Dwight D. Eisenhower was serving his second term as President when I set foot
on the American soil for the first time in June 1956. I was a twenty-year-old
high school graduate holding a student visa looking forward to attending college
and receiving a degree from a prestigious university in California; I was told
the streets were paved with gold there.
No, I was not naive and under no illusion as to the facts of life. It was during Eisenhower's first year in office that the United States staged the coup d'etat that removed our democratically elected Prime Minister, Mosaddegh, and restated the Shah to power in Iran in 1953. I was among the pro-Mosaddegh demonstrators in the streets of Tehran, along with thousands of other high school and university students, before the Shah was forced to abdicate and leave the country. I still wear the bayonet scar after over sixty-five years.
Dr. Mosaddegh's cardinal sin was to nationalize Iran's oil industry and challenge the British oil giant's monopoly and its outrageously exploitive control of Iran's economic bloodline. But we were all aware, just as the deposed Prime Minister highlighted during his trials, that it was actually the British Intelligence that had convinced the United States of the need to return the very accommodating Shah to power as, otherwise, the old man, Mosaddegh, was going to throw the oil-rich Iran into the fangs of the fearsome Soviet bear and give the communist regime access to the warm waters of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean!
Yes, the American administration was new at political intrigue, ruthless predatory behavior and hypocritical gamesmanship in the international arena right after WWII. There was no need for that at the time. A country practically unscathed during two world wars that had devastated the rest of the planet could well afford to live by its high ideals of freedom, democracy, fair play, and the promise of a good life for its citizens.
The golden age of innocence was, unfortunately, short lived. Empires do what empires must do to remain empires.
I remember waiting my turn at the UCLA health facility for a routine checkup when a young nurse, looking at my file, showed me her paycheck, shaking her head in disgust and complaining that taxes deducted from her salary help pave the way for the likes of me to come to America and get educated. As we walked toward the examination room I explained to her what a real bargain it actually was to buy the obedience and loyalty of an entire nation, not to mention its natural resources, for that piddling contribution taken out of her paycheck. I don't think she understood what I said!
Now, let's fast forward to the present time. Those who have followed my writings know my feelings about the current Administration under President Trump. I have never found anything positive or redeeming about Mr. Trump's behavior or personality as the leader of the most powerful empire on earth. But his erratic, undiplomatic and un-presidential character has inadvertently lifted the covers off some truths and realities that have been artfully masked and hidden from public exposure for many decades.
There still exists a huge segment of the population here that shares the naivete of that UCLA nurse mentioned above. Mr. Trump was voted to office, and it might happen again in 2020. As an example, here is a paragraph from an article I wrote, posted on this site on May 11, this year:
The Co-Chair of "Women for Trump" organization, Amy Kremer, appearing on CNN a couple of days ago, mentioned something that prompted me to write this piece. In defending Trump's decision to back out of the Iran deal, this Southern Belle said that, to paraphrase, we have given billions of our taxpayers' dollars to Iran as a result of the nuclear agreement. The sad fact is that a huge majority of American population believes that farce. It was also sad that the CNN host, quite understandably, made no effort to correct her that those moneys were Iran's own assets frozen by the United States and not American taxpayers' moneys.
This brings us to the current international uproar about the horrible murder
of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi (pronounced Khashogh-ji or ....
chi) at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Unless one has just arrived on
Earth from the dark side of the moon, there is little mystery regarding the turn
of events, and how the process is going to unfold. Khashoggi was a harsh critic
of the overgrown young Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman al Saud, who is the
de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi was in Turkey for some reason and was
somehow lured into the Saudi embassy, supposedly to get proper papers for
marriage with his fiance who was waiting for him outside.
There, he was killed by the Prince's personal guards who were waiting for him, dismembered, and taken back to Saudi Arabia with the assailants. The old King, suffering from dementia, probably knew nothing about what his son, the Crown Prince, had done. Now that the proverbial shit has hit the giant fan, some major global damage control is in order.
We all know that journalists, much like high profile dissidents, as well as certain "undesirable" individuals, even scientists, are targets of assassination by regimes throughout the world; that is nothing new. This time, however, poor Khashoggi was an American resident and a journalist for an important American newspaper; and the episode took place in Turkey, which has its own axe to grind, and in view of security cameras and recording devices. Expecting emphatic denials by the Saudi authorities was not a surprise. The Crown Prince must have counted on his business partnership and friendship with the American President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner with his very important Israeli connections. He also counted on Mr. Trump's own very lucrative financial arrangements with the Saud clan, which gave the Prince the audacity to boldly embark on his vindictive action against his detractor.
