Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Actually, the protests in Iran are all a CIA plot

Via Nico Pitney's Huffington Post blog on Monday, here is a cover story in Iran's most important hard-line newspaper, Keyhan:

I don't know Farsi, but apparently the banner headline reads: "$400 Million CIA Budget For Creating Riots After The Election".

As everyone knows, back in 1953 there really was a CIA-organized plot that toppled an Iranian regime--the notorious overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and his government, which was replaced by the autocratic rule of the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (who was overthrown a quarter-century later in the 1979 revolution). That traumatic event is burned into Iran's collective memory, so it's not surprising that the Iranian regime and its supporters would try to invoke its echo in order to smear the opposition.

This time around, the notion that the CIA (in cahoots with the BBC?) could have masterminded the political struggle now going on in Iran, including the nation-wide upheaval that has brought millions of people into the streets, is fanciful.

According to Nico Pitney, several readers have e-mailed to say that the Keyhan article is based in part on "a piece by Paul Craig Roberts, likely this one," in the reliably anti-American-dictatorship-friendly nutcase-left newsletter CounterPunch. (To be fair, I should add that some sane, decent, and intellectually serious people also publish stuff occasionally in CounterPunch, though I'm not sure why.) So anyone who wants to read an English-language version of this conspiracy theory can find it here.

=> For the word from the horse's mouth, which vividly conveys the paranoid vision that guides the Iranian regime and its supporters, I recommend watching an Iranian government TV broadcast from 2008 that explains How the Iranian Intelligence Ministry sees the world.

(As Daniel Finkelstein, the Comment Editor of the London Times, remarked at the time: "This TV broadcast from the Iranian Intelligence Ministry is simultaneously absolutely hilarious and blood-chilling." Hard to disagree.)

--Jeff Weintraub