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Roosevelt also fails to mention any contribution of the British to the whole
operation, which considerably irritated the men in MI6, the CIA's counterpart, who
claim that they, as well as AIOC staff, local businessmen and other Iranians, had indeed
played a role in the events. But they have been tight-lipped about what that role was
precisely.23
The US Military Mission in Iran also claimed a role in the action, as Major
General George C. Stewart later testified before Congress:

Now, when this crisis came on and the thing was about to collapse, we violated
our normal criteria and among the other things we did, we provided the army
immediately on an emergency basis, blankets, boots, uniforms, electric
generators, and medical supplies that permitted and created the atmosphere in
which they could support the Shah ... The guns that they had in their hands, the
trucks that they rode in, the armored cars that they drove through the streets, and
the radio communications that permitted their control, were all furnished through
the military defense assistance program.24

The latter part of the General's statement would, presumably, apply to the other
side as well.
"It is conceivable that the Tudeh could have turned the fortunes of the day
against the royalists," wrote Kennett Love, a New York Times reporter who was in
Teheran during the crucial days of August. "But for some reason they remained
completely aloof from the conflict. ... My own conjecture is that the Tudeh were


68
resrrained by the Soviet Embassy because the Kremlin, in the first post-Stalin year, was
not willing to take on such consequences as might have resulted from the establishment
of a communist-controlled regime in Teheran."
Love's views, contained in a paper he wrote in 1960, may well have been
inspired by information received from the CIA. By his own admission, he was in close
contact with the Agency in Teheran and even aided them in their operation.25
Earlier in the year, the New York Times had noted that "prevailing opinion
among detached observers in Teheran" was that "Mossadegh is the most popular
politician in the country". During a period of more than 40 years in public life,
Mossadegh had "acquired a reputation as an honest patriot".26
In July, the State Department Director of Iranian Affairs had testified that
"Mossadegh has such tremendous control over the masses of people that it would be
very difficult to throw him out."27
A few days later, "at least 100,000" people filled the streets of Teheran to
express strong anti-US and anti-Shah sentiments. Though sponsored by the Tudeh, the
turnout far exceeded any estimate of party adherents.28
But popularity and masses, of the unarmed kind, counted for little, for in the
final analysis what Teheran witnessed was a military showdown carried out on both
sides by soldiers obediently following the orders of a handful of officers, some of whom
were staking their careers and ambitions on choosing the winning side: some had a more
ideological commitment. The New York Times characterized the sudden reversal of
Mossadegh's fortunes as "nothing mote than a mutiny ... against pro-Mossadegh
officers" by "the lower ranks" who revered the Shah, had brutally quelled the
demonstrations the day before, but refused to do the same on 19 August, and instead
turned against their officers.29
What connection Roosevelt and his agents had with any of the pro-Shah officers
beforehand is not clear. In an interview given at about the same time that he finished his
book, Roosevelt stated that a number of pro-Shah officers were given refuge in the CIA
compound adjoining the US Embassy at the time the Shah fled to Rome.30 But
inasmuch as Roosevelt mentions not a word of this rather important and interesting
development in his book, it must be regarded as yet another of his assertions to be
approached with caution.
In any event, it may be that the 19 August demonstration organized by
Roosevelt's team was just the encoutagement and spark these officers were waiting for.
Yet, if so, it further illustrates how much Roosevelt had left to chance.

In light of all the questionable, contradictory, and devious statements which
emanated at times from John Foster Dulles, Kermit Roosevelt, Loy Henderson and other
American officials, what conclusions can be drawn about American motivation in the
toppling of Mossadegh? The consequences of the coup may offer the best guide.
For the next 25 years, the Shah of Iran stood fast as the United States' closest
ally in the Third World, to a degree that would have shocked the independent and
neutral Mossadegh. The Shah literally placed his country at the disposal of US military
and intelligence organizations to be used as a cold-war weapon, a window and a door to
the Soviet Union”electronic listening and radar posts were set up near the Soviet
border; American aircraft used Iran as a base to launch surveillance flights over the
Soviet Union; espionage agents were infiltrated across the border; various American
military installations dotted the Iranian landscape. Iran was viewed as a vital link in the
chain being forged by the United States to "contain" the Soviet Union. In a telegram to
the British Acting Foreign Secretary in September, Dulles said: "I think if we can in


