American Coup (2010) Movie Script

In August of 1953 Iran had
a democratic government.
Its parliament and
prime minister,
the popular Mohammad Mosaddegh,
had nationalized
the oil industry
to control the
country's chief asset.
Then, the CIA intervened.
I am honored to be in the
timeless city of Cairo.
[Applause and Cheering]
We meet at a time
of great tension
between the United States and
Muslims around the world.
Tension rooted in
historical forces
that go beyond any
current policy debate.
For many years Iran has
defined itself in part
by its opposition to my
country and there is,
in fact, a tumultuous
history between us.
Since the Islamic
revolution Iran has played
a role in acts of hostage
taking and violence
against US troops and civilians.
In the middle of the Cold
War the United States
played a role in the overthrow
of a democratically elected
Iranian government.
This history is well known.
I have never heard
anything about the CIA,
especially in 1953.
I don't know anything about it.
I'm sorry, I don't know
anything about that.
I have no knowledge
of that whatsoever.
Something I've never heard of,
never known anything about.
I have no clue.
Uh... can you repeat that?
Well I wasn't born in 1953 so
I've never heard of the coup.
That was a little
bit before my time.
After the Eisenhower
administration made its decision
to overthrow Mosaddegh, Allen
Dulles selected Kermit Roosevelt
to carry out the coup. At the
beginning of august 1953
Kermit Roosevelt
arrived in Tehran
and began this covert operation.
It's really a fascinating
operation to study
because it answers
this odd question.
How do you overthrow
a government?
Former Premier Mosaddeghs
ruined house is a mute testimony
to three days of bloody rioting
culminating in a military coup.
Suppose you get sent to a
country and you're told
"overthrow the government" so
what do you do on the first day?
What do you do on
the second day?
In the quick shift
of power, Mosaddegh
was finally apprehended and
awaits trial for treason.
The Shah, who had fled
to Rome, comes home
backed by General Zedekiah,
military strongman,
who engineered his
return to power.
The general will now
have a strong voice
in the newly formed
government whose cabinet
is seen here with Shah Pahlavi.
How do you overthrow
a government?
Many countries in the Middle
East are what you might call
fake countries or
invented countries.
They're countries that were
created by outside powers,
usually in the wake of
World War I and I think
there's a temptation for
people that aren't familiar
with the region to see
Iran in that category
but that's not true. Actually
the opposite is true.
Iran, formerly known as Persia,
is one of the world's
oldest civilizations.
At a time when Europeans
are still living in caves
and wearing animal
skins people in Persia
were conducting
experiments in astronomy
and learning about mathematics
and writing beautiful poetry.
So this is a civilization that
has a great deal of sense
of its history, a sense of self
confidence, a sense of identity
and a sense of being rooted
in the long course
of world history.
This is not a country that
just arrived and it is trying
to figure out who or what it is.
In 1908 the British
discovered oil in Iran.
Geologists soon learned that
Iran sits on an ocean of oil.
The British decided that they
needed oil to run their cars,
to power their Navy and
to fuel their economy.
But Britain has no oil.
When oil was discovered
there the British decided
that they would like to
control that entire resource.
Soon after the discovery this
Anglo Iranian Oil Company
was formed and it purchased
the majority stake
and then the oil company
arranged a concession with Iran.
The entire stock of Iranian
oil was the property
of this British company and
all the rights to exploit oil
in Iran belonged
to this company.
Oil, of course, became
very profitable
from the 1920s onwards
and the way the division
was, was abysmal.
For instance, Iran was
getting sometimes
16 percent of the profits
and the profits were
defined in such a way
that it actually
short changed Iran.
Books were not open
to the public,
even to the Iranian government.
In 1951, Mohammad Mosaddegh was
chosen Prime Minister of Iran.
Mosaddegh was a tireless
social reformer,
fiercely nationalistic
and incorruptible.
No account of the 20th century
is complete without
a chapter on him.
Mohammad Mosaddegh was an
outstanding politician,
political figure in Iran
for a long, long time.
He had relatives who were
part of the previous dynasty,
The Qajar dynasty and he
was a prominent figure
for a number of decades in Iran.
Before he became Prime
Minister in 1951 he was
a vocal opponent of British
control over Iran's oil industry
and generally Britain's control
over Iran as a country.
We have to remember
this is at a time
when there's a wave of
nationalism going through Iran.
There's been long struggle
against the British
since the late 1800s and there
was a feeling in the country
that it was time for Iran
to really be independent.
As Iran's vast petroleum
reserves aroused nationalists
following seizure by
the Iranian government
of the British
operated refineries
and distribution facility.
Demonstrations at the huge
oil port of Ibadan culminate
in the tearing down of
signs over company offices
and the raising of the Iranian
flag over the installations.
- And here comes Gossamer, a
very well respected person,
a lawyer, who managed
to get himself
in this very powerful
position in the country.
Mosaddegh was a
fascinating figure.
He must be one of the
towering figures
in the 20th century history
of the developing world.
Bear in mind that when he
emerged there had never been
a figure from a poor country
who had risen up in such
a visible way to challenge
the masters of the universe.
Nobody from a poor country
had ever stood up and said
"we own this resource,
it belongs to us,
it doesn't matter what
companies you've imposed on us
or what agreements
you've imposed on us;
all of that was unjust.
We have this resource and
we are miserably poor.
We need the money
from this resource
and we insist on having it."
Mosaddegh is very
much interested
in national sovereignty but
there's something more
than that. He's not
just a national leader.
He was very sincerely committed
to the notion of
liberal democracy.
Time Magazine made
Mohammad Gossamer
its man of the year for 1951.
They chose him over Douglas
MacArthur, Harry Truman,
Winston Churchill and
a number of other
towering world figures
and they were right.
He was the most important person
in the world at that time.
And he did what a lot of
Iranians strongly agreed with,
which was to make sure
that Iran would keep
the revenues of its own oil,
at least a big portion of it,
whereas in the past it
didn't keep any of it.
So people in Iran
began challenging
Anglo Iranian Oil
Company and saying
"you've got to change
your contract with us
and give us 50 percent,
you keep 50 percent",
not keep 90 percent or
more, whatever it was,
no one ever knew since
Iranians were never allowed
to audit the books.
The Anglo Iranian Oil
Company refused.
They would not concede an inch.
They were quite pigheaded.
I think they were
still maybe caught
in the colonial mentality of
the past and thought that
the idea that some
poor country could try
to pressure them or dictate
terms to them was unthinkable.
The important thing is who
actually controls oil production
because if you control oil
production then you can decide
whether you're going to
increase it or lower it
and that then determines,
of course, price.
What Mosaddegh was doing
was threatening that
because by nationalizing he was
saying MANIOC is not going
to be in charge of production,
Iran will be in charge.
We can decide how
much to produce,
who to sell it to and that
could influence the market.
So that's where it
became the threat.
The ability of a foreign
company to control oil
in the Middle East was
also important, not just
for the British but also
in the American's eyes.
They didn't want other
countries in the Middle East
to begin thinking that all you
have to do is make trouble
and foreign companies
are going to have to
make concessions to you.
The pretense was that they
were willing to compromise
but the Brits from
right at the beginning
they didn't want to
give up control.
They started spending
some money on, you know,
parks, swimming pools and stuff.
So by '51 they were saying
"the Iranians should be
grateful to us because
we've built you
swimming pools and stuff."
Well of course a
swimming pool might cost
the oil company 2,000 pounds.
What's that when you
know profits are like
50 million pounds a year
or something like that.
They were treating them
kind of like the way
we treated black Americans
in per civil war south,
or even post civil war
south when we put them in
economic slavery instead of
real slavery and persisted,
even more adamantly, in
their desire to rape,
pillage and plunder Iran.
