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The Hypocrisy of Democracy

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What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment and death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment ... inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.   --Thomas Jefferson   

Why are “Islamic” terrorists and orthodox Muslims alike infected with such loathing for the US? Because the policies of the American, Israeli and other Western governments since World War I toward the Middle Eastern countries, most of which are predominantly Muslim, have both fallen short regarding the Middle Eastern peoples’ rights to independence and self-determination.  

Moreover, Western leaders have responded to the results of their errors with a sinister pattern of denial. First they succeed in denying their faults or crimes to their domestic constituencies, painting a picture of “what really happened”. Next they create a scapegoat from some outspoken Muslim king, president or imam who dares to rail against the evil of Western atrocities and blame him for the trouble. Then they inflate that figure into a monster, accuse him of the very offenses the US or Israel has perpetrated and either stir up the people to fight an open war against him or concoct a special operation to remove him from power secretly. And the apparent driving force beneath this demonic strategy is the entrepreneurial interests of a few rich Westerners.   


One nation that has dramatically exemplified this malevolent Western pattern several times in the twentieth and early twenty-first century is Iran. Dominating the Persian Gulf, situated midway between the Suez Canal and China, possessing 70 million residents and controlling more untapped oil than any other known place on earth, Iran has figured prominently in Western foreign policy since England and Russia began competing for influence there in the 1800s and especially since oil was unearthed there in 1908. Now the country is widely seen as an exporter of terrorism, a rogue state, a nuclear belligerent, a dictatorship and an implacable foe of Israel and the United States that must be watched carefully and reproached diligently.  

Colonialism, domination, imperialism, and big business--cloaked as “free trade”, “influence”, “expansion” and “the favor of Divine Providence”—are directly responsible for turning the ancient land of Persia into a hotbed of anti-Westernism.  

The Constitutional Revolution 

In 1901, an English businessman from Australia named William Knox D'Arcy obtained a concession from Persia’s ruler, Shah Mozaffar o-Din, for £10,000 to hunt for petroleum in a large southern area of the immense nation. In the next few years, D'Arcy drilled for his treasure in Shardin. Meanwhile in 1905, an intense nationalist protest, led by the new intellectual class filled with Western concepts of political rights and the nation-state, erupted among the people of the country dissatisfied with the Shah's autocracy. This forced him to establish a parliament, the Majlis, and sign a constitution defining the powers of the government. After he died, his son Mohammed Ali took the throne. Long contending for strategic control of the nation, England and Russia signed a treaty in 1907 dividing Persia into separate spheres of influence. Then in 1908, the same year D'Arcy struck petroleum at Masjid-I-Sulaiman, Shah Ali revoked the constitution, promptly triggering a massive revolt which was only silenced when he stepped down. The Constitutional Revolution of Persia was well under way.  

It was not by mere coincidence that petroleum exploration and Persian uprisings occurred at the same time. A well-documented link exists between the Western oil strategy, repressive rulers and popular rebellion. From time immemorial, the temptation of easy riches has driven investors to do whatever is necessary to secure them, even befriending and aiding tyrants. Much as the idea of international “Muslim” terrorism spread from Palestine to other regions of the Muslim community where human rights were similarly being denied, early twentieth-century Persia turned out to be a precedent for the oil-grasping and revolution pattern in other nations.  

Notice that the Persian inhabitants complained of Shah O-Din's oppression four years after D'Arcy started digging for oil. That was because the petroleum business unfairly skewed the national economy to the benefit of D'Arcy and O-Din, producing unrest which required a strong ruler to keep in check. In turn, that despotism provoked further resentment, which boiled over into revolution. Since foreign interests and corruption had taken hold of Persia and its monarch once again, the people coerced Ali to resign in favor of his eleven-year-old son Ahmad.   

World War II and Mohammed Mossadiq 

Finding themselves common allies against Nazi Germany during World War II, England and the Soviet Union decided to share Iran with each other. Both invaded and occupied the country together with the US and India for strategic purposes, including the Allied transversal of lend-lease supplies to Russia. They took charge of its infrastructure, especially the Trans-Iranian Railroad, a valuable route for Russia to the Persian Gulf. The US also sent an expeditionary force into Iran in 1942 to assist in running the track. But not all these countries' policies were innocent: England and the Soviets expelled Reza Shah and dismantled the Iranian democratic government system, weakening the constitution the people had fought for. In addition, Moscow violated the 1943 Tehran Conference which promised to guarantee the liberty and territorial integrity of Iran. The USSR held contingents of troops for three more years in the northwest part of the country which conducted revolutions and set up two small, fleeting Soviet republics before international pressure obliged them to depart. With English and Russian approval, the dictator Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi succeeded his father as ruler of Iran on September 16, 1941.  

Within a few years Reza Shah was challenged by Mohammed Mossadiq, a lawyer, former minister and governor and parliamentarian who enjoyed stronger popular backing. His inflammatory speeches in the Majlis against the danger of English control over the Iranian oil industry transformed him into a champion of the people. He even gained the support of Iran's Communist Party, much to the dismay of the US; but like most other popular Middle Eastern leaders, he firmly rejected the godless ideology of Communism. In 1951, to mollify his subjects, the repressive Reza Shah appointed Mossadiq prime minister due to his fine reputation.  

That year, the Majlis voted to nationalize the country's English-owned petroleum industry, a law Mossadiq enforced for two years despite English intimidation and economic sanctions. Popular riots compelled him to return to office when he resigned in protest over the stubborn Shah's refusal to grant him control of the Iranian military. In 1953, Shah Pahlavi made the mistake of trying to discharge Mossadiq. Such a serious revolt erupted that the Shah had to flee for his life, upon which Mossadiq declared Iran a republic amid great celebration. But unfortunately, intelligence agents from the CIA clandestinely helped the cronies of the monarch overthrow Mossadiq--the people's choice—and returned the despotic Shah to power in Operation Ajax.  

Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi 

From 1953 to 1978, the US kept Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi's regime flourishing with piles of money to the tune of $20 billion, mainly consisting of weapons, arms contracts and technical support in return for his assortment of godless and unjust domestic policies that favored the Western petroleum corporations. In return, the Shah permitted a band of Western investors to reap handsome profits from Iran's oil business in an unjust system which diverted much of the income to their personal enrichment as well as that of the Shah. In response to discontent with this inequity, the Shah grew dictatorial, assuming absolute power in defiance of the Iranian constitution. His policies included mass arrests, detention, torture and execution of political dissidents without trial; constant surveillance of the citizenry through SAVAK, a 25,000-man intelligence agency; the suppression of religious practice; and most important of all, laissez-faire capitalism that steadily increased the Iranian poverty rate. While the “White Revolution” brought a redistribution of land among peasants, this had no lasting effect in the face of the foreign oil companies’ self-serving manipulation of the market. Moreover, the reform program introduced unpopular Western innovations such as female suffrage and compulsory secular education. At the price of breaking the Law of God, earning Middle Eastern suspicion, violating the principles of self-determination and noninterference in the affairs of other countries and alienating the people of Iran, America obtained much of the oil it needed to stay rich. Iranian religious leaders, intellectuals and workers united in ever-louder opposition to the Shah.  

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Justin Soutar is a Catholic researcher and author. His articles about faith, the Pope & his message, pro-life and religious liberty issues, American politics and elections, terrorism, the Middle East, and other topics appear in a wide variety (more...)

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