CNN praises a dictator

The Huffington Post
Posted: June 23, 2009
By Sanjeev Bery

It has barely been a day since my last blog post criticizing a CNN commentator’s Iran analysis. But somehow, CNN has already managed to outdo itself.

In a new article linked to its home page as of Monday, CNN.com heavily quotes the son of a former Iranian dictator without once telling the reader about his father’s role in ending Iranian democracy.

The piece is entitled “Fighting tears, shah’s son calls crisis a ‘moment of truth.'” It heavily quotes Reza Shah Pahlavi, the son of the Shah of Iran. And it has nothing but good things to say about the intentions of the father who ruled Iran for a quarter century:

Under the shah’s regime, Iran saw nationalization of its oil and a strong movement toward modernization. Still, his secular programs and recognition of Israel cost him the support of the country’s Shiite clergy, sparking clashes with the religious right and others who resented his pro-West views.

Never mind that the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, came to power in a 1953 CIA coup that overthrew Iran’s young democracy. Never mind that his Savak secret police crushed democratic opponents.

Somehow, CNN is bestowing positive coverage upon the Shah and his son without once acknowledging the repressive practices of the Shah’s regime. Indeed, if there hadn’t been a Shah to rebel against, there might never have been a Supreme Leader named Ayatollah Khomeini.

That isn’t to say that the Shah of Iran created Khomeini’s ideology or power base. The Iranian Shia clerical class existed long before 1979. But one wonders what Iran could have been like today if the CIA hadn’t overthrown its democratic government in 1953.

2 responses

  1. Given that the cold war was going on and Russia’s influence in Iran, and Mosadeqs’ leftward leaning, it’s quite possible Iran would have become a dark and repressive satelite of the Soviet Empire.

    At least, our associations with the United States helped protect our nation from Soviet dominance.

    • Bijan, though I must disagree, I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      I don’t think there’s any value to being protected against potential Soviet dominance when the price of that protection is dictatorship and an end to democracy.

      My understanding is that under the Shah of Iran’s watch, thousands of Iranian dissidents were killed. That to me looks exactly like the communist tyranny U.S. officials claimed they were trying to prevent.

      I ascribe a great deal of intelligence to the U.S. officials who worked to overthrow Iran’s democracy. I’m sure they could see the contradiction, which suggests that the anti-Soviet justifications were rhetoric that masked a more basic desire to maintain Western control of Iranian oil resources.

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