The Persians had every
reason to dislike the way
that MANIOC was treating them.
The British didn't really know
how to deal with a
situation like this.
It was a new era for
them but they were
still thinking in an older era.
One of their first impulses
was"well we're going to send
an army and we'll
just invade Iran."
Harry Truman, in Washington, got
wind of this and he went crazy.
You got this situation where
Harry Truman, I think,
says"I'm not having any of
this, this is imperialism,
this is colonialism.
We've fought a damn war.
Winston Churchill when
you come back to the
government you can go to hell."
President Truman was
increasingly concerned about
the intensity of this argument
between Iran and Britain.
At one point he sent a leading
figure in the United States,
Aver ell Harridan, who had been
famous as governor of New York
and had held a number of
international positions,
to Iran with instructions
to negotiate with Mosaddegh
and see if he could
get Mosaddegh to make
some kind of a compromise
with the British.
I want to express to
you my appreciation
for your willingness to
undertake this trip to Iran.
It's a very important job
that you have undertaken
and one which I think
you can handle
with satisfaction and success.
Mr Harridan undertakes a
series of conferences
with Prime Minister Mosaddegh.
Out of these conferences
hope emerges,
that the crisis that threatens
world peace may now be averted.
Poor Averell Harriman was
shuttling back and forth
between British and
Iranian representatives,
trying to make a
deal, and realised
that neither side
was willing to.
The British policy was to
actually undermine Mosaddegh
initially by putting
economic pressure.
So one way of economic pressure
was to try to close down
the oil industry, thinking
that the Iranians
wouldn't be able to
run the oil industry.
Actually Iranians
were able to run it.
They kept turning up
the pressure, hoping
that as one official of the
old British company said
"when they need money
they will come
crawling to us on
their bellies."
So the next step was to
have a blockade so Iran
couldn't sell its oil and so
whenever tankers from Italy
or somewhere came to
buy oil the British
would actually impound them.
This way the main source
of revenue of course
for Iran dried up because
Iran's main source
of foreign exchange and
revenue was in fact oil.
The British then decided
they would take Mosaddegh
to international tribunals.
The first thing Britain did
was to submit a resolution
to the United Nations
Security Council
in which the Security
Council would order Iran
to give back the oil company.
When Mosaddegh heard about this
he decided to do something
that no leader of any poor
country had ever done.
He would fly himself to New
York, which wasn't so easy
in those days, and personally
present Iran's case
to the Security Council.
He made quite a splash
in New York City.
He went to visit the Liberty
Bell, went to Washington DC.
He was a very colorful figure,
something like your beloved
but perhaps slightly
eccentric favourite uncle.
His speech at the Security
Council was very potent.
It was the first time that
most people at the UN
and most people in the world
had ever heard the leader
of a poor country explain
a clash like this
from the perspective
of the poor country.
We'd always been hearing it
from the other perspective.
The United Nations, once again,
confronts a grave problem
as Premier Mohammad
Mosaddegh of Iran arrives
with Secretary [Trig Hurley]
at the Security Council
to present his side of the
explosive Iranian oil case.
The ailing statesman electrifies
the Council as he denies
the right of the United
Nations to intervene
in what he calls a
purely internal matter.
He accuses Britain of
intimidation by a display
of armed might after
the nationalization
of the oil industry.
Sir Goldwyn Ebb,
Britain's representative,
is an attentive listener
to his arguments, as is
America's Warren Austin.
The issue could be peace or war.
After that debate the Security
Council did something
that it had never done in the
brief history of the UN,
which was to refuse to pass
a resolution that had been
sponsored by one of
the leading members
of the Security
Council, Britain.
So the UN refused
to order Mosaddegh
to give back the oil company.
Then the British decided
"we're gonna take Mosaddegh
to the world court in the Hague"
and Mosaddegh himself
flew to The Hague.
Hearings before the
International Court
at The Hague failed to
solve the difference
as Premier Mosaddegh, with
his parliament behind him,
firmly pursued his
nationalist course.
The same thing happened.
He had a great impact, not
just on public opinion
but on the judges there
and those judges
also refused to order him to
give back the oil company.
So the British were
running out of options.
From their point of view
Iran had stolen something
that belonged to Britain.
It seemed like an
open and shut case.
"We had a contract with them.
They gave us the right
to own their oil.
Now they want it back.
But this is a contract,
it cannot be violated,
they signed it."
The United Nations did not
accept this argument;
the World Court did not
accept this argument.
This was quite a shock
for the British.
The British tried
to oust Mosaddegh
by bribing members
of Parliament.
But Mosaddegh got
wind of the plot,
he promptly kicked the
Brits out of the country.
After the British Embassy
in Tehran was closed
the British were more
or less out of options.
They had tried everything
from blockading ports
to appeals to international
bodies, threats,
embargoes, everything. Now they
didn't even have anyone in Iran.
So they turned to the Americans.
Churchill asked
President Truman,"can
you do us this favour?
Can you overthrow this madman
who has taken away
our oil company?"
Harry Truman, I think,
was violently opposed
on principle to supporting
the coup and Britain
worked hard to get Harry
Truman to support the coup.
And Truman said "no". The
CIA had never overthrown
a government up to
that time and it was
Truman's firm belief
that it never should.
That seemed like the end
of the line for Britain.
Then, in November of 1952,
a surge of excitement
charged through the
British foreign service.
In Washington, a new President
had been elected - Dwight Di.
IKE for President.
IKE for President.
You like IKE. I like IKE.
Everybody likes IKE
for President.
Hang out the banner
and beat the drum.
We'll take IKE to Washington.
We've got to get
where we are going,
travel day and night
for President.
Let Ladling go the other way.
We'll all go with Ike.
You like IKE. I like IKE.
Everybody likes IKE
for President.
Hang up the banner
and beat the drum.
We'll take IKE to Washington.
We'll take IKE to Washington.
We'll take IKE to Washington.
We'll take IKE to Washington.
Now is the time for
all good Americans
to come to the aid
of their country.
There was a fundamental
between Truman and Eisenhower
on the question of
whether Mosaddegh was the
problem or the solution.
Truman and his Secretary
of State, Dean Acheson,
had for some time been working
fairly closely with Mosaddegh.
They had a fundamental
sympathy towards Iran
and its efforts
to get itself out
from under the influence
of Great Britain.
They became convinced
that negotiations
with Mosaddegh were
the way to go.
Eisenhower and his group,
on the other hand,
although they didn't reach
this conclusion right away,
were much more disposed towards
finding some other solution.
The British approached
the incoming
Republican Administration
about overthrowing
John Foster Dulles, the
new Secretary of State,
had long railed against
the dangers of
For much of his career, he
had served as a top lawyer
for large mulch-national
His brother Allen became the
new director of the CIA.
It was the first
and only time that
siblings controlled both
the overt and covert sides
of American foreign policy.
It wasn't hard for the
British to talk the brothers
into overthrowing Mosaddegh.
The Dulles brothers then
sold the new president
on the idea of a
coup by playing the
communist card.
There's only one person in the
whole Eisenhower administration
whoever raises this question
of Mosaddeghs true beliefs
and that person was President
Eisenhower himself.
There was a meeting of the
National Security Council
at which Eisenhower
said something like
"I'm glad we're overthrowing
this communist Mosaddegh
but I actually wasn't
aware that he really was
a communist" and Dulles
had a great answer.
Dulles said"well it's
true that Mosaddegh
is not a communist,
however Mosaddegh
is an elderly man, he could
die, he could be overthrown.
That would produce
instability in Iran.
There is a communist
party in Iran.
Iran is on the border
with the Soviet Union,
therefore circumstances
could unfold in a way
that might leave Iran
open to communism."
