Say Good-Bye To The Shah

I have to go to the doctor this morning so I leave (for now) with a history lesson (was that an eye roll?)

40 years on and the US is still slobbering to return to the days of the Shah…but the Fall……

the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, we published an articleexplaining what the revolution can teach us about the economic and political problems facing Iran now. Today, I’d like to focus on the geopolitical implications of the revolution that saw the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It was a formidable time for the country, but the existing geopolitics of the region remained largely intact.

Most observers didn’t expect the shah to fall, although many claimed afterward that they had predicted it. The shah, who was essentially installed by the United States and Britain, was used as a bulwark of the American containment strategy. He unseated democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, who the U.S. feared was aligned with the Soviets, and helped to block Soviet access to the Persian Gulf. He claimed to be the heir to the Iranian monarchy, but in reality, he sat on the throne because of a coup staged in 1925 by his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi, a military officer who himself had no connections to the long line of Persian monarchs.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi enjoyed immense wealth but left his people profoundly unsatisfied, both economically and spiritually. Emulating Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, his father had sought a secular, militarist and authoritarian path to modernization. Iran’s merchant class didn’t care much about the modernization plans and demanded a cut of the country’s wealth. The shah appeared indifferent to their plight.

Khomeini did not. He bound up the grievances of the merchants and the peasants with the tenets of Shiite Islam. While sitting in exile in Paris, he sent copies of his sermons and speeches in which he laid out how the shah had betrayed Islam and stolen the wealth of the nation through his lavish and lascivious lifestyle. Experts dismissed him and the growing dissatisfaction, believing that discontent was a constant reality in Iran and that the shah could contain it.

From the American point of view, the shah was a great comfort. In 1973, OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, had cut off oil shipments to the United States and parts of Europe. At the time, the Saudis were involved in the Arab-Israeli War and sought to outflank Soviet-sponsored Arab movements, especially Palestinian ones. The Soviets had supported coups in Iraq and Syria and backed paramilitary groups from both countries that were formally designed to confront Israel but were actually far more focused on Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia could be destabilized and the flow of oil interrupted, the Soviets thought, the position of the United States and Western Europe would be vastly weakened.

But the Saudis beat the Soviets to the punch by imposing an oil embargo themselves, undercutting Soviet attempts to make it appear that Saudi Arabia was an American puppet. The price of oil soared, creating a global recession. For the United States, the embargo was a mixture of pain and pleasure. On one hand, it caused massive economic disruption. On the other, it was Saudi Arabia, not a Soviet-linked Palestinian group, presiding over an Arab renaissance.

Iran, an enemy of Saudi Arabia, continued to ship oil to the West and made a lot of money in the process, which it largely spent on defense. There was serious talk of Iran becoming a regional hegemon and a nuclear power. The U.S. didn’t vigorously object to any of this. Given the global oil shortage, even after the embargo had ended, the United States had two overriding interests: to contain the Soviet Union and its apparent proxy, Iraq, and to ensure access to the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. intelligence worked closely with SAVAK, the shah’s intelligence service. The agency became Washington’s chief source of information on Iran – but SAVAK didn’t transmit any warning about the uprising to the U.S., either because it didn’t want to or because it didn’t anticipate the level of the unrest. Moreover, the United States’ other intelligence sources in Iran were part of the elite – the higher the sources, the greater the knowledge they can share, or so the U.S. believed. The problem, however, was that the elites were profiting from their ties to the regime and so were unlikely to reveal evidence of its demise until it was too late.

More important, it’s not easy to find sources who know when uprisings will occur and how they will turn out. The last people to know the shah was going to fall were those in the powerful classes, on whom the U.S. relied for intelligence. The idea that an extreme Shiite leader, sitting in exile in Paris, could manage an uprising against the man who could have brought the country to regional hegemony ran counter to all notions of power and continuity in Washington. President Jimmy Carter went out of his way to show his support for the shah almost to the end. It was inconceivable that the powerful would not remain powerful, or that a trained army could not defeat a rabble of protesters.

