Historically, the United States was been involved in Iran during the Cold War. According to Howard Zinn's A People's History of American Empire after the U.S. Embassy in Iran was seized in 1979 and hostages were taken, shocking evidence was found. Shredded top secret documents "exposed deep U.S. involvement in propping up the Shah's brutal regime." It all started with a period of unrest. From 1912 to 1951, the British worked to maintain control of Iranian oil through the Anglo-Iranian company (A.I.O.C). Mossadegh's election as Prime Minister in 1951 led to a nationalization of the oil industry and a British trade embargo. They were preparing for war but U.S. President Harry Truman demanded they negotiate with the Iranian Prime Minister. Eventually Mr. Truman won the fight, making the British back down. But wasn't the end of the story.
Britain next asked for help in overthrowing Mossadegh and the CIA under Allen Dulles's command created a plan for doing so. The United States started "Operation Ajax" to overthrow the Prime Minister covertly through propaganda, violence and cleverness. However Wasinghton told operatives in Iran to abandon the plot when Mossedegh escaped, but the operatives pressed on. Through pro-Shah rioting, causing chaos on the streets, Mossadegh evacuated his house. General Zahedi, the new Prime Minister rode through the streets on a tank and annouced the overthrow of Mossadegh as the Prime Minister. Days later he turned himself in and declared he was a patriot. He said the only crime he had committed was nationalizing Iran's oil and removing western colonialism from the country. For this statement and his “anti-Western” actions, he was convicted and sentenced to three years. Afterwards,$5 million was covertly transferred to the new government and U.S. oil companies gobbled up 40% of Iran's oil market.
The installed ruler named Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, commonly called the Shah, brutally governed Iran for next 26 years. Almost immediately, sixty former Mossadegh supporters and supporters of the two major national parties were executed. Hundreds more were arrested and national parties were banned. In 1963, the Shah pushed for reforms in culture, society, economics and elections called the "White Revolution." This infuriated Muslim clerics, including Aytollah Ruhollah Khomieni. His speeches inspired massive demonstrations which were stopped by the Savak, the Shah's secret police through violent repression (One must remember that these forces received $500,000 from the Kennedy Administration for "riot control”). Every opposition action led to torture in prisons, mosques or the streets. In early 1978 hundreds of protesters were massacred in Qom by the Shah's armed forces. This ratcheted up the tension and the Khomieni called for the ousting of the Shah. In fact, the Shah left on his own accord. Khomieni returned to Iran in the early months of 1979, calling for a national referendum. A few months later he was declared the Supreme Leader of an Islamic Republic by popular vote. After debating the issue for a long time, President Jimmy Carter accepted the Shah into America to give him access to some of the best medical facilities in the world. Radicals were outraged and with Khomieni's call for mass demonstrations, the U.S. Embassy was occupied by Iranian students. Remembering their history these occupiers wanted to prevent another possible coup d'etat led by America. Ever since, relations gave been strained with the Islamic Republic and hurt with the rest of the Arab World.
In the present, that history has come up again and again in Iranian consciousness. According to WikiLeaks cache of U.S. embassy cables, there is number of different discoveries about Iran. For one, the United States has been involved in Iran in some way since that time and people are tired of reforms. A timeline of the cables sent about Iran shows an interesting perspective of American by Iranians and vice versa.
On August 3rd 2009 a cable stated: “In a sprawling indictment, the IRIG [Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps] linked US and Iran-based NGOs, Israel, foreign media outlets, the MEK, human and labor rights activists such as Shirin Ebadi, and Iranian reformist figures, among others, in a vast conspiracy aimed at toppling the IRIG… The prosecutor read a sprawling indictment linking US and Iran-based NGOs, Israel, foreign media, the MEK, human and labor rights activists and Iranian reformist figures, among others, in a vast conspiracy aimed at toppling the IRIG… The Islamic Republic has long used manufactured confessions and woven elaborate charges involving foreign hands to discredit both activists with political aspirations and apolitical critics of the ruling system.” (http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=09RPODUBAI327&q=dissidents%20iran)
This accusation, although the U.S. government denies it in the cable (in the last sentence), has some basis. One must realize that the story of the cable changed twice, first the IRIG linked groups to the conspiracy then it becomes the prosecutor that read the indictment. The USA Today reported a story that almost confirms the indictment. In 2009, the news outlet wrote in an article titled “U.S. grants support to Iranian dissidents”: “The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents, records and interviews show, continuing a program that became controversial when it was expanded by President Bush…U.S. efforts to support Iranian opposition groups have been criticized in recent years as veiled attempts to promote "regime change," said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American advocacy group. The grants enable Iran's rulers to paint opponents as tools of the United States, he said.”