And then the straw that
breaks the camel's back
is"the Soviets are coming."
Where have we heard this before?
"The Soviets are coming,
the Soviets are coming."
When Eisenhower
heard that he said
"okay, you've convinced me."
And Eisenhower approves
it and it goes ahead
and there's one other
thing operating here.
Eisenhower has this
incredible aversion for war,
not so counter intuitive if you
think about it for a moment.
He doesn't want to see a
nuclear war in particular
and so he develops this penchant
for clandestine operations
because compared to
war they're cheap.
After the Eisenhower
administration made its decision
to overthrow Mosaddegh,
Allen Dulles
selected Kermit Roosevelt
to carry out the coup.
Kermit Roosevelt was the
grandson of Theodore Roosevelt.
He's very well educated,
my god he's a Roosevelt.
He is full of energy,
the energy of youth,
the dynamism of youth
and good education
and he wants to serve his
country but he wants to do it
in a secretive way,
he wants to do it
in an adventurous way, he wants
to do it overseas and so forth.
- As the chief of the Middle
East section of the CIA
he was the logical choice.
So he's the perfect person
for this kind of operation.
At the beginning of August,
1953 Kermit Roosevelt
arrived in Tehran and began
this covert operation.
It's really a fascinating
operation to study
because it answers
this odd question;
how do you overthrow
a government?
Suppose you get sent to a
country and you're told
"overthrow the government" so
what do you do on the first day?
What do you do on
the second day?
Kermit Roosevelt, who
really was something
like a true life James Bond,
carried out a very
effective policy.
Roosevelt bribed tribal
leaders and newspaper editors
who now claimed that Mosaddegh
was a dictator and had to go.
Every day they were
printing articles about
how evil Mosaddegh was,
that he was a Jew,
he was a homosexual,
he was a criminal,
he was an agent of the British;
anything they could think
of to undermine him.
Leaving nothing to chance,
Roosevelt bribed military
officers, religious leaders,
and members of Parliament.
One of the most
interesting things
that Kermit Roosevelt
did, besides bribing
members of parliament
and military officers
and everyone else,
was his decision
to throw Tehran into chaos.
He had this idea that
if there were riots
and outbreaks of violence
every day around Tehran
people would begin to think
that Prime Minister Mosaddegh
had completely lost
control of the country.
So as the coup day
drew closer he bribed
the chief leader of the
protection rackets in Tehran,
a guy named Shaman the
Brainless, to turn out his mob.
It was Kermit Roosevelt's idea
that this gang, this mob,
should charge through
the streets of Tehran,
beat up pedestrians,
break shop windows,
fire guns into mosques
and then yell
"up with communism,
we love Mosaddegh"
and that wasn't even enough.
Kermit Roosevelt had
an even better idea.
He hired another mob
to attack that mob.
That created a huge outbreak
of street violence.
The first idea that
Kermit Roosevelt had
was to bring the
Shah into the plot.
The British had occupied Iran
during the second world war,
at which time they placed
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
on the throne
as Shah or"King".
Prior to doing so, they
forced the Shah's father
- a ruthless strongman -
to abdicate the throne
due to suspected
pro-Nazi sympathies.
In placing the son
on the throne,
the Brits hoped the younger,
weaker Shah would be
easier to control.
The Shah was a great coward
and a great pipsqueak
and real afraid cat,
very much different
from the image that we had
of him 20 years later.
He was terrified of becoming
involved in this operation
because he feared,
perhaps quite rightly,
that if it went wrong
he'd be finished,
he'd be chased all
out of the country.
This was really dicey
up to the last minute.
The Shah even didn't think
this was gonna work.
They had to fly his
sister in, for example,
who was hated and
didn't even wanna go,
to try and convince
him to do it.
It took a great deal of
persuasion and a lot of pressure
by Kermit Roosevelt and
a number of people
that he brought in to persuade
the Shah to join the plot.
Now what did Kermit Roosevelt
want the Shah to do?
It was his idea that the
Shah should sign two orders,
"firmands" they're
called in Farsi.
The first order dismisses
Mosaddegh as Prime Minister
and the second order names
General Zahedi as his successor.
So late one night, around
midnight, one of the generals
or a colonel at that
time, loyal to the Shah,
arrived with a few soldiers
at Mosaddeghs house,
bangs on the door and
when the door is opened
says, "I have two
orders from the Shah."
Now everyone, including the
Shah and Kermit Roosevelt
understood what
Mosaddeghs reaction
to these orders would be.
He would say"these are illegal,
I reject these orders.
You have no right to name
a new Prime Minister
or to fire a Prime Minister
without parliament's approval,"
and when he did that they would
arrest him, that was the plan.
That simple plan failed
because Mosaddegh
actually got wind of the plan
so when the Shah's troops
came to Mosaddeghs
home to arrest him
Mosaddegh had actually more
troops there waiting for them.
So they arrested
the Shah's kernel.
The next morning Radio
Tehran broadcast the news
that a British plot,
that's what the Iranians,
naively thought it was,
had been crushed.
When the Shah heard this he
fled the country immediately
and went to Baghdad
and then on to Rome.
The CIA cabled Roosevelt that
the situation had become
too dangerous and to
leave Tehran at once.
Kermit Roosevelt, however,
thought to himself
"wait, I can still do
this; I have many assets
I haven't used yet.
I can still get this done" and
showing the resourcefulness,
for which he became famous, he
decided to stay on in Tehran
and try, four days later,
to stage another coup.
For the next several days,
Roosevelt played the
roll of puppeteer.
Throwing Tehran deeper
into chaos, he had one
gang take to the streets,
followed by another.
After Mullahs marched
to denounce Mosaddegh,
he had the military
storm the streets.
They never had any idea that
there was such a person
as Kermit Roosevelt,
that he was operating
in the basement of
the US Embassy.
When two Iranian agents working
for the CIA got cold feet,
Roosevelt made them an offer
they couldn't refuse.
Kermit Roosevelt
produced a valise
with 50,000 dollars in cash.
He told them: "if you agree
to continue helping me
I'll give you this 50,000
dollars, and by the way,
if you don't I'm
gonna kill you."
Considering that option
they changed their mind
and decided to help.
Roosevelt knew that the other
officers under his control
hadn't been touched yet.
He had Loyd Henderson,
the US Ambassador deliver
a message to Mosaddegh:
establish law and order
and clear the streets
of demonstrators or
the US would cease
to recognize him
as prime minister.
Henderson falsely claimed that
American lives were at risk.
Mosaddegh fell for the trap and
effectively disarmed himself.
He ordered his supporters off
the streets, and established
martial law which allowed
the coup plotters
to gain access to needed
fuel and weapons.
The military officers in on the
plot then rolled their tanks
into Tehran - not to clear the
streets of demonstrators,
but to arrest Mosaddegh.
At Mosaddegh's residence there
was a final fire fight.
Mosaddeghs men with their
3 tanks were no match
for the 36 tanks that
besieged the residence,
which was soon destroyed.
Finally, late at night,
the firing stopped.
The people inside fled.
Mosaddegh jumped over a
back wall and disappeared.
The house was looted.
They brought out whatever
they could find and some of
Mosaddeghs personal furnishings
were actually for sale on the
street. His refrigerator
was sold to somebody
for about 35 dollars.
It was time to deliver
the coup DE grace,
that was the naming of Zahedi.
To head up the coup,
the CIA had chosen
Fazlollah Zahedi who had a
reputation for ruthlessness.
General Zahedi had spent WWII
in a British internment camp
due to his connections
to Nazi agents.
Now General Zahedi was in
the custody, essentially,
of Kermit Roosevelt. Roosevelt
had stashed him at a safe house
near the American Embassy.
