Iran vs America: History’s Scars

A weakened leader in a powerful country can be a recipe for danger. Donald Trump’s encroaching legal troubles might prove just the time for a seriously big international crisis, even a bit of a war. The obvious choice is Iran, and Trump may well have been heading that way even before his latest problems with Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort and potentially special investigator Robert Mueller.

Trump may be confident of holding firm to his support base and thus ensuring the loyalty of Republican candidates in the mid-term Congressional elections. But as pressure grows on him, a conflict with Iran – encouraged by Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who faces domestic pressures of his own – could look even more attractive.

Amid rising tensions, European capitals worry that the nuclear treaty with Iran will not survive. Their anxieties go in both directions: looking to wise counsels in Washington able to dissuade Trump and his hardline advisors from a dangerous path, yet also concerned that powerful religious and military leaders in Iran – including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – might welcome conflict with the United States. To many Europeans, and moderate voices elsewhere (among them the more cautious Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani), it may appear that irrational tendencies are driving the US and Iran towards military catastrophe (see “Iran, and a diplomacy deficit“, 1 September 2017).

At this perilous moment it might help for the historical aspect of this potential clash to be recognised, particularly by European states which share the habit of dwelling on the past. In the UK’s search for lost empire, for example, key events of fairly recent vintage, the Dunkirk episode and the aerial Battle of Britain in 1940-41, are endlessly revisited as signposts of greatness and demonstrations of national character.

That tendency to look beyond the immediate context ought to give British commentators the imagination to grasp the importance of past events in Iran. A prime instance is the downfall of Iran’s prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953, orchestrated by Washington and London – a coup which climaxed sixty-five years ago this week (see “The Iran complex: why history matters“, 26 January 2012).

It was done in retaliation for Iranian attempts to take control of their own oil industry, then held by western states, principally Britain. Its success ushered in the quarter-century reign of the autocratic Shah, whose regime Washington viewed as an essential prop in the regional alliance constraining Soviet ambitions at the height of the cold war.

The Shah’s overthrow in the revolution of 1978-79 led in turn to rule by conservative theocrats. Since then a young and well-educated population with plenty of interest in western culture has emerged. But what happened in 1953 is still deeply embedded in Iranians’ worldview. In turn, however, it relates to a broader memory of a country subject to intense rivalry between Russia and Britain in the nineteenth century – and beyond that to millennia of culture with far older foundations than Russia or Britain, to say nothing of that Johnny-come-lately, the United States.

A fatal divergence

But if the fate of Mossadegh remains lodged in Iranian political memory, it is equally important to recognise the equivalent on the American side, which relates directly to the fall of the Shah in 1979. Towards the end of that year, on 4 November, Iranian students overran the US embassy in Tehran and detained sixty-eight staff and family members. Several were allowed to leave, but fifty-two were held hostage until January 1981 – and released as the newly elected president, Ronald Reagan, gave his inaugural address.

The seizure of the embassy, a prelude to what turned out to be a 444-day crisis, hugely magnified inter-state tensions from the US point of view. Not only had they lost a key ally in the region, but they now seemed powerless in face of the new regime’s diplomatic violation. The stand-off hugely weakened the incumbent president, Jimmy Carter, and he was further damaged by the embarrassing failure of an attempt by special forces to rescue the hostages.

This was Operation Eagle Claw, launched on 25 April 1980, during the early months of Carter’s re-election campaign. The Tehran hostages were ever present in the contest and US impotence in relation to them was a key factor in Carter’s defeat.

More broadly, the whole episode had a lasting effect within the United States in shaping attitudes towards Iran – including among US diplomats, and indeed the whole state department. A particularly sharp resentment of Iran in the American body politic continues to this day.

Trump, being concerned primarily with himself, may be largely unaware of these details of the Iran-US relationship. But some of his advisors, such as national-security hawk John Bolton, are steeped in it. They look forward to the day when the United States can neutralise Iran and regain influence and possibly even control in Tehran, thus finally lancing the boil of the hostage crisis (see “Target Tehran“, 10 May 2018).