The President and his Secretary of State have been working hand-in-hand with the Saudis to find some venue for plausible deniability by the Saudi regime of any direct involvement or even prior knowledge of the event by those "bad rogue" elements who had carried out the assassination. The United States will demand that the Saudi regime do a thorough investigation and bring the guilty parties to justice. So, the regime that caused the crime will be investigating itself! One way or another it will all work out to everyone's satisfaction!!
The mass media's outcry against the Administration's clear whitewashing of the event will be relegated to their usual Trump-bashing practice and soon forgotten. Further investigations will take place in Saudi Arabia, where the "rogue" elements will be dealt with severely! Some may even be publicly beheaded, as is the practice there, either the actual culprits or some stand-ins!
Now, my purpose in expounding on this charade is to demonstrate two points:
One is to expose the naked truths about our foreign policy practices, especially in the Middle East, when the candy-coating and gold-wrapping is removed, thanks to Mr. Trump's total lack of diplomatic finesse.
The other is to, once again, show how Iran and its portrayal as a source of terror and instability in the region are interwoven into the unfolding scenario in order to vindicate the Saud regime and justify the continuation of the lucrative business dealings with that kingdom.
How is the Saudi regime an "ally" of the United States, and also of Great Britain, for that matter? What does the term "ally" refer to here? Is a slave whose life and livelihood depend on his obedience and servitude to the master a true ally: does he have a viable choice?
Perhaps the only real allies the Unites States actually has in the world are primarily Great Britain and other Anglo-Saxon countries that share in important cultural values, language and psychological profiles; and even that could well be argued against. An empire doesn't need allies; it imposes compliance and subservience.
Isn't this why Iran is viewed as an adversary, a troublemaker and a rogue regime, just because it is the only country in the vitally important Middle East that has been resisting falling into the fold and giving up its independence? Some official, as I recall, wondered recently why Iran doesn't use Saudi Arabia's example and behave more like those moderate Islamic states in its neighborhood?! I don't remember, but it might have been Nicki Haley, our over-ambitious UN Ambassador.
It has only been since the Khashoggi affair that the media and some members of our Congress have been pointing to the Saud regime as the funder and perpetrator of terrorism and the worst violator of human rights, etc., in the region. But when we and our true allies have been supporting the regime and providing it with tens of billions of dollars' worth of arms paid for by its oil moneys, why would we be honest enough to stop the regime's merciless massacre of the poor, starving Yemenis? As Mr. Trump says, these arms' sales are funding our military/industrial complex and providing jobs for our citizens? Mr. Trump has voiced that message several times already! After all, what's more important: human lives in areas our people know nothing about, or prosperity for our businesses and jobs for our citizens here at home? Get real, man!
Beside the economic benefits of supporting an evil regime, something among many other similar actions that would legally make us complicit in international terrorism, the argument in support of maintaining this alliance with the Saudis also includes creating a barrier against Iran's supposed hegemonic schemes to dominate the entire Middle East. As we can see, Iran is playing a pivotal role in justifying our manipulation and exploitation of not just Saudi Arabia, but the entire region, something that benefits Israel to a great extent, and which could well be the real reason behind all that!
Thanks to President Trump's carelessly undiplomatic vocalizing on the Khashoggi episode, the veil has been lifted from the bare realities of foreign policy formulations that had always been wrapped in deceptively pleasing colors for public consumption.
I am not complaining or objecting to any of this: for the empire to remain an empire, it has to do what the empire must. Those who do not approve might consider hitching a ride on some comet and head for another world! I do understand that; while I also understand that for the empire to succeed in accomplishing its objectives, the citizenry must be properly intoxicated in the fog of necessary illusions; necessary, because without such self-redeeming delusions the human psyche cannot cope with some realities.
I have often used the example of an imaginary couple who go to a very exclusive and expensive restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. The restaurant's world-famous filet mignon dinner is what they choose. But before their dinner is served, the chef comes over and proudly hands to them a pamphlet showing how the Black Angus was fed the best of feed, taken to the slaughter house, butchered, with photos of the blood and guts spilling out, and other gory details, and how the proper cuts of meat were finally prepared and masterfully cooked. Yes, that is what had to be done so that the dinner guests could enjoy that world-class meal. Bon appetite!
About the author:
Kambiz Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion.He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
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