Regime change needed in Iran
Should we bomb Iran? Members of the liberal left are raising a huge cry. They are accusing us of harboring hegemonic intent toward Iran and are using their favorite slur of "imperialist" like there’s no tomorrow. Meanwhile, the far right has been working hard to once again raise the specter of war. They are claiming that Shiite Iran has suddenly had a complete turnaround in its religious opposition to the Sunni school and is now supporting the Taliban. We should look at the history of our relations with that country before either side hijacks our sensibilities.
Early in the 20th century the people of Iran rebelled against the monarchy and created a parliamentary democracy. During this time everybody’s favorite colonial power, Britain, had been happily exploiting the country’s vast oil reserves. By 1951, a newly elected parliament nationalized the country’s oil industry, thus directly challenging their colonial interests.
In 2000, New York Times reporter James Risen used CIA documents to expose the United States’ involvement in Iran stemmed from this incident. Apparently the stiff-lipped British gents came scurrying to us for help.
They manipulated our foreign policy by appealing to the prevalent mood of McCarthyism and anti-communistic feeling.
The former prime minister of Iran, Muhammad Mossadegh, had nationalist policies which made it very easy to paint him as a communist. The United States agreed to help and so the CIA spent nights with the British SIS and proposed the idea of overthrowing Iran’s democratic government.
On April 16, 1953, a CIA study titled "Factors Involved in the Overthrow of Mossadegh" was submitted. The study declared that a coup was possible. An elaborate plan was hatched that took advantage of the freedom of speech Iran had afforded its newspapers. The CIA tried to destabilize its government by writing news stories that accused Mossadegh of corruption and communist tendencies.
After thus defining his public image within Iran itself, local CIA agents posed as communists and harassed religious leaders. They even bombed some of their houses, "…in a campaign to turn the country’s Islamic religious community against Mossadegh’s government," Risen said.
This provocation introduced Islamic leaders to violence for political gain. The CIA handpicked Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi to become the new leader of Iran. That became a reality in August 1953. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resumed operations, much to the delight of the tea-slurping colonialists.
In 1979, under Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, the Iranian regime was ousted from power in a coup because of his political pandering to foreign powers, namely the U.S. and Britain.
Though these new coup leaders included secular nationalists and religious fanatics, the latter soon eradicated or exiled the former after taking power. The new regime, however, had not forgotten American involvement in its country’s affairs. The Iranian hostage crisis occurred in this historical context.
Today, the far right of our own country accuses Iran of being the premiere supporter of terrorism. I do not know what method they use to categorize levels of state-sponsored terrorism, but there is no doubt about Iran’s role in it. In his book Political Terrorism: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Jeffery Ian Ross said modern-day Islamist terrorism started in 1979.
It can be safely argued that Iran embodies the Islamist terrorist’s dream. Would its defeat, then, be our symbolic victory the way the fall of the World Trade Center Towers was for al-Qaida?
Terrorism has come in waves. Previously it was leftist terrorism that ended with the fall of the Soviet Union. In the same way, as long as the Islamist revolution in Iran continues to survive, so will Islamist terrorism.
We need to bring about regime change in Iran if we are to reaffirm our international security. The foreign policy dilemma here is to ensure positive world opinion at the same time. Therefore, the best approach is to corrode its government system until it collapses.
Lock down its borders, impose an embargo and demand that it open its electoral system to its own public. There is no need for the unsophisticated approach of the radical right or the useless laissez faire strategy of the whining left.
Ahmad, a political science senior, can be reached via [email protected].