It's worth remembering, though, that by reviving this one-hopes-by-now-exhausted old charge, the regime is tapping into the founding trauma of modern Iranian history -- the CIA-controlled coup that toppled the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 and installed the Shah as sole ruler. Fury over that disastrous action, which arrested Iranian political development, was the fuel that allowed Khomeini to hijack the revolution of 1979. Stephen Kinzer, in his fair-minded and thorough account of Mossedegh's leadership and the coup, All The Shah's Men: an American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror (2003), recounts that fear that the U.S. would try to reinstall the Shah prompted the taking of the U.S. Embassy hostages:
Soon after the Shah was overthrown, President Jimmy Carter allowed him to enter the United States. That sent Iranian radicals into a frenzy of rage. With the blessing of their new leaders, they stormed the American embassy in Tehran and held fifty-two American diplomats hostage for more than fourteen months. Westerners, and especially Americans, found this crime not only barbaric but inexplicable. That was because almost none of them had any idea of the responsibility the United States bore for imposing the royalist regime that Iranians came to hate so passionately. The hostage-takers remebered that when the Shah fled into exile in 1953, CIA agents working at the American embassy had returned him to his throne. Iranians feared that history was about to repeat itself (p. 202).That paranoia, rage and opportunism shaped the major player on today's stage:
One of Ayatollah Khomeini's closest advisers, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, who later succeed him as the country's supreme leader, justified the regime's radicalism by declaring, "We are not liberals like Allende and Mossadegh, whom the CIA can snuff out" (p. 203).John McCain's suggestion that the U.S. President call the Iranian election "a sham" would surely resonate in Iran. As usual, though, McCain is deaf to exactly how his self-righteous simplicities resonate in the country with which he concerns himself.