Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Holy Shit, Operation Ajax!

Remember that whole Cold War thing I mentioned? I'm sure you're already aware, but it wasn't all rockets and intimidating explosions. Aside from a few disastrous proxy wars, most of it involved an extended "Who's the Sneakiest Backstabbing Asshole" contest, and boy did everyone try hard to win!

America's favorite method of sneaky backstabbing was "regime change," which is a euphemism for "overriding the will of the people with money and power." The first time America employed this was in Iran in 1953. They called it Operation Ajax. It all started when Iran decided to take control of its own oil reserves under the leadership of its massively popular leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh. Until that point, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (known today as British Petroleum, or BP, or "The Oil Spill Guys") pretty much did whatever they wanted with Iran's oil and shared almost none of the profits.

Not pictured: Throngs

I don't know if you've noticed, but when people are cut off from their oil supply, they tend to do some pretty drastic things. Realizing this, Mosaddegh offered Britain a fair deal - keep their company in Iran, keep getting oil, but split the profits 50/50. Winston Churchill turned up his nose with all the British haughtiness and snobbery he could muster and said to the U.S., "Remember how you owe us a favor for supporting your dalliance in Korea? Also, OH NO COMMUNISM! SOMEBODY HELP!"

It being the 1950s, when someone cried Red, the U.S. did not mess around. The Dulles brothers, two of the biggest sons of bitches of the entire Cold War (who also happened to be the Secretary of State and head of the CIA), came up with a plan to resolve the situation. That plan involved paying off high-ranking officials, fascists, and street thugs to stage a completely fictitious popular revolt. I'm not using hyperbole, here. The CIA literally preferred fascists to having their allies share oil profits. The result: Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, was given dictatorial powers (so long as his actions pleased the U.S. and U.K.) and Mohammad Mosaddegh was sent to prison for three years, then lived the rest of his life under house arrest.

The people of Iran were furious, and everyone was well aware that Western powers had been responsible for the overthrow of one of the most beloved Persian leaders of all time. Operation Ajax was considered a success...for about 26 years. In 1979, another uprising took place in Iran that you may be more familiar with. While the uprising was aimed at Reza Shah, it was fueled by a burning hatred for the West. The West made it possible for the Shah to be in his position, so the West took most of the blame. When the dust settled, Ayatollah Khomeini had secured his place as Supreme Leader of Iran.

If the U.S. and U.K. had shown any respect for the democratic process in Iran , would the 1979 Revolution have ended with a democracy in power? Maybe, maybe not. One thing is certain, though: Iran and the U.S. would almost definitely not be puffing out their chests and talking about nuclear weapons and closing the Strait of Hormuz today if the U.S. hadn't unilaterally destroyed a democratically elected government almost 60 years ago.

Holy shit. Now I'm depressed.

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