Iran, Iraq & U.S. Connections

Bob Bossie, SCJ — 11/4/19 

U.S. military bases surrounding Iran

In 1953, at the urging of the British government, the US overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran — yes, Iran. The reason was that Iran’s President Mossadegh nationalized the Iranian oil industry which was totally controlled by Great Britain. Mossadegh was a beloved president who had initiated many social programs for the benefit of the average Iranian. Time Magazine named Mossadegh “Man of the Year” for 1951 and called him the “Iranian George Washington.”

Britain, which lacked its own oil resources, loved the cheap Iranian oil it used to fuel its cars, industry and Navy which plied the world’s oceans in maintenance of its empire. President Truman refused Britain’s overtures to overthrow Mossadegh but President Eisenhower complied.

The coup was led by senior CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt Jr., the grandson of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, using the US embassy there as his base. The US then installed the notorious Shah of Iran who brutally repressed the Iranian people for 25 years.

In 1979, the Iranians overthrew the Shah and captured the US embassy to prevent the CIA from using the embassy, once again, as a base to reverse their efforts at self determination. Fifty-two US diplomats and citizens were held hostage to ensure that the US would not try to attack. (Interestingly, Presidential candidate Reagan told the Iranians that the US would never again interfere in their internal affairs if they would hold the hostages until after he defeated President Carter. Reagan feared that an earlier release of the hostages would help Carter win the election. The Iranians released the hostages just twenty minutes after Reagan ended his inaugural speech.)


Fearful that the Iranian revolution would inspire other oil-rich, Middle Eastern countries to seek their own self-determination, the US and other Regional monarchies/dictators encouraged Iraq to attack Iran in 1980. The Iran-Iraq war lasted eight years and took over one million lives. Because it was in its own self-interest, Kuwait “loaned” Iraq $16 Billion to continue the war. The US supported Iraq through intelligence gathering and by supplying them deadly chemical and biological materials which Iraq weaponized and unleashed upon Iranians and Iraqi Kurds. Also, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian passenger plane killing 290 people, including 66 children.

At war’s end, Kuwait and the U.A.E. began overselling OPEC’s agreed-upon quotas of oil, thus driving down oil prices. This greatly impacted Iraq’s oil-driven economy. Second, Kuwait demanded that Iraq immediately repay the $16B “loan” even though Iraq was struggling financially given the war’s devastating expenses. Third, Kuwait was slant drilling across the Kuwait-Iraq border into a disputed oil field inside Iraq. Fourth, Kuwait was encroaching on Iraq’s territories with farms and oil installations. These factors alone led Iraq to consider Kuwait as engaging in economic warfare against them. Fourth, Iraq had long held that Kuwait was, in fact, a province of Iraq.

Finally, as Iraqi forces gathered on the Iraq-Kuwait border, US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, told Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that the US has “no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait …… we see the Iraqi point of view that the measures taken by the U.A.E. and Kuwait is, in the final analysis, parallel to military aggression against Iraq….” Many foreign policy officials said this was akin to a green light for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.


On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. On August 6, the UN Security Council  imposed comprehensive economic sanctions against Iraq. Even so, the US population was deeply divided over a US military response, that is, until they were presented with the totally fabricated testimony that Iraqi forces removed over 300 newborn, Kuwaiti children from their incubators, threw them on the cold hospital floor and took the incubators back to Iraq.

While the US and its allies drove Iraq from Kuwait in August of 1990, these sanctions were kept in place for 13 years and took the lives of tens of thousands Iraqis, many of whom were children under five years of age. I visited Iraqi hospitals three times in 1996-97, including one run by the Dominican order of religious sisters, where I personally witnessed wards filled with children dying from lack of proper medicines and nutrition due to sanctions.


In 2003, the US invaded Iraq under the pretense that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The combination of all these factors destroyed this highly educated and prosperous nation. It’s impossible to measure the number of lives that were ended or the amount of destruction reaped throughout this criminal, years-long economic and military warfare.

In the 1970s, with US support, the Shah began a program to construct up to 20 nuclear power stations. Following the end of the Shah’s rule, Iran continued its uranium enrichment but the US claimed it was pursuing nuclear weapons. Yet, Iran’s highest religious authority forbade them from doing so. The US and five other world powers, who hypocritically possess thousands of nuclear warheads, pressured Iran to agree to a nuclear deal in 2015. With this deal, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activity and allow regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Commission with assurance that some sanctions would be relieved. IAEC inspections have regularly confirmed that Iran is in full compliance with the agreement.Now the US is engaged in just such a crime against Iran including economic sanctions begun under President Carter following the 1979 overthrow of the Shah. Again, it should be noted that sanctions, in fact, are economic warfare that is already driving millions of people into poverty.

Yet, in 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal, re-imposed the old sanctions and imposed new ones. Moreover, the US falsely charged that Iran was threatening US regional forces and allies, began moving additional forces to surround Iran and threatening Iran with attack. Now, the region is on a hair-trigger alert.

The purpose of these crimes can best be summed up with some dark humor, “What is our oil doing under their land?” The purpose is not just to allow the US access to oil but the control of oil resources. In such a way is power exerted in today’s world. Yet, the climate catastrophe is about to radically alter that reality.

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Bob Bossie, SCJ worked at Chicago’s 8th Day Center for (Social) Justice for over 30 years. He helped found Voices in the Wilderness which brought medicines to Iraq in violation of US/UN sanctions.

