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 death and 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.
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