April 8, 2015


Iran Deal Is Inevitable (Pankaj Mishra, 4/06/15, Bloomberg View)

Speaking at the United Nations in 1951, Iran's first elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh asked why Iran had lagged behind in a neighborhood where "hundreds of million of Asian people, after centuries of colonial exploitation, have now gained their independence and freedom." Why did Westerners, who had acknowledged even Indonesian claims to sovereignty, Mossadegh asked, continue to ignore Iran?          

Within a few months of his UN speech, Mossadegh, who was fighting to renegotiate Iran's grossly unfair deal with a British-owned oil company, was overthrown in a joint Anglo-American coup.

The 20th century was defined by decolonization, the overthrow of European empires, and the steady empowerment of non-Western peoples. But Soviet and American neo-imperialist interventions curtailed the sovereignty of many weak nation-states in Asia and Africa, condemning them to prolonged internal conflicts and external wars.           

For decades Iran has been trapped in a cycle that became depressingly familiar during the Cold War: brutal rule by an unpopular, foreign-backed strongman, who is then overthrown in a popular uprising by an ideological movement that turns out to be more repressive for many of the country's citizens.

Their encounter with the West had turned traumatic for ordinary Iranians long before Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi unleashed his CIA-trained torturers and spies on them. One previous Shah presided over a business deal with Baron Reuter (founder of Reuters news agency) that even the arch-imperialist Lord Curzon described as "the most complete surrender of the entire resources of a kingdom into foreign hands that has ever been dreamed of much less accomplished in history."

The country was invaded and occupied by European powers during both world wars. It should not surprise anyone that leaders of Iran's Islamic Revolution have been fiercely obsessed with securing the country's sovereignty and security, whether in the terrible war with Saddam Hussein, who was backed by the West as well as many Arab countries, or in creating buffer zones through proxy Shiite movements and regimes across the region.

"We are not liberals like Allende and Mossadegh, whom the CIA can snuff out," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, now Iran's Supreme Leader, warned during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. Iran's intransigence, at the risk of extreme isolation, stands as stark warning of how paranoia, pent-up hatred and resentment work themselves out in geopolitical terms.

We're still just draining pus from the wound.  The alliance and economic boom will heal it.
Posted by at April 8, 2015 8:59 AM

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