John Bolton: 1953 Was Justified

“I wouldn’t apologize for that coup.”

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| August 16, 2008                        
[Updated March 25, 2018]

John Bolton Shamelessly Defends 1953 Coup, Bombing Iran

Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

FOX News pundit John Bolton would agree wholeheartedly with that axiom. Just what those lessons are, however, is another matter.

Seldom has there been a figure more hawkish and pro-actively militaristic than Bolton, the consummate neocon: consistently wrong about everything, yet invincibly certain about his repeatedly discredited convictions.

Bolton has a lot of deeply held resentments, including the United Nations where he was previously U.S. Ambassador (a recess appointment during the George W. Bush years), but his singular obsession, above all, is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In Bolton’s world, the lessons of Iran vis-à-vis America can be found squarely in the weakness of that “sucker” Jimmy Carter, and his liberal, capitulating heirs, like Barack Obama, whose crowning foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), amounted to “the biggest single act of appeasement by the West since Munich in September of 1938.”

After 9/11, Bolton campaigned hard for the invasion of neighboring Iraq, where, thanks to the irrepressible neocons, thousands of Americans lost their lives, insisting that country possessed weapons of mass destruction. Despite the faulty intelligence and the illegality of the war itself, Bolton unreservedly stands by the decision to attack Iraq. Tempting global warfare, Bolton has also proposed the U.S. consider preemptive military strikes on Iran and North Korea.

Naturally, Bolton supported the Vietnam War as a young man, though he himself eluded active combat as Bush did by joining the National Guard. As he confessed to fellow Yale alumni many years later, “I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy.”

Like all ideologues, Bolton remains impervious to objective reality, prioritizing dogma and hypernationalist angst over sober analysis. Hence, no recognition that the supposedly “tough” U.S. foreign policy formulas he subscribes to are largely responsible for creating the problems that so consume him and his ilk.

Everyone knows that by taking out Iran’s arch nemesis, Saddam Hussein, the catastrophic Iraq War actually strengthened its prominence in the region. In fact, the whole reason the U.S. embraced the Iraqi dictator to begin with was to help crush Khomeini’s revolutionary regime. That, like literally every other act of aggression, sabotage and subterfuge tried since, didn’t exactly work out as planned.

When Iraq invaded Iran in the 1980’s with the material support of the Reagan administration, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Iranian guerilla resistance group joined Saddam in fighting their own countrymen, and thereafter took refuge under the Butcher of Baghdad’s wing at Camp Ashraf. Yet despite their complete lack of legitimacy among native Iranians, most of whom oppose their government, Bolton still gives paid speeches at MEK cult rallies.

Breathlessly predicting the imminent collapse of the Islamic regime in Iran for over a decade now, Bolton’s latest objective is to deny the revolutionary regime its 40th birthday. At an MEK event last year, he predicted that they would all be reuniting in Tehran before 2019 to celebrate the fall of the regime that has so far managed to outlast six U.S. administrations and counting. He repeated the declaration in a Jan. 15, 2018 Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. With months left to go on the countdown, it’s doubtful that even MEK leader Maryam Rajavi herself would want to take that bet.

Now that President Donald Trump has chosen John Bolton to replace Gen. H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser, Bolton, longtime proponent of bombing Iran followed by U.S.-sponsored “regime change”, finally has his chance to prove that his ways of operating are as smart and effective as he claims.

“The U.S. once had the capability to engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments”, complained Bolton in Sept. 2007. “I wish we could get it back.” With Bolton and his “very stable genius” boss at the helm, it’s time to put up or shut up.

Sept. 10, 2019 Postscript — “You’re Fired!”

I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week. President Trump announced today via Twitter that he asked Bolton, whose services are “no longer needed at the White House”, to resign last night. Bolton claims he wasn’t fired and that he actually offered his resignation, and that Trump replied they could discuss it in the morning. Knowing the vindictive pathological liar POTUS, that scenario is quite probable. Trump would obviously much prefer to appear to have broken up with Bolton first rather than be the jilted one.

Despite his year and a half tenure as Trump’s third National Security Adviser, John Bolton, the determined hardliner, never did succceed in his regime change fantasies, neither in Iran, Venezuela, or North Korea.

