Hillary Clinton: U.S. Regrets Role In 1953 Coup in Iran

All Countries Are Hypocritical...Face “Hard Choices”

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | November 1, 2011                    
[Updated November 3, 2016]

Hillary Clinton: U.S. Regrets Overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran

Though Hillary Clinton has repeatedly confessed that her 2002 Senate vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq was “a mistake”, she has never strayed from her propensity for foreign intervention.

In the aftermath of 2009 U.S.-backed coup in Honduras which ousted the elected President, Manuel Zelaya, Sec. of State Clinton not only condoned it but called for “free and fair elections” to “render the Zelaya question moot”. With him out, increased violent crime, rampant human rights abuses and marauding death squads moved in.

In 2011, Clinton pressed for military intervention in Libya, and got it. In exchange for the insane Gaddafi, we have a failed state, a major refugee crisis, the whole Benghazi fiasco, and an additional outpost for the ISIS terrorist network.

More recently, an old audio tape surfaced in which Clinton is heard in an interview bemoaning the lack of a U.S. initiative to manipulate the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections—to ensure an outcome satisfactory to Israel and America, of course.

This is doubly ironic because as the Democratic nominee for President, Clinton is facing a Republican challenger who never tires of complaining that the whole election is “rigged” against him. Further adding to the irony is that Clinton herself has openly stated that Russia has been actively interfering in the race on behalf of her lunatic opponent, Donald Trump, whom she suggested is Putin’s “puppet”.

Hillary’s party had recently looked to FBI Chief James Comey to investigate whether the Russian government was behind the DNC’s hacked emails. Now Comey himself has come under fire by many, including President Obama, for tampering with the election results by irresponsibly renewing speculation about Clinton’s emails just days before Americans head to the polls on November 8th, a possible violation of the Hatch Act.

Whatever is happening, these developments are a reminder that while nations do in fact sometimes meddle in the internal affairs of other nations, the greatest threat to democracy and civil society usually comes from within.

In some cases, the twain meet. In 1953, a domestic power struggle — principally between the nationalist, elected government of Iran and its power-hungry constitutional monarch — commingled with an opportunistic Anglo-American plot to flip the country into a compliant client state. While these great powers, the United States and Great Britain, brayed incessantly about the virtues of the democratic system (particularly as a countermeasure to Soviet style Communism), they had no qualms about midwifing and nursing a friendly military dictatorship when it suited their “interests”.

Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton has hedged her criticism of the U.S. role in the 1953 coup with allusions to Cold War ‘tough love’ stratagems. She tends to frame these decisions, like the title of her 2014 memoir of her time as Secretary of State, as “Hard Choices”.

The danger of this mindset is that it can be used to justify a broad spectrum of behavior. While Hillary characterizes the Iran hostage crisis as “an appalling breach of international law”, the event could easily be refashioned as merely a “hard choice” for the desperate, long-suffering Iranians, faced with the very real prospect of having their revolution sabotaged by outside powers. Seizing the very embassy which had been a key CIA asset in 1953, they’d argue, might prevent its use as a base for further espionage, while leveraging the return for trial of the fugitive U.S.-backed dictator they had finally unchained themselves from.

The American establishment at large, of course, rejects these kind of rationalizations when the shoe is on the other foot. Which leads us to ruminate on hypocrisy, a phenomenon which Hillary Clinton readily acknowledges, and ably demonstrates, is universal.

Mossadegh & Arbenz & Lumumba & Sukarno & Allende... shirts

Mossadegh & Arbenz & Lumumba & Sukarno & Allende... t-shirts

HARDBALL With Chris Matthews on MSNBC

Springfield, Illinois — March 14, 2016

“Why do you think, why do you keep wanting to do these things of regime change?”, asked Chris Matthews during a Town Hall at Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois, suspecting that, as with Gaddafi, Clinton was itching to topple Assad in Syria. “What’s in your thinking that says the United States government has some right and duty to go to Middle Eastern countries and knock off their leadership?” (go to 5:35 to hear her reply).

Matthews returned to this theme again, as shown in the transcript below.

(Video is cued to start there, at 9:00, when played)

MSNBC interview with Hillary Clinton

MATTHEWS: What do you think, quickly, of the whole history of the United States in your lifetime of knocking off leaders, whether it’s Mossadegh in Iran, or it was Arbenz in Guatemala, or knocking off Allende in Chile, [Salvador Allende] or knocking off Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, or knocking off Trujillo, [Rafael Trujillo, President of the Dominican Republic] or who else have I missed?

I mean, we’ve been doing this for a long time, that’s why I’m skeptical. But what is your view of all those assassinations, all those attempts to change the history of other countries? Should we be doing that kind of thing?

CLINTON: Well, I don’t think...

MATTHEWS: Knocking off leaders.

CLINTON: In the vast...

MATTHEWS: Diem, we knocked him off. [South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem]

CLINTON: In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. But, you know, there’s always these historical games you can play. If somebody could have assassinated Hitler before he took over Germany, would that have been a good thing or not?

You cannot paint with a broad brush. Individual situations, and most of the ones you named, are ones that I think in retrospect did not have a very defensible kind of calculation behind them.

But I think it’s a mistake to say you can’t ever prevent war, you can’t ever save people. You know, if there had been a way to go after the leaders of the massacres in Rwanda, to stop that before 800,000 people were killed, what would we have done?

We do, as you know very well, target terrorists. We target them because we believe that they are plotting and planning against us, our friends, and our allies. Now they may not be a head of state, but they are very well the head of a terrorist group. So these are tough, hard choices.

MATTHEWS: You are ready to be...

