Secrecy in diplomacy and intelligence-gathering is supposed to protect the nation. But secrecy also protects bad policy . . . including great crimes that undermine our security.
This week, the National Security Archive released onto the Web the first official admission that agents of the United States government brought down — by assassination and violent coup — Iran’s democratically elected president, Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, 60 years ago:
The explicit reference to the CIA’s role appears in a copy of an internal history, The Battle for Iran, dating from the mid-1970s. The agency released a heavily excised version of the account in 1981 . . . but it blacked out all references to TPAJAX, the code name for the U.S.-led operation. Those references appear in the latest release.
The sunsetting of the secrecy provisions on the information finally provides sunlight, transparency, to this crucial moment in history.
Crucial, because it involved public American support for Masaddeq’s successor, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, “the Shah of Iran.” The Shah became quite brutal in his embrace of “modernism” and (this is hard to write with a straight face) “Western values,” including the suppression of religious dissidents. This led to the fundamentalist Muslim backlash, with Mid-East Muslims widely interpreting American intervention and support for the Shah as both imperialistic and anti-Islamic, setting up the current “clash of civilizations” . . . in which neither side ends up looking good.
It’s interesting to note that much of the secrecy about the event not only covered up American crimes, but British ones.
America’s foreign policy seems so un-American. In so many ways.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.