That may be a pipedream, but it has had further salience since the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to heightened Iranian influence in the Middle East. This change in the regional balance of power – the very reverse of what US planners confidently expected – is now of supreme concern to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Many independent analysts argue that any kind of war with Iran could be another unmitigated disaster and should in no way be countenanced. But what makes sense may count for little when history, as experienced by both sides in a dispute, points in opposite directions. Any assessment of the risk of war needs to take this vital factor into account.


Originally published on 2018-08-26

About the author: Paul Rogers is the professor in the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, North England.

Source: Open Democracy

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
Syria: Should Turkey Trust the U.S. Gangsters?
Last week, the Turkish Armed Forces entered Afrin in Syria’s Aleppo. According to the Syria-based Kurdish Hawar News Agency, Turkey also intends to deploy troops near the Raju area and place its armored vehicles there. Many Syrian experts believe that Ankara cooperates with the U.S.-backed Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki. Earlier, Spokesman of the armed opposition group Abdulsalam Adbulrazaq reported that Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki had reached an agreement with the Turkish troops over the deployment of Turkish soldiers at monitoring positions in Western Aleppo. According to preliminary estimates, Turkey will provide opposition militants with all necessary weapons, and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki ...
READ MORE
Bosnia, Cyprus and Kosovo: America and Islamism in the Balkans
The conflicts that engulfed the former Yugoslavia still remain unresolved in the political arena and open to Western political shenanigans and covert meddling from Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Bosnia and Kosovo.  Orthodox Christianity faces many attacks and only a naïve individual would claim that America and the hands of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are clean. Central Bosnia in 2016: Flags of the ISIS America and other Western nations did little to stop Turkey invading Cyprus in 1974 and creating a de-facto nation and altering the demographics of northern Cyprus and using this area for military purposes. Irrespective of the rights and wrongs ...
READ MORE
Are You Confused by the Middle East?
The US, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and the Gulf monarchies have all in the recent past supported al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State (ISIS) with arms, money, and/or manpower. The first example of this was in 1979 when the United States began covert operations in Afghanistan, six months before the Russians arrived, promoting Islamic fundamentalism across the southern tier of the Soviet Union against “godless communism”. All the al-Qaeda/Taliban shit then followed. In addition to Afghanistan, the United States has provided support to Islamic militants in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, the Caucasus, and Syria. The United States overthrew the ...
READ MORE
Civilian Casualties of NATO’s War on Yugoslavia
From the onset of NATO’s aggression from March 24 to June 11, 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) flew over 35,000 combat missions over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Over 1,000 warplanes (among others F-15, F-16, F-117) and 206 helicopters were used in the air strikes. More than 20,000 laser or satellite-guided weapons were launched and over 79,000 tons of explosives were dropped, including 152 containers with 35,450 cluster bombs, thermo-visual and graphite bombs, which are prohibited under international conventions.1 The NATO forces justified the bombing of civilian targets as either “mistakes” or essential to the destruction of Milosevic and ...
READ MORE
The US is Already an Authoritarian Regime
Or at the very least, an incipient monarchy: the only problem is that the monarch — while having plenty of clothes — has no head. The most famous twentieth century American journalist, Bob Woodward, who together with his buddy Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story that forced President Richard Nixon to resign, has written a book that reveals White House palace intrigues worthy of any European king — although it is the French President, Emanuel Macron, who calls himself Jupiter. Under the ominous title Fear, Woodward quotes high-ranking members of the White House staff as well as the heads of crucial departments ...
READ MORE
What America’s Aristocracy Want
The American aristocracy want inequality of rights, with two basic polar-opposite classes: the ‘elite’, with themselves at the top of everything, and everybody else below them, as subjects to be ruled by them, in such ways as they (themselves, and their fellow ‘elite’) can agree to do. They are convinced that they have earned their high status, in one way or another, and they compete ferociously amongst themselves, to rise even higher within the aristocracy. Many of the aristocrats think that they are ‘elite’ because they are the richest; many think instead that the ‘elite’ are the smartest or the most ...
READ MORE
Bosnia and Kosovo: Radical Islam, Organ Trafficking and Western Mainstream Media Bias