So he arrived there to tell
him, "everything's worked out,
it's all set, you're gonna
be the Prime Minister."
The guy was just sitting
there in his underwear
waiting for news. Zahedi was
brought out onto the streets
and rode aboard a tank through
the streets of Tehran
to the radio station where
he was to make his statement
announcing that Mosaddegh
was overthrown
and, "I'm now your
new Prime Minister."
It was quite a festive event
although there was one hitch.
As he was about to
make his radio speech
the radio announcers decided
we need some marshal music
to show that Iranian patriotism
has finally triumphed.
So he went running off,
according to this account,
to the Embassy library,
pulled the first, you know,
record album that he
could find off the shelf
and immediately put this
record on the turntable
and the very first
song that came out
was The Star-Spangled Banner.
So this was another
kind of wink of history
maybe since it actually
was the Americans
who were coming to power.
That was quickly changed.
Iranian music was put on.
Zahedi made his speech,
announced that the evil
Mosaddegh was gone
and, "I will now take over and
restore Iran's greatness."
The Shah was sitting at
lunch in a hotel in Rome,
probably thinking to himself
what he was gonna do now.
He had already told people he
would have to look for work
because he wasn't gonna be
able to go back to Iran.
Suddenly some news reporters
burst in and handed him
the news and they
said, "you're back.
The coup... there was another
coup... it succeeded.
You're back on, you're
gonna be the king."
He was in complete shock
and, for some time,
couldn't speak at all.
Finally, his first words were
"I knew it, they love me."
Back at the US Embassy,
the champagne flowed
as jubilation reigned.
The message the Dulles
brothers took away
was that they had a whole new
way to shape world events.
After the coup several hundred
military officers were arrested,
about 60 were executed.
There was a purge of all
officers who were deemed loyal
to the democratic government
and not loyal to
Zahedi or the Shah.
It was a way of cleansing the
army and doing something
that Mosaddegh had refused
to do, which is build
an army loyal to the people
in power at that moment.
For his part in the
coup, Zahedi was paid
5 million dollars by the CIA.
The oil industry was
An international
consortium was formed with
40 percent of the shares now
going to American companies.
Profits were split with
Iran on a 50/50 basis.
But the British effectively
retained overall control,
and its oil company renamed
itself British Petroleum.
Three months after the
coup, Mosaddegh was tried
in a military court on
trumped-up chargers of treason.
His fiery defense
electrified the courtroom
and is still remembered today.
Well the McCarthy era was a
dark time in the United States.
This was from about 1950 to
'54 thereabouts when McCarthy
was on the scene and
he both was created by
and came to symbolize this
period of absolute fear
of communism, excessive fear,
hysteria, as it's often called.
I intend to go into those States
and give the American people
the cold documented picture
of the sell-out in Korea,
the extent to which communism
has been directing
our foreign policy, our suicidal
foreign policy if you please.
It was a time that created
pressures against different
American administrations,
presidential administrations,
to move their policies to the
right. John Foster Dulles
was one of the big proponents
of rollback of communism
under the Eisenhower
administration. He had been,
for a long time, an outspoken
critic of Truman's policies,
about the fears of the United
States being soft on communism
and he is known for being a
vocal advocate of pushing back
hard against the communists.
He later admitted that
he tended to
exaggerate the threat,
purely because it served
certain interests.
I think the conclusion that
the Soviets didn't have
any real implementable,
executable designs on Iran
in '52, '53, '54, I think it's
a pretty sound conclusion
but on the other side of that
coin an even sounder conclusion
I think is that, at this time,
the so-called communists,
the Tutor, in Iran
was indisposed
to be a lackey of
the Soviet Union.
Basically they were
an indigenous group,
not a common turn group, not
a group that was recruited
and funded and marshaled in
Moscow and sent to Iran.
The ideas of communism were
certainly very much opposed
to Mosaddeghs idea.
You could speculate on
whether circumstances might
have changed over time
and communist influence
might have grown there.
The question of communism
threat is often used
as a rhetorical
when it's useful.
So in the early part, when the
oil crisis starts, the Americans
keep pressuring the British to
actually deal with Mosaddegh
and the Americans say to the
British"if you don't deal,
Mosaddegh will be overthrown
and the communists move in"
and the British
pooh-poohs this and say
"there's absolutely
no danger of that.
We can pressure Mosaddegh
as much as we want,
there's no communist threat."
Later on you find the British
then say: "we have to get
rid of Mosaddegh to stop
the communist guy" and then
people like Acheson are then
repeating the earlier British
pooh-poohing that really
there's no real danger of a
communist takeover. At the time,
of course, you can say the
discourse in the West
was the communist danger. So
if you want to get anything
done you say that. Nowadays
you can say the discourse
is international terrorism and
you can justify anything.
But even the Dulles brothers'
view that this country
was very susceptible
to communist takeover
is something that they
developed themselves
and is quite dubious from
historical perspective.
The distortion we usually get
in the conventional view
of the coup is that it's
part of the Cold War;
it's the US/USSR rivalry that
leaves the CIA to carry out
the coup. I would argue that
the coup's really rooted
in the oil crisis, when Iran
nationalized the oil company.
This wasn't just a threat to
the British; it was as much
a threat actually to all the
Western companies including
the American companies
because the same thing
could happen to American
companies in the Middle East
or South America.
The summer of 1953 was a
turbulent time and of course
very threatening and
dangerous for Mosaddegh.
Mosaddeghs house should
have been sacrosanct.
It was not and the
mob went after it.
I was horrified by the
bloodletting in the streets.
There were tanks attacking
the house, there was a lot
of killing then. 300 people
died in that couple of hours.
I interviewed the Shah amongst
a group of reporters there;
me and people from United
Press and he just was kind
of bubbling over with glee
at having been saved.
I met Kermit Roosevelt for the
first time after the coup.
I had several discussions
with him later about
"do you really think now
that was a good idea?"
and he said, "oh yes, it
gave us another 20 years
or something like that." It
was the most reactionary,
he was obeying
orders Kermit was.
I think he truly
believed in his mission.
- The '53 coup is like
a guillotine in Iran,
it inaugurated a
massive repression
and it changed the landscape
so the political situation,
besides being more repressive,
secular organizations
like the National
Front, the Etude Party,
were in fact disassembled,
they've dismantled.
They couldn't
function after '53.
The '53 coup was clearly a
big success for the CIA
as they saw it at the time and
it fit perfectly with the ideas
of President Eisenhower, the
Dulles brothers and others
who thought that
covert operations
was a very powerful tool
in US foreign policy
and it clearly served as
a model or, you know,
provided lessons for
future operations,
including the following year,
in 1954, in Guatemala.
At the time this coup
seemed like a great success
but let's look back at it from
the perspective of history,
from the perspective of today.
The Shah ruled for 25 years,
with increasing repression
His repression produced the
explosion of the late 1970's,
what we call the
Islamic revolution.
That revolution brought
to power a clerk
of fanatically
anti-American Mulls,
who had spent the
next quarter century,
vigorously and sometimes
very violently,
trying to undermine western
power all over the world.
So from the perspective
of history, this
coup doesn't quite so
successful at all.
A lot of history came out
of three weeks in Tehran,
in the summer of 1953.
These people remember this,
even if it's not something that
necessarily happened yesterday,
you have to remember, Iran is a
country with very long history.
It is a culture that is very
much dependent on people,
understanding and
knowing it's history.
So something that happened
50 or 60 years ago,
is not that very far
back for a country
who's history
stretches 3000 years.
What's interesting about 53,
that is the episode,
that is the time
in which America in
the Iranian mindsets,
becomes a violator,
becomes an aggressor.
