By Bill Hare
The current Gulf tragedy and the dangers of an enthusiastic “Drill, baby, drill!” pattern highlights the issue of how big oil has flexed its mighty muscles in the international political sphere.
Today’s ongoing tragedy involves the same British Petroleum that in 1953 used the CIA in a menacing way to overthrow a popularly elected leader.
Iran had just elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, that nation’s most popular political figure.
The fact that Mossadegh was elected by the will of Iran’s citizens did not deter the efforts of an invigorated CIA that used the Cold War as a pretext to move away from the fact finding agency conceived of by President Harry Truman to an aggressive international political body willing to overthrow nations in contravention of popular national will.
Mossadegh immediately angered the international power cartel with which the CIA actively interlinked. British Petroleum had been garnering the lion’s share of profits from Iran’s wealthy oil deposits.
Mossadegh nationalized Iran’s oil as a means of obtaining what he deemed to be a fairer portion of that important asset. The nationalization law was passed unanimously by the Iranian Parliament.
Despite the fact that BP was offered considerable compensation by Mossadegh his days were numbered after the nationalization bill was passed.
Richard Helms, who would later become CIA Director, was prepared to act with a close Iranian friend becoming political beneficiary. A plan was launched to overthrow Iran in a coup and hand over the reins of power to a reliable figure who would accede to the international power elite’s interests on behalf of British Petroleum.
Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, was the leader designate selected to take power by the CIA contingent with Helms and a colleague of interesting pedigree initiating a successful coup against Mossadegh.
The CIA’s Middle East chief at the time was Kermit Roosevelt. He was the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.
The term blowback has been used with recent increasing frequency. It certainly applied in this case. The Shah initiated a ruthless monarchical dictatorship in which SAVAK, Iran’s secret police, was guilty of numerous human rights violations.
Eventually the Shah was overthrown by the revolutionary forces of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. When the Iranian government demanded the return of the Shah to stand trial for murder and torture, President Jimmy Carter refused to extradite the deposed leader, who was suffering from incurable cancer.
The refusal prompted the taking of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Carter suffered a double whammy. The other body blow confronting him as he prepared for a re-election campaign was a crippled U.S. economy. This resulted from a successful oil embargo strategy initiated by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Export Companies.
A sea tide political change occurred in the 1980 presidential election as a badly wounded President Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan, who asked that memorable question reflecting American concern over the country’s troubled status:
“Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
Following the election victory of Reagan it took little time for the sea tide change to occur. Reaganomics was in full swing.
The Pentagon budget was substantially increased.
Meanwhile the first of two large tax cut measures of the Reagan Administration, both structured to benefit the richer sector of America in concert with the trickle down theory practiced by Reagan’s idol Calvin Coolidge prior to the Great Depression, was initiated.
Critics warned that combining a sharp increase in defense spending while concurrently initiating a large tax cut would generate massive debt. Supply side economic theorists gleefully predicted prosperity and surpluses. They argued that the tax cut would stimulate tremendous economic growth.
The result was a tripling of the national debt from $1 to $3 trillion dollars during Reagan’s two terms. A suffocating debt spiral was generated which was then sharply enhanced under George W. Bush.