The conflict that raged throughout the former Yugoslavia was met by a wall of silence when it came to important issues. These important issues apply to America and the United Kingdom supporting Islamists in a brutal civil war in Bosnia and then installing a new nation by ignoring international law in Kosovo. Also, is it credible to believe that the vast majority of major news agencies and national governments did not know about thousands of Islamists in Europe who were sent to slit the throats and behead Orthodox Christians? After all, if the reality of what really happened in Bosnia and ...
READ MORE
Another Dangerous Rush to Judgment in Syria
Exclusive: The U.S. government and the mainstream media rushed to judgment again, blaming the Syrian government for a new poison-gas attack and ignoring other possibilities, reports Robert Parry. With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths. Before a careful evaluation of the evidence about Tuesday’s tragedy ...
READ MORE
Impending Threat to Canadian Democracy: Harper Government’s “Anti-Terrorism Act”
The Harper government’s Bill C-51, or Anti-Terrorism Act, has been in the public domain for over a month. Long enough for us to know that it subverts basic principles of constitutional law, assaults rights of free speech and free assembly, and is viciously anti-democratic. An unprecedented torrent of criticism has been directed against this bill as the government rushes it through Parliament. This has included stern or at least sceptical editorials in all the major newspapers; an open letter, signed by four former Prime Ministers and five former Supreme Court judges, denouncing the bill for exposing Canadians to major violations of ...
READ MORE
Why America Needs War
GR Editor’s Note: This incisive article was written on April 30, 2003, by historian and political scientist Jacques Pauwels. A timely question: Why Does Hillary Want War… ? And why do people support her?  *     *     * Wars are a terrible waste of lives and resources, and for that reason most people are in principle opposed to wars. The American President, on the other hand, seems to love war. Why? Many commentators have sought the answer in psychological factors. Some opined that George W. Bush considered it his duty to finish the job started, but for some obscure reason ...
READ MORE
Financial Times Finally Prints the Unvarnished Truth: Kiev is the Violent Aggressor in East Ukraine
Even those in Donetsk who originally supported Kiev have come to realize that Ukraine is waging a war against its own people. The Ukrainian army’s shelling has turned many formerly pro-Ukrainian locals against Kiev Although this article tries to make the people of Donetsk appear gullible and indoctrinated, it does make one incredible admission: Kiev is waging a vicious war against its own people—something that East Ukrainians will never forget, and probably never forgive. This article originally appeared in Financial Times As world leaders convened in Minsk this week to decide the fate of east Ukraine, Tatiana Prussova, a teacher at Khartsysk school ...
READ MORE
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) looks on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel on September 19, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK REUTER
“Fool me once, shame on you; but fool me twice, shame on me.” Ancient proverb, (sometimes attributed to an Italian, Russian or Chinese proverb)  “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Ernst F. Schumacher (1911-1977) (in ‘Small is Beautiful’, an essay, in The Radical Humanist, Aug. 1973, p. 22).  “The powers-that-be understand that to create the appropriate atmosphere for war, it’s necessary to create within the general populace a hatred, fear or mistrust of others regardless of whether those others belong ...
READ MORE
America’s Forever War Strategy
America is unique among history’s warrior states – prioritizing endless wars, not ending them to achieve a new era of peace and stability. The notion is anathema to the nation’s military, industrial, and media establishment. Wars are waged for power and profits, no other reasons. All post-WW II US wars were and continue to be acts of naked aggression against nations threatening no one – raping and destroying them, the human cost incalculable, the villainy unprecedented. Throughout its history, America has been perpetually at war at home and/or abroad, never a time of peace and stability – a shocking indictment of its abhorrent ...
READ MORE
Hillary Clinton Wants to Do this Again — Now to Syria
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and President Obama — and some NATO partners) did it previously to Libya, and here was the result (as discussed by the retired British career diplomat Craig Murray, at his craigmurray.org.uk, who has kindly allowed me to distribute it to other newsmedia) [and I as editor will add a few clarifiers and questions in brackets] (and then afterward, I shall add my own comments); so, here is Craig Murray: This is the result of NATO bombing of Sirte to “enforce the no-fly zone” in Libya. When the neo-cons in the UK parliament and the serial warmonger Hillary Clinton call for a ...
READ MORE
Manipulating Uprisings: Hungary 1956
