U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently admitted that America’s official foreign policy includes a regime-change operation in Iran. The CIA has created an office for this sole purpose, tasking Michael D’Andrea — also known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike — with leading this operation.
Though Iran is hardly democratic by Western standards given the stringent requirements for becoming a political candidate in the first place, it is still vastly more democratic than most of America’s closest allies in the region. According to a U.S. State Department document:
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the Al Saud family…The following significant human rights problems were reported: no right to change the government peacefully; torture and physical abuse; poor prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention; denial of fair and public trials and lack of due process in the judicial system; political prisoners; restrictions on civil liberties such as freedoms of speech (including the Internet), assembly, association, movement, and severe restrictions on religious freedom; and corruption and lack of government transparency. Violence against women and a lack of equal rights for women, violations of the rights of children, trafficking in persons, and discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, sect, and ethnicity were common. The lack of workers’ rights, including the employment sponsorship system, remained a severe problem.” [emphasis added]
Despite this grim reality, Saudi Arabia remains a close U.S. ally while Iran is being targeted for regime change even though the Iranian people just elected a popular reformist government on their own — without American interference.
In 1953, the Iranian people democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh immediately posed a threat to the U.S. and British economic interests in the region, and the CIA worked with the British to topple him and replace him with a brutal dictator, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. According to the Guardian:
“Britain, and in particular Sir Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, regarded Mosaddeq as a serious threat to its strategic and economic interests after the Iranian leader nationalised the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, latterly known as BP. But the UK needed US support. The Eisenhower administration in Washington was easily persuaded.” [emphasis added]
The idea that America’s interests and priorities have changed over half a century later is clearly untenable considering the current American president has openly suggested that America should seize Iraq’s oil as “reimbursement.”
In 2011, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — together with Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy — told us the world needed to bomb Libya to save the country from a massacre. Never mind that under Gaddafi, the people of Libya had state-sponsored healthcare, education, subsidized housing and transport and enjoyed the highest standard of living in the entire region. Never mind that Sarkozy was being investigated for accepting 50 million euros from Gaddafi himself for his 2007 presidential campaign.
Never mind that Libya actually had a fully functioning democratic system that allowed for decision-making at the local level. As Counterpunch has explained:
“Far from control being in the hands of one man, Libya was highly decentralized and divided into several small communities that were essentially ‘mini-autonomous States’ within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya’s democracy were Local Committees, Basic People’s Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.”
This system was no secret to the mainstream media, as further explained by Counterpunch:
“In 2009, Mr. Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation’s direct democracy. The New York Times, [which] has traditionally been highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi’s democratic experiment, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that ‘everyone is involved in every decision…Tens of thousands of people take part in local committee meetings to discuss issues and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools.’”
Was Gaddafi a brutal leader who tortured and oppressed his own people? Most probably.
Is the Iranian government a brutal theocratic regime that also oppresses its own people? Almost certainly.
However, America’s concerns with these countries are not rooted in goals of promoting “freedom” or “democracy.” These countries already had democratic institutions that worked more or less effectively.
Iran already had democracy before the U.S. overthrew it in favor of a monarch in 1953. Now, the U.S is attempting the same strategy with full knowledge that ISIS-inspired Sunni movements are the types of elements currently exerting pressure on the Iranian government.
There is a reason why “spreading democracy” is no longer an official explanation for America’s military adventures in the Middle East: that claim is a complete (and unbelievable) lie.
It’s time to call this strategy out for what it is – an unnecessary, baseless, undemocratic, rights-abusing neoconservative agenda that will see the region explode as countless more lives are lost in the near future.
Iran poses no tangible threat to the United States — and neither did Libya in 2011. Overthrowing the Iranian government will not lead to stability or security and has no legal basis in the first place, something the mainstream media and the international community rarely discuss.
All of this poses the question: why is the U.S. targeting functioning democracies for regime change and siding with dictatorships across the globe?
Do democracies pose a threat to the United States? The United States seems to think so.
In this context, it may not be a surprise to learn that a study from Princeton and Northwestern University contended that the U.S. is not a democracy, but rather, an oligarchy that serves the interests of the rich and powerful while ignoring the majority of its people.