Ah! That's why
Review: All the Shah's Men
August 5, 2003
This year (August 16 to be exact) will mark the
50th anniversary of the US led coup in Iran which overthrew Mossadegh,
democratically-elected leader. Reading Stephen Kinzer's latest
book All the Shah's
Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror,
reminded me to light a candle.
All the Shah's Men uncovers the many seedy details of
how the US was able to take the democratic movement Iranians had
and crush it under the feet of a handful of spies and a mere million
dollars in cash. What's worse is that this was done to our own
people, by our own people.
The testament that if something feels wrong, it probably
clearly illustrated by Kinzer in this latest examination of the
events leading to the US removing Mossadegh, inserting the Shah,
and ultimately leading to the Islamic revolution and beyond.
Testament should be given to the current actions by the US in Iraq
as it strives to re-build Iraq. Again.
recently de-classified CIA files and includes often conflicting
information from many researchers
(several Iranian). Some Iranians may disagree with his assumptions
and reporting. (Ah, you can just hear the pro-Shah side and the
pro-IRI sides screaming foul now.) But I will call this one of
the most concise depictions of the events leading up to and after
coup I have ever read.
It is not a hard read, rather it flows comfortably
like a spy novel, the disconcerting part being that everything
Amazingly the first attempt
by Colonel Nasiri (who went on to have a "stellar" career
as head of SAVAK) to deliver the Shah's decree firing
Mossadegh as Prime Minister, was in fact foiled
by General Riahi who intercepted Nasiri and arrested him before
he could deliver his letter.
The next day Mossadegh emerged and announced victory, declaring
the attempted coup by the Shah a failure. How the two primary American
figures Kermit Roosevelt and Norman Schwarzkopf Sr decided to ignore
the failed first attempt and continue on with the plans to overthrow
Mossadegh and instate the Shah, in spite of Washington having all
but conceded defeat and failure of the operation, is what blows
Here we have two Americans, who knew Mossadegh was not at all
a communist, since they themselves were the ones sowing the seeds
of rumor and disinformation, acting on the strongest of convictions,
professional commitment, or whatever you call that which possessed
them to continue, and damn if they didn't succeed. Albeit 3 days
The "brilliant enthusiasm" and overwhelming success
of these men paved the way for the US to continue it's newfound
policy of covert regime change for years to come. Guatemala
would be next.
When Roosevelt and Schwarzkopf were done, Iran was "safely" in
the hands of the Shah and the US who together enjoyed 25 years
of uninterrupted oil supply and other misadventures. After that
came another 25 years this time under the IRI.
This book will certainly anger you as it illustrates how close
Iranians came to a secular democracy in 1953. The damage that can
be caused by illegitimate regime change. It's consequences half
a century later.
Everything leads the reader to understand the
fragility of the world and how easily self determination can
be swept under the carpet in favor of concession, manipulation
betrayal. And, often the very same people
who set the rules, don't play by them.
This book raises the usual set of questions. All of which begin
I highly recommend this book for one primary reason and I'll use
the quote from President Truman in Kinzer's book to illlustrate, "There
is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know."
this page to your friends