History 314 - Farber and Basevich_Essay

History 314 - Farber and Basevich_Essay - Farbers Taken...

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Farber’s Taken Hostage This book is essentially an analytical look at the historical origins of America’s confrontation with radical Islam, focusing on Iran from the 1953 coup that put Shah Pahlavi into power, up to the hostage crisis in 1979. After WWII, with the disintegration of imperialism, many developing nations in oil-rich areas sought to nationalize their oil industries and increase their wealth. The British had control of Iranian oil and the main dissenter to such power was Mossadegh, the acting Prime Minister of Iran from 1951- 1953. The political anti-communist landscape in the US and the strong anti-Western rhetoric emanating from the Mossadegh administration resulted in Operation Ajax, a covert plan approved by President Eisenhower to install a pro-US Iranian government. Directed by Kermit Roosevelt, the operation leader, mobs of thugs and army regiments were hired to protest. In truth, this action simply supplied the spark needed to draw out thousands of loyalist pro-Shah demonstrators, causing Mossadegh to flee and giving Shah Pahlavi his throne back. The Shah was a rather repressive ruler, however. With the help of the CIA he created SAVAK, an organization that abducted and tortured dissenters. Additionally, while most poor Iranians subsisted on annual incomes of only a few hundred dollars, the Shah was fabulously wealthy, throwing one party that cost $200 million. He was a loyal friend to the US, however, and kept the oil flowing. Even when OPEC began price- gouging, he essentially returned the oil money to the US in the form of military contracts. He bought billions of dollars worth of weaponry and combat planes from US contractors, particularly during the Nixon administration. Despite these policies, the Shah was also secular and somewhat modernizing. His “White Revolution” of 1963 called for land reform, secular educational expansion, and increase of women’s rights among other reforms. This alienated and outraged many Islamic clerics, Ayatollah Khomeini perhaps above all. The Ayatollah spoke out publicly against the Shah and was eventually exiled to Iraq. Carter changed little when he came into office. Carter was generally disillusioned with Congress and America’s poor humanitarian track record. This sentiment alienated members of Congress and Carter could not get a whole lot done. He spouted humanitarian rhetoric, and disapproved of the Shah’s repressive policies but in the end he kept weapons flowing to Iran and in exchange the Shah promised to work on increasing Iranian freedoms and to keep the price of oil stable. Meanwhile, during his years in exile the Ayatollah Khomeini continued to speak
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History 314 - Farber and Basevich_Essay - Farbers Taken...

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