Magic, and tragic years, tend to fill the calendar of commemoration for central European patriots. There are religious intercessions; guiding symbols; omens.  Then there are the calamities, the crushing battles that empty entire classes and countries. For Hungary, a country ever dreamy and mournful about such events, there are two notable disasters of rollicking value. There is Mohács 1526, where a good deal of the country’s aristocratic elite fell before the relentless Ottoman advance.  The event effectively gave the Hapsburgs the ascendency to the west, assuming the role of defender against the Turkish advance into Europe. Then there is 1956, where the invaders ...
READ MORE
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Whenever bombings and shootings escalate in the Middle East, Israeli propagandists say that Israel is exercising its right of military self-defense against indiscriminate attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. But as this article documents, the right to use force in self-defense is contingent on Israel ending its military occupation and blockade of Gaza. DON’T MISQUOTE ME ON THAT! Doubtless some unscrupulous person or persons will quote or interpret this article out of context and claim that I’m saying that Israel has no right to self-defense at all. So, let me be clear: Israel is a nation-state like any other, like it or ...
READ MORE
Bosnian Muslims Suppressed Their Dirty Nazi Legacy
The Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division Handzar, above in 1943, was made up of 18,000 Bosnian Muslims and 300 Albanian Muslims. Bosnian Muslims were not Nazi and fascist “collaborators”, but Nazis themselves. The Bosnian Muslim Government and Army of Alija Izetbegovic reformed and reconstituted the Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division Handzar from World War II. Contrary to the nonsensical screed of Croat Marko Attila Hoare, whose mother is Croatian Marxist and Ustasha apologist Branka Magas, and other Bosnian Muslim apologists and propagandists, there is overwhelming and abundant proof of the existence of a “Handzar Divizija” in the Bosnian Muslim Army. The existence of ...
READ MORE
Proxy Wars: Kosovo and South Ossetia
Yada…yada…yada. The discussion on the unprovoked and planned aggression by Georgia on South Ossetia is futile and moot because Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced last week that the Russian Government would recognize the independence and freedom of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On August 25, 2008, both houses of the Russian Parliament or Duma voted unanimously to recognize the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On August 26, 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that the government of the Russian Federation officially recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Save your rhetoric. Georgia has lost those areas permanently. Ossetians and ...
READ MORE
Understanding the U.S. War State: The New Fundamentalism, “America is God”
This article was original published by GR in May 2003 “It is easy. All you have to do is tell the people they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” - Hermann Goering Genocide used to be a crime without a name. Although the most heinous of all crimes, the concept was not introduced into international language until after World War 2. Until then, military invasion and destruction of other peoples and cultures masqueraded under such slogans as progress and spreading civilisation. I was shocked many years ago when I heard Noam Chomsky ...
READ MORE
President of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian former guerilla commander who served briefly as prime minister, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the AAK headquarters in Pristina December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Hazir Reka
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is calling for an “impartial investigation” into grisly reports by a European investigative commission alleging that Kosovo government officials were involved in the trade of human organs. ­ In an exhaustive report released by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in December, it was alleged that Serbian detainees of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were kidnapped and murdered by Kosovo Albanians so their organs could be sold on the black market. The report says the crimes occurred after the Kosovo War ended in 1999. These shocking allegations came on the heels of a two-year investigation into a ...
READ MORE
Syria: Should Turkey Trust the U.S. Gangsters?
Bosnia, Cyprus and Kosovo: America and Islamism in the Balkans
Are You Confused by the Middle East?
Civilian Casualties of NATO’s War on Yugoslavia
The US is Already an Authoritarian Regime
What America’s Aristocracy Want
Bosnia and Kosovo: Radical Islam, Organ Trafficking and Western Mainstream Media Bias
Another Dangerous Rush to Judgment in Syria
Impending Threat to Canadian Democracy: Harper Government’s “Anti-Terrorism Act”
Why America Needs War
Financial Times Finally Prints the Unvarnished Truth: Kiev is the Violent Aggressor in East Ukraine
False Flags and the Trump Administration
America’s Forever War Strategy
Hillary Clinton Wants to Do this Again — Now to Syria
Manipulating Uprisings: Hungary 1956
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Bosnian Muslims Suppressed Their Dirty Nazi Legacy
Proxy Wars: Kosovo and South Ossetia
Understanding the U.S. War State: The New Fundamentalism, “America is God”
Russia Calls for Investigation into Human-Organ Trade Ring in Kosovo
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu