Skip to main content

We all want to remember a better time, when better leaders behaved better. But facts sometimes undermine myths. This August will mark the 60th anniversary of the Eisenhower Administration's destruction of Iranian democracy. It was the first time a U.S. president had the CIA destroy another country's democracy, and it wouldn't be the Eisenhower Administration's last.

As I wrote last August, the Truman Administration, under the advice of Secretary of State Dean Acheson, refused the idea of destroying Iran's democracy. Eisenhower approved it.

President Harry S. Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson, sympathized with Iran's nationalist ambitions, and believed the best way to thwart Soviet expansionism was to side with the legitimate aspirations for freedom in less developed countries. Truman tried to mediate, but he and Acheson both were appalled by British intransigence. The British appealed to the World Court, and lost. Mossadegh became an international celebrity. But in late 1951, the British returned Winston Churchill to Downing Street, and in 1952, the Americans elected Dwight Eisenhower to the presidency. History was about to change.

Eisenhower himself was not enthusiastic about supporting Churchill's intentions with Iran, but his secretary of state and CIA director, the Dulles brothers, eventually convinced him otherwise. A covert operation was led by Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of late U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and it included creating great social unrest and the hiring of some of Iran's most notorious criminals to stage violent riots in support of the Shah, which Mossadegh, being a champion of the rights to free speech and assembly, at first did not oppose. Coupled with the economic chaos caused by a British-led international boycott against buying Iranian oil, Mossadegh's rule was weakened, and a well-bribed military then took action. A first coup attempt failed, the Shah was forced to flee to Iraq, then Rome, but before a week had expired, a second coup attempt had succeeded. All of this was coordinated by Roosevelt, mostly out of the American Embassy in Tehran. The Shah was restored, Mossadegh turned himself in, and Iranian democracy was dead.

So pleased were they with their results, the Dulles brothers soon began planning their second coup, which would take place in Guatemala. Anglo-Iranian subsequently changed its name to British Petroleum. Mossadegh spent three years in prison, and the rest of his life under house arrest, in a small village where only his family and close friends were allowed to visit. The increasing repression under the Shah eventually led to his being overthrown, but it took more than two long decades, and because the Shah had so successfully crushed most secular opposition, that 1979 revolution quickly became fervently religious. Most Americans didn't understand why Iranian revolutionaries subsequently attacked the American Embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of hostages, and neither the politicians nor the media bothered to explain. But most Iranians knew that the 1953 demolition of their democracy, and the restoration of the Shah, had been planned from that very building. Many Muslims around the world also knew very well what had happened.

This is but a very brief outline, and there are many fascinating details and nuances, but understanding this history will be increasingly important, as the same neocons who so brilliantly propagandized for the so successful invasion of Iraq ramp up their pressure on President Obama to get more aggressive with Iran. It isn't much of a campaign issue, but with the theocratic Iranian regime the Eisenhower Administration made almost inevitable still pursuing the nuclear weapons that the nations that already have nuclear weapons say no one else must be allowed to have, the politics of nucelar proliferation will continue to grow more complicated and more dangerous, and Iran will remain its primary focus.

