Freedom/Privacy

CNN's Iran timeline omits US-backed '53 coup

by Brad Jacobson

It might be more difficult for Republicans to bash President Obama for being “timid” in his comments about the Iranian government’s violence against protesters if the U.S. media didn’t consistently censor US-Iranian history.

Take CNN’s recent Iran timeline, titled “A brief look at Iran’s history.”

According to the timeline, which begins in 1979, Iran has “been at odds with the West and some of its neighbors” since the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It refers to the Shah as having been “pro-Western.” Yet in the mother of all omissions, CNN leaves out how the US government was directly involved in bringing the Shah to power in a 1953 coup that toppled the democratically elected Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

As a June 4 Agence France-Presse article details:

The CIA, with British backing, masterminded the coup after Mossadegh nationalised the oil industry, run until then in by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.For many Iranians, the coup demonstrated duplicity by the United States, which presented itself as a defender of freedom but did not hesitate to use underhand methods to get rid of a democratically elected government to suit its own economic and strategic interests.

You might remember Obama owning up to this bit of history during his recent trip to the Middle East, in a speech to the Muslim world in Cairo: “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” Reality and honesty as olive branch. Something that would be anathema to the Bush administration and most Republicans holding office today.

The Agence France-Presse article also notes that it was “the first time a serving US president has publicly admitted American involvement in the coup.

So when Obama points out that he’s been cautious to avoid saying something the Iranian government could use to try and convince the Iranian people that America is somehow driving these protests, our president knows from which he speaks. And when Obama says that he also doesn’t want to steal the spotlight, so to speak, from the voice of the Iranian people leading these protests, our president, once again, knows from which he speaks.

Moreover, as opposed to George W. Bush — who boasted that “democracy is on the march” but, in reality, whose words and foreign policy helped to solidify the power of extremists and tyrants the world over, proliferate terrorism, and lead to deathand destruction on a genocidal scale — Obama’s caution in speaking about the events in Iran is not timid but prudent in light of America’s past meddling.

CNN’s woefully inadequate timeline obfuscates the truth of America’s involvement in Iranian history, involvement that directly impacts the Iranian peoples’ past and present. It’s this kind of selective reporting on Iran that paves the way for the historically tone-deaf criticisms of Obama we’ve been hearing from Republicans.

The timeline also reinforces the critically misleading notion that far too many Americans believe: US-Iranian hostilities began in 1979.

Cross-posted from MediaBloodhound.

4 replies »

  1. Regarding the genocidal scale, the ORB neglects to give us the hard numbers of Iraqi/Iraqi religious murders, and fails to give us hard numbers on how many innocent Iraqi’s were killed directly by US and or coalition troops. They also should take into context of exactly how many Iraqis were killed by Saddam Hussein, if one could get an accurate number.

  2. “Regarding the genocidal scale, the ORB neglects to give us the hard numbers of Iraqi/Iraqi religious murders, and fails to give us hard numbers on how many innocent Iraqi’s were killed directly by US and or coalition troops.”

    Jeff, the ORB study is framed in Pandora’s Box kind of way, i.e., the US invasion of Iraq led to the deaths of over 1 million Iraqis. It would be great to have the breakdown you’re referring to but I don’t think its absence invalidates the ORB study.

    “They also should take into context of exactly how many Iraqis were killed by Saddam Hussein, if one could get an accurate number.”

    If you’re referring to Iraqis killed by Saddam Hussein during his reign, most estimates tend to be around 200,000 over a 24-year period. Certainly a horrific toll but dwarfed by the number of deaths triggered by the US invasion.

Leave us a reply. All replies are moderated according to our Comment Policy (see "About S&R")

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s