Sunday, September 28, 2008

Smithsonian Magazine on Why Iran is so Ticked off

I hate when I forget the history I swear I'll learn from. I'd forgotten that in 1953, the US overthrew Iran's democratic govt (whose Prime Minister was Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1951) and installed the Shah. I had remembered that we backed the Shah, but had forgotten that we went and actually did the imperialist intervention thing to establish him.

Stephen Kinzer's excellent article, Inside Iran's Fury, is available online.

About the Iran hostage Crisis, he writes
Bruce Laingen, a career diplomat who was chief of the U.S. embassy staff, was the highest-ranking hostage. One day, after Laingen had spent more than a year as a hostage, one of his captors visited him in his solitary cell. Laingen exploded in rage, shouting at his jailer that this hostage-taking was immoral, illegal and "totally wrong." The jailer waited for him to finish, then replied without sympathy.

"You have nothing to complain about," he told Laingen. "The United States took our whole country hostage in 1953."

Understanding what hundreds of years of foreign intervention will do to the cultural and political outlook of a people (as say, First Nation peoples in North America, or African American descendants of 400 years of slavery) is important in terms of understanding the political context of a country in this fraught region.

And understanding how our CIA overthrew a[nother] government because their policies were first and foremost in the interest of their own people and not ours... that's a patriotic duty. The good and the bad people, the good and the bad.

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