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29 December 2006


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Does anyone really believe #1?

Re #2: Wasn't Iran already pissed off at the U.S. before the Iran-Iraq War? I seem to recall a revolution and hostage situation at an embassy.

History schmistry. Don't you know there's a global war on terror?


This is what is ruling us (emphasis: ruling):

The current President Bush, who keeps the pistol soldiers confiscated from Mr. Hussein when he was captured mounted in his private study off the Oval Office...


Can you elaborate on your second point here Colonel?
Are you saying "the support that the US gave to Iraq during its war with Iran at the request of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Arab states" is not a cause "of Iranian hostility towards the United States"? Not sure I'm following your drift here. It's not a "cause" of the hostility because the hostility already existed (and thereby couldn't be caused, only reinforced). Or it was irrelevant and there was an earlier cause. Or the Iranian hostility is irrational, and unfounded. Or motivated by other factors. Please elaborate. Thank you.

W. Patrick Lang


Persian-Arab hostility is of such long standing that it needs no elaboration by me.

Iranian hostility towards the US in the context of anti-imperialist sentiment was reinforced by our tilt toward Iraq but only that. In fact the US had virtually encouraged the Khomeinist revolution and had only turned away from it when the revolutionaries demonstrated the belief that the US was an enemy. The seizure of our embassy was a pretty clear signal.

The entreaties of the Saudis and other Gulfies for help for Iraq made our support for Iraq a "done deal." pl


I too find #2 confusing. I don't claim to know much, but American interference in Iranian affairs, dating back at least to the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1954 by the American-backed Shah, clearly caused anti-American sentiment. Recognizing this, along with the fact that taking sides in the Iran-Iraq war in the '80s re-inforced this sentiment,does not make one a member of the "Blame America First" crowd. In fact, America does share blame for current Iranian hostility.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

When one overthrows a sovereign government and replaces that government by her own agents - one has taken responsibility for all that happens subsequently.

It was the same in Iran as in South Vietnam as with Iraq- all the ills - for better or for worse - are attributed to the hegemonic power.

The hostility of the Iranian leadeship goes back decades, to Mossadegh, to the disposession of the Palestinian Arabs, to the actions of the Shah of Iran -with whom US had an enormous amount of leverage that she chose not to exercise.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

Persian-Arab hostility was never, to my knowledge, a factor in the the history of teh Levant and the Persian Gulf for the past 500 years.

None of the wars that modern Iran (since 1500) had fought was with an Arab state or a predominantly Arab power until the Iran-Iraq War.

I am not disputing the existence of the ambivalent feelings on both side but these feelings were not causes of war in the past 500 years.

The most you can say is that the newly minted Arab states of psot WWII needed some body to kick - Iran and Israel fit the bill; typical post-Colonial chip-on-the-shoulder behavior.


I was confused by your reference to hostility towards the US in point 2. The Persian-Arab hostility is long standing. I would have said that hostility toward the US dates from the 1950's (with the installation of the Shah by the US), with varying degrees of intensity since then. Prior to that the attitude would be one of indifference. We left each other alone and had reasonable trade relations.

I don't have a good feel for how entrenched the hostility has become.



does that mean it's time to put some druk in the shisha? sure looks like a shisha moment, eh?

to one and all have a good weekend and a better new year than this one. may our kids come home from the bush-created quagmire, and the neocons held to account for their spilt american blood!

john stack

The US wants trouble in the Mid East as an excuse to keep their power there for twenty years to "keep the warring parties apart".

The Brits used this regularly.
Same old arrogance of Empire. Shame on you US. You were to be different.

John Kish

I think many Americans have forgotten their own history of regime change in Iran.

The first democratically elected government that emerged during Iran's transition from absolute monarch was that of Dr Mohammed Mossadegh, elected in 1951. Iran is unusual in that it never became a full European colony like many others, and Iranians are as proud of their country and independence as Americans are. Dr Mossadegh moved towards nationalization of Iran's oil, and that in turn led the British and then Americans to launch the first CIA-led coup in the world, which overthrew him in 1953.

