/11 might’ve otherwise provided a visceral reality check in this regard for most Americans of the blowback that frequently attends its own country’s meddling, very few would’ve been prepared or motivated to engage in any ‘cause and effect’ reflection therein, much less act in sync with that.
Yet we might opine here that given the frenzied state of America’s own internal affairs – to say nothing of the hysterical incoherence and farcical irrationality of the public discourse that has seemingly become a permanent fixture of U.S. political and media forums, the Russia-gate affair being all the evidence ones needs to underscore this – there’d be numerous benefits to be gained from doing just that. Minding its own “bloody business” that is.
And let there be no mistaking it, what an assuredly “bloody business” regime renovation is. For the ‘cognitive dissidents’ disbelieving or doubtful of the extent or measure of this geopolitical mischief, in a recent PressTV interview focusing on America’s history of interfering in Iran’s political affairs in particular, former NSA intelligence linguist Scott Rickard is one amongst many of his professional ilk who dispels such scepticism or uncertainty with unadorned veracity: ‘[Americans] have been probably one of the most notorious nations behind the United Kingdom in manipulating not only elections but also overthrowing governments around the world for decades.’
As Rickard observes, to this day the U.S. continues nation-building in other states, sells weapons in massive scales and pours bombs on other nations in order to ‘carry out its regime-change policy throughout the world.’ This, to say little of the proxy wars to which errant countries are subject (such as in Syria), psy-ops and the like (in Venezuela), and the economic sanctions frequently applied by Washington, of which both Russia and Iran to this day are also subjected to, and which themselves are often part of the arsenal used against countries not complying with Washington’s diktats. On the latter, it’s enough to recall how the sanctions imposed during the 90s against Iraq after the Gulf War under the Clinton administration played out. For confirmation of this, one only needs ask Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s then Secretary of State, who in a ‘Kissingeresque’ display of imperial hubris as pitiless as it was asthma-inducing, averred [that], “it was worth it”.
To be sure then, Uncle Sam’s “track record’ in this respect is as well documented and [as] well known as it’s abhorred by most commentators in the alternative media space and their more enlightened readers. At the same time it’s one subject that doesn’t raise an eyebrow much less a mention from those in the mainstream media (MSM) universe, no matter how pertinent it might be to the narrative in hand. It’s another of what I’ve come to calling the ‘no-fly-zones’ of conventional political discourse and public debate. Given the degree of complicity of the corporate media in facilitating these coups, proxy wars and colour revolutions, then camouflaging them as something entirely different from what they really represent is, whilst reprehensible and indefensible, understandable.
Kermit’s ‘Sesame Street’ Coup
Interestingly, Rickard’s remark was prompted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s most recent statements about the U.S. seeking regime change in Teheran as all but a matter of public policy with marginally less fervor than they are accusing Moscow of meddling in their own democratic processes in last year’s election. Again, for those folks “in the know”, the very mention of the words “regime change” and “Iran” in the same breath will also summon pronto a profound sense of déjà vu. As with the little known 1975 Australian coup (the details of which to be unveiled in a future ‘episode’ of The Regime Renovators), it was Britain (MI6) and the U.S. (the CIA) in a tag team play that cut its teeth in such joint-venture partnerships back in Iran in 1953.
Now the much-cited Iran experience is worthy of further exploration, if only because this exercise in regime change later turned out to be doubly ironic in a ‘reap what you sow’ kinda way, but not necessarily as the received wisdom would have us believe. We’ll return to this point shortly, but for context and perspective, the 1953 Iran adventure begs for another trip down memory lane, especially given all the chatter about the U.S. returning to the ‘scene of the crime’.
Placing to one side an early dress rehearsal in Syria in 1949, the 1953 Iran coup was the first post-War exercise in regime renovation upon the part of Anglo-American alliance — one which officially at least was only just admitted to by the CIA after decades of not so plausible denial – when they successfully conspired to relieve the democratically elected prime minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh from the burdens of power. The CIA and MI6 jointly embarked on a plan to stage a coup that would ensure that the West maintained control over the country’s vast oil reserves (shades of things to come). This coup is widely believed to have provided the ‘business model’ and the bravado for future coups by the CIA during the Cold War, including in Guatemala in 1954, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1961, and the ill-fated attempted coup in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs (BOP) in 1961, where the renovators’ business model came spectacularly unstuck.
