Stephen Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men is one of those books far too few Americans have read.. In All The Shah’s Men, Kinzer details how the CIA led a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Iranian government of Mohammad Mosoddegh after his decision to nationalize Iran’s oil industry.
Since many Americans don’t realize the reality that America has a long history of overthrowing democratically elected governments in favor of governments that will enable corporations to exploit their people,, I will share two links. Here, the CIA publishes a review of All the Shah’s Men. While it is unwilling to go as far as Kinzer has, the review makes it very clear that the CIA played a leading role in overthrowing Mossaddegh and that the regime change era it embodied hasn’t worked out well for America.
The State Department has released reports on the United State’s action in Iran providing numerous details about the CIA-led coup in Iran.
In All the Shah’s Men, Kinzer details how the Anglo Iranian Oil Company, later British Petroleum, insisted on dominating the Iranian people, plundering their oil for a fraction of its value, and using might, bribes, and trickery to overrun its political systems.
When Mosaddegh came to power, he nationalized Iran’s oil industry. The idea was simple: the people of Iran–not a foreign government–should benefit from Iran’s natural resources. Mosaddegh’s efforts to speak for the exploited, his moral opposition to imperialism, and his commitment to democracy led Time to name Mossadegh its man of the year for 1951.
By August of 1953, Mosaddegh would be removed from power and arrested after a coup created, financed, and supported by the CIA.
For more than 25 years, the shah, who was returned to power by the CIA, violently oppressed all descent, imprisoned and murdered political opponents, plundered billions from Iran’s treasury, and maintained total control over the Iranian people.
While the shah was systematically beating down efforts at democracy and regularly violating human rights, the government of the United States was providing him billions in cash and the weapons of brutality that maintained his reign of terror.
At the same time, American, British, and other Western nations were extracting most of the value derived by Iran’s oil.
Simply put: The United States supported brutality and dictatorship so that western business could continue exploiting the Iranian people and basically stealing their most important natural resource.
With basically no rights and suffering from staggering poverty, the Iranian people revolted in the name of fundamentalist Islam.
American and British arrogance, racism, and stupidity led to the government of a man who championed secular democracy ultimately being replaced by a dictatorship that is now a worldwide sponsor of terror.
During World War II, Eisenhower and Churchill ensured democracy remained in tact throughout much of the world. In 1953, Eisenhower and Churchill played leading roles in destroying democracy and encouraging human rights violations that are still causing massive problems today. No wonder neither man ever spoke much about Iran and their official biographies say almost nothing about the role they played in destroying democracy and encouraging human rights violations.
All the Shah’s Men is one of the most important books on American history most Americans have never read. If you want to understand a great deal about America’s failed foreign policy and why so many around the world hate America–read All the Shah’s Men.