Clearly, he added, “part of the psychology of Iran is rooted in past experiences, the sense that their country was undermined, that the United States or the West meddled in first their democracy and then in supporting the Shah and then in supporting Iraq and Saddam during that extremely brutal war. So part of what I’ve told my team is we have to distinguish between the ideologically driven, offensive Iran and the defensive Iran that feels vulnerable and sometimes may be reacting because they perceive that as the only way that they can avoid repeats of the past."In case you don't know what he's talking about, in 1953 the United States and Britain coordinated a coup against Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh after their parliament voted to nationalize Iran's oil industry. Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran (Persian for an Iranian king), was set up to effectively rule the country as an absolute monarch. It was the brutality of the Shah and the support he received from the United States that led to the 1979 Iranian Revolution - which was coopted by religious leaders - and set up the theocratic Islamic State.
The involvement of the United States in the 1953 coup is not simply the stuff of leftist conspiracy theorists. Less than two years ago, the documents describing what happened were declassified.
On the 60th anniversary of an event often invoked by Iranians as evidence of western meddling, the US national security archive at George Washington University published a series of declassified CIA documents.None of this is meant to justify the behavior of Iran's current leadership. But do you think that perhaps when the West comes marching in talking about nuclear programs this time instead of oil - maybe they'd have reason to be a bit cautious?
"The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government," reads a previously excised section of an internal CIA history titled The Battle for Iran.
For President Obama to not only talk openly about these events and Iran's reaction to them - but to instruct his negotiating team to keep those concerns in mind strikes me as a stunningly BFD. Therefore, I've been surprised that at this point I can find no one on the left who has commented on it.
There is a contingent of the liberal left that might be called the "blame America crowd." Their contention is that it is this kind of covert meddling in other countries around the globe that led to much of the unrest we're witnessing today. They have a point.
But now we have a President who is not only acknowledging those mistakes, he is doing so publicly as he attempts to heal some of those wounds. And yet they can't be bothered to notice. I find that appalling.