By Chet Yarbrough
All the Shah’s Men:
Narrated by Michael Prichard
Stephen Kinzer is among a long line of journalists that look at the past to reveal some of history’s lies. Kinzer is a journalist that covered Middle Eastern affairs for the New York Times. He examines a piece of Iran’s history to reveal America’s clandestine involvement in the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, a 1950’s Prime Minister of Iran.
“All The Shah’s Men” is a thrilling recount of America’s complicity in Iran’s 1953 overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh. Kinzer builds a credible story of British greed that seduces American government into removing Mossadegh from office. (One is reminded of the movie that shows an American captive being forced to drink oil as an explanation of why many in the Middle East hate the West.)
Kinzer recounts British colonization and industrial domination of Iranian oil assets. The Shah of Iran enters into long-term agreements with a British oil company to develop an oil industry in Iran. The contract is long-term and exclusively managed by a British controlled oil company with all accounting for payments to Iran determined by the oil company’s British managers. Mohammed Mossadegh fights for Iran’s right to its natural resources.
Mossadegh, formally educated in France with credentials as a lawyer and Finance Minister, exposes unfair practices of the British oil company and refuses to kowtow to the British government when they support the British oil company in their refusal to renegotiate the contract. In response to British intransigence, Mossadegh nationalizes British oil company assets.
Winston Churchill appeals to President Truman for American assistance in overthrowing Mossadegh’s administration; Truman refuses. Churchill recognizes that Truman is soon to be replaced by Eisenhower.
Churchill suggests to Ike that instability in Iran will turn to communism.The Churchill administration suggests to Eisenhower that Mossadegh is creating instability in Iran and that it will turn to communism if America does not aid Great Britain in the removal of Iran’s Prime Minister.
The irony of Churchill’s instability argument is that much of the instability is caused by Britain’s strict embargo of all assistance to Iran while Iran’s primary source of income, the oil industry, is shut down by Britain’s refusal to negotiate a new oil contract.
Eisenhower initially rejects Churchill’s overture but the CIA becomes involved through the clandestine placement of Kermit Roosevelt as a CIA operative in Iran to foment a rebellion. Direct involvement of Eisenhower is not revealed by Kinzer’s research but Roosevelt and CIA participation in the removal and replacement of Mossadegh is convincingly reported by the author.
Kinzer’s story is credible but his conclusion of direct linkage between American duplicity in Mossadegh’s overthrow and bombing of the New York towers exaggerates the truth. Great Britain, the United States, the Shah of Iran and private industry are villains in this story.
Sadly, greed, misuse of power, and hubris are links to Iranian hate of the west. However, the 9/11 bombing of New York by a radical Saudi makes Mossadegh’s overthrow only one event in the western world’s misunderstanding and mistreatment of the Middle East.
American complicity in Mossedegh’s overthrow is undoubtedly a link to Iran’s dislike of the United States but it is only a contrail of the New York AL Qaeda’ attack.