69
coordination move quickly and effectively in Iran we would close the most dangerous
gap in the line from Europe to South Asia."31 In February 1955, Iran became a member
of the Baghdad Pact, set up by the United States, in Dulles's words, "to create a solid
band of resistance against the Soviet Union".32
One year after the coup, the Iranian government completed a contract with an
international consortium of oil companies. Amongst Iran's new foreign partners, the
British lost the exclusive rights they had enjoyed previously, being reduced now to 40
percent. Another 40 percent now went to American oil firms, the remainder to other
countries. The British, however, received an extremely generous compensation for their
former property.33
In 1958, Kermit Roosevelt left the CIA and presently went to work for Gulf Oil
Co., one of the American oil firms in the consortium. In this position, Roosevelt was
director of Gulfs relations with the US government and foreign governments, and had
occasion to deal with the Shah. In 1960, Gulf appointed him a vice president.
Subsequently, Roosevelt formed a consulting firm, Downs and Roosevelt, which,
between 1967 and 1970, reportedly received $116,000 a year above expenses for its
efforts on behalf of the Iranian government. Another client, the Northrop Corporation, a
Los Angeles-based aerospace company, paid Roosevelt $75,000 a year to aid in its sales
to Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries.34 (See the Middle East chapter for Roosevelt's
CIA connection with King Saud of Saudi Arabia.)
Another American member of the new consortium was Standard Oil Co. of New
Jersey (now Exxon), a client of Sullivan and Cromwell, the New York law firm of
which John Foster Dulles had long been the senior member. Brother Allen, Director of
the CIA, had also been a member of the firm.35 Syndicated columnist Jack Anderson
reported some years later that the Rockefeller family, who controlled Standard Oil and
Chase Manhattan Bank, had "helped arrange the CIA coup that brought down
Mossadegh". Anderson listed a number of ways in which the Shah demonstrated his
gratitude to the Rockefellers, including heavy deposits of his personal fortune in Chase
Manhattan, and housing developments in Iran built by a Rockefeller family company.36
The standard "textbook" account of what took place in Iran in 1953 is that”
whatever else one might say for or against the operation”the United States saved Iran
from a Soviet/Communist takeover. Yet, during the two years of American and British
subversion of a bordering country, the Soviet Union did nothing that would support
such a premise. When the British Navy staged the largest concentration of its forces
since World War II in Iranian waters, the Soviets took no belligerent steps; nor when
Great Britain instituted draconian international sanctions which left Iran in a deep
economic crisis and extremely vulnerable, did the oil fields "fall hostage" to the
Bolshevik Menace; this, despite "the whole of the Tudeh Party at its disposal" as agents,
as Roosevelt put it.37 Not even in the face of the coup, with its imprint of foreign hands,
did Moscow make a threatening move; neither did Mossadegh at any point ask for
Russian help.
One year later, however, the New York Times could editorialize that "Moscow ...
counted its chickens before they were hatched and thought that Iran would be the next
'People's Democracy." At the same time, the newspaper warned, with surprising
arrogance, that "underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object
lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk
with fanatical nationalism."38
A decade later, Allen Dulles solemnly stared that communism had "achieved
control of the governmental apparatus" in Iran.39 And a decade after that, Fortune
magazine, to cite one of many examples, kept the story alive by writing that Mossadegh


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"plotted with the Communist party of Iran, the Tudeh, to overthrow Shah Mohammed
Reza Pahlevi and hook up with the Soviet Union."40
And what of the Iranian people? What did being "saved from communism" do
for them? For the preponderance of the population, life under the Shah was a grim
tableau of grinding poverty, police terror, and torture. Thousands were executed in the
name of fighting communism. Dissent was crushed from the outset of the new regime
with American assistance. Kennett Love wrote that he believed that CIA officer George
Carroll, whom he knew personally, worked with General Farhat Dadsetan, the new
military governor of Teheran, "on preparations for the very efficient smothering of a
potentially dangerous dissident movement emanating from the bazaar area and the
Tudeh in the first two weeks of November, 1953".41
The notorious Iranian secret police, SAVAK, created under the guidance of the
CIA and Israel,42 spread its tentacles all over the world to punish Iranian dissidents.
According to a former CIA analyst on Iran, SAVAK was instructed in torture
techniques by the Agency.43 Amnesty International summed up the situation in 1976 by
noting that Iran had the "highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of
civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief. No country in the world
has a worse record in human rights than Iran."44
When to this is added a level of corruption that "startled even the most hardened
observers of Middle Eastern thievery",45 it is understandable that the Shah needed his
huge military and police force, maintained by unusually large US aid and training
programs,46 to keep the lid down for as long as he did. Said Senator Hubert Humphrey,
apparently with some surprise:

Do you know what the head of the Iranian Army told one of our people? He said
the Army was in good shape, thanks to U.S. aid”it was now capable of coping
with the civilian population. That Army isn't going to fight the Russians. It's
planning to fight the Iranian people.47

Where force might fail, the CIA turned to its most trusted weapon”money. To
insure support for the Shah, or at least the absence of dissent, the Agency began making
payments to Iranian religious leaders, always a capricious bunch. The payments to the
ayatollahs and mullahs began in 1953 and continued regularly until 1977 when
President Carter abruptly halted them. One "informed intelligence source" estimated
that the amount paid reached as much as $400 million a year; others thought that figure
too high, which it certainly seems to be. The cut-off of funds to the holy men, it is
believed, was one of the elements which precipitated the beginning of the end for the
King of Kings.48




10. Guatemala 1953-1954
While the world watched

To whom do you turn for help when the police are assaulting you? The old
question.
To whom does a poor banana republic turn when a CIA army is advancing upon
its territory and CIA planes are overhead bombing the country?