In true CIA custom, in Iran not everything went according to plan. The man who would be Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, by all accounts something of a reluctant usurper, succumbed to ‘stage fright’ at the eleventh hour and did an unexpected runner to Italy. But the CIA quickly recovered its composure and schlepped their ‘under-study’ back in time for the opening night curtain raiser of the new regime. For both the CIA and the Shah, who went on to rule his country with an iron, bloody fist avec unerring American support for almost twenty-five years, in true show business fashion, everything was ‘all right on the night’; the Shah’s show went on to enjoy an extended run with generally positive reviews.
(That most of these “reviews” were written by the Iranian intelligence agency SAVAK, the Shah’s political and security muscle throughout his ‘regime’, is axiomatic, especially since writing was apparently one activity SAVAK agents both excelled at and enjoyed. Their torture manuals were as notorious for their meticulously detailed brutality as for their invention.)
Interestingly, the CIA’s Iranian operation was directed by none other than Kermit (Kim) Roosevelt, the grandson of former Republican president Teddy Roosevelt (he of the “walk softly, carry a big stick” fame), and a not too distant cousin of former Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). At the time Roosevelt was the senior spook in The Company’s Middle-East station (he’d been recruited by no less a personality than Frank “The Mighty Wurlitzer” Wisner), and was their point man on the ground in overseeing the Iranian adventure, dubbed Operation Ajax. Despite his name, for Teddy’s ‘grand-sprog’ this was no Sesame Street romp. No sirree Bob! This was serious spy shit.
Notwithstanding the apparent success of the mission, the coup was to have profound, far-reaching, and plain scary, geopolitical, economic and national security consequences for the US and the West in general. For starters just ask Jimmy Carter for further confirmation of this, and for any still standing and in control of their metacognitive faculties, go from there president by president! (Although Albright sort of apologised to Iran in 2000 – possibly the closest thing to a mea culpa ever offered by the U.S. for their wayward imperial ways – it didn’t apparently count for much.)
Yet one of the most enlightening revelations about Kermit’s coup was the following. In his must-read book a Century of War, Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, F William Engdahl recounted the less familiar story that the demise of the Shah (aka the ‘Peacock Potentate’) was engineered by the same forces that brought him into power in the first place. As we know this went on to produce sizable blowback for the U.S. with the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The much reviled Shah had for a variety of reasons outlived his usefulness, with the onset of the 1979 oil crisis presenting said forces both the ideal opportunity and pretext – albeit according to Engdahl, one largely manufactured in this case — to proceed to the next phase of their (ahem) Persian renovation project.
From this then we might safely deduce the subsequent ‘79 Revolution, the storming of the U.S. embassy in Teheran, along with the kidnapping of the embassy personnel (a world changing event by any measure), was not what many have deemed an organic — nor an entirely predictable — development for those who’d decided the Shah has passed his use by date. Moreover, the reality (there’s that word again) of ‘client-dictators’ overstaying their ‘welcome’ will be one familiar to ‘buffs’ of Uncle Sam’s regime change history, with the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2002, again on prefabricated pretexts and for not dissimilar reasons, providing a most consequential exemplar thereof.
According to the author, in 1978, President Carter named diplomat George Ball to head a White House task force under the direction of Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, the proud, now recently departed, father of Islamic terrorism and patron saint of jihadists. In doing so, Carter effectively gave Brzezinski the nod on opening another Pandora’s Box in the Greater Middle East, and as the Law of Moral Causation (trade name: ‘karma’) would have it, [this] brought about the president’s own political demise. As Engdahl explains it:
‘Ball recommended Washington drop support for the Shah and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini…and the CIA led a coup against the man their covert actions had placed into power 25 years earlier. The coup against the Shah, like that against Mossadegh in 1953, was run by British and American intelligence, with the bombastic Brzezinski taking public ‘credit’ for getting rid of the ‘corrupt’ Shah, while the British characteristically remained safely in the background.’
When You’re on a Good Thing (Stick to the Knitting)
Notwithstanding the blowback from the 1953 Iran coup and the later blowback from the removal of the Shah over a quarter century later, little has changed. The disastrous Bay of Pigs operation in 1961 and the subsequent, near catastrophic Cuban Missile Crisis the following year deriving from the failure of even that monumentally inept regime change manoeuvre evidently provided few lessons for the Renovators then or their political progeny since. At the same time it underscored in effect what had become the bedrock principle of American foreign policy and Great Power Projection. Which is to say, for its part the U.S. still engages in this tried and true, one-size-fits-all foreign policy gambit, bringing to mind that old adage ‘when you’re on a good thing, stick to it!’