Prior to that,
the view of Americans
and the view of America
amongst Iranian public, was
an extremely positive one
and well deserving so because
America was correctly viewed
as an anti colonial power,
who opposed colonization,
who itself had fought a war
of independence against who,
Great Britain.
You know we in the United
States have short memories,
people in the Middle
East never forget and I
think there is a political truth
to that and the Iranian people
I believe know all about it but
the average American doesn't
have the vaguest idea
that we interfered with
an elected government.
What bothers me so much, is that
the American people believe that
we can do no harm,
that we are willing to
go to war, start a war
to promote democracy with
force, at the same time,
sometimes when there's a leader
in a country that's been elected
even in recent years.
elected leaders in
the middle east,
we don't like them, we
don't support them.
What CIA for many years has
warned about blow back
I know that when I brought that
term up in the presidential
debate, it wasn't my term and I
referenced it to it haven't been
established by the CIA, because
they knew and understood this
that they can come back on us,
it was an unintended consequence
We should know what
went on in 1953,
what happened with
the coup there
but I think that
the goal of all individuals
ot to be to know the truth
The truth about our history
and not to hide from us
and when history is
distorted, I think we
just continue to make mistakes.
So history is helpful if
we're honest with ourselves.
I think that's the
most important thing
for any country or any people,
is to be honest with ourselves
because when your own government
does harm and you ignore it,
or pretended it never
existed or defend it
for the wrong reasons,
it's very detrimental.
If the United States
had not overthrown the
Mosaddegh government
it's at least conceivable
that democracy
would've continued to thrive and
consolidate itself in Iran.
We might have had a
stable democracy
in the heart of the Muslim
middle east, all these 50 years.
I can hardly wrap my mind
around how different
the middle east might look
today, had that been the case.
The idea that
it is necessary nefarious,
it's always engaged in
overthrowing governments,
that's false.
Asides from the birds.
The government of
Mosaddegh if you recall
His was over thrown by
the accident, the Shah.
As far a I know,
we don't engage in
assassinations and kidnappings
and things of that kind.
As far as I know, we never have.
I hope I have a reasonable
moral standard.
Well the Iranians were
organizing themselves
and really all they needed was
support and to some extent
professional guidance.
It was my feeling then,
that remains my feeling
that the British
understood the extent
of paranoia in this country
concerning communism
this was the day
of Joel McCarthy
and the British consciously
played on that fear in order to
help persuade us, to involve
ourselves in the coup.
What we did from Washington, was
to write some of the articles
that would appear on
the Persian press
and these articles would appear
thanks to the Dravidians
who had contacts I believe
with probably 4/5 of
the Iranian press
and they were designed
to show most of that
as a communist collaborator
and as a fanatic, as a person
who didn't understand
that you could be
both nationalistic and positive.
These two agents
saw the opportunity, and
sent the people we had
under our control,
into the streets
and acted as if they were today.
They were provocateurs.
We had more than just
provocateurs we had a
lot of shot troops
who actually acted as if
they were two dead people
throwing rocks at
mosques, at priests.
That mob that came into north
Tehran and was decisive in the
overthrow was a mercenary
mob, had no ideology
and that mob was paid
for by American dollars
and the amount of
money that was used
it has to have been very large.
The CIA prepared a report on how
the coup had be carried out.
It would serve as a guide for
conducting coups in the future
bu the report left
out key details.
But even if we saw
the full report,
there were certain things
the author Donald Wilbert
wouldn't have put in there
because it wouldn't have been
caution to put those in.
Things such as the CIA
working very closely
with the Iranian Nazi party.
That wouldn't have gone very
well down in Washington.
He also doesn't
deal with actually
questions of assassination
which I suspect the MI6 and
the CIA were involved.
So that sort of sanitized
out of the report.
I think that in the 53 coup,
the CIA was much more involved
in the actual
mechanics in of coup
that in other places
like Guatemala
or Indonesia and places
So there's much more very
incriminating information
and that's why the CIA has
been very reluctant to
release the stuff.
Well I remember the start of the
CIA from when I was in college
it had just been recently
started, 1947 after the war.
The main purpose of
course was so there
would never be
another pearl harbor
When there were little
snippets of information around
and nobody to, these days we
would say connect the dots.
There was no one
central place where
all this information together
and so Harry Truman was
hell-bent and determined that
would never happen again, there
would be one central place which
would be possessed of
all the information
available on a given
country or situation.
He was equally determined
to have it one place
where he could go
and say look, Mr.Director I
want to know what you and those
two universities worth of
specialists out
there in the woods
in Virginia. I want to know
what you really think.
I don't care what the State
department is saying
or the pentagon. The pentagon
is telling me that the Russians
are 10ft tall. I know
they're not 10 ft tall.
They may not be 5'9ft
like you're saying,
but I want to know
what you think okay
No, speak to me in truth.
And man,
it was clear that that's
what Truman Intended
What we got instead, was an
apparatus that seemed revel
in covert operations,
Clandestine operations
spend billions of
tax payer dollars
for those operations
in total secrecy
and expend blood and treasure
in those operations,
often times failing,
in total secrecy.
He wrote a not bad, I
have a copy of it here.
Not bad in the Washington Post
December 22, 1963. As he
watched these things happen
you know, he watched Iran and
he watched Guatemala and he saw
governments toppled and he
said hey man, hey time out
That's not what I intended here.
It says he simply
does not recognize
the entity that he
helped create in 1947
in the CIA and clearly
his angst is about the
covert operations
aspect of the CIA.
and he sees it as a danger to
the integrity and the health
of our democratic republic.
I have a copy of
this, this thing.
What he says is
this, the title is
Limit CIA Role To Intelligence
Well ya, hello. That's what it's
supposed to be all about right?
Quote, I never thought that
when I set up the CIA,
it would be injected
into peacetime
cloak and dagger operations.
Now there are some
searching questions
that need to be answered.
I, therefore, would like
to see the CIA restored to
it's original assignment
as the intelligence arm of
the President, and that
whatever else it can properly
perform in that special field
and that its
operational duties be
terminated or properly
used elsewhere
Well, you were right about
a lot of things Harry.
you're dead right about that.
Truman ended his stinging
rebuke of the CIA,
by writing that "The agency
is casting a shadow
over our historic
position and I feel that
we need to correct it."
Of course the Brits came over,
as for our help, Allen Dulles
and yes that would be great
covert action authorized by
the President and so they went
in and they overthrew Mosaddegh,
They threw him out okay, now
that's where history begins,
recent history for Iranians
and Americans don't have
any idea that there is this
very legitimate grievance.
and what came in? The Shah.
What he did was bring in the
most brutal secret police,
bunch of torturers, second to
none, even the German Gestapo.
They were called Saks.
With the help of American
aid and training,
Savak was created in 1957, it's
name alone would come to strike
fear in the hearts and
minds of Irans citizens.
Well the Savak becomes
essentially the secret police
for the Shah and
their training and education
and their mode to
stop Iranians so forth are
more or less given to them
by the CIA person personnel who
are, as far as I can tell,
are also some military involved
in this. The CIA and the
military often work
together, a very
insidious relationship
in my view.
The 53 coup deprived the regime
that ruled in Iran of legitimacy
and the overwhelming majority
of the people, even many of the
people of were working
for the regime.
They previewed the regime as
dependent on the United States,
as fundamentally born
of a sinful act.
What Savak becomes for the
Shah, is secret police do and
many of these more autocratic
societies, particularly when
they're becoming more and more
autocratic as the Shah was,
is it takes care of all of it's
oppositions, either arrest them
and spirits them away to sites
unknown, for purposes unknown,
never to be contacted again,
buries them in the desert,
or whatever but it becomes the
Shah's way of dealing with
residence and dealing with it
in a very draconian harsh way
and of course this just breeds
more and more discontent amongst
the populous in Iran and makes
him look more and more
the tyrant rather than
the beloved leader that he
always wanted to be seen as.
