"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."


June 1, 2006

Western mainstream media reporting on Iran is, in a word, unreliable. (The reasons for this have been best analyzed in a 1988 book by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky entitled Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.) This is true of even the best media sources. For example, Chomsky has called the Financial Times of London “[p]robably the best newspaper in the world” (Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World: Interviews with David Barsamian [Metropolitan Books, 2005], p. 116). Yet, when it lays out a timeline (text in bold) of the past half-century of U.S.-Iran relations, even the most exemplary mainstream British paper is guilty of glaring omissions, inadequacies, even outright errors of fact (in italics) . . .

1953 U.S.-backed coup ousts popular prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh and reinstates the Shah of Iran [NOTE: In fact, according to the CIA’s own internal history of the coup, the idea of overthrowing Mossadegh was proposed to the U.S. by the British, inspired by the 1951 nationalization of oil reserves till then exploited by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (which now operates as “BP”—formerly British Petroleum, which is, along with ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, and Total, one of the world’s so-called supermajors; the combined revenues of these five companies in 2005 amounted to more than $1,315,000,000,000, and their combined profits in 2005 were more than $109,000,000,000.) Moreover, the United States did more than reinstate the Shah. With the help of the CIA and the Israeli Mossad, it set up a brutal secret police force known as SAVAK that tortured and killed tens of thousands of political opponents.]

1979 Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrows the Shah; U.S. embassy staff are held hostage for 444 days [NOTE: The embassy seizure was certainly a flagrant violation of international law. But it took place ten months after the Iranian Revolution, was initially the action of a student group, not of the government, and was supported by Khomeini only after a strongly favorable popular response from Iranians (David Harris, The Crisis: The President, the Prophet, and the Shah—1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam [Little, Brown, 2004], pp. 199-224).]

1980 U.S. president Jimmy Carter breaks off diplomatic relations and imposes sanctions, including seizure of Iranian assets, after talks to free the hostages break down [NOTE: No American hostages died at the hands of Iranians; eight American soldiers died in the abortive rescue attempt of Apr. 24, 1980. To resolve the crisis, the U.S. signed the “Algiers Accords” on Jan. 19, 1981, stating: “The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs.” In April 2005, Iran said it would take legal action against the United States for failing to respect the accord and funding opposition groups in Iran.]

1980 Iraq invades Iran in a war that lasts until 1988 and in which at least 600,000 Iranians die; U.S. gives support to Iraq as the war goes on [NOTE: In fact, estimates of Iran’s war dead range as high as 957,000,. out of a 1980 population around 40 million. For the purposes of comparison, U.S. combat deaths in all of WWII were 291,577 (U.S. population in 1940: 131.6 million). In 1994, a U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs report concluded that “the United States provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological, and missile-producing programs, including . . . chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans), chemical warhead filling equipment . . .” Iraq used chemical weapons dozens of times against Iran, on a scale not seen since World War I, but the world scarcely reacted. The senior defense intelligence officer in 1988, Col. Walter Lang, told the New York Times that “the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern” (Robert Fisk, The Global War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East [Alfred A. Knopf, 2005], pp. 209-16, 228).]

1981 Iran deploys Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon's Bekaa valley after Israeli invasion [NOTE: Iran withdrew the last of its Revolutionary Guards from the Bekaa valley in 1984.]

1983 Separate bombings by militant Shia groups linked to Iran kill 63 at the U.S. embassy in Beirut, including eight senior CIA operatives, and 241 U.S. marines [NOTE: Both Hezbollah and Iran deny any involvement. With respect to suicide bombings, the world’s leading authority on the subject has written: “What caused the emergence of suicide terrorism in Lebanon? The most common explanation is Islamic fundamentalism. Hezbollah, so the argument goes, was founded on the basis of radical Islamic principles that gained ascendancy following the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, and extreme devotion to radical Islam accounts for the willingness of its members to achieve personal salvation through martyrdom operations. The tendency of most news stories at the time to stress the Islamic identity of the attackers encouraged the perception that Islamic fundamentalism is the root cause of suicide terrorism in Lebanon. However, this is not the case. . . . I spent a year leading a team of researchers who collected detailed information on the ideological and other demographic characteristics of suicide terrorists. The results show that at least thirty of the forty-one attackers do not fit the description of Islamic fundamentalism. Twenty-seven were communists or socialists with no commitment to religious extremism; three were Christians. Only eight suicide attackers were affiliated with Islamic fundamentalism; the ideological affiliation of three cannot be identified. Moreover, although Iran did provide money and other support to the Lebanese resistance fighters, the rise of Hezbollah and large popular support for the movement were directly caused by a clear external event, Israel’s massive occupation of southern Lebanon in 1982” (Robert A. Pape, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism [Random House, 2005], pp. 129-30).]