Good and decent people don't destroy democracies. Good and decent presidents don't leave a legacy of danger and horror and destruction that after sixty years haunts not only other nations but our own. But that's what Eisenhower did.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, Pat K California, fly, JekyllnHyde, davej, paradox, Angie in WA State, Sylv, chuck utzman, nofundy, Paleo, Chi, BOHICA, Odysseus, grollen, ogre, deben, Scott Martin, assyrian64, glitterscale, tiggers thotful spot, Powered Grace, tiponeill, PeterHug, bread, johnmorris, karlpk, Shockwave, just another vet, Wintermute, billlaurelMD, liz, hyperstation, xynz, LeftHandedMan, red moon dog, dash888, dinazina, expatjourno, hubcap, RubDMC, missLotus, TracieLynn, dionys1, whenwego, djMikulec, ask, CoolOnion, stevej, chuckvw, farmerhunt, Frederick Clarkson, Boston to Salem, Nate Roberts, Iberian, splashy, CoConut, Serendipity, psnyder, TexDem, NYC Sophia, Miss Jones, businessdem, Urizen, pat bunny, Kentucky DeanDemocrat, ranger995, draghnfly, brainwave, Boppy, kj in missouri, NYFM, houyhnhnm, razajac, Timbuk3, Brian82, Oaktown Girl, Diana in NoVa, OneCharmingBastard, xyz, Black Max, Emmy, Josiah Bartlett, Sybil Liberty, sebastianguy99, sawgrass727, vcmvo2, Bluesee, radarlady, Tinfoil Hat, NoMoreLies, tle, SherwoodB, democracy inaction, Big River Bandido, basquebob, dewtx, ChemBob, YucatanMan, Kevskos, Pam from Calif, Sun Tzu, lotlizard, markdd, RichterScale, SBandini, Tunk, Shotput8, Ginny in CO, Ekaterin, Indiana Bob, Box of Rain, mightymouse, jay23, Jim R, Jim P, begone, Tranny, emperor nobody, tommymet, golem, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Keone Michaels, tobendaro, Kimball Cross, rl en france, cookseytalbott, AoT, The Wizard, rhetoricus, kck, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, StrayCat, PapaChach, sceptical observer, Turbonerd, onionjim, CA Nana, blueoregon, Ian Reifowitz, shaharazade, markthshark, Nulwee, Aaa T Tudeattack, BentLiberal, One Pissed Off Liberal, timewarp, out of left field, camlbacker, Deadicated Marxist, puakev, yoduuuh do or do not, Mary Mike, eOz, aliasalias, artisan, US Blues, Aunt Martha, letsgetreal, cyncynical, SeaTurtle, bobswern, jhop7, OIL GUY, citydem, RudiB, CT Hank, Wreck Smurfy, leonard145b, JML9999, Don midwest, on the cusp, MKinTN, Shahryar, Marko the Werelynx, 6412093, Johnny Nucleo, Sixty Something, Involuntary Exile, NewDealer, Buckeye Nut Schell, VL Baker, jamess, TomFromNJ, RandomNonviolence, MrJayTee, pademocrat, pickandshovel, Jeff Y, codairem, Gemina13, phrogge prince, TexanJane, Uncle Bob, Keninoakland, Al Fondy, Nica24, enufisenuf, Leftleaner, LaFeminista, 207wickedgood, cybrestrike, Valatius, ceebee7, greengemini, radmul, bobatkinson, Nebraskablue, shopkeeper, JesseCW, petral, IreGyre, ArthurPoet, catilinus, Words In Action, Lefty Ladig, ruscle, chambord, hatecloudsyourthoughts, SquirmyRooter, confitesprit, p gorden lippy, flitedocnm, T Maysle, jakedog42, mookins, Polly Syllabic, Lost and Found, Things Come Undone, TealTerror, Eddie L, samanthab, Yasuragi, addisnana, Johnny Q, Publius2008, cocinero, Maximilien Robespierre, Bluefin, Freelance Escapologist, ozsea1, slowbutsure, implicate order, jm214, moonbat666, swale44, La Gitane, Seitanist, Alice Olson, marleycat, IllanoyGal, thomask, muddy boots, KVoimakas, Grandma Susie, Marihilda, cailloux, dradams, DEMonrat ankle biter, Davui, Azazello, Mathazar, anodnhajo, DeadHead, stills999, Eric Nelson, AnnieR, This old man, orange dog, peachcreek, BusyinCA, MartyM, Canines and Crocodiles, doroma, terrybuck, PowWowPollock, jeannew, wasatch, Wonton Tom, Panacea Paola, countwebb, Late Again, CharlesInCharge, 84thProblem, goodpractice, olmec, aresea, Alhambra, howabout, Icicle68, Grandson named me Papa, solarbay, pipercity1, OldSoldier99, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site