Thursday, February 6, 2014

Distressed Reading … Ike, Iran and Guatemala … 1953 and 1954

I've always know this, but never in detail, and it makes me sick.

What we did in Iran in 1953, to support the craven interests of the declining British Empire and it's stranglehold on Iranian oil is so disturbing to me - our CIA, with Ike signing off on it, as he grew increasingly more frightened of the Communist Boogeyman, fomented a "revolt" paid for by American Taxpayers against a democratically elected leader (who had nationalized British petroleum interests - Communist-inspired for sure) and installed the Shah, with a new deal for oil in hand … and everyone was happy, except the Iranians.

Even as this was going on, efforts were underway in Guatemala to remove the democratically elected leader who had instituted land reform (this became proof positive of "Communist" influence); United Fruit Company, with its bananas and tentacles throughout the American Government, cried for help, and got it. "Rebels" were trained, and by golly miss molly, the president of Guatemala resigned and in his place, a dictator. And everyone was happy, except the Guatemalans.

For years, the Iranian deal was carefully hidden from the American People, until the final piece of Ike's diary were declassified May 10, 2010, admitting "covert" involvement. Steven Ambrose, Ike's biographer, had first seen this entry as early as 1984, but subsequent books omitted it.

What's tragic for me is that an otherwise savvy President, who understood colonialism in Indochina and thus refused to save the French, failed to understand British colonialism in Iran and American business "colonialism" in Guatemala. All along the way, folks who wanted to influence Ike glossed over the facts and used the threat of "Communism." Such language didn't work for Ike in Indochina, but it did for Iran and Guatemala.

And what a price we've paid.

As a side note, the Dulles Brothers were legal counsel for United Fruit in Boston; Eisenhower's personal secretary was wife of United Fruit's public relations department; Ike's national security advisor was the banker for United Fruit; CIA soldier of fortune on the ground in Guatemala, E. Howard Hunt, would later spend 33 months in federal prison for his role in the Watergate break-in.

When I finished this chapter in Eisenhower: In War and Peace, I felt dirty - my mind had been dragged through a pig sty. While I have great regard for Eisenhower, he surrendered his ability to think and weigh the realties by succumbing to the American hysteria of the time - a Communist behind every tree and under every bed.

He would have done well to heed the advice of his long-time friend, William Prescott Allen, publisher of The Laredo Times, who visited Guatemala in June of 1954: "Yes," he cabled Ike, "Guatemala has a very small minority of Communists, but not as many as San Francisco."

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