CLINTON: That’s why I wrote a whole book called "Hard Choices" about some of this. [laughter]

MATTHEWS: I know, it looks like you’re ready for the role of Commander-in-Chief already, anyway....

Hard Choices (2014)

By Hillary Rodham Clinton

"Hard Choices" (2014) book by Hillary Rodham Clinton “While it is hard to believe, given all that has happened since, Iran was once a Cold War ally of the United States. The country’s monarch, the Shah, owed his throne to a 1953 coup supported by the Eisenhower Administration against a democratically elected government thought to be sympathetic to Communism. [No one believed Mossadegh was “sympathetic to Communism”, but did cite his “reliance” on Tudeh support, itself an unfounded allegation] It was a classic Cold War move for which many Iranians never forgave America. [Classic like a vintage ‘53 Cadillac Coupe deVille?] Our governments enjoyed close relations for more than twenty-five years—until, in 1979, the autocratic Shah was overthrown by a popular revolution. Shiite fundamentalists led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini soon seized power and imposed their theocratic version of an Islamic republic on the Iranian people. Iran’s new rulers were implacably opposed to America, calling us “the Great Satan.”

In November 1979, Iranian radicals stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held fifty-two Americans hostage for 444 days. It was an appalling breach of international law and a traumatic experience for our country. I remember watching nightly news reports in Little Rock counting the number of days the hostages had been held captive as the crisis went on and on without an end in sight. It became even more tragic when a rescue mission by the U.S. military ended with the crash of a helicopter and a transport plane in the desert that killed eight servicemembers.

The Iranian Revolution led to decades of state- sponsored terrorism. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, which served as an Iranian proxy, carried out attacks across the Middle East and the world. Their crimes included the bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, of the U.S. Embassy in April 1983, which killed sixty-three people, including seventeen Americans; the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks that October, which killed 241 Americans; and the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed nineteen U.S. Air Force personnel and wounded hundreds of others. Iran also targeted Jews and Israelis, including bombing an Israeli cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1994, killing eighty- five people and injuring hundreds more. On a regular basis the State Department designated Iran as the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism” and documented its links to bombings, kidnappings, hijackings, and other acts of terrorism. Iranian rockets, automatic weapons, and mortars were also being used to kill U.S. troops as well as our partners and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The [Bill Clinton] administration sent out a number of diplomatic feelers in an attempt to start a dialogue, including a letter delivered via our mutual friend the Sultan of Oman. In 2000, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright offered a more public olive branch by formally apologizing for the American role in the 1953 Iranian coup and easing certain economic sanctions. [It was a formal acknowledgment, but no apology] But Iran never followed through, in part because hard-liners restrained Khatami’s ability to act. [President Mohammad Khatami]

That groundwork may have helped encourage Khatami to reach out after the 9/11 attacks in the hopes of cooperating with the United States in Afghanistan, which shares a border with Iran. But President Bush’s speech in 2002, in which he named Iran, Iraq, and North Korea an “Axis of Evil,” ended any chance of further dialogue between our countries at that time. The Europeans then took the lead on negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, but those talks fell apart after Khatami was replaced in 2005 by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier and provocateur who threatened to wipe Israel off the map and insulted the West at every turn.

BBC Persian Interview

October 26, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States “regretted” its role in the 1953 coup that destroyed Iran’s democratic progress, acknowledging that America, like all nations, is susceptible to hypocrisy.

She made the remarks to BBC Persian on October 26th, one of two interviews that week in which she answered questions directly from Iranians.

Three such questions, played for Clinton on video, dealt with U.S. behavior in the region and toward Iran, including its continuous military campaigns, support for friendly dictators, the CIA overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953, and the USS Vincennes’ destruction of Iran Air Flight 655.

Following up on the questioners’ “double standards” theme, the BBC’s Bahman Kalbasi asked, “[A]re you worried that people in the Middle East look at America and see it as a hypocritical power as opposed to one that stands by principle?” Clinton responded:

“Well, I think our history is one based on principle and on values that we believe are universal values. Now, we do not expect every country or every people to agree with everything we do....

We know that everything we have done in the course of our 235-plus year history is [not] going to appeal to or be supported by everyone, and we take our history seriously. So, for example, we’ve expressed regret about what was done in 1953. We’ve had high-ranking Americans say that that was a disruption of what could have and should’ve been a natural development of democracy with Iran. At the time, it was the Cold War, it was the Soviet Union which seemed to pose an existential threat to everyone, including Iran, Turkey, Greece, you name it. So we sometimes, in retrospect, look back and say, you know, “Could we have done that a different way?” And so we have regretted what happened in 1953.

And then we also have tried to point out that the tragedy of the shooting down of the airline is something that we deeply are sorry for, and we have said that repeatedly. And so we don’t want there to be any increased tensions. We have tried, especially in the last two and a half years to try to lower those tensions.

And finally, when it comes to the whole question about who we are, what we stand for...I think I’ve lived long enough to say that probably every country, every country has hypocrisy, because it’s difficult to be always transparent about what you’re doing and what you stand for. But I don’t know any country that has been more transparent, more self-corrective, more willing to say ‘maybe we shouldn’t have done this’, where we have elections and we swing from the right, we swing from the left, but within a stable constitutional system that respects the rights of individuals.”

BBC Persian interview with Hillary Clinton, 10/26/11

The 1953 Coup in Iran Was An Act of War | by Arash Norouzi
The 1953 Coup in Iran Was An Act of War | by Arash Norouzi

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Related links:

Sec. of State John Kerry and the Iran Deal: Smart Diplomacy Or Appeasement?

Sec. of State Madeleine Albright’s Mea Culpa (No Apology) For 1953 Coup in Iran

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Iran, U.S. Foreign Policy

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