US Gets Nosy

As we have discussed in class with reference to the Iranian Revolution, the US often gets involved in the political affairs of other countries in order to protect or preserve its own interests. We mentioned that one of the main reasons the US became involved in the Iranian Revolution to prevent Iran from falling under the influence of Russian Communism. The best way to do this, according to the US, was to lead a coup in 1953 against Mosaddeq, replacing him with Fazlollah Zahedi, who they felt would not fall under the influence of the Russians but would rather support US and British endeavors. The US used these concerns to justify interfering in the internal politics of Iran. The US has also become involved in the political affairs of many other countries, such as supporting a coup against Prince Sihanouk in Cambodia. Do you agree that US political and economic interests justify interfering in any other country’s internal affairs, not specific to the Iranian revolution? Why or why not?

Here is a picture of forces during the coup in Iran.




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5 Responses to US Gets Nosy

  1. Joe says:

    Madison, I believe that the United States was justified in getting involved in Iran in 1953 for a number of reasons, which happens to include fighting the spread of Communism, and helping secure lower oil prices for the average American. When discussing 1953 and the overthrow of Mosaddegh, I believe that it is key to analyze what was happening in America during this time period. From roughly 1947 to 1957 America was engaged in the Second Red Scare, which focused on limiting the ability of both national and foreign Communists influence in American society and their ability to infiltrate the federal government. Propaganda from this pivotal era in American history include posters showing average Americans being attacked under a burning American flag, and posters of Uncle Sam riding on a boat named “America” about to crash into “THE RED ICEBERG” on which graves with the names Poland, Hungary, China, East-Germany, Czechoslovakia, and North Korea await America’s demise as a result of Communism’s rise. Furthermore, the implications of this propaganda were that most Americans believed that Communism would end their rights and privileges as Americans, and that Communists taking power in America would essentially serve as the beginning of the end of America, as those in the 1950s knew it. Thus, when America involved herself in Iran’s internal affairs in 1953 to force perceived Communist or Soviet-sympathizer Mosaddegh out of power, our government acted on behalf of the American people. Despite the fact that there was no material evidence of Mosaddegh ever being involved in Communist activity, the government of the United States possibly saved its people from another major issue which was the possibility of rising oil prices after Mosaddegh nationalized Iranian oil. In 1979, after the fall of Iran’s Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the United States experienced an oil price shock. Consequently, the United States was directly affected as a result of the Shah’s fall, because the 1979 Energy Crisis ensued from the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The protests that forced the Shah to surrender his power crashed the Iranian oil sector, and the new regime did not immediately resume oil exports at a reliable rate and high volume as was customary when the Shah was in power. Overall, I believe that the American government had genuinely benign intentions in its overthrow of Mosaddegh in 1953, regardless the ramifications of this action.

  2. sweiswasser2015 says:

    Joe and Madison, I think that in a large scale, both of your arguments answer a critical question essential to understanding American foreign policy: to what extent does the United States’ pursuit of national interest in the international world actually benefit the U.S? For instance, as per the above mentioning of the U.S-backed Iranian coup in 1953, the United States overthrew Mosaddegh out of fear that the prime minister was sympathizing with the Soviet Union. To further prevent Soviet victory during the Cold War, the U.S decided to overthrow Mosaddegh. While this coup may have benefited the U.S at the time, one must consider the long-term ramifications of such intervention and question whether or not this coup actually helped the U.S in the long run.

    By intervening in Iran and establishing a government, the U.S contradicts its own ideals in terms of political freedom, universal suffrage, and the power of the people. Therefore, by establishing a government in Iran, the U.S does not present itself as a democratic nation that strives so hard to uphold such ideals in the international world. In addition, U.S intervention in Iran, especially an intervention that established a new government, resulted in tense relations between the U.S and Iran. Considering the degree to which the U.S relies on oil from the Middle East and Iran’s potential nuclear power, tense relations with Iran are not in our best interest. It is therefore evident that the U.S intervened in Iran to pursue what seemed best at the time, however did not consider the long term ramifications.

    • dharbeck says:

      Sarah, I agree with a lot of what you said, the U.S. coup ended up hurting our relations with Iran more than anything. And although we may not have considered these consequences sufficiently, we had to consider the worst possible scenario of Iran becoming a communist ally to the Soviet Union. I too wish the U.S. could stay out of other countries internal affairs, but with a threat so serious we had to take action, we couldn’t just cross our fingers and hope Iran would stay loyal to us.

      • Alex Geyelin says:

        I agree with David. While angering Iran so severely is not ideal, it was a risk that the US felt was necessary at the time, for the ramifications of Iran allying with the Soviets could be far worse. It is obviously ideal if the US didn’t interfere, and Iran didn’t become communist allies to the soviets, but there was no way of knowing if that would happen at the time.

  3. Will says:

    Sarah, I agree, in large part, with you. Joe says the United State’s intentions in Iran were benign, which clearly is not true as US intervention in Iran ultimately created a climate in Iran that was a vortex of tension, oppression, and sedition. Regardless of what the US’s agenda is, and what its best interests are, the US should not intervene in foreign affairs in order to cement the US’s supremacy. By establishing a puppet state in Iran, as Sarah pointed out, the US did in fact contradict the very essence of its existence. Had a majority of the Iranian citizens called for a revolution at the time, and had they actively sought out foreign help, then the US’s intervention in Iran would have been warranted.

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