Whilst the motivations for the Iranian coup were nominally economic (the government of the time was making noises about nationalizing the Iranian oil industry), there was also the strategic geopolitical considerations in the U.S. that Iran might come within the sphere of Soviet influence, thereby severely limiting the West’s hegemony in the region, an outcome one imagines would’ve delivered an unacceptable blow to America’s incipient imperial id. There was also a certain amount of fear that Iranian communists might gain control of the political situation, or even that the Soviets might overtake the country, either the stuff of American and British nightmares or over-egged paranoia. Certainly the Americans were never too keen on the Soviets crashing their party anywhere, especially so in this region. Like the British before them, the U.S. has always been quite territorial about other people’s territory, especially when said “territory” involved oil, or any other strategic commodity or geopolitical consideration. Whether this fear was rational given the reality at the time and the available intelligence is a subject many still debate.
As we’ve seen with this and so many others, the reasons for the coup were fuelled less by the ostensibly lofty ideological concerns related to the Cold War (freedom versus tyranny anyone?) than they were to less lofty considerations such as greed, self-preservation and national pride and one or three other Deadly Imperial Sins. To be sure it seems reasonable to assume that the Soviets – cunning devils that they were – were ‘geeing’ the Iranians up to nationalize their oil industry in order to put the wind up the British and the Americans in turn. It’s clear now that the CIA and the British, along with their fellow travellers in the then (Harry) Truman administration in the years leading up the coup, were leveraging the Cold War sentiment of the time in order to camouflage the real reasons for seeking regime change in Iran (shades of things.)
At all events, then president Truman evidently saw the Iranian plot coming from the bottom of the ‘too-risky’ basket and didn’t drag the chain on rejecting it. Whatever his achievements, for his part the former Missouri haberdasher was always going to be known as the man who nodded the dropping of the Big Ones on Japan, and rarely demurred in claiming the bragging rights. Whether he was right or wrong in doing this is a ‘what-if’ moment for another time. Insofar as the Iran “moment” went though, for this reason he might’ve had a keen eye on how said ‘mo’ in history might be judged. Either way, by halting the CIA’s plans we might surmise that in doing so it inspired his oft-quoted dictum ‘the buck stops here’. Because it only delayed the momentum though, his ‘call’ was to no avail; said “buck” remained in play only as long as he was POTUS.
When Dwight D (Ike) Eisenhower became Republican president in early 1953, all bets were suddenly off (or on, depending on your view). Ike was more simpatico than Truman to the Iran coup, and evidently got ‘jiggy’ with it without a lot of arm-twisting. This was especially after the plotters – principally Allen Dulles, the then CIA director, and his big brother Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who was the Cabinet pitchman for the pro-coup team, played the ‘commie’ card with Ike. For his part the elder Dulles played a Richelieu-like role in U.S. affairs of the time, was once quoted as saying that “the USA doesn’t have friends, it has interests”, tantamount to a foreign policy positioning statement, and as we’ve seen one which these days – with the notable exception of Israel — still finds ample favour in and around the Beltway.
In any event, Ike didn’t just take the commie bait hook, line and sinker, by all accounts he swam upstream to chow down on it. With Joe McCarthy and his ilk riding high in the polls and anti-communist fervour at fever pitch, such was the temper of the Cold War times. It wasn’t the first time the ‘commie’ card was played in this game, and it certainly would not be the last; like the one-size-fits-all terrorist threat that followed the Cold War’s end, it was used as cover for a multitude of foreign policy sins and proved a remarkably flexible rationale for the various misadventures of the CIA’s on-going, flagship regime renovation program.
(Interestingly, like JFK was to do with Cuba eight years later, Ike inherited, and eventually agreed to, a CIA-inspired regime transition plot that was hatched during the previous administration, but for one reason or another never got off the ground, this being one of those spooky déjà vu moments in the overall narrative of The Company. Which is to say, when Ike came to power, the principal coup plot du jour was Iran. With JFK, it was Cuba. Needless to say, in a ‘same horse, different cowboy’ kinda way, it underscores how little changes from one administration to the next.)
Why Do they Hate US So Much? (What’s there Not to Like?)