2019 is already ⅔ over and the 40 year-old dictatorship in Iran has unfortunately not collapsed as Bolton predicted (he said it would happen before 2019, but let’s just add a year to be generous). Bolton also believes that U.S. regime change tactics in Iran back in 1953 were not only appropriate, but ought to be reimplemented against undesirable regimes today.

So although Bolton is normally wrong by default, he is at least correct in confirming the efficacy of the CIA/State Dept. in 1953. The latest neocon trend, you see, is to categorically deny the effectiveness of the U.S. role in Mossadegh’s demise and ascribe such talk to Islamic Republic propaganda, which, according to their own logic, would mean Bolton was parroting the likes of Khamenei and Zarif.

One might even add further, according to standard chickenhawk logic, that President Trump’s sudden removal of Bolton, long obsessed with regime change in Iran, constitutes a form of capitulation to the I.R.I.

John Bolton on the 1953 Coup in Iran

Predictably, John R. Bolton upholds the U.S. role in toppling the elected Iranian government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh as a necessary act, even in hindsight. He told a TV interviewer that the Western role in the 1953 coup in Iran was completely justified, citing the dubious threat of Communism. Video:

John Bolton interviewed by Avi Lewis on Al Jazeera (Aug. 15, 2008)

Do you think CIA-backed coups are a good way of advancing America’s interests in the world?

BOLTON: I think sometimes they are necessary ways to advance American interests. I don’t necessarily see it as the preferred way, but I think the U.S. should have that capability.
Where would you use it today and how would you do it?

BOLTON: Well, I think there are two places in particular where the regimes do pose threats to the United States, its friends and allies. One is in Iran, the other is in North Korea. I think there are significant reasons to believe that both regimes are highly unpopular and much more fragile than people think.
So, we’ve seen this movie before, in Iran — the CIA’s first coup was in 1953 against Mossadegh over the issue of nationalizing brought in the Shah of Iran. I don’t suppose his record is one that you’re particularly proud of.

BOLTON: Well, I think in terms of modernizing Iran, if you took a vote among the Iranian people today, compared to the 15th century clerics they have running the country today, you might see a majority for the Shah.
Then do you think the Soviets helped to modernize Afghanistan, bringing suffrage to women and other rights?

BOLTON: I don’t think that’s what they were in Afghanistan for...
But in terms of modernizing the country, if you’re looking to regime [changes] and invasions to...

BOLTON: But if asked the question, [do] I favor equal rights for women, I don’t think that’s necessarily an argument for regime change. But I do think there are situations where there’s no alternative, in order to avoid a much less acceptable option — for example, an Iran with nuclear weapons.
But by overthrowing a popular and democratic movement in Iran in 1953, the United States helped — helped — to usher in an era, which was a police state, which was a terrifying state in many ways, despite modernizations, which itself gave way to the Islamic revolution in 1979 —

BOLTON: I think that’s a very —
— Which you now want to [do another] coup against —

BOLTON: I think that’s a very oversimplified view of history, because it was to prevent, again, something even worse, which was a possible Communist takeover. Now, you can say....
— Which was a democratic election, in theory, and a secular movement...

BOLTON: Now, you can say seventeen years later, that consequences flowed from that that were undesirable, but a decision-maker has to make decisions as of the time and circumstances and that he or she is presented with. And I’d tell you this, I wouldn’t apologize for that coup. [17 years later would be 1970, not 2008, which was 55 years later]
So what is fundamentally the argument for anti-democratically advancing regime change in other countries, I mean, the United States is —

BOLTON: — Which democracy are we talking about? North Korea? Iran?
Well, Iran in 1953 was a democracy, you would never apologize for a coup against a secular, democratic revolution in that country, so I’m not sure...

BOLTON: You know, you can get to a point of receiving a plurality or a majority at the ballot box and still be a threat to democracy. Adolph Hitler was, Communist-led movements in Iran and other places as well, you can argue about that or not. But in the context of the time and of the circumstances, I still think it was the right thing to do.

IRAN PROTESTS 2022: Woman, Life, Freedom
IRAN PROTESTS 2022: Woman, Life, Freedom


Related links:

Nixon/Ford/Reagan Aide Ray Waldmann: 1953 Coup One of CIA’s “Best Investments” (1979)

Shah Of Iran Spells Good News For U.S. | Holmes Alexander (1967)

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

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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