Four days after 9/11, on September 15th, 2001, one cable remarked “OF THE FEW IRANIANS INTERVIEWED WHO APPEARED TO BE MORE SUPPORTIVE OF TEHRAN'S POLICIES, COUNTERBALANCING US INFLUENCE IN THE REGION WAS SEEN TO BE A MOTIVATOR FOR THE REGIME'S ACTIVITIES…HEAVY US SUPPORT OF ISRAEL HAS INSURED THAT IRAN WOULD SUPPORT THE PALESTINIANS, AND PROVIDED A CONVENIENT PRETEXT FOR US CONTINUANCE…DUBAI-BASED IRANIAN ENTREPRENEUR PROVIDED HIS OPINION OF WESTERN ASSERTIONS THAT THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT IS A STATE SPONSOR OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM…[HE] MAINTAINED THAT THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT IS NOT DOING "ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAN ISRAEL, THE US OR UK." ACCORDING TO HIM THE US SELECTIVELY SINGLES OUT IRAN AND HE USED THE UAE-IRAN DISPUTE OVER ABU MUSA AND THE TUNBS ISLANDS AS AN EXAMPLE, SAYING THAT THE ONLY TIME THE GCC MAKES BELLIGERENT STATEMENTS AGAINST IRAN IS WHEN THE US IS PRESSURING THEM TO PUNISH TEHRAN. HE CONTINUED THAT THE ORGANS IN IRAN THAT CARRY OUT INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM--SUCH AS THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES--ARE NECESSARY IN ORDER FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO RETAIN POWER.” (http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=01DUBAI1141&q=iran)
The most important parts in this cable, other than the counterbalancing of the U.S. influence by Iran are important to understanding the Iranian perspective. The cable records the argument of an Iranian entrepreneur who maintained that Iran is following in Israeli, American and British footsteps. Noam Chomsky remarks in his book “9-11” about American footsteps. He writes: “We should recognize that in much of the world the U.S. is the regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason. We might bear in mind, for example, that in 1986 the U.S. was condemned by the World Court for “unlawful use of force” (international terrorism) and then vetoed a Security Council Resolution calling on all states (meaning the U.S.) to adhere to international law.” As to the claim that Britain is a terrorist state, there is some validity to that statement as well. One book came out on the subject seems to summarize this thought. The synopsis of the book states: “Under the noses of the British government, parliament, intelligence services and police, Britain has become the European hub for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamist terror and extremism. Terrorists have used it to plot, finance, recruit and train for atrocities throughout the world, and now also at home.” For the idea that Israel is a terrorist state, there is also evidence for that claim as well. One website argues that exact point: “It hardly needs to be pointed out that Israel is a terrorist state. Brutal repression of, and bloody attacks on, Palestinian civilians with the official Israeli aim of causing a change in the policies or actions of the Palestinian leadership is a clear case of terrorism…Israel has been a terrorist state from its beginning, and has its foundations in terrorism.” However, the businessman’s point is still not a valid defense of Iranian actions. It reminds me of the times Republicans exclaim that climate change legislation isn’t in effect in China and as result is shouldn’t happen in America.
Only seventeen years earlier the United States had attempted a coup in Iran and on May 21st, 1997, a diplomatic cable stated: “REFERRING TO IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION IN IRANIAN COURTS FOR U.S. MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL, KHOMEINI FULMINATED THAT THEY HAVE REDUCED THE IRANIAN PEOPLE "TO A LEVEL LOWER THAN THAT OF AN AMERICAN DOG…THEREFORE, A PREEMINENT CONSIDERATION FOR IRAN'S RULERS ON ANY CONTACTS WITH THE U.S., WILL BE HOW TO ENGAGE WITHOUT APPEARING TO COMPROMISE THIS PRIZED INDEPENDENCE…THEY FIND IT SO INCREDIBLE THAT THEY BELIEVE WE ACTUALLY DO SEE IT BUT ARE CHOOSING TO DELIBERATELY AND SUBTLY HELP THE REGIME…IT IS ONLY A SHORT LEAP TO THE FERVENT STATEMENT THAT THE U.S. OUSTED THE SHAH AND INSTALLED KHOMEINI BECAUSE IRAN WAS BECOMING TOO POWERFUL IN THE REGION FOR OUR TASTE. ALTHOUGH THIS MAY SOUND INCREDIBLE AND FAR-FETCHED TO AMERICAN EARS, VARIANTS OF THIS BELIEF ARE AMAZINGLY WIDESPREAD AMONG THE IRANIANS WE MEET…FROM THE IRANIAN REGIME'S PERSPECTIVE, THE UNITED STATES HAS CONTROL OVER THEIR DESTINY. THEY TRULY WORRY THAT WE CAN UNSEAT THEM IF WE WISH. EVEN IF THEY CALCULATE THAT WE HAVE NO PRESENT INTENTION TO DO SO, THEY PROBABLY NURSE FEARS THIS COULD CHANGE…THE