Thursday, June 18, 2009

2 Countries, 3 Elections, 2 Reactions

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

The parallels between the stolen Iranian election of 2009 and the American of 2000 and 2004 are tragic. The histories---and futures---of the two nations are inseparable. Bound up in their tortured half-century of crime and manipulation are the few glimmers of hope for lasting peace in the Middle East. In both countries, a right-wing fundamentalist authoritarian with open contempt for human rights and the Geneva Convention has come up a winner, with catastrophic consequences. In both countries, the blow back of two George Bushes loom large.

In the U.S., two “defeated” candidates---Al Gore and John Kerry---said and did nothing in the face of two stolen elections. But an unprecedented voter protection movement arose from the ashes of those defeats to assure the 2008 victory of America's first African-American president.

In Iran, the “defeated” candidate---Mir Hussein Moussavi---is fighting back, along with massive grassroots resistance. How far they get will define the Iranian future---as well as that of the Middle East.

In a fluid and unpredictable situation, here are some indisputable facts:

1) A half-century ago, the people of Iran attempted a democratic revolution led by a moderate progressive, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, whose social-democratic inclinations have been revived by Moussavi.

2) Prime Minister Mossadegh was overthrown by the Eisenhower administration and its Central Intelligence Agency, which wanted to wall in the Soviet Union and protect western oil interests.

3) Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. (father of the Gulf War general of the same name) used a suitcase full of US taxpayer dollars to bribe Iran’s anti-democratic sympathizers and help overthrow Mossadegh.

4) They installed the pro-U.S. general Fazlollah Zahedi, who handed control of Iran to the brutal and vicious Shah. The dictatorial Shah ruled through the infamous secret terror/torture police force Savak, which Schwartzkopf helped train.

4) A prototypical CIA asset, the Shah used his iron torturer’s hand to “westernize” the country and make it more user-friendly to US oil interests.

5) Among other things, the U.S., France and other western powers were moving to provide the Shah with up to 36 atomic power plants designed to provide electricity and, ultimately, radioactive materials with which to build his own atomic bombs.

6) Despite his ostensible commitment to human rights, President Jimmy Carter made a point of spending a high-profile New Year’s with the Shah, evoking the bitter hatred of millions of Iranians.

7) The Shah’s overthrow by fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini led to the 1979-80 hostage crisis that finally sank Carter’s presidency. Amidst indications of a secret deal involving past and future CIA Directors George H.W. Bush and William Casey, the release of the hostages was delayed long enough to guarantee Carter’s defeat, thus inaugurating the Age of Ronald Reagan, with 12 of its 28 years under the two George Bushes.

8) Secret dealings between Reagan/Bush and the Iranians led to the Iran-Contra Affair, when covert operatives like Oliver North funneled arms to the Iranians and laundered cash and drugs through the reactionary Contra forces fighting revolution in Nicaragua.

9) The Contras in turn flooded the US with cocaine, feeding a horrific crack epidemic that has crippled the black and Hispanic communities here for two decades.

10) Those U.S.-financed arms were used to fight the Iraqis and Saddam Hussein, whom the US also supported, and whom Donald Rumsfeld publicly embraced in the early 1980s. The American goal seems to have been to weaken both Iran and Iraq through a horrifying war that claimed at least a million casualties, ultimately infuriating the citizens of both countries.

After a half-century of dictatorship under the Shah and the CIA, followed by the Ayatollah and the fundamentalists, the Iranian public appears desperate to return to the social-democratic vision of Mossadegh, denied so long ago.

In the U.S. in 2000 and 2004, the corporate/religious right put George W. Bush in the White House---and then kept him there---with a sophisticated election theft machine built around elimination of voter registrations, manipulation of the vote count, and a wide array of supporting tactics. The US Supreme Court set it all in stone with its infamous Bush v. Gore decision, which prevented a true vote count in Florida 2000. History repeated itself in Ohio 2004.

In Iran 2009, the ruling fundamentalist elite has barely pretended to count the votes at all, merely rushing to announce a predetermined outcome. The reigning Ayatollah has played the role of the US Supreme Court by certifying the outcome before a real ballot tally could possibly occur. Blank spaces in the texts of Iranian newspapers and an electronic blackout created by official censors reflect the on-going vacuum in the US corporate media, which has yet to seriously report what was done to the American elections of 2000 and 2004.

What will happen next in Iran is anyone’s guess. George W. Bush fueled its fundamentalist right by calling it a “terror state” whose nuclear weapons ambitions are fueled with materials produced by the “Peaceful Atom” Eisenhower inaugurated in 1953, around the time he was disposing of Mossadegh.

Bush’s counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is now turning the state terror apparatus---reminiscent of the Shah’s---against those who would mention the illegitimacy of his rule.

Thus tragedy looms at the brink of opportunity. That democracy in Iran so clearly won at the polls is a sign of great courage and hope on the part of the Iranian people. They are fighting terrible odds, not of their own making. Should they break free, the storm would re-shape the Middle East---and much more.

In the meantime, perhaps their American counterparts, instructed by the ghost of Mossadegh, might finally face up to the true price of sowing such cynical, lethal whirlwinds.


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection. The Fitrakis Files are available via, where this article first appeared. Harvey Wasserman's History of the United States is at


Anonymous said...

Do people actually swallow this mans spewings? its disgracefull and completely ridiculous. He has no clear knowledge of the current situation in Iran, considering Gary Baumgarten sits in his comfortable new York office as he rights this. Primary sources tell a very different tale and still the main focus should not be what this means for america or any other damned country on the planet which this article clearly directs to and how dare this person have the audacity to make a comparison between the USA's Elections and Irans Elections. using specific language to demonise Iran is simply another poor attack against the country, while focussing on the USA's interest more than that of the innocent people in Iran who's country is in turmoil.

Gary clearly has no idea what is going on in iran and is using none fact combined with a generalised opinion to fuel his supposed "News Report on Iran".

I am an Iranian, i know what is going on, i do not support Ahmadinejad and i didnt vote for him yes there is something going on behind the scenes possible a rigged election but to make such stupid claims and put them in a news report which im guessing thousands of people read thus misinforming them and fueling the misinformation about iran is pathetic.

I hope this reporter reforms his ways and reports facts from now on not opinions and misinformation.

My question to gary is, does he even know the basic fundamentals of irans politics today? and does he even know the history of irans political system? and im not just talking about information he can get from a book or from a website i mean the systems that were and are in place and how the worked in reality not on paper.

Gary Baumgarten said...

I did not write this.

Look again. There is both a byline and a footnote identifying the authors who occasionally contribute to this blog.

Anonymous said...

But you are advocating the misinformation on your blog thus misrepresenting the iranian people and also misrepresenting and demonising the political structure of my country.

It gets a little bit confusing when we see your name at the top of the report..... again misrepresentation if you yourself did not write this then why is it on your blog.

Notice this man does not even address the things i outlined because he really does have no clue about my country.

You are just another in a long list of people who do not tell the truth, like most journalists you serve an uncouth agenda and change your colors all the time to suit you.

When you have something true to report then i will possible applaud you on your work.

Anonymous said...

Hello Gary, I find these negative viewpoints confusing, from the comments on here now. I feel what is portrayed in Iran in the election is like our past election bringing Obama to office with the negative work of Acorn and the padding of the election. The protests in Iran are now at the tipping point and already others from Hasbola etc have come in to help police the crowds. we will and we must support these peope in their quest for freedom from the mullahs and this form of tyranny. God Bless these people in their fight Jamie_38

Anonymous said...

Support these people? i think alot of you facists forget that the middle east is not america and the middle east also does not bow down to america any more.