Under the Shah was unimaginable,
that anybody would say anything
critical within the political
word, against anybody,
absolutely not.
So it was a combination of not
that Savak was all pervasive
or powerful
but the physiological
perimeters of the Savak
and the political order
had created a situation
that we were all
conscious and fearful of Savak.
So the aura was created that
the Savak is everywhere
and it contributed to
the terrorization and
internalization of
that terror in the
society and the arch.
and I made so many trips
to Savaks office
answering questions
and just, sometimes
they take you in
and you sit there for 5
hours and nobody comes out
and there are a number of other
people sitting in the room
you're too fearful to
say a word because
you don't know who they are.
So I did experience,
it was the very beginning,
it became far more viscous
as time went on because it was
the beginning of its formation
when I was still in Iran.
Several of our students you
know, got refuge on the roofs
the fifth floor, the sixth
floor, they threw them away
just threw them like
garbage, down and many
people got killed that way, many
people had broken legs or arms.
Being in the center of this
torture chambers hearing all
of these cries and screams
coming everywhere.
I mean, I couldn't sleep for
a minute, yet 24 hours.
because of this you
are in solitary
and this guy is screaming kill
me! Don't do that, just kill me!
I mean screams all over, you
feel like you are there
and they handcuffed me this way
there was this hook
and they could
raise it so I could be kind
of hanged from my hands
and the pain
[inaudible dialogue]
and death would be, I
mean just a relief.
This is difficult for
you to talk about
it's a horrible experience.
You don't have to if
you dont want to.
I have a duty to
say these things
for American people to know
what it was like under the Shah.
The main reason that the Savak
and the Shah was sent packing
was because ever other
family in Iran knew somebody
or had one of the members
of their family tortured
That's what torture
brings you okay.
After 25 years of increasingly
despotic by the Shah
millions of Iranians
took to the streets
in what would become known
as The Islamic Revolution.
The Shah fled the country
in January of 1979.
Later that year,
Iranian students
overran the US embassy in Tehran
when the Shah was allowed
to enter the United States.
[crowd chanting]
The man who called me was
a man by the name of
Frank Re dice who as on
the desk that Sunday
and he told me that
a number of
student demonstrators
had broken into
the US embassy and
apparently had
taken some American
diplomats hostage
and he wanted me to come
in the state department
I was then the senior diplomatic
correspondent for ABC
to do a piece on it for
that evenings news
and it was Sunday and I
didn't want to come in
and I told him I didn't
think this thing would last
more than an hour or two
as I said like this
things going to die.
I mean it's not going to last.
But regrettably every
single day in Iran
was a noninvasive day.
Ultimately the hostages
were held for 440 days.
They appointed me as
ambassador to the UN
in order to facilitate
this agreement.
The group of us were throwing
out names for this new program
and Dick Wald said
you know in racing,
horse raising
there is something
called The Morning Line
since this program is
going at 11:30 at night
why dont we call
it the Night Line.
and I said that the
dumbest I've ever heard
I think that's a really
stupid title for a program
I left Tehran
with the hope that I'm
coming to the United
States going to the
security council
doing everything we could
to expedite the
release of hostages.
I met Jimmy Carter
at the White house
and he joked that the two people
who had benefited most
from the hostage take
and were first the guy
Ayatollah Khomeini
and second, me.
I didn't want to be the
ambassador of a country
that had taken hostages.
I accepted the position in order
to resolve the hostage crisis
and when I came to
realize that the hostage
crisis is not going
to be resolved
there was absolutely no
reason for me to stay there
it would have been absurd
because I thought the
act was criminal and
illegal and inhuman in
every sense of the word.
Certainly in the initial
months of America Held Hostage
I think the title
was hysterical.
Later turned out to be
more accurate than it
was at the outset.
Nightlife and many other
television programs
and journalists,
they were shocked.
but the immorality and the
illegality of the act
which was understandable
and yet after 25 years
of supporting an illegitimate
government, overthrowing
democratic elected the
prime minister in 1953
it was the responsibility
of the press
to gain an understanding
of why it happened
but at the same time
"" The Nightlife
and other television
programs did not do that
I forget whether we did that
if we didn't it would have been
a huge oversight, we should've.
because that clearly was
that was and is to this day
you know I mean,
50 whatever it is
56 years later.
That continues to be
a very sole point
with the Iranian people.
When they had guests,
or the newspapers
interviewed various people
in an article you could read
a sentence or a
phrase about the coup
but the reader of the article
is not going to end up thinking
about the connection between
what happened in 1953
and what happened in 1979.
And if you show just a
little of imagination
and think how we would
feel if some power
greater than the United
States had overthrown
one of our presidents,
had assisted one of our enemies
in assaulting the homeland of
the United States, had
supported someone that
we felt was a pretender
to the White House,
and giving him all
kinds of weapons
and overlooked human
rights abusers
that he and his secret
police inflicted
on the people of
the United States
I think we'd feel pretty upset
about that and we would
probably harbor that grudge
a generation or five.
The hostage crisis in one
sense was a very simple thing
I mean you had a
group of students
who wanted to demonstrate
against the US
who were unhappy with the
way things were going.
The role of the Shah was
an important element
in the evolution of
the events in Tehran
after the revolution.
What was going to happen to him?
should we anticipate
that he would
again be restored to the thrown?
would we engage ourselves in the
kind of coup we did in 1953
to restore him to the thrown?
that was the concern among the
part of the revolutionary
elements in the city of
Tehran at that time, in 1979.
The Shah had been admitted
back into the United States
and this was considered
to be the first
step to returning
him to the thrown
that was not true but that's the
way people remembering 1953
they thought this was the first
step in bringing him back.
to admit him into the United
States in the context
of the revolutionary afferment
that was abroad in that country
at that time, in 1979.
There was something else
so I said no, let's
not admit him.
Jimmy Carter was extremely
reluctant to do this
in fact he was the very last
one of all of his advisers to
finally agree to do this and in
that final meeting that he had
where he looked
around the room and
everybody in the
room was telling him
yes you you've got
to let him in,
he's dying, you can't reject his
you can't tell him he can't have
medical treatment and so forth
and he looked around the
room and I said well okay
he said I hear what
all of you are
saying but he said I wonder what
you're all going to
say to me when they
take our people
hostage in Tehran.
It was clear that this was
a dangerous thing to do.
He was admitted
and we paid for it.
[crowd chanting]
The actions of Iran
have shocked the civilized world
for a government to applaud
mob violence and terrorism
for a government
actually to support
and in effect participate
in the taking and
holding of hostages
is unprecedented
in human history.
They do about sit ins
and they were going to
come in, make their point
they had done it
once before, it had
been done once before
at the embassy
in February and ended
within 48 hours
they very much had
the same idea that
this would be a
short lived thing
and they were as surprised
as anybody else
when Khomeini threw his
support to the students
they didn't come prepared
to stay for 444 days
and suddenly they
found themselves not
having a sit in, but
running a prison.
Treatment during
captivity was lousy.
Not in the sense where
they beat me everyday
but it was
in-violation of something very
profound in the
Iranian zone culture
one of the leaders of
the student militants
who were then holding
the three of us
in solitary confinement
each of us in separate cells.
He came in to see me
one day, in my cell
and I proceeded, I took the
opportunity to say look
why are you doing this?
It is totally contrary to
all Iranian traditions
of freedom
human rights
treating us this way
physically abused as hostages
it is totally absolutely wrong
why are you doing this?