U.S. ARE AS MUCH A DOMESTIC AS A FOREIGN POLICY ISSUE FOR IRAN…U.S. HAS NO PRESENCE AND LITTLE INFLUENCE IN IRAN…THIS ABSENCE OF DIRECT CONTACTS PUTS US AT A DISADVANTAGE IN BRINGING DIRECT PRESSURE TO BEAR TO ADVANCE OUR INTERESTS. THE IRANIANS DON'T SEE IT THIS WAY…THE U.S. HAS ATTEMPTED TO DESIGN A CAGE OF SANCTIONS AND PRESSURE TO CONTAIN IRAN. BUT THERE IS LITTLE POINT IN KEEPING THE PERSIAN LION IN A CAGE AND JUST PRODDING HIM, GETTING HIM MADDER AND MADDER. IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO PRODDING, BUT RATHER THAT, AT SOME POINT, THE DOOR TO THE CAGE MUST BE OPENED SO THE LION KNOWS WHICH WAY TO GO.” (http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=97ABUDHABI3777&q=iran)
This cable is interesting for a few reasons. One reason is because it mentions the anger toward the United States, less than twenty years after the American-installed ruler, the Shah, was deposed. To put those statements into context, one must remember that the United States had military actions in Iran in 1946, 1980, 1984 and 1987-8. Also, the Central Intelligence Agency overthrew a democratically elected government in 1953, causing great outrage. The fact that United States says its influence is little is an understatement considering the fact that globalization has spread American products far in wide, even at that time. On the other hand, one statement shocked me more than everything else in the cable: “ABSENCE OF DIRECT CONTACTS PUTS US AT A DISADVANTAGE IN BRINGING DIRECT PRESSURE TO BEAR TO ADVANCE OUR INTERESTS.” From that quoted portion it seems the U.S. government wants a covert operation in the country or the possible overthrow of the government. Today, according to an AP article Republican candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are calling for a similar objective: the overthrow of governments in Syria and Iran. Rick Santorum did not go to that extreme yet he said covert operations are needed in Iran and Rick Perry called for sanctions, the Obama Administration’s approach.
The previous year, the covert regime change in Iraq had ended and on November 12th, 1996 a cable stated: “ABDUL HAQ, A FORMER LEADER OF THE AFGHAN COMMANDERS SHURA…SAID TEHRAN VIEWED THE TALEBAN AS A U.S. TOOL AIMED AT DESTABILIZING IRAN. HE ALSO FELT THE CONTINUATION OF THE CONFLICT IN AFGHANISTAN WAS DRIVING IRAN AND SUNNI EXTREMISTS INTO EACH OTHER'S ARMS AND IF THIS CONTINUES "OUR MAIN EXPORT WILL BE TERRORISM."…COMMENTING ON HIS VISITS TO IRAN, ABDUL HAQ SAID THE IRANIANS HATE THE TALEBAN. HE SAID THEY ARE CONVINCED THAT THE TALEBAN ARE NOT MERELY CONTROLLED BY PAKISTAN, BUT ARE PART OF A SINISTER U.S. DESIGN TO DESTABILIZE IRAN. THE REASONING APPEARS TO BE THAT A HARDLINE SUNNI ISLAMIST REGIME IN AFGHANISTAN MIGHT APPEAL TO THE LARGE SUNNI ETHNIC MINORITIES THAT INHABIT IRAN'S PERIPHERY, E.G. IN BALUCHISTAN. HE ALSO SAID THAT, LIKE IT OR NOT, THE U.S. WAS IDENTIFIED WITH THE TALEBAN AMONG AFGHANS. IF THEY WIN, THE U.S. WILL BE SEEN TO GAIN. IF THEY LOSE, IRAN WILL BE SEEN TO HAVE GAINED… HE SAID IRAN IS ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT A PAKISTAN- AFGHANISTAN COMMERCIAL ALLIANCE COMPETING WITH IRAN FOR ACCESS TO THE MARKETS OF THE CIS.” (http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=96ABUDHABI7350&q=iran)
I found this cable interesting because it made clear that the Taliban was perceived as a U.S. instrument for change in that country. A similarity to those possible covert activities came up in an article published eleven days ago. The WSWS wrote: “The United States is waging a sustained covert campaign of destabilisation against Iran, focusing on efforts to disrupt its nuclear program… President Barack Obama…issue[d] a bellicose statement threatening possible military action: “No options off the table means I’m considering all options,” he said….Britain’s Daily Mail asked bluntly, “Has the West's war with Iran already begun? Mystery explosions at nuke sites, ‘assassinated’ scientists and downed drones fuel fears covert conflict is under way.” Writing in the Guardian, Seamus Milne was less equivocal. “War on Iran has already begun. Act before it threatens all of us,” ran his comment. “For months the evidence has been growing that a US-Israeli stealth war against Iran has already begun, backed by Britain and France.” Paul Vallely, in the Independent, was equally blunt, declaring, “War on Iran has begun. And it is madness.”” Even if the allegations about the Taliban weren’t correct in 1997, covert operations are alive and well in Iran today, led by United States (confirmed by the downing of the CIA drone) and not surprisingly by Israel as well.