As for the Iranian coup, it achieved the dubious distinction of being the first and best example of CIA intervention in the sovereign affairs of another country, an experiment that would be repeated over and over with wildly varying degrees of success (the measure of which depended as much on one’s definition of what “success” entailed in such matters as it did on one’s perspective on history and political inclinations). The coup not only ushered in almost three decades of despotic, oppressive rule by the Shah propped up by American arms, money and hand-holding. It belatedly ignited the fire of Islamic fundamentalism that itself provided the US with its next great foe after the Soviets eventually threw in the towel, leaving the Americans as the reigning superpower, much like Great Britain after Napolean’s 1815 defeat at Waterloo. That it also provided an answer to a question that few people were asking themselves at the time, which was ‘why do they hate us so much?’, is axiomatic, and one which has since then become a recurring motif throughout the Grand American Narrative.
There are some other considerations vis a vis the Iranian coup. One is that it was Kermit Roosevelt – scion of one of America’s most famous political dynasties – who was a driving force behind the planning and execution of Ajax. In the process he contributed to one of the U.S.’s biggest foreign policy misadventures, eventually leading to one of its most disastrous national security crises. It’s uncertain what ‘grandpa’ Teddy or ‘cuzzin’ Franklin would’ve thought of the coup, and herein we can only guess. But the knowledge one of their kin had his fingerprints all over it, especially one which ushered in such dire, enduring consequences for the empire, would possibly have at least one spinning furiously in his eternally designated bolthole.
Secondly, in using the ‘monstrous’ threat of communism as a pretext for the coup, the Americans ultimately created an even bigger monster (terrorism), although it was some time before the reality – if not the realisation – was to come home to roost for them and the rest of the world. And for those who might wonder why the US became a pariah in Iran particularly, and in the Middle East generally, one might now begin to understand. To underscore this – the notoriously brutal, vicious, sadistic SAVAK – the Shah’s internal security, secret police and intelligence organization was both feared and hated in equal measure. That SAVAK was like a franchise of the CIA was only part of the story, and on a ‘good day’ it would’ve rivalled the Stasi in East Germany, no mean feat apparently. In fact the Stasi was to the KGB what SAVAK was to the CIA. Both attempted to out-do their respective maestros. As with so many other regimes, dictatorships, and juntas, it was CIA (and Mossad) agents who mid-wifed the establishment of SAVAK, and trained their first generation of agents, including in surveillance, torture and interrogation techniques, and other security and intelligence tradecraft. By all accounts, the CIA guys were very good teachers, or the SAVAK folk eager learners. Or both.
When they were eventually shut down, one of the most egregious examples of their sadistic savagery was to be found in how-to manuals, handbooks and training videos highlighting techniques unique to torturing women. Readers can let their imaginations run wild here, but suffice it to say, the SAVAK spooks were indeed nasty, vile, brutal pieces of work. Iranians who survived the Shah’s wretched rule have long memories and it’s in large part because of the legacy of SAVAK. To this day, many of them understandably still have a huge hard-on for all things Uncle Sam (although surprisingly such animus to this day is more directed at the U.S. political establishment than at the American people per se).
In any event, by 1979, the Shah’s standing with the long-suffering Iranian people was a train wreck, and the anti-American vibe was at its most virulent. At this point, the U.S. left the Shah with his (ahem) plucked Persian peacock pecker swinging in the Mediterranean sea-breeze when it was obvious they could no longer keep the store open without a change of management. With little fanfare then, the despised potentate had his gold-leafed throne unceremoniously ‘pulled out’ from under his bling-laden ass which he then barely managed to haul out of Teheran just before the militant ‘mullahs’ surrounded him and presented their soon-to-be former leader with considerably less options than he was used to receiving, nearly all of which would’ve involved, at best, him getting a fleeting glimpse of Allah just outside jannah on his way to eternal damnation.
Following years then of rampant corruption, hubris, breathtaking extravagance, cronyism, human rights abuses, imperious contempt, political and religious oppression, kidnapping, torture, murder, culminating in increasingly deep-seated unpopularity, the Shah’s time had come, this being a pointer to the fate awaiting other future CIA sponsored and US favoured tin-pot tyrants, demented despots, and cut-rate client-dictators, of whom there’s rarely been any shortage.