Those outside the government were equally deluded. Human rights groups loathed the shah for torturing and murdering his people. They made the same mistake that similar groups often make: believing that if a vile government is overthrown, what replaces it will be better. To appease his dissenters, Khomeini appointed a moderate, Mehdi Bazargan, as prime minister. But Bazargan’s liberal positions came into conflict with those of the radical Shiites who controlled the revolution, and his government fell.

The U.S. learned two lessons from this experience. First, you can’t rely solely on official intelligence sources to figure out what’s happening on the ground. Sometimes, the most valuable piece of intel is the reality staring you in the face. Second, geopolitics can be shifted but not obliterated. Iran under an Islamic regime was as hostile to Iraq and the Saudis and ambivalent toward the Kurds as it was under a secular one. Some things changed (Iran became hostile toward the United States), but other things stayed the same (its tensions with the Soviets continued). And as hostile as the U.S.-Iran relationship became, the U.S. continued to help supply Iran with weapons (hence the Iran-Contra affair). Geopolitically, regime change doesn’t alter as much as you might expect.

I’m still surprised at the failure of truly intelligent men and women in and out of government to understand that the shah was about to fall. In the 1980s, many of us were equally unable to grasp that the Soviets were hanging on for dear life. What is so obvious in retrospect was shrouded in the moment. But it shouldn’t have been. It was there for all to see, but recognizing it required looking behind the appearance of power and breaking the habit of believing that things always stay the same. The fall of the shah meant many things, but the failure to foresee his demise was ultimately about a lack of imagination and the inability to grasp that what was true yesterday might not be true tomorrow.

Your history lesson is complete…….and now a Neocon assessment of Iran…..

Forr almost two years, before President Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria in December 2018, the Trump administration pursued an Iran policy based on the use of all instruments of national power to stop Tehran from engaging in a wide array of aggressive and malign behaviors that defy global norms. In his May 21, 2018 speech, “A New Iran Strategy,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Iran to end verifiably its nuclear weapons and advanced ballistic missile programs, cease its support for terrorism and the destabilization of foreign governments, release all hostages, and halt its aggression against Israel and other U.S. allies.1

To achieve these objectives, the administration designed a strategy to pressure the regime – diplomatically, economically, and militarily. To that end, the administration walked away from the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reinstated the comprehensive sanctions that had forced Iran to the negotiating table in 2013. The focal point of U.S. strategy was to intensify the Iranian regime’s ongoing liquidity crisis, which threatened to cripple its economy as a whole. The secretary of state also insisted the U.S. “will advocate tirelessly for the Iranian people,” who endure grave human rights violations and pervasive corruption. The Trump administration made it clear that it did not seek regime change, but would take advantage of the Islamic Republic’s deficit of legitimacy. In short, the U.S. purported to implement a policy of maximum pressure.

https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2019/01/31/midterm-assessment-iran/

According to the Neocons we should fear Iran…….but they prefer bullsh*t to facts…..

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Here Come The Ladies!

2020 will be an interesting election….there will be more women running than ever before. (I will give my analysis a bit later in the post)

Advocates for gender equality are reckoning with what one called a “wonderful challenge”—four or more women running for president in 2020, the AP reports. To many activists, that means a field more reflective of a party that counts women as a crucial voting bloc. But the prospect of multiple women in the race also presents obstacles, with no single candidate holding a claim to women’s votes to the degree Hillary Clinton did in 2016. The women’s vote, and groups that provide financial and grassroots support, could split. Looming over it all is persistent gender bias and the question of whether Americans are ready to elect a female president. “We do realize there’s still sexism in this country, and what we’re trying to do is change minds,” says EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, whose group aids the campaigns of Democratic women supporting abortion rights.