Getting back to the present, the year of the Iranian election, a cable stated on August 3rd: “The Syrian media consultant said that the heated debates before the election, in which the three challengers -- Mousavi, Karroubi, and Reza'i -- publicly criticized Ahmadinejad for corruption and economic mismanagement, made it clear to Arabs that this election was about Iran, not the U.S. This distinction, coupled with the U.S.' restraint in commenting on the election, provided an unprecedented window for Arab commentators to criticize Ahmadinejad without appearing to side with the U.S…One Saudi commentator contrasted Turkish regional mediation, which he described as a positive force in the region, with Iranian regional intervention, which he called pernicious and destabilizing. A Lebanese commentator noted the irony of Iran accusing outsiders of interfering in its internal affairs when there is not "one corner of the Arab world" where Iran does not intervene behind the scenes.” (http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=09RPODUBAI316&q=dissidents%20iran)
I find this cable one of the most interesting of all. The challengers to Ahmadinejad argue that the election should be about “Iran, not the U.S.” On the next line the cable comments that reporters will not “appear…to side with the U.S.” Well, are they sided with the America? That is a question to be answered with further research. Coming back to the cable, the Saudi and Lebanese commentators seem to be picked out of the blue, supporting the U.S. government’s narrative. This cable does not mention (conveniently) the most recent plot to overthrow Iran’s government. An ABC article published in 2007 remarks: “The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com. The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions... The "nonlethal" aspect of the presidential finding means CIA officers may not use deadly force in carrying out the secret operations against Iran. Still, some fear that even a nonlethal covert CIA program carries great risks… Other "lethal" findings have authorized CIA covert actions against al Qaeda, terrorism and nuclear proliferation… As earlier reported on the Blotter on ABCNews.com, the United States has supported and encouraged an Iranian militant group, Jundullah that has conducted deadly raids inside Iran from bases on the rugged Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan "tri-border region.”” If you scoff at this idea, Wikipedia puts in even clearer words. The idea sounds similar to Operation Ajax, the covert operation that ended up with the deposing of the democratically-elected leader, Mossadegh in 1953. Wikipedia’s page on U.S. covert regime change states the following:
“President Bush secretly authorized the CIA to undertake black operations against Iran in an effort to topple the Iranian government. The Black Ops include a U.S. propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize the government, and disrupting the Iranian economy by manipulating the country's currency and its international financial transactions. The United States began to target Iran and several other Muslim countries for regime change starting at least in 2001…An article in the New York Times in 2005 said that the Bush administration was expanding efforts to influence Iran's internal politics with aid for opposition and pro-democracy groups abroad and longer broadcasts criticizing the Iranian government…Un-named administration officials were reported as saying the State Department was also studying dozens of proposals for spending $3 million in the coming year "for the benefit of Iranians living inside Iran" including broadcast activities, Internet programs and "working with people inside Iran" on advancing political activities there. In 2006, the United States congress passed the Iran Freedom and Support Act which directed $10 million towards groups opposed to the Iranian Government… The U.S. provides no direct funding to the [Pakistani militant] group, which would require an official presidential order or "presidential finding" as well as congressional oversight. Tribal sources tell ABC News that money for Jundullah is funneled to Abd el Malik Regi through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Persian Gulf states…The New Yorker reported in November 2006 that a U.S. government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon civilian leadership leaked the news of secret US support for PEJAK for operations inside Iran, stating that the group had been given "a list of targets inside Iran of interest to the U.S.””
In conclusion, it is right for Iran to be angry at the United States due to current actions there covertly and actions in the past. One of those actions was the 1953 overthrow of government, mentioned throughout this article, leading to a hostage crisis and the leadership of Islamic fundamentalists led by Khomeini. I hope that all those reading this gain understanding of the perspectives on this topic and participate in peaceful, direct action to bring about change.