Magazine article Monthly Review

A Defining Moment: The Historical Legacy of the 1953 Iran Coup

Magazine article Monthly Review

A Defining Moment: The Historical Legacy of the 1953 Iran Coup

Article excerpt

A Defining Moment: The Historical Legacy of the 1953 Iran Coup Ervand Abrahamian, The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modem U.S.lranian Relations (New York: New Press, 2012), 304 pages, $26.95, hardback.

In 1999, when Iranian students took to the streets protesting progovernment paramilitary attacks on a student dormitory, some were shouting slogans supporting Mohammad Mossadegh-Iran's prime minister until he was overthrown in a U.S.-backed 1953 coup. When the 2009 election met accusations of an electoral coup and paramilitaries attacked protestors, the government blamed the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan (a student killed during the protests) on the CIA. Iran's authorities firmly believed that year's crisis was part of a U.S.- and British-backed coup attempt in the form of a Color Revolution. The 1953 coup has also been omnipresent during the long standoff between the United States and Iran over the nuclear program issue, as the Iranian government drew a parallel between the sovereign right to enrich uranium and the right to nationalize its own resources, as Mossadegh had attempted to do decades ago.

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States began in earnest as soon as the Second World War ended, shaping most of the remainder of the twentieth century. The U.S. doctrine of "containment" required confronting the Soviets at every point of contact, accompanied by the claim that lasting peace could be reached only through the establishment of an international order based on national states which enjoyed a U.S.-defined political liberty and a capitalist economic order. The Soviets bolstered their security through providing support to countries seen as friendly and close to their borders. Therefore, maintaining influence in Iran was a goal of Soviet foreign policy in the Middle East. U.S. foreign policy was shaped by its own state interests and ideology and driven by the American postwar, worldwide systems of military bases.

Turkey and Iran were major pieces in the chess game aimed at "containing" the Soviet Union-pieces which provided the rationale for the creation of Washington's sphere of influence in the Middle East. Three main goals framed U.S. foreign policy in the region: the "containment" of the Soviet Union, the protection of Western access to oil, and the security of the State of Israel. …

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