Flutterby™! : bringing democracy to the world

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bringing democracy to the world

2006-07-12 16:39:15.352664+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

In the context of a discussion about flag burning, I realized something. In 1953 the CIA helped execute a military coup in Iran that brought the Shah to power. That regime lasted until 1979.

The rationalization at the time was that it was better that there was a government in power friendly to our own than one friendly to the Soviet Union. I'm not going to second guess foreign policy decisions made half a century ago here, the political agglomeration that was the Soviet Union was decidedly evil, the coup in Iran was only a few months after the death of Stalin, so on and so forth.

But it struck me this morning that the "democracy to the middle east" push is a relatively recent one, it's only been possible to use that phrase since the demise of the Soviet Union barely a decade and a half ago, and given that we're contrasting a relatively new stated policy with decades of repressive policy, it's no wonder that the populations over there seem to be preferring repression by their own tribal factions to whatever it is that the system we're supposedly championing claims to offer.

No answers, just a few things to mull on as we as a nation designate foes to fight now that the Soviet Union no longer fills that place in our national discourse.

[ related topics: Politics History ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: bringing democracy to the world made: 2006-07-16 19:04:06.834937+00 by: Leo Hourvitz [edit history]

I agree that the morality of cold war interventions can be ambiguous, but sadly the CIA-sponsored coup in Iran isn't one of the ambiguous ones. Mossadegh's government was distinctly nationalist, but not communist (and considerably more dedicated to democracy than the despotic regime we replaced it with). Alas, our sponsorship of the coup in Iran owes more to holdover British colonialism than any sort of moral principle.

Two pieces of very worthwhile reading about the 20th century history of Iran are Persepolis, a graphic novel by a woman who came of age during the Iranian Revolution, and the more explicitly historical Overthrow, which documents the origin of the coup not in Cold War politics but in British Petroleum's refusal to accept the same 50% stake that the American oil companies accepted in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (how often do you hear about something where American oil companies are the less greedy party?).

#Comment Re: made: 2006-07-17 15:01:47.430419+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'd found a bunch of stuff that was ambiguous about the specific reasons we replaced Mossadegh's democracy, but in general we've been undermining democracy around the world for years (and what that says about the belief in our system of government by those who were allegedly working to protect it says a lot...), going back in and saying "now we want you to have democracy" has a destinct lack of credibility.

Thanks, I'll try to track down both of those books.