Iran: Why Do They Hate Us?
Since it is the last day of Ashura, I thought it would be an auspicious time to reminisce about the history of the United States and Iran and how the U.S. came to be known as "The Great Satan." Many think (or simply assume) that it all began in 1979 when the Iranian revolution used the U.S. as a scapegoat for their internal problems. It is widely assumed that United States undeservedly earned the title of "The Great Satan" by simply disagreeing with a religious revolution that (as all revolutions in Iran) started in Qom. It is a theory that is plausible enough. Religious radilcals want to overthrow the legitimate leadership who happen to be backed by the U.S. (I mean, if they are backed by the U.S. they must be legitamate, right?) and so the U.S. must be portrayed as a great evil. Plausible, but way off the mark this assumption is.
One needs to go back to at least 1953 and Operation Ajax to get any kind of relevant perspective on the hate that is reserved for the United States, known in Iran as "The Great Satan." For those of you poor souls who don't know, the Brittish wanted to overthrow the nationalist leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, and his parliment because they had nationalized BP's oil exploration project which was the first western oil venture in the Middle East. If we look at the situation today in the Middle East, it is easy to say that it all started here.
But that wasn't the only thing that started there. Operation Ajax was initially rejected by president Truman, but president Eisenhower signed on to this, the first of a series of CIA orchestrated overthrows of democratically elected governments. Guatemala was soon to follow and later came many others, most notably Chile and Nicaragua. The irony of the United States overthrowing democratically elected governments for financial reasons is not lost on myself, but I digress.
Some would blame Carter for not giving the Shah of Iran proper riot suppression materials to suppress the revolution that was well underway by 1978. But tear gas aside, the economic fallout that resulted from the poor management of the wealth that sprung from the 70's oil boom rests squarely on the shoulders of the Shah. Perhaps the revolution could have been postponed with a heavy handed approach, but the underlying economic factors that had inflation and unemployment reaching nearly 40% by 1978 were sure to foment the revolution with or without the mitigating efforts of the United States.
Just like the downfall of the reform movement that led to Ahmadninejad's election, and his waning power as evidenced by the recent local elections, and just as with every other group of people in the world, economics makes or breaks a power structure. If the people are suffering economically, your days as a leader are numbered.
So if you wonder why Iran hates us, just remember this. We overthrew their democratically elected leader and installed a decendent of the old Monarch. This "Shah of Shahs" ruled so ineptly that an economy that had enormous welth fell into a tailspin of misery which led to an Islamic revolution. We have never apolgized for this, and yet we wonder why the world doubts our intentions of "spreading democracy."
As one of the top NSA researchers on terrorism said, (paraphrase) "we are clearly loosing the war against Islamic terrorsim. Until our leaders admit that the root cause of Islamic terrorism is the history foreign policy of the United States and it's allies in the Muslim world, we have no chance of winning. You cannot win a war when you haven't even bothered to properly address the threat."
It is high time we made ammends for the transgressions of the past. Then perhaps our calls to spread democracy won't ring so hollow.
Side note: Roger, at XDA claims that Iranian steel production was fifth in the world before the revolution and doubts that now it could be in the top 30. Well, without some very expensive subscriptions I can't get any data to confirm or deny the historical claim. I do know that Iran's steel production is now at 20th in the world and growing at break-neck speed, although they are still at net importer. If anyone has information I'd love to get my hands on it.