In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote this a couple days before President Trump tweeted the following:
Thanks to President Trump's tweet, this question is now very relevant.
By Tyler Bauer
Among the greatest perceived enemies of the United States is Iran. If you follow the news at all, you’ve probably heard about Iran being “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” Or maybe you’ve heard about Iranian involvement in Syria or the threat Iran poses to Israel, our Middle Eastern ally. We all know that Iran is made out to be an enemy and a threat to our security – but why? Why are we so opposed to and antagonistic towards a country on the other side of the world?
Iran has a rich history dating back many centuries. However, the majority of its history is more or less irrelevant to the reason why the US is so antagonistic towards Iran. For the purposes of this topic, Iranian history begins in 1951.
In 1951, Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh came to power in Iran. He was democratically nominated and appointed to this role. He was clearly a legitimate leader. Furthermore, Mosaddegh was regarded as being a champion of secular democracy and Iranian nationalism. He was especially famous for pushing for Iranian independence from foreign powers. Due to this, most Iranians loved him. He seemed to be the perfect person to guide Iran through the early stages of its independence.
Prime Minister Mosaddegh was set for success until he decided to nationalize Iran’s oil industry soon after taking power in 1951 (to read more about this decision, click here). This was an extremely popular move in Iran, as Iranians rightly believed nationalization would remove foreign influence from the oil industry. However, in the height of the Cold War, the US was not happy to lose its influence over Iranian oil. So, the US took matters into its own hands.
In 1953, with significant support and financial assistance from the CIA, the Iranian military overthrew democratically-elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh and reinstalled the Shah, Iran’s monarch. The Shah – Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – was more or less a symbolic figure before the coup. After the coup, the Shah served as a puppet of the US, doing more or less whatever was asked of him. Of course, he was happy to do so, as he now had the power and control he lacked when Iran was democratic.
Understandably, most Iranians were furious when the US removed Iran’s democratically-elected leader and reinstalled a monarch who was no more than the US’s puppet. As time went on, the Iranian people became more and more upset with the Shah and the US. Hatred of the US – which was previously pretty mild – reached a boiling point in the late 1970s.
The Coup Backfires
In 1978, the Iranian Revolution began. It occurred for both secular and religious reasons, but only the secular reasons are relevant for this topic. I say religion is irrelevant in this case because there are a number of countries around the world that prove that Shia Islam and a pro-American stance are not mutually exclusive (India, for example, has a large Shia population and is a close ally of the US). I believe only the secular reasons for revolution are relevant to the ongoing antagonism between the US and Iran.
So, what were the secular reasons for the Iranian Revolution? It’s pretty simple. Iranians were upset at the state of their country under the Shah and resented the fact that he was installed by the US after the democratically-elected Prime Minister was overthrown. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I would hold a grudge against a country that helped our military overthrow a democratically-elected leader and replaced the removed leader with a monarch. Our illegal overthrow of Iran’s democracy is why Iran has taