The end of the British empire is marked by the rise of Mossadegh. It was Mossadegh after all who rose up to the Brits and gave courage to countless leaders across the Middle East, Asia and Africa to rise to their British Colonial masters. Yes, Mossadegh was toppled by a combine of British Intelligence and the CIA, but the writing was on the wall – and within a decade Britain gave away almost half of its ‘empire’. He was more inspirational and important than even Mahatma Ghandi in changing the dynamics of Britain’s empire.
Then in 1979, Jimmy Carter decided to topple the Shah of Iran and put Khomeini in his place. It was another cataclysmic strategic mistake for the United States and its global interests. At the time, it was considered to be a brilliant move, but now, 40 years later we know it was absolutely stupid from a U.S. perspective. The Carter administration had spent several years preparing key Iranian operatives like Yazdi and Ghotzadeh; and coordinating with their European counterparts to put in place the mechanisms to topple the Shah. The Shah after-all, had been very close (maybe too close) to Nixon. (Let’s not forget that Nixon was Eisenhower’s Vice President, whose daughter married Eisenhower’s son – and it was Eisenhower that supported the coup to re-instate the Shah in 1953). Also, Carter’s foreign policy was led by Zbigniew Bzrezinsky (Zbig) who espoused the view that ‘communism could be toppled by religion’! Carter’s team wanted the Shah out.
In a fateful meeting in Guadeloupe in 1978, Carter along with leaders of UK, Germany and France resolved to do so. The Europeans had their own reasons too – for toppling the Shah. The Brits wanted Iranian oil production to shut off to keep oil prices high to support their plans for North Sea oil. The Shah had dealt with them ‘arrogantly’ – thinking that the U.S. would keep his back. Well, it didn’t!
Forty years ago, in February 1979, Khomeini was flown to Tehran in a French Government chartered 747 and the rest as they say is history.
This was followed one year later with two very significant events – both engineered by U.S. operatives. (Now looking back, we have much better visibility of events).
One event was the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, followed by an insurgency by Islamic Fanatics (the Taliban), who successfully engaged the Russians to the point of Russian bankruptcy. The anti-Soviet campaign along with religious insurgency in eastern Europe against communism eventually led to the break up of the Soviet Union. This, on its surface (at least) appeared to vindicate Zbig’s political calculus – and the toppling of the Shah.
The second event, which turned out to be more fateful in the long-run, was the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. We know now, that operatives working for Reagan’s campaign had approached the Khomeini’s entourage to delay the release of the U.S. embassy hostages in order to humiliate Jimmy Carter. Carter had been undermined. After several failed attempts to initiate a coup in Iran and rescue the hostages (both of which were undermined by the Reagan’s camp), Carter sent a desperate message to Saddam Hussein to invade Iran. And on September 22nd, 1980 Iraq duly invaded! An eight-year, brutal, dirty war ensued. Which led to many more wars (Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq).
Religious fanatics have become a ‘super-power’ pawn. Used by the CIA to topple the regime in Syria, undermine Russia’s soft belly in the Caucuses and China’s West (the Ughyurs) but at the same time Islamic fanatics have become enemies of the “West” too – flying into buildings, bombing big cities and cutting off the heads of American journalists!
The tables have turned.
In the process, the U.S. government has spent something like 3 trillion dollars (according to the government itself, unofficially there are estimates almost 2x this number) waging endless war in the middle east. U.S. engagement in Afghanistan is now the longest ever battle the U.S. has waged in its history. Record Heroin production in war-torn Afghanistan has consumed the lives of millions of Americans (there is an Opioid epidemic in the U.S. in case you did not know; and NO its not coming from Mexico or because of prescription drugs).
Every single, theocratic regime the U.S. has sponsored – whether it’s the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Mullahs in Iran, or Erdogan’s in Turkey), has eventually turned its back on the U.S.! A core principle in dealing with Religious fanatics everywhere (whether in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. bible belt, Israel …) is they can not reason, and they can not be trusted, they are bad allies.
The thinking or justification that was used to “Topple the Shah” has now been debunked.
In the process, the U.S. has lost the middle east. Bankrupted itself with over half a Trillion-dollar defense budget for the past twenty years. Some years this figure has been upwards of $800 billion dollars. The U.S. has been forced to spend more on defense than all its allies combined. Why? Because of its foreign policy mistakes that began 40 years ago – when Carter toppled the Shah and installed a theocracy in Iran.
The mistakes began with Iran in 1979!
And there is no end in sight. The Trump regime has cozied itself with Saudi Wahabists, Fanatic Islamic Marxists (the MEK) in Albania, Israel’s religious right, and evangelists in America. And in the process turned its back on moderates everywhere – who in fact support American secular values and democracy!
Despite all these foreign policy failures, the U.S. government has continued to use religion as a political tool for the past 40 years. But in the process, the U.S. now finds itself with the same ‘tool’ being used against itself. And it has cost the U.S. trillions of dollars, countless lives and global retrenchment. In contrast, the Chinese and Russians seem to be ‘less religiously’ engaged, less dogmatic and more transactional in how they conduct their foreign policy. Empirically, the ‘religious card’ has not succeeded in the long-run. In fact, it has been a cataclysmic mistake that has now led to significant U.S. retrenchment and demise. The world economic center of gravity is moving “Eastward”!
Investing in “religion” is a bankrupt concept! Short-term gain, long-term loss! Patently!
Better, for the U.S. to stick to its core values as a secular state (separating religion and government), with an emphasis on protecting every human being’s “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”! Imposing religious values on complete nations, supporting religious totalitarianism – whether with Khomeini in 1979 or in Saudi Arabia in 2019 – was and is a cataclysmic mistake.