For his part, at the height of the crisis, Carter – who’d unwisely signed off on the hated Shah receiving medical treatment in the U.S. after a number of countries refused to accommodate his pleas for sanctuary — had his effigy burned in Tehran streets for his troubles. By the time the smoke coming out of the filmed wreckage on the six o’clock news of one of the Navy Rescue Team choppers that had crashed in the Iranian desert killing eight crewman after an audacious attempt to free the hostages went tragically wrong had cleared, the former Georgian peanut farmer turned Leader of the Free World was a lame duck, shit-out-of-luck, commander-in-chief. A Bay of Pigs Moment then? Almost certainly! But much, much worse, if one is inclined to measure “worse” by the blowback. And the BOP blowback was considerable.
In announcing to the American public and the world at large the failure of the mission, Carter – according to the dictates of the unofficial Truman ‘doctrine’ viz a viz where the ‘buck’ stops – took responsibility for the disaster, and even used eerily similar wording to that of JFK when he publicly revealed the outcome of the BOP fiasco. From then on, The Gipper had Carter by the presidential short’n’curlies. In the view of many pundits at the time, the presidential election was ‘all over Rover’, well before a single vote was cast.
And though the Shah’s “ass” was no more with his death in a US hospital in mid-1980, it was ‘all over Rover’ for anyone else still standing. The Embassy ‘squatters’ in Tehran effectively held hostage Carter’s attempt to seek a second term, an outcome facilitated by Ronald Reagan’s campaign team engaging in treasonous back channel finagling with the new Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s henchmen to withhold release of the hostages until after the November presidential election. The objective herein was to preclude an “October Surprise” (an early release of the hostages) that would’ve guaranteed Carter’s re-election. The rest, as they say, is history.
Burning Down the House (How to Roast a Pig)
With the Gipper’s inevitable victory then, it was one where not just America, but the world was never to be the same again. None of this is to suggest it ever is in these situations, of which there were few in this case anyway. The Iranian Revolution was more than a revolution then; it was a geopolitical tsunami that swamped a shit-load of people and nations in its wake. In so many respects, the waves are still rippling. And even at this point, one imagines the CIA struggled to understand that blowback of this kind was bad for business, and might continue to undermine its credibility, effectiveness, and morale if it persevered down this path.
As history would have it, this idea never really caught on though. For their part, the Islamic Revolutionaries and their ilk may or may not have had their own version of jihadist karma; if they did they doubtless weren’t averse to providing karma some earthly assistance in order for it to work its magic. The Hostage Crisis was ample evidence of that. And they (or at least their heirs apparent such as ISIS, Al Nusra, et. al.) still are apparently. That is, keen to give karma a helping hand where and whenever possible. Depending very much of course on who their paymaster(s) is/are. Allah be willing of course!
In rounding things up herein, it is perhaps best to return to Bill Engdahl for some insight into the contemporary significance of the preceding narrative. In a recent interview wherein he addressed the developments taking place within and across the Greater Middle East, for him Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel wasn’t just about arms sales, shoring up their respective alliances, and reasserting America’s influence in the region. It was about, ‘setting events into motion in order to fundamentally alter the present balance of power in the entire Middle East to the greater advantage of the United States and US energy geopolitics.’ By any measure that’s a big call, and not just because it would seem that the U.S. has forfeited much of its prestige, influence, and power over the past decades of its political interventions, its wars of aggression (proxy, hybrid or direct), and its unequivocal support of Israel, something that would be required in spades in order to achieve such lofty goals.
For Engdahl, Washington has already bitten off more than it can chew, without considering the ructions taking place between the Saudis, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in their Mexican standoff with Qatar. This latter development clearly resulted from discussions during Trump’s visit and is one whose significance few observers should underestimate, at least without some understanding of the real backstory, an “understanding” which should include first and foremost the following question: Which country did Trump visit right after Saudi Arabia? The answer speaks volumes!
And with Turkey lining up with Iran – the latter already a key ally of Syria, the former a key player in the efforts to relieve Syrian President al-Assad of the burdens of power for the past five years — on the side of Qatar, the standoff is creating some very strange geopolitical bedfellows. None of us should be fooled by the rhetoric to be sure, because at the heart of these Middle East machinations and manoeuvres is energy – both oil and, now moreso, gas — as it always has been. It’s certainly not — nor has it ever been — about freedom, democracy, liberty or any any of the usual bromides (perish the thought), or America’s presumed and oft-cited “responsibility to protect”.