He responded by saying you
have nothing to complain about
your country took my
country hostage in 1953
totally and abrogated the
opportunities that we had then
we're a free
participatory democracy.
I was reminded of 1984
particularly if you remember
the incident in there
of the two minutes hate
that everyday at Winston
Smiths ministry
they would all stop work and
they would get together
and they would have
two minutes of hate
and they would scream, shout
slogans and scream and yell
and get all excited and then
they would have hate week
that seemed very much the
situation we were in
I couldn't identify
today, where it was or is
but it was a prison,
a dark cold prison
where my colleagues
had been held
in and out of prisons
during those months
and I could do nothing to
help them, that was my hurt
that was my mental
hurt if you will.
but beyond what happened
to me personally
the event still
resonates, it resonates
in this country
it resonates around the world
and for better or worse
and mostly for worse
it shapes the way
people look at Iran
The student captures
also controlled
all of the library of
the embassy compound
and so we all got access
to books, eventually
not the books you wanted
one of my colleagues is
much quoted as having said
first book they gave me was
a god damn geometry book
I never liked geometry but I
read everything in that book.
You ignore history and you
ignore Iranians view of history
and you ignore the
history of the
United States and
Iran at your peril.
to give you the simplest example
in October of 1979,
when the White House
decided to admit the
Shah to the country
it said alright we will do this
but we will tell the Iranians
that we're doing this only
for humanitarian reasons
because the Shah is sick
and so he's coming to the
United States only for
medical treatment
and there is no
political agenda.
Well, that may have been true
but given the history
of US Iranian relations
I doubt that any Iranian
over the age of 3
would have believed
such an explanation
and perhaps that was
why the events of 1953
and the Americans
coming eventually
siding with the British
working to overthrow
nationalist government
came as such a profound shock
I mean had it been
the British they
probably would've been expected,
had it been the Russians
would've been expected
but from someone who you
thought was your friend
it was seen as a
very deep betrayal
as one comes to appreciate,
eventually and certainly
as a hostage in
solitary confinement
is a beautiful thing.
They were 20 years
old at the time
we were all 20 years
old at the time.
when we're at that
age you're emotional
you don't think
through what you do.
I don't blame them so
much for what they did
I blame those who rode the wave
who did not take up
their responsibilities.
I understood their zeal
you have to understand that even
though you think they are wrong
you give them credit
for being zealous
and they sure as hell were
determined to hold as
long as they could
I have no particular
malice towards each
and every one of them except
my hope my them,
my I wish for them
is they never get a visa
to come to my country.
I can get emotional
in that subject.
You make gestures,
you lower the tone
of the rhetoric, you
stop the sermonizing
you put your
preconceptions aside
I have said since the day I left
since the moment I
entered the Algerian
aircraft to return me to freedom
I said it to the
principle hostage
taker at the top of the ramp
I look forward to the day your
when your country and mine
can again have a normal
diplomatic relationship
I have advocated
that ever since,
I have preached
the need to talk.
We should be talking.
Now, will that bring
an immediate change?
will that bring
immediate positive results?
probably not, suspicions
still run deep
you don't overcome 30
years of hostility
with one speech or one gesture
but you keep at it.
Khatami made a speech
in January of 88'
in which he basically
went as far as any
Iranian leader is
ever likely to go
and saying that clearly we
would never do that again
and those were different
times and so forth
he can't come out and say
oh we were completely
wrong, he can't say that
I mean Khomeini was behind it,
he supported it all the way
and he's the father
of their country
it's like saying
George Washington
made a foolish mistake
you don't just say
things like that.
The problem with
US Iran relations
is not so much foreign policy
it's domestic policy.
In the United States,
Iran is a dirty word
and has been since the
time of the hostage crisis
it's very hard to
get politicians
to say anything
constructive about Iran
and our relations with Iran
it's easier to dismiss
them, to criticize them
or to suggest harder sanctions
on them or punishment
In Iran it's the same thing.
The revolution was as much
an anti-American revolution
as it was an
anti-Shah revolution
we're going to have
to give up something
but Iran is going to have
to give up something
and that's what
negotiations are all about.
In January of 2002, George
Bush gave his second state
of the union address
he singled out Iran
for special attention
and thereby damaged chances
for a better relationship
Here we've got after all
an administration that finds
in Afghanistan in 2000
late 2001, 2002 that the
Iranians are very cooperative
that the Iranians
are helping you
that the Iranians are helping
you with everything from
rounding up the Taliban,
finding Al-Qaeda
who might have flown into Iran
working for The Bonn
conference, in stalling Karzai
that they are
helping you as much
as anybody else in the region
and you pay them
back by giving a
state of union address
which calls them
a member of the access of evil
which is imponderable to them
they don't even know
what that means
but they know it's bad
Iran aggressively prosue these
weapons and exports terror
states like these and
their terrorist allies
constitute and access of evil
arming to threaten the
peace of the world
and so their payback for having
cooperated in Afganistan
is to be called a member
of the access of evil
imagine their befuddlement
and imagine their anger
I'm Iranian and that's funny
cause people I tell them
my American friends,
I go ya I'm Iranian
they go oh so you're Arab and
I'm like no we're actually
different we're not Arab but I
mean you know we're similar
you know we're all getting shot
at, you know that's one thing
but you Iranians are actually
ethnically, we're actually Arian
we're white, we're white,
so stop shooting you know
a lot of the times I would get
in an argument with people
around the time of the Iraq war,
cause I was against the war
and a lot of the times people
would say we got to do this
got to do that and I'd always
say do you know the history
let's go back a little bit
and see how we got here in
the first place and
I would always
bring the 53 coup
into the argument
The Iranians don't
even say their Iranian
Iranians say they're Persian.
In Iran we say we are Persian
you know it sounds
nicer and friendlier
we even smile, when we say
we're Persian we smile
"I am Persian!"
"I am Persian!"
"I am not dangerous,
I am Persian!"
"I am Persian like the cat"
"I am the cat!"
"I am Persian like
the rug, hello
rug colorful, hand woven."
I have a friend
who's conservative
and we have these
debates and I go
go back and look that
Iran had a democracy
and that US with England, they
came in overthrew that democracy
to implement a
monarchy for the oil.
So you know you got to have a
historical perspective before
before you get into
these debates.
People think that just because
I'm from the Middle East
I'm an expert on the Middle East
So like I got a friend, every
time the gas prices go up
he'll always ask my
opinion about it
he'll always corner me,
"hey Mass, hey Mass
in your opinion what's going
on with this gas thing
what's going to happen,
what's going on
50 words or less,
breakdown would you
you're my middle
eastern friend."
like dude I don't work
at Opek, I don't know
I pay the same price as you
you know, like I don't have a
discount pump at the gas station
I don't want in like
"Hassan Hussein discount
pump, okay my friend."
[laughter and applause]
Fuck America
I joke about that, I said
you know it was funny cause
the hijackers were Saudis
and Egyptians and somehow
Iran ended up in
the access of evil
I remember watching
that and he was like
there's an access of evil,
I was like yes there is
and he goes it's North
Korea, I'm like ya
he goes it's Iraq, I go right on
he goes it's Iran, I'm like
what the hell, what do we do
you know okay we might
have a nuclear program
but we're not admitting to it,
maybe we have a nuclear program
maybe we don't, define nuclear.
I think that goes
back to that whole
cause Iran also calls
America the great Satan
It's kind of like
five year olds
on a playground
just name calling.
So it was unfortunate,
it's undiplomatic
let's put it that way.
The Bush administration came
into office thinking there was
a quick and easy solution to
the proliferation problem
fortunately there is
now a wide spread
at least expert consensus
that this strategy of forced
regime change didn't work, that
the solution is to leave the
regime change up to the people
of the country themselves
the only ones who can
really change the regime
and to seek other combinations
of pressures and incentives
to convince those countries,
convince those people to abandon
nuclear programs.
