Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shame on You, Obama

The term "blowback" first appeared in a document entitled "Operation Ajax," the CIA's now declassified plan to overthrow Mohammad Mossadeq, the popular nationalist prime minister of Iran, in 1953. Even though Mossadeq was appointed prime minister of his country by the Shah (king), and the people overwhelmingly supported him, Britain asked for the U.S.'s help in getting rid of him.

Why? Because Mossadeq, with the support of Parliament, voted to nationalize Iran's oil, which meant that the revenue from Iran's greatest natural resource would directly benefit the Iranian people. The British had established the Ango-Iranian Oil Company decades before and were not happy about losing their enormous profits. (Not only were the British siphoning oil profits from Iran, but they were treating the Iranians like second-class citizens, having established "British-only" water fountains at the company's site.) The U.S. complied and the CIA undertook a coup that resulted in Mossadeq's imprisonment and the Shah's heightened power.

When the Shah fled Iran on January 16, 1979, a ferocious revolution nipping at his heels, the country exploded into spontaneous excitement as Iranians danced in the streets and cut his image from their bank notes. The Iranians were thrilled to be rid of this greedy, ostentatious American puppet. Who knows what might have happened had the CIA not interfered with the fate of their government back in 1953. What we do know is that the CIA was well aware that their coups (and Iran is just one of many) would probably blow back to the American people, in the form of retributive attacks.

So why is it that 56 years later, the U.S. government is still involving itself in unpopular wars against countries in the Middle East? Why is President Obama sending more troops to Afghanistan? If the goal is to get rid of tyrannical governments, then why hasn't the U.S. invaded Saudi Arabia or Sudan?

We are told that Al Qaeda perpetrated the attacks on 9/11. Is the U.S. military really going to be able to sleuth out and kill every Al Qaeda operative? Could there be any other reason for increased troops in Afghanistan? Isn't the U.S. invested in an oil pipeline that runs through the country to the Caspian Sea? If the U.S. government had no qualms about taking out Mossadeq in order to ensure a steady flow of oil, despite the possibility of blowback, then doesn't that prove that the American people's safety is not the number one priority of the military?

And finally, is there anyone else out there who finds it unbearably ironic that the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize is authorizing increased military force against a country?


  1. His decision to ramp up could make him a one-termer. It looks like he drank the Kool-Aid, or WE did when we voted for him...

  2. God damnit, I wrote my long opinionated comment and then the window closed. Here we go again.

    I will just say that at the risk of defending Obama, U.S. coups have been going on since the 50's, 20's, 1800's...and we learned from the best, those Europeans. Obama's become the fallen wonder boy for all of us who painted our own dreams on his campaign only to find them dashed. And now we toss him in the trash with the rest of the slimeballs because he isn't breaking with centuries of U.S. economic intervention policy.

    No, I'm not saying it's acceptable. It is incredibly depressing that after such a promising hope, things are essentially the same. I'm just adding my two cents, and pointing out that nothing is as simple as it seems (or maybe it is, and that's the problem), and I'm avoiding studying for finals. I guess I just take a cynical, self-blaming point of view.