Huff Post- Ryan Grim
First Posted: 06- 8-10 12:45 PM | Updated: 06- 8-10 02:48 PM
The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is a final onslaught launched from the grave of colonialism, perpetrated by a corporation that can compete with Goldman Sachs when it comes to creating misery around the world.
One of the most pivotal moments in world and United States history came in 1953 when the CIA and British intelligence forces staged a coup in Iran, overthrowing the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh, a national Iranian hero who was named Time‘s Man of the Year in 1952. That coup led directly to the Iranian revolution of 1979, which launched an era of Middle East anti-Americanism whose repercussions have since been felt in deadly ways.
Mossadegh earned the adoration of his people and the scorn of Britain for nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which controlled Iran’s oil reserves, shared little of the revenue and kept its workers in slave-like conditions. Anglo-Iranian became British Petroleum.
BP’s role in Iran’s descent into tyranny is no trivial historical coincidence. To this day, it is not difficult to find an Iranian living in America who refuses to buy gas from BP.
There was one primary purpose of the coup that overthrew Mossadegh and installed the Shah: To reclaim BP’s domination of Iranian oil.
Mossadegh’s government had attempted to negotiate a resolution, but BP’s executives flatly refused any compromise. BP’s stubbornness led to the most extreme policy move — full nationalization. Their failure to negotiate led Dean Acheson to coin what has become an oft-repeated analysis applied to varieties of bad actors: “Never had so few lost so much so stupidly and so fast.”
War — or, in this case, a coup — is political negotiation by another means. And BP’s failure in the first round of negotiations led directly to the more violent second round. How history would have unfolded had Iran’s liberal democracy been allowed to flourish can never be known. Policy makers at the time worried that the Soviet Union may have taken it over, though Stalin died shortly after the coup and the nation’s foreign policy turned away from imperialism. Indeed, its subsequent invasion of Afghanistan was launched largely in response to the Iranian revolution. In other words, a Soviet invasion of Iran was unlikely. Would a democratic Iran have been a bulwark against Middle Eastern extremism? Most likely. Would it have been an ally of Turkey and Israel? A real possibility. Would it have gone to war against Iraq? It’s doubtful. (Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, shortly after the revolution, worried about having a Shia theocracy on its border, given its own majority Shia population living in the south atop its own vast resources.)