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The leaders of Guatemala tried everyone”the United Nations, the Organization
of American States, other countries individually, the world press, even the United States
itself, in the desperate hope that it was all a big misunderstanding, that in the end,
reason would prevail.
Nothing helped. Dwight Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles had
decided that the legally-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz was "communist",
therefore must go; and go it did, in June 1954.
In the midst of the American preparation to overthrow the government, the
Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Guillermo Toriello, lamented that the United States was
categorizing "as 'communism' every manifestation of nationalism or economic
independence, any desire for social progress, any intellectual curiosity, and any interest
in progressive liberal reforms."1
Toriello was close to the truth, but Washington officials retained enough contact
with reality and world opinion to be aware of the inappropriateness of coming out
against nationalism, independence or reform. Thus it was that Secretary of State Dulles
asserted that Guatemalans were living under a "Communist type of terrorism"2 ...
President Eisenhower warned about "the Communist dictatorship" establishing "an
outpost on this continent to the detriment of all the American nations"3 ... the US
Ambassador to Guatemala, John Peurifoy, declared that "We cannot permit a Soviet
Republic to be established between Texas and the Panama Canal"4 ... others warned that
Guatemala could become a base from which the Soviet Union might actually seize the
Canal ... Senator Margaret Chase Smith hinted, unmistakably, that the "unjustified
increases in the price of coffee" imported from Guatemala were due to communist
control of the country, and called for an investigation5 ... and so it went.
The Soviet Union could be excused if it was somewhat bewildered by all the
rhetoric, for the Russians had scant interest in Guatemala, did not provide the country
with any kind of military assistance, did not even maintain diplomatic relations with it,
thus did not have the normally indispensable embassy from which to conduct such
nefarious schemes. (During this period, the height of McCarthyist "logic", there were
undoubtedly those Americans who reasoned: "All the better to deceive us!"]
With the exception of one occasion, the countries of Eastern Europe had as little
to do with Guatemala as did the Soviet Union. A month before the coup, that is, long
after Washington had begun preparation for it, Czechoslovakia made a single arms sale
to Guatemala for cash, something the Czechs would no doubt have done for any other
country willing to pay the price. The weapons, it turned out, were, in the words of the
New York Times, "worthless military junk". Time magazine pooh-poohed the
newspaper's report and cited US military men giving a better appraisal of the weapons.
It may be that neither Time nor the military men could conceive that one member of the
International Communist Conspiracy could do such a thing to another member.6
The American propaganda mill made much of this arms transaction. Less
publicized was the fact that Guatemala had to seek arms from Czechoslovakia because
the United States had refused to sell it any since 1948 due to its reformist governments,
and had pressured other countries to do the same despite Arbenz's repeated pleas to lift
the embargo.7
Like the Soviets, Arbenz had reason to wonder about the American charges. The
Guatemalan president, who took office in March 1951 after being elected by a wide
mat-gin, had no special contact or spiritual/ideological ties with the Soviet Union or the
rest of the Communist bloc. Although American policymakers and the American press,
explicitly and implicitly, often labeled Arbenz a communist, there were those in
Washington who knew better, at least during their more dispassionate moments. Under


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Arbenz's administration, Guatemala had voted at the United Nations so closely with the
United States on issues of "Soviet imperialism" that a State Department group occupied
with planning Arbenz's overthrow concluded that propaganda concerning Guatemala's
UN record "would not be particularly helpful in our case".8 And a State Department
analysis paper reported that the Guatemalan president had support "not only from
Communist-led labor and the radical fringe of professional and intellectual groups, but
also among many anti-Communist nationalists in urban areas".9
Nonetheless, Washington repeatedly and adamantly expressed its displeasure
about the presence of communists working in the Guatemalan government and their
active participation in the nation's political life. Arbenz maintained that this was no
more than proper in a democracy, while Washington continued to insist that Arbenz was
too tolerant of such people”not because of anything they had done which was
intrinsically threatening or offensive to the US or Western civilization, but simply
because they were of the species communist, well known for its infinite capacity for
treachery. Ambassador Peurifoy”a diplomat whose suit might have been pinstriped,
but whose soul was a loud check”warned Arbenz that US-Guatemalan relations would
remain strained so long as a single communist remained on the public payroll.10
The centerpiece of Arbenz's program was land reform. The need for it was
clearly expressed in the ail-too-familiar underdeveloped-country statistics: In a nation
overwhelmingly rural, 2.2 percent of the landowners owned 70 percent of the arable
land; the annual per capita income of agricultural workers was $87. Before the
revolution of 1944, which overthrew the Ubico dictatorship, "farm laborers had been
roped together by the Army for delivery to the low-land farms where they were kept in
debt slavery by the landowners."11
The expropriation of large tracts of uncultivated acreage which was distributed
to approximately 100,000 landless peasants, the improvement in union rights for the
workers, and other social reforms, were the reasons Arbenz had won the support of
Communists and other leftists, which was no more than to be expected. When Arbenz
was criticized for accepting Communist support, he challenged his critics to prove their
good faith by backing his reforms themselves. They failed to do so, thus revealing
where the basis of their criticism lay.12
The party formed by the Communists, the Guatemalan Labor Party, held four

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