U.S. Apology For 1953 Coup in Iran?

No Such Plans, Says White House Press Secretary

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | May 26, 2015                      

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest: No Apology For Coup

WASHINGTON, DC, May 22, 2015 — During a White House Press Briefing Friday, a correspondent asked if the Obama administration had any plans of issuing an apology for helping to overthrow Iran’s democratic government in 1953 as a good will gesture during nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

There are no plans to do so, responded Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

President Barack Obama has referenced the 1953 coup which deposed Premier Mohammad Mossadegh in several instances during his Presidency, including at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2013 and, more recently, in a New York Times interview with Tom Friedman in April.

President Barack Obama on Iran, Mossadegh and the 1953 Coup
President Barack Obama on the 1953 Coup in Iran

The question to Earnest was asked by John Gizzi, the chief political columnist and White House correspondent for conservative web site Newsmax. Gizzi was guided by the Mossadegh Project’s comprehensive page on Barack Obama and the 1953 coup as a crib sheet, even borrowing specific language from it in his subsequent write-up for Newsmax, which also had comments from All the Shah’s Men author Stephen Kinzer.

Obama’s brief references to the grievance have been widely chastised by right wing pundits, who generally view the rhetoric as “appeasement” and question its historical veracity. The most common talking point from these critics is that Obama has shamefully “apologized” for the coup in Iran. Gizzi’s question, along with Earnest’s reply, correctly indicate that there has been no actual apology from the United States; hence, the open question of whether there will ever be one.

Will Britain Acknowledge the 1953 Coup? Unlike the U.S., Great Britain has yet to officially own up to its role in the coup, though there have been informal discussions in Parliament.

The House of Commons has recently mulled making a formal statement, provided similar expressions of regret would be reciprocated by the Iranian government for its various offenses.

Whether or not a legitimate statement is ever made, the discussion of apologizing to Iran for Operation Ajax remains problematic, for it is based upon several glaring fallacies:

1. Apologizing to a dictatorial regime for imposing dictatorship on the country is a logic-bending proposition. The nation and its people, not the ruling despots in Tehran, are owed an apology.

2. The CIA coup was merely the firing shot before a 26 year marathon of U.S.-backed oppression in Iran, which only ended due to a massive uprising in 1979. After the anti-Shah revolution, the U.S. either committed or implicated itself in further anti-Iranian crimes. To be sufficient, any official apology to Iranians must encompass this larger narrative.

3. As long as the United States continues to coddle friendly tyrannies, underwrite human rights atrocities and violently intervene in foreign lands, apologizing to Iran for illegal foreign policy measures that have been in its DNA for generations makes little sense.

Furthermore, if America maintains its often domineering, smug and superior posture toward other cultures like Iran, (just this week alone, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a 2016 candidate for President, branded all Iranians “liars”), then an apology for past sins would be meaningless.

A new paradigm, not mere rhetoric, is what’s called for.

May 22, 2015
White House Press Briefing by
Press Secretary Josh Earnest

Q: My other question is that the President over the years has come very close to apologizing to Iran for the 1953 coup against Prime Minister Mossadegh that is very important to the current government as a prerequisite for better relations. He mentioned it in his Cairo speech. He mentioned it in his U.N. speech last year. Is this something the President is eventually going to do as the dialogue continues with Iran, issue a formal apology? Or would he, for example, prefer a joint statement in which Iran and the United States both say mistakes were made in 1953 and the seizure of the hostages in 1979?

JOSH EARNEST: John, I’m not aware of any specific plans for an apology. But I am confident that the comments that you cited that the President delivered both in Cairo and at the United Nations were words that were very carefully chosen. So when it comes to the administration and this President’s view of those historic events, I’d refer you to his comments directly.

Q: Nothing new?

JOSH EARNEST: Nothing new.

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

Search MohammadMossadegh.com

Related links:

"Our Policy in Iran" — 1962 U.S. Memo Revealed U.S. Feared Shah’s Fall

The Vietnam War | IRAN | What Lessons Did America Learn?

U.S. cooperates in Iranian oppression — (1976 Letter from Iowa student)

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

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