In the early days of the Democratic primary, leaders of many advocacy organizations are thrilled that so many women are seeking the presidency, but are not backing any particular candidate. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren last month became the first woman to launch a presidential exploratory effort, joined shortly afterward by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also are considering running. Among those candidates, Gillibrand is particularly vocal in invoking her gender as a driver of her campaign, while Warren’s campaign has emphasized economic inequity. So is gender still a problem for candidates? “Because there are so many women running, it doesn’t totally inoculate women from sexism, but it does provide some guardrails,” says a gender-equality activist.

(Amy has weighed in after this draft was written)

I think it is great that so many women are running but that does not mean that I think any would make a good president.

Warren…a populist message but I am not convinced that she is all that progressive.

Amy…..corporate shill

Kamala……resume padder

Gillibrand….another Clinton-esque corporate shill

Tulsi……seems to be a true progressive and an antiwar person (she is the closest to an antiwar candidate so this will probably get my vote)

Did I forget anyone?

Let us not forget a passing word for the men running…..

Castro……a DNC construct…..too ambitious

Booker…..a media savvy and a corporate shill….a made for TV candidate.

Some guy with a name NO ONE can pronounce….who knows?

And for God sake do not forget the media favorite….BETO!

I am sure there is more to come and my worthless analysis will follow.

Pick a candidate and vote!

Regime Change–Crappy Record

I know there is so much news to watch that it all is hard to take in….and that is why I am hear…..Venezuela is in the news….not headlines right now but it will be for you see the US is doing what it always does……regime change…..

But sadly our attempts at regime change have not had a good track record……it all began in 1954 with the coup in Guatemala…..

Puppet-building is an essential strategic goal of the US imperial state.

The results vary over time depending on the capacity of independent governments to succeed in nation-building.

US long-term puppet-building has been most successful in small nations with vulnerable economies.

The US directed coup in Guatemala has lasted over sixty-years – from 1954 -2019. Major popular indigenous insurgencies have been repressed via US military advisers and aid.

Similar successful US puppet-building has occurred in Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Being small and poor and having weak military forces, the US is willing to directly invade and occupy the countries quickly and at small cost in military lives and economic costs.

In the above countries Washington succeeded in imposing and maintaining puppet regimes for prolonged periods of time.

The US has directed military coups over the past half century with contradictory results.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-regime-changes-historical-record/5667692

I am sorry but a country that cares about democracy does not plan coups….it is that simple…..

It isn’t pretty — and to hear the right wing tell it, it’s the future the U.S. left wants for our own country. As if to prevent that, the Trump administration is now fomenting a coup in Venezuela.

They’ve publicly recognized an unelected opposition leader as president, discussed coup plans with Venezuela’s military, and sanctioned oil revenues the country needs to resolve its economic crisis. They’re even threatening to send U.S. troops.

They’ll tell you this about restoring “democracy” and “human rights” in the South American country. But one look at the administration officials driving the putsch perishes the thought.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/01/31/people-who-care-about-democracy-dont-plot-coups-abroad/

I am old enough that I can say “Here we go again” and know what I mean.

I have been watching the news and they are doing what they do….playing important part in generating consent for regime change….

 The latest extraordinary chapter in the bizarre world of Venezuelan politics is playing out before our eyes. After winning the 2018 presidential elections, Nicolás Maduro was inaugurated in January, only for the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó — a man whom, at the time, less than 20 percent of the country had even heard of — to declare himself President.

Guaidó was immediately backed by the governments of the U.S. and U.K., with Vice President Mike Pence stating, “Nicolás Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, and has maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.”

I’ve previously cataloged how the media has been quick to echo the idea that Maduro is completely illegitimate and has been eager to position America’s stance towards Venezuelan politics as one of a neutral arbiter.

https://theantimedia.com/media-manufactures-consent-regime-change-venezuela/

Side note:  How long will it be before our “really smart president” calls Guaido the usurper in Venezuela…when will he call him “Guido”?