When it comes to the geopolitical players involved in the Great Game du jour, Engdahl notes,
‘no political power has been more responsible for launching the recent undeclared gas wars than the corrupt Washington cabal that makes policy on behalf of deep state interests….The Trump Administration policy in the Middle East – and there is a clear policy, rest assured – might be compared to that of the ancient Chinese fable about the farmer who burnt down his house in order to roast a pig. In order to control the emerging world energy market around “low-CO2″ natural gas, Washington has targeted not only the world’s largest gas reserve country, Russia. She is now targeting Iran and Qatar.’
Nor is the “Game” about combatting terrorism per se, as terrorism has always served the interests of the major power players. Of course one of the official pretexts for the demands being placed on Doha by the Saudis and the other Gulf states is Qatar’s support for terrorism, accusations which emanating from either country are as fatuous and as hypocritical as it gets. Engdahl had this to say:
‘We must keep in mind that all serious terrorist organizations are state-sponsored. All [of them]. Whether DAESH or Al Nusra or Mujahideen in Afghanistan or Maute Group in [the] Philippines. The relevant question is which states sponsor which terrorists[?] Today NATO is the one most complicit in sponsoring terrorism as a weapon of their geopolitical designs. And within NATO the United States is sponsor number one, often using Saudi money and until recently, ironically, Qatari funds.’
There should be no surprises here for students of Deep History, as these factors have been the driving forces of ‘full spectrum dominance’ geopolitics and geo-economics forever and a day, with the 1953 Iran narrative as we’ve seen providing hard-core evidence of this reality. It is also about the Regime Renovators pressing on regardless, which in this instance translates to isolating and then destroying Iran (a la Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria et. al.), Washington’s, Riyadh’s, and Tel Aviv’s common bête noir. Of course, these considerations are not mutually exclusive by any means. On the Saudi-Qatari standoff, he had the following to say: ‘Washington wanted to punish Qatar for seeking natural gas sales with China priced not in US dollars but in Renminbi. That apparently alarmed Washington, as Qatar is the world’s largest LNG exporter and most to Asia.’
But it’s even much more complex than that. The shape-shifting allegiances, mercurial strategic loyalties, and ‘handshakes under the table’ make for unpredictable scenarios going forward to be sure. Herein Engdahl offers us a summation of situation and circumstance that is as lucid as it is frightening.
‘The real story behind the rise of so-called Islamic Terrorism is the increasingly desperate attempt of the ‘Anglo-American Deep State to control the rise of Eurasia, especially of China in combination now with Russia, and increasingly with Iran and Central Asian republics as well as South Asian. Without understanding this, none of the recent events in the Middle East make sense. Washington strategists today foolishly believe that if they get choke point control of all Middle East oil and gas, they can, as Henry Kissinger stated back in the 1970’s “control the oil and thus, control entire nations,” especially China and Russia and also Germany and Europe. Their strategy has failed but Washington and the Pentagon refuse to see the reasons for their repeated failed wars. The hidden reality of American global power is that the American “giant” today is a bankrupt superpower, much like Great Britain after their Great Depression of 1873 up to 1914. Britain triggered a world war in 1914 to desperately try to retain their global power. They failed, for reasons I discuss in my Century of War book. Today for much the same reasons – allowing the power of US financial conglomerates [to] supersede the interests of the national industrial economy – America’s debt, national, private, corporate, is out of control. Reagan and Cheney were dead wrong. Debt does matter.’
All of this translates to one simple reality. And at some point in the not too distant future, Russia and China will – not might, not maybe — attempt to call a halt to it all. And then it will be on for young and old. Of that we can be sure. History has always been and remains our most reliable guide in this respect. Of this we can also be just as certain. Well might we say then that another “splendid little war” is in the offing.
Be that as it may, it almost certainly will qualify as the War to End all Wars.
Greg Maybury is an Australian based journalist and blogger, and partially rehabbed history teacher. His broad areas of exploration and analysis are the U.S. political economy, foreign affairs, social and economic history, international relations, national security, the media, and American society and culture in general.
His articles and essays have appeared on a diverse range of alternative and independent news sites here in Australia, the U.S. and elsewhere, including Dandelion Salad, Consortium News, Russia Insider, Op Ed News, Contra Corner, International Policy Digest, and Gumshoe News.
Greg‘s major areas of interests embrace concerns about—and critiques of—both the neoliberal and neoconservative influence that prevails in social, economic, foreign, financial, military, trade, and national security policy formulation in the U.S., and how this policy framework impacts the American and Western body politic, along with the rest of the world.
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