Bob Bossie, SCJ — 11/4/19
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.)
IRAQ INVADES IRAN
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.
IRAQ INVADES 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.
U.S. INVADES IRAQ
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.