1985-86 'Iran-contra' affair sees U.S. supply weapons to Iran in return for freeing of Western hostages in Lebanon, with arms proceeds sent on to 'Contras' in Nicaragua [NOTE: The illegal sale of weapons to Iran in order to fund an illegal war in Central America revealed in spectacular fashion the cynicism of those at the helm of the U.S. national security state, and involved many supporters and agents of the present administration, including Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich, John Negroponte, and Admiral John Poindexter.]

1989 [sic] U.S. shoots down Iranian passenger plane in Persian Gulf, killing all 290 aboard [NOTE: In fact, IR655 was shot down by the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on July 3, 1988. Though blamed for negligence or worse in many investigations of this incident, the U.S. government has yet to admit any wrongdoing or responsibility, has not apologized, and continues to blame Iranian hostile actions.]

1996 President Bill Clinton introduces tougher sanctions against Iran [NOTE: Michael Massing, in “The Storm over the Israel LobbyNew York Review of Books (Jun. 8, 2006) writes: “Since the mid-1990s, AIPAC [the American Israel Pubilc Affairs Committee] has been devoting much of its energy to warning against Iran's development of nuclear weapons, to denouncing the mullahs in Tehran, and to seeking their overthrow.  [In “The Israel LobbyLondon Review of Books, (Mar. 23, 2006),] Mearsheimer and Walt place much emphasis on the lobby's support for war in Iraq, but AIPAC's work on Iran has had far more impact.”]

1998 Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks of a "road map leading towards normal relations" after reformist president Mohammad Khatami wins 1997 presidential election

2000 Albright acknowledges U.S. role in 1953 coup [NOTE: Albright said that “the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran’s popular prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons, but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs. Moreover, during the next quarter century, the United States and the West gave sustained backing to the Shah’s regime. Although it did much to develop the country economically, the Shah’s government also brutally repressed political dissent. As President Clinton has said, the United States must bear its fair share of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in U.S.-Iranian relations.”]

2001 Iran and U.S. have diplomatic contacts over U.S. invasion of Afghanistan

2002 New U.S. president George Bush includes Iran with Iraq and North Korea in an "axis of evil"

2003 Iran remains neutral as U.S. invasion of Iraq clears way for the political rise of Shia Muslim parties allied to Iran

2005 Fundamentalist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins landslide presidential election: Iran's two-year nuclear negotiations with the Europeans break down [NOTE: In fact, the order of events was the reverse. Iran’s negotiations with Europe broke down in February-March 2005. Ahmadinejad did not win election until Jun. 24, 2005, in an election that surprised most observers. The decision to resume uranium enrichment was made in late July, before Ahmadinejad assumed the presidency.]

February 2006 Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency refers Iran to the U.N. Security Council over its atomic program; U.S. presses for sanctions but is unable to win support of Russia and China [NOTE: Iran says that “as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we enjoy the absolute right to master the nuclear fuel cycle and should be able to make use of it.” No evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons has been discovered. IAEA director ElBaradei’s March 2006 report stated that “the agency has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices,” but condemned Iran for failing to do what is logically impossibile: prove a negative (i.e. prove the non-existence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran):  “[T]he agency is not at this point in time in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.”]

May 2006 President Ahmadinejad writes to president Bush proposing both countries acknowledge common roots in the religious prophets of Christianity and Islam; Washington snubs the letter [NOTE: Ahmadinejad’s letter asked the U.S. president many questions, the first of them being: “Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), the great Messenger of God, feel obliged to respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilization model, announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs, make ‘War on Terror’ his slogan, and finally, work towards the establishment of a unified international community—a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern, but at the same time, have countries attacked?”]


"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."