Ramsey Clark on Iran

Former Attorney General Connects Iraq War, 1953 Coup

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | March 17, 2008                     

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark The book Challenge to Genocide: Let Iraq Live [1998, various contributors], features the chapter "Fire and Ice", (excerpted below), an essay on the effect war and sanctions have had on Iraq. It was written by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who served during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.

As the text details, Iran and Iraq’s destinies have often been intertwined.

Fire and Ice
by Ramsey Clark

The reasons for U.S. actions in the Middle East and Gulf are no mystery. The British withdrawal from the region, beginning fifty years ago, left up for grabs the vast oil resources and strategic area where southwest Asia and northeast Africa front on Europe. The whole region began to be shaken by anti-colonial nationalist movements. U.S. policy makers, as an excuse for intervention, used the argument that it was exposed to Soviet seizure, with Israel unprotected on its eastern flank.

By 1953, the U.S. had placed the young Shah on the Peacock Throne in Iran. [He was already King.] For twenty-five years Iran was the U.S. surrogate in the region, and the most powerful military presence, purchasing tens of billions of dollars in advanced U.S. weaponry. It also served as a major regional distribution center for American products. William Colby, former director of the CIA, called this the CIA’s proudest achievement, even after the Shah’s disastrous demise. It assured U.S. domination of the region for one fourth of the twentieth century.

In February 1979 the Shah fled Iran, having killed as many Iranians as he dared, probably forty-five thousand in the previous year alone. The Iranian people had won their long struggle to overthrow U.S. control of their lives. That November the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, after months of protest demonstrations, was overrun by Iranian students, tens of thousands of whom had studied in the U.S. The small remaining U.S. staff was taken hostage.

U.S. policy then took another sharp turn. Adopting a supportive stance toward Iraq, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly encouraged Baghdad to attack Iran and take back the Shatt-al-Arab waterway—although just four years earlier Iraq had been pressured by the U.S. to cede control of this strategic route to Iran. Washington expressed no moral outrage at the 1980 Iraqi attack on Iran. The attack served U.S. interests as a means of weakening Iran—where U.S. Embassy personnel were still being held hostage—and the anti-U.S. influence of its Islamic government in the Muslim world. War against the much larger Iran would weaken Iraq as well. Washington did not want either side to win.

“We wanted to avoid victory by both sides,” a Reagan administration official told the New York Times. Henry Kissinger has been quoted variously as stating, “I hope they kill each other” and “Too bad they both can’t lose.”

The eight-year Iran-Iraq war was a clear consequence of U.S. actions in overthrowing Iran’s democratic Mossadegh government in the early 1950's and installing the Shah. He radically altered the country by pursuing U.S.-approved plans to make it a major industrialized nation. Then, after the fall of the Shah, Iraq was induced to attack Iran.

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Related links:

Economist Alan Greenspan: “The Iraq war is largely about oil”

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson’s Testimony on Iraq, Iran, Persian Gulf

Vice President Joe Biden on the Prospect of War With Iran

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

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