Monday, April 6, 2015

President Obama Makes a Stunning Statement

This was a pretty stunning statement coming from the President of the United States.
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.

"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.
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?

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.  


  1. I am gobsmacked that we've owned up to our outrageous meddling here! That is a critical step toward global peace, and if the RW detests it - thinks it's selling the USA out - it's only because they want to bring the old days and the oil back to the benefit of a world oligarchy they run.

    1. Somehow, I don't believe that many in Congress, especially the Republicans, would own up to American meddling. However, I'm not surprised that Pres Obama would, and does. I would say part of their anger with Pres O's foreign leadership lies in the fact that he is too willing to be fair, and to treat other countries and their leaders with respect.

  2. Maybe some of the liberal left in that 'blame America crowd' do notice the President acknowledging the mistakes but resent him doing so so publicly. He is after all the president. They may just want him to 'fix' the mistakes without admitting out loud (even if the info of past wrongdoings is in the public domain) that America's actions in the past have not always been marked by integrity. Such a public admission mars the belief of superiority/'exceptionalism'

    1. The thing to understand about the "blame America" crowd is that they pride themselves in never being snookered by the American government ... and the only way to do that is to never ever put their faith in the American government. So when Obama does the right thing and they can't find fault with it, they can't applaud it either, and all they can do is ignore it. Swell bunch of guys.

  3. Republicans would doubtless consider this right in line with Obama's much-criticized (although imaginary) "apology tour". To them, it doesn't matter whether something really happened or not, all that matters is whether it fits the narrative.

    Obama has a reputation for single-mindedly seeking out as much information as possible about any unfamiliar problem he has to deal with (if only Bush had taken that approach to Iraq!), and I can tell he's educated himself well about Iran. That being the case, he would know that acknowledging the US role in the coup against Mosaddegh would pay dividends with Iranian opinion, even with the views of some of the leadership.

    Sure, the Republicans will foam at the mouth over it, but they react that way no matter what Obama does, so there's not much of a downside.

    And besides, it's the right thing to do.

    1. I wondered if the declassification of those documents in 2013 about our involvement in the coup was designed to let Iran know that we "get" their concerns.

  4. I wonder if some on the left operate on the "nothing is good enough" theory. If he does something they don't agree with, it deserves criticism and they are shocked and angry and unwilling to listen to any explanations or further information. If he does something they agree with but in a different way than they want, it is not good enough and deserves criticism. If he does something they want in exactly the way they want it, well, it doesn't deserve notice or praise because it should have been done anyway and besides, he hasn't fixed everything else yet.


"With fear for our democracy, I dissent."

My title is how Justice Sonia Sotomayor concluded her dissenting opinion to the Supreme Court case granting presidents criminal immunity for...