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Why Iran Doesn't Trust America
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royal1



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[b]How a Plot Convulsed Iran in '53 (and in '79)[/b]


By JAMES RISEN

[b]For nearly five decades, America's role in the military coup that ousted Iran's elected prime minister and returned the shah to power has been lost to history, the subject of fierce debate in Iran and stony silence in the United States. One by one, participants have retired or died without revealing key details, and the Central Intelligence Agency said a number of records of the operation its first successful overthrow of a foreign government had been destroyed.

But a copy of the agency's secret history of the coup has surfaced, revealing the inner workings of a plot that set the stage for the Islamic revolution in 1979, and for a generation of anti-American hatred in one of the Middle East's most powerful countries.

The document, which remains classified, discloses the pivotal role British intelligence officials played in initiating and planning the coup, and it shows that Washington and London shared an interest in maintaining the West's control over Iranian oil.

The secret history, written by the C.I.A.'s chief coup planner and obtained by The New York Times, says the operation's success was mostly a matter of chance. The document shows that the agency had almost complete contempt for the man it was empowering, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, whom it derided as a vacillating coward. And it recounts, for the first time, the agency's tortured efforts to seduce and cajole the shah into taking part in his own coup.

The operation, code-named TP-Ajax, was the blueprint for a succession of C.I.A. plots to foment coups and destabilize governments during the cold war including the agency's successful coup in Guatemala in 1954 and the disastrous Cuban intervention known as the Bay of Pigs in 1961. In more than one instance, such operations led to the same kind of long-term animosity toward the United States that occurred in Iran.

The history says agency officers orchestrating the Iran coup worked directly with royalist Iranian military officers, handpicked the prime minister's replacement, sent a stream of envoys to bolster the shah's courage, directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in newspapers.

But on the night set for Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh's overthrow, almost nothing went according to the meticulously drawn plans, the secret history says. In fact, C.I.A. officials were poised to flee the country when several Iranian officers recruited by the agency, acting on their own, took command of a pro-shah demonstration in Tehran and seized the government.

Two days after the coup, the history discloses, agency officials funneled $5 million to Iran to help the government they had installed consolidate power.

The outlines of the American role in the coup were disclosed in Iran at the outset and later in the memoirs of C.I.A. officers and other published accounts. But many specifics have remained classified, and the secret history obtained by The New York Times is the first detailed government account of the coup to be made public.

The C.I.A. has been slow to make available the Iran files. Two directors of central intelligence, Robert Gates and R. James Woolsey, vowed to declassify records of the agency's early covert actions, including the coup. But the agency said three years ago that a number of relevant documents had been destroyed in the early 1960's.

A C.I.A. spokesman said Friday that the agency had retained about 1,000 pages of documents related to the coup, besides the history and an internal account written later. He said the papers destroyed in the early 1960's were duplicates and working files.

The chief State Department historian said that his office received a copy of the history seven years ago but that no decision on declassifying it had yet been made.

The secret history, along with operational assessments written by coup planners, was provided to The Times by a former official who kept a copy.

It was written in March 1954 by Dr. Donald N. Wilber, an expert in Persian architecture, who as one of the leading planners believed that covert operatives had much to learn from history.

In less expansive memoirs published in 1986, Dr. Wilber asserted that the Iran coup was different from later C.I.A. efforts. Its American planners, he said, had stirred up considerable unrest in Iran, giving Iranians a clear choice between instability and supporting the shah. The move to oust the prime minister, he wrote, thus gained substantial popular support.

Dr. Wilber's memoirs were heavily censored by the agency, but he was allowed to refer to the existence of his secret history. "If this history had been read by the planners of the Bay of Pigs," he wrote, "there would have been no such operation."

"From time to time," he continued, "I gave talks on the operation to various groups within the agency, and, in hindsight, one might wonder why no one from the Cuban desk ever came or read the history."

The coup was a turning point in modern Iranian history and remains a persistent irritant in Tehran-Washington relations. It consolidated the power of the shah, who ruled with an iron hand for 26 more years in close contact with to the United States. He was toppled by militants in 1979. Later that year, marchers went to the American Embassy, took diplomats hostage and declared that they had unmasked a "nest of spies" who had been manipulating Iran for decades.

The Islamic government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini supported terrorist attacks against American interests largely because of the long American history of supporting the shah. Even under more moderate rulers, many Iranians still resent the United States' role in the coup and its support of the shah.

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, in an address in March, acknowledged the coup's pivotal role in the troubled relationship and came closer to apologizing than any American official ever has before.

"The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons," she said. "But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs."

The history spells out the calculations to which Dr. Albright referred in her speech.

Britain, it says, initiated the plot in 1952. The Truman administration rejected it, but President Eisenhower approved it shortly after taking office in 1953, because of fears about oil and Communism.

The document pulls few punches, acknowledging at one point that the agency baldly lied to its British allies. Dr. Wilber reserves his most withering asides for the agency's local allies, referring to "the recognized incapacity of Iranians to plan or act in a thoroughly logical manner." [/b]
Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:03 pm View user's profile Find all posts by royal1 Send private message
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This article makes everything clear about the mentality of the american government's public policy, is the root cause of the problems it has today.
Tue Sep 25, 2007 8:11 pm View user's profile Find all posts by royal1 Send private message
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The Bush Administration and the one's before whole public policy is built on lies. This latest revelation about Iran's nuclear program that America lied about is classic fork tongue or double speak. When Bush and his cronies speak about anything it's always a big lie.
Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:36 pm View user's profile Find all posts by royal1 Send private message
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Why not cite Iranian writers on this question?
Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:56 pm View user's profile Find all posts by Bison4Life Send private message
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I think, just my opinion, that Iranians as a whole trust us more than we give them credit for. I think that they no longer trust the current leadership of the country and that leadership is trying to blame all it's woes on the USA.
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[color=darkred]Iran and the US are natural ALLIES. Yeah, I said it, allies. What works for the US in the region also works for Iran and it's people. If it weren't for some major societal problems in Iran in the 1970s, compounded by the despotic policies of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution would have been more of a religious/social movement that eventually would have been reflected in it's government, as opposed to the overthrow of the secular government and establishment of the Islamic Republic.

No doubt that American interference set Iran back, but even under the Shah, Iran was prosperous and largely an open society...I also believe that the majority of Iranians today would prefer that.[/color]
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