The CIA, in an operation executed from the basement of that the famous US Embassy in Tehran installed the Shah as absolute monarch. That led to a process of absolutism by a monarch who was wont to yield to popular pressure for accountability and democracy, and ultimately to his violent overthrow by a wide range of Iranian society ranging from leftist anti-monarchists through middle-class secularists to Islamists. Although the Iranians may not have got what they wanted, it is also clear that American interference in the first moves to democracy in the country played a major role in a process that has now denied Iranians of full democracy.

Americans should not be surprised today that most Iranians, including those opposed to the current regime, may still be suspicious of the US government, suspect that its real motives are not freedom but oil, and be quite cynical about calls for democracy. Nor should they be surprised that many Iranians, including secular democratically inclined ones, might see the USA as an enemy and not true friend of the democratic aspirations of Iranian people.


Tariq Ali in the London Review of Books (copy here : http://www.newsocialist.org/index.php?id=1127 )

Your opinion on this paragraph, and especially the last two sentences, please!

"And then there is Afghanistan. Despite the fake optimism of Blair and his Nato colleagues everyone is aware that it is a total mess. A revived Taliban is winning popularity by resisting the occupation. Nato helicopters and soldiers are killing hundreds of civilians and describing them as ‘Taliban fighters’. Hamid Karzai, the man with the nice shawls, is seen as a hopeless puppet, totally dependent on Nato troops. He has antagonised both the Pashtuns, who are turning to the Taliban once again in large numbers, and the warlords of the Northern Alliance, who openly denounce him and suggest it’s time he was sent back to the States. In western Afghanistan, it is only the Iranian influence that has preserved a degree of stability. If Ahmedinejad was provoked into withdrawing his support, Karzai would not last more than a week."

W. Patrick Lang


With regard to #2 in "Mythology" my point was specfically with regard to the much exagerated myth of the scale and kind of assistance that the US gave Iraq during the Ir/Iz War.

As several people have pointed out anti-US feeling among Iranians is of long standing and pre-dated that war. The Islamic revolutionaries clearly came to power with an anti-American agenda. I mentioned this matter because it has become "fashionable" among the chattering classes to focus this animosity on that cause. The partisan political advantage of doing that should be obvious. pl

W. Patrick Lang

Babak et al

OK Make it Sunni/Arab/Turkish/Tamerlane/Mogul Empire/ Central Asian Emirates against Iranian/Shia whatevers.

Oh, yes, and after that you can factor in the participation of both the Russian Empire and the Raj as players in the Great Game, usually at the expense of Iran (as it came to be called). pl

Piotr Chmielarz

So Rumsfeld and Bush gets their greatest succes, the colse mouths man who could tell many about their policy activities. They create now martyr Saddam Husajn the victim of occupation. Mayn Pontius pilates thinks that this is turning point of cource this turning point but only to worse iraq american war

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I disagree with your latest post since it conflates and confuses the historical process more than it illuminates it.

Iran did not exist before the Savafids - it is a creature of the Shia mystical tradition in addition to a state which is based on the dual Shia Turkish and Perisan ethnicities.

The wars of modern Iran have had nothing to do with Tamerlane or the Arabs per se. Iran's war were with mostly Sunni Turkish states - Russia and later Britain were late-comers.

In a way, history of the Near East may be viewed largely as contnuous warfare of Sunni Turkish ruling houses against a Turkish Shia ruling house.

The war against the Mughals was an aberration in this pattern - largely dure to a mentally unstable king.


As to the legitimacy of Hussein's trial, among all the other inconsistencies a double standard for sovereign "brutal dictators" can be seen.

Slobadan Milosevic was remanded to the World Court for an open international proceeding. Of course he was a white European, and thus better deserving of due process than Saddam, who was in the eyes of the US only another (insert colonialist racial slur here) and who was not entitled to similar judicial rights.

The whole farce serves as yet another counterproductive lesson on the merits of democracy for the Middle Eastern audience. "Do as we say, don't do as we do."

Nand Jagnath


The way you have phrased the issue in your opening paras of this thread makes it sound as if Iran was implacably and inexplicably hostile to the United States.

Yes, Iranians were hostile to the U.S. before the war with Iraq. But doesn't Iran have good reason, considering, as many people have already pointed out, that the U.S. had a huge role in ousting Mossadegh and then played an even bigger part in supporting a piece of shit like the Shah of Iran.