Mary’s Magnificat and Social Justice


by John Hogue

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is keenly aware of the injustice in the world. Decades before her innocent son was brutally executed by an oppressive state, Mary’s Magnificat articulated the scandal of the rich living alongside the hungry, the conceited clinging to their thrones while their neighbors languished on the ash heap. In her sheer humanity, Mary cannot but resist injustice. Her life orients us towards justice: she points us to Jesus, she beckons us into the Church, and she teaches us joy.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,” Mary begins her magnificent song of joy which echoes daily through the centuries and teaches men how to pray. (This piece’s Scripture quotations come from Luke 1). Mary celebrates Jesus the Lord in her womb. Days earlier, an angel proclaimed to Mary that “God will give [Jesus] the throne of David his father.” Now Mary impassionately prophecies of a God who “has thrown down the rulers from their thrones.”

How is Jesus the Davidic King, heir to Jerusalem’s throne, while his mother speaks of flattening hierarchy? Is Mary belatedly rejecting the angelic message? Does Jesus later renounce her egalitarian impulse? In truth, Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of his mother’s prophecy, for no one has descended so radically from a position of power into solidarity with the human condition as Jesus has in the Incarnation. Jesus is the first and mightiest to be cast from his throne. He voluntarily leaves his rightful place in heaven to take up the fullness of humanity. The divine response to injustice is kenotic, self-emptying, humbling love. Jesus justly provides what every person needs: a loving Savior. Mary’s Magnificat doesn’t just point to Jesus, it also reveals this wonder of his love.

Jesus begins his Incarnation being utterly entrusted to Mary. Even while Mary sings his praises, she makes space for him and he depends on her for his very life. Mary, like every mother, enjoys a special participation in the Trinity’s kenotic love by her pregnancy, sharing her body and blood so that another might live. In this, Mary knows herself to be a lowly handmaid whom the divine gaze has exalted. It is precisely such a participation in the self-emptying of Jesus that undergirds the Catholic Worker movement’s voluntary poverty and nonviolence. In conformity to Christ, we willingly relinquish our privileges and protections out of love for others. We hope that by these sacrifices the Trinity will cause justice to spring up.

Mary also invites us into the Church to sustain our love. She invokes a wider people with her closing line, extolling God’s consistent mercy “to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Through the generations, Christian artists have depicted the Visitation and Magnificat as unfolding communally. Both Mary and Elizabeth are pregnant. Jesus and John the Baptist share a special joy at the center of their mothers’ embrace and some icons even depict both fetuses, highlighting the incipient role of these little ones. Many paintings include on their fringes Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah emerging from their house and Mary’s betrothed Joseph following behind her bringing up their bags. Scripture records neither man speaking in this meeting. In the background, they accompany silently, Zechariah by the angel’s curse and Joseph by habit. Doubtless they had prayed with Mary and Elizabeth the Hebrew Scriptures the women draw upon in their praises. Perhaps it is they who later whisper this scene for the evangelist’s recording, so that it may be gifted as well to us. Surely their hearts too rejoice at such marvelous events and each delights as his beloved advances salvation history.

This is a stunning local Church. These prophets–who are called blessed through the ages– gather in relationship with each other and with God. In our Advent preparations we too practice such relationship as we turn to the sacraments and our loved ones to hold our vulnerabilities and nourish our growth. These encounters shelter us while we admit our own finitude and our perpetuation of injustice. Our acts of love enact justice locally and fuel us to share it more widely. In but one small example of how the Church’s life equips us for justice, Dorothy Day wrote: “I never think of the Visitation to Elizabeth without thinking of some pregnant woman who needs our prayers.”

Finally, Mary reveals the boundless joy latent during the struggle for justice. The entire first chapter of Luke’s Gospel ripples with joy even amidst oppression, poverty, and sin. Elizabeth and Mary rejoice heartily in a season of pregnant waiting. They have as of yet only a glimmer of the justice their sons will bring: feeding thousands, curing hundreds, even intriguing the powers that be and discoursing with them about truth. Yet such a mustard seed beginning provides ample space for celebration, because it grounds the hope that God’s mercy cascades from age to age and God’s justice will have the last word.

With Mary so boldly proclaiming justice, would she not have had a profound impact on the young Jesus and John the Baptist? Would not these cousins have learned much from her example and wisdom that would inform their later ministries? Are not their great prophecies building upon hers? Two millenia later, this was certainly the case for Dorothy Day. After witnessing the Hunger March, Dorothy begged Mary for a way to put herself at the service of the poor, praying at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. When she returned to her apartment she found Peter Maurin with his inspired vision for Catholic action towards justice and she found her prayer answered. No wonder Dorothy said so confidently that “those who love Jesus in His humanity must also love Mary, His Mother, who hears our prayers.” No wonder she recited the Memorare every day.

No wonder Dorothy commends Mary to us: “We are all children of Mary.” We can turn to Mary in our struggle for justice and she will help. She will give us the levity to rejoice, the humility to labor in and with the Church, and the courage to pour ourselves out for others. She will give us Jesus. “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” May this be true of us as it is of our Mother. God’s justice will be fulfilled!








John Hogue is a member of the Su Casa Catholic Worker Community in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood.

Reprinted with permission from The Visitation, the publication of our friends at Nativity House.