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June 29, 2014


Lately I have been writing on marginal productivity, the potential for an international bankruptcy treaty and interchanges with intellectuals (among whom I do not number). I think it is time to take a vacation from these topics at the intersection of economics and government in favor of discussion of old-fashioned coups and their after-effects. I am encouraged to take this vacation by having brushed up against a book (The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations) written by a native-born Iranian, Ervand Abrahamian, a respected historian now serving as professor at the City College of New York. His book (per one reviewer) “bears the hallmark of scrupulous scholarly inquiry,” a ringing endorsement indeed! I will never again after such exposure look at the Iranian coups of 1953 (M-16 and CIA-inspired) and the Iranian Revolution of 1979 in the same way.

Coups have histories, and in recounting some of the historical background for these coups I suppose I am back to the intersection of economics and government, but at least it involves other governments as well as my own and is not just another wordy brawl with the Wild West libertarians and Wall Street sellouts we now have masquerading as legislators in our nation’s capital.

Coups and constitutional violations also require bogeymen, thus we have terrorism as the justification for our current descent into a surveillance state and that old standby during the Cold War (and with the aid of the British and our own Senator McCarthy of black list fame), communism, to cover our respective posteriors in the Iranian coup of 1953. The timing of the coup is in itself suspicious, coming with the overthrow of Mossadegh, who as prime minister had led the Iranian parliament to nationalize the oil companies only two years prior to the British and American spook-led coup. The coup had little to do with the hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people and a lot to do with oil. As with most dictatorships, whether shahs or kings, Khans or Caesars, the people are onlookers and not participants in government.


1908 – Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, predecessor of BP, finds oil in commercial quantities in Iran. Drills and bribes its way to huge profits with a succession of shahs.

1941 – Russia and Britain invade and occupy Iran “in order to secure the Allied supply of oil.” Shah Reza abdicates in favor of his son Mohammad Reza following the invasion.

1951 – Prime minister Mossadegh nationalizes oil companies in Iran, thus essentially removing Shah Resa from power. Opens negotiations to compensate BP – they go nowhere.

1953 – British and American intelligence agencies (M-16 and CIA) mastermind a coup designed to reinstate Shah Resa to power and, incidentally, to reinstate the old system of bribing and extraction of Iranian oil which paid huge profits to BP and peanuts (after bribing and other such costs) to Iran.

1979 – An ayatollah-led popular counter-revolution ends the shah line but with final decisions of the parliament still subject to mullah and not secular veto, retains vestiges of earlier shah dictatorship.

Part II will flesh out the events surrounding these timelines in succinct fashion. Stay tuned. GERALD E

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