The Great Power games in the Middle East have been about control of its oil resources. That includes the latest Anglo-US invasion of Iraq.

I look at the Middle East and think, thank god, India never had any oil to speak of. Otherwise we would never been allowed to gain independence as a unified country and given the space to pursue our dreams and aspirations. Britain, the U.S. and various other colonial powers would have played to the vanities of the Rajah of this and the Nawab of something-or-the-other.

The rise of Islamic fundamentalism is perhaps the price the world pays for ceaselessly tampering with the destinies of the people of the Middle East.

W. Patrick Lang

Nand Jagnath

"ceaseless tampering?" Ah, yes, the rhetoric of anti-colonial victmization.

Isn't it time to deal with the reality that all countries ceaselessly tamper in the affairs of those whose activities they find significant.

India does not "tamper" in the affairs of its neighbors? Before you say no, remember that I know a lot about RAW. pl

Michael D. Adams

"Do the people who think they know this know any history or are they just inclined to blame the US for any or all evil on earth?" pl

If nothing else the current administration has done a great job of putting the U.S. very high on the list of..., The Usual Suspects, for evil done in the world.

Michael D. Adams

Silencing Saddam
-Robert Scheer-


Robert in SB

Nand Jagnath,
In reference to your comment "The Great Power games in the Middle East have been about control of its oil resources. That includes the latest Anglo-US invasion of Iraq"
It is simplistic and not telling the whole story to reduce all power games to Oil. The blood fueds of the Middle,and Far East seem equally inspired by Theology. To watch Islam at war with itself in the former of Sunni and Shia hatred, to see Pakistan and India throwing Nuclear threats at each other, to watch the entire Arab world cynically use the so-called Palestinian cause as an excuse to indulge their own tribal rivalries and hatreds, well....


I think they hate the U.S. for roughly the same reason that any nation decides to make hatred of another semi-official policy. Iran and the U.S. are strategic rivals (at least within the theater of the middle east) and hatred makes an excellent motivating passion.


I think most of you have your history wrong regarding Mossadegh. First, it was not Iran's first steps towards democracy - the Iranian constitutional revolution occured around 1906, and one of the top supporters (and critics of foreign involvement in Iran) was an American.

Second, the Shah was never a US puppet (he didn't bow to US pressure to regarding his relations with the Soviets or oil prices), nor was he installed. The affair regarding Mossadegh was one that continued a power struggle between the crown and the parliament that happened several times during the period of constitutional monarchy. The Shah was already in power, but Mossadegh was gaining more and more control.

Third, the US under the Truman administration actually supported Mossadegh. It wasn't until the rise in the cold warriors and the switch to the Eisenhower administration that the US decided to go through with operation AJAX. It had nothing to do with oil nationalization, and everything to do with paranoia regarding communism.

Fourth, Mossadegh himself was becoming increasingly autocratic by the end, and his support was rapidly falling apart. He had dissolved parliament and taken on emergency powers by the time of his disposition.

Fifth, if I remember right, it was the Shah's right per the constitution to dismiss the prime minister. Also, operation AJAX initially failing but then being followed by a successful attempt by junior officers to arrest Mossadegh shows that there was some genuine monarchist support (keep in mind Muhammad Reza Shah's father kept the monarchy because of clerical opposition to a democracy).

Now, of course I don't think the CIA operation was a good move, but the narrative that it was the CIA overthrowing a democratically elected government and replacing it with a US puppet shows a gross ignorance of the situation.

Also, from what I have read/heard/learned second hand, the US is better liked by Iranian people than by the people in most other countries in the middle east. It's only the more conservative/radical elements that are hostile to the US, which unfortunately, are the ones in power right now (though the pragmatists also hold a good amount of power). Still, I doubt their hostility to the US is as great as it is made out to be, and the US shoots itself in the foot by not engaging Iran.

Robert in SB

Thanks for getting us all straightened out on that... Can you support any of it other than to tell everyone they got it wrong? Also, It probably more useful to consider the situation with Iran in the timeframe of post-WWII, due to the utter rearrangment of Economic and Military power around the globe. Last, your wrong about Oil nationalization, it went hand in hand with Communism fears- They are one in the same. Controlling oil was what made the United States,the free market and the Western economic machine what it is today.

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