The Iranian program is a threat
in many ways, but the answer
isn't to force the regime
to give up the program
no country has ever been forced
to give up a nuclear program
but lots of countries have
be convinced to do so.
The NIE also correctly
understood that the drivers
behind Irans program
were not some crazy idea
of a global genocide or
annihilation of Israel
they were the same motives that
have motivated most countries
who have pursued
nuclear weapons,
a desire for security to
protect them from attack
a desire for enhanced prestige.
Think India getting the bomb,
there is no real
military option here
history is very clear on this
score, an attack on a country
causes the people of
that country to rally
around the leadership,
not flee from it
it often will lead
to an acceleration
of military programs
containment works,
deterrence is alive and well
the worst case,
scenario is not good
but it's a lot better than
starting a nuclear war
in the neighborhood.
No US President has ever spoken
that way to the Muslim people
and when he referenced the 1953
coup against the democratic
leadership of Iran, he was
doing so not as an apology
but just stating a truth
everybody knows what the
US has done in that region
and when he coupled that
with an explicit reference
to colonialism, for many
Muslims this was unbelievable
that you heard a western
leader acknowledging this
just as a fact that
we have to deal with
and then let's move on, let's
have a new relationship
new structures, based on
our needs now, fully aware
of the sins and omissions hat
both sides have committed
in the years passed.
Iran's a country, it's a
very youthful country
vast majority of the country
are less than 30 years old
born after the
revolution actually
and very well educated, it's
a majority Shia country
over 90% Shia
but it's also pretty
ethnically diverse
and there are lots of
minorities, there's Arabs
there's Kurd, there's
Turks, there's Christians,
Jews, Muslims, Sunnis
as well as Shia
so it's pretty ethnically
diverse, at the same time
it is overwhelmingly Shia.
Ya every Iranian you can
talk about in the 1953
CIA backed coup against the
democratically elected
government of
Prime minister Mosaddegh and
the reason every Iranian knows
knows that history is
cause they're taught it
every school kid knows about
it, the same way we know
that George Washington
fought the British,
the same we way know
who Benjamin Franklin
was and Iranians will know
that there was a democratically
elected government
that was overthrown by the CIA.
President Khatami expressed
regret rather than an apology
or feeling shameful about it,
certainly not proud of it
I don't think hardly
anybody is proud of it
including the students who
took over the embassy
Out beyond the ideas of
wrongdoing and right-doing
there's a field,
I'll meet you there
and the reason I put that in
the introduction was because
I think it speaks very well
to the idea of why I wrote
the book in the first place,
which is complete
between Iran and the United
States and it's accusations
fly back and forth, you
did this, you did this
you are doing this,
you are doing that
you're wrong here,
you're right here
I'm right here,
you're wrong there
none of that ever gets us
anywhere, that's all rhetoric
and it's always
accusations, like a fight
any fight and were
in this conflict
but there's place where you go,
go beyond those accusations
beyond those fights,
beyond those issues
that we have between us,
there's a place where
we could meet and
discuss things.
On June 12th 2009
Iranians went to the
polls in large numbers.
when the Presidential election
appeared stolen, they took
to the streets in protests,
situations seem to harpen back
to what happened to Irans
nascent democracy of the 1950's.
The protests have subsided but
it's obvious that peoples
sense of anger and
injustice hasn't subsided
and millions of people which
represented diverse swathe
of Iranian society,
not only in Tehran but
throughout the Country
are risking their lives,
almost on a daily basis
for greater political voice, for
more economic opportunities
for more social freedoms
and I think Iranians have really
inspired people
throughout the world.
Mousavi has earned a
tremendous respect from people
for not backing down
to the hardliners,
for continuing the fight
and in a way the relationship
between Mousavi and the crowd
is somewhat symbiotic
in the sense that I think that
the crowds are inspired by
Mousavi unwillingness
to back down
and Mousavi is frankly
is odd I think by
the courage of the crowd
and that allows him the
political capital
to remain defiant.
What's interesting about
Mousavi is that he is not
an opposition candidate who
has actually been an opponent
of the regime, he's someone with
impeccable revolutionary
he was prime minister for
8 years, he was someone
who was close to the
father of the revolution,
Ayatollah Khomeini
and he's not for a wholesale
revolution, what he's saying is
that the revolution, the
ideals of the 1979 revolution
have veered off onto
a dangerous path
and we need to take
it back onto the
[Persian word]
as they say in Persian,
'the right path'.
In the last 1970's, the iconic
images which emerged from
the revolution were bearded,
middle aged, traditional men.
The iconic images from
this movement have been
young, educated,
modern female like
Neda Agha-Soltan
who was killed
and women's role in these
protests I think have been
quite frankly awesome.
women have continued to go to
the streets despite the regimes
indiscriminate use of words
I think any change which
takes place in Iran
will and will have played an
incredibly important role in
bringing about that change
and it's remarkable that days
and weeks and months and
I'm sure years after
Nedas death,
people from around the world
are never going to forget that
image and are never going to
forget her tremendous bravery
and are never going to
forget the conditions
under which she died.
Right now theres an
incredible whirlwind
of emotions that
Iranians are feeling
there's tremendous hope
and tremendous fear
all at the same time.
there is this hope that
finally after 30 years
there is light at the
end of the tunnel
there's hope for a more modern,
progressive, tolerant Iran.
You have a unique situation
in the sense that,
right now about two thirds
of Iranians are under 33
so they dont remember
the 1979 revolution
they have no inherent enmity
towards the United States
they have no inherent loyalty
towards the Islamic republic.
2009 is a much different
world than 1979
1979, there wasn't internet,
there wasn't satellite
television, people couldnt see
what was taking place
beyond their borders
this has been a movement
which has transcended
age, it's transcended gender,
it's transcended
geographic location,
it's transcended religiosity,
it's transcended
socioeconomic class
and again when millions of
people have taken to the streets
despite the risk of wars
despite the risks
to the security
you can only imagine that
there's millions of people
who feel solidarity
with them at home.
So we should not underestimate
the magnitude of
this moment.
The problems are not
that intractable
we have huge common
interest here
and we have resolved problems
much greater than this.
In my life, I've
seen miracles happen
I've seen Germany unite,
the Soviet Union collapse,
the war in Vietnam
now embraces American tourism.
I've seen Catholics and
Protestants in Northern Ireland
who swore never, never, never,
and denounced each other
as terrorists, shake hands
and form a united government.
I've seen a man walk out of a
prison cell that held him for
28 years to become the majority
leader of South Africa.
Don't tell me that
miracles can't happen
don't tell me that any of
these challenges are too big
or too intractable
that we have to
use military force
to resolve them
I think that the US and Iran are
destined to become
partners once again.
We have the power to
make the world we seek
but only if we have the courage
to make a new beginning
keeping in mind what
has been written
the Holy Quran tells us
Oh man kind, we have created
you male and a female
and we have made you
into nations and tribes
so that you make
know one another
The Talmud tells us:
"The whole of the Trn is for
the purpose of promoting peace."
The Holy Bible tells us:
"Blessed are the peacemakers
for they shall be
called sons of God."
The people of the world can
live together in peace
we know that is Gods vision
now that must be our
work here on earth.
Thank you and may Gods
peace be upon you.
I do believe that when democracy
finally returns in it's
full form to Iran,
Mohammad Mosaddegh will
be revered as a hero,
you will see his
picture once again
on every banner in every office
on every street corner
and he will be
understood officially
as he is now understood
privately: as the great hero
of 20th century Iran.
"If I sit silently,
I have sinned."