In both countries, a right-wing fundamentalist authoritarian with open contempt for human rights and the Geneva Convention has come up a winner, with catastrophic consequences. In both countries, the blowback of two George Bushes loom large.
In the US, two "defeated" candidates---Al Gore and John Kerry---said and did nothing in the face of two stolen elections. But an unprecedented election protection movement arose from the ashes of those defeats to assure the 2008 victory of America's first African-American president.
In Iran, the "defeated" candidate---Mir Hussein Moussavi---is fighting back, along with massive grassroots resistance. How far they get will define the Iranian future---as well as that of the Middle East.
In a fluid and unpredictable situation, here are some indisputables:
1) A half-century ago, the people of Iran attempted a democratic revolution led by a moderate progressive, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, whose social-democratic inclinations have been revived by Moussavi.
2) Prime Minister Mossadegh was overthrown by the Eisenhower Administration and its Central Intelligence Agency, which wanted to wall in the Soviet Union and protect western oil interests.
3) Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. (father of the Gulf War general of the same name) used a suitcase full of US taxpayer dollars to bribe Iran's anti-democratic sympathizers and help overthrow Mossadegh.
4) They installed the pro-U.S. general Fazlollah Zahedi, who handed control of Iran to the brutal and vicious Shah. The Shah ruled through the infamous secret terror/torture police force Savak, which Schwartzkopf helped train.
4) A prototypical CIA asset, the Shah used his iron torturer's hand to "westernize" the country and make it more user-friendly to US oil interests.
5) Among other things, the U.S., France and other western powers were moving to provide the Shah with up to 36 atomic power plants designed to provide electricity and, ultimately, radioactive materials with which to build his own atomic bombs.
6) Despite his ostensible commitment to human rights, President Jimmy Carter made a point of spending a high-profile New Year's with the Shah, evoking the bitter hatred of millions of Iranians.
7) The Shah's overthrow by fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini led to the 1979-80 hostage crisis that finally sank Carter's presidency. Amidst indications of a secret deal involving past and future CIA Directors George H.W. Bush and William Casey, the release of the hostages was delayed long enough to guarantee Carter's defeat, thus inaugurating the Age of Ronald Reagan, with 12 of its 28 years under the two Bushes.
8) Secret dealings between Reagan/Bush and the Iranians led to the iran-Contra Affair, when covert operatives like Oliver North funneled arms to the Iranians and laundered cash and drugs through the reactionary Contra forces fighting revolution in Nicaragua.
9) The Contras in turn flooded the US with cocaine, feeding a horrific crack epidemic that has crippled the black and Hispanic communities here for two decades.
10) Those US-financed arms were used to fight the Iraqis and Saddam Hussein, whom the US also supported, and whom Donald Rumsfeld publicly embraced in the early 1980s. The American goal seems to have been to weaken both Iran and Iraq through a horrifying war that claimed at least a million casualties, ultimately infuriating both citizenries.