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MinnPost - Obama, Michael Medved and the CIA overthrow of democracy in Iran

MinnPost - Obama, Michael Medved and the CIA overthrow of democracy in Iran: "Obama, Michael Medved and the CIA overthrow of democracy in Iran

By Eric Black | Published Mon, Jun 8 2009 10:20 am

I consider this a follow-up to a recent post about 'American exceptionalism,' a mindset that helps Americans blind themselves to the reasons that much of the world views U.S. foreign policy as hypocritical, bullying and imperialist.

I take my text from President Obama's big Cairo speech of last week, from radio host Michael Medved's reaction to the speech in a TV appearance I happened to catch, and from 'All the Shah's Men,' by the estimable Stephen Kinzer. But before I walk you through, I'll cut to the chase:

Iranians who hate America have at least some valid cause for their anger. The United States committed a historical crime against Iran much larger than anything Iran has done to us. Because of the powerful force in human psychology that I call 'confirmation bias,' many Americans are not interested in U.S. offenses against Iranians, but are outraged by Iranian offenses against us, like the famous hostage-taking of 1979. Through the magic of what I call 'selective perception' most Americans find it easy not to know the inconvenient facts about arrogant acts of international outlawry when committed by ourselves. If you believe in American exceptionalism, which Andrew Bacevich describes as a belief that destiny has chosen America to bring freedom, democracy and prosperity to the world, then stories in which America behaves like a typical self-interested power tend to bounce off our brains.

Now then, during his Cairo speech, Obama waded into dangerous territory, by suggesting that the U.S. and Iranian nations each have some legitimate grudges the other. It went like this:

'For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is, in fact, a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.'

The violent Iranian attack on the U.S. embassy in 1979 and the holding of 52 American hostages -- members of the embassy staff -- for more than a year is well known to most of us. Note that the attack on the embassy was part of the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran and established the theocratic Islamic Republic that has governed Iran ever since.

I suspect that most Americans who heard Obama's next sentence, about the U.S. overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government, don't know so much about that incident. The United States did more than 'play a role.' The CIA organized the coup. Under orders from President Eisenhower, undercover U.S. agent Kermit (grandson of President Theodore) Roosevelt slipped into Iran, lined up Iranian military traitors, bribed Iranians to riot, bribed newspapers to print lies, prepared the young, frightened Shah to dismiss the elected government led by Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, and pulled it off. Mossadegh, who had been Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1951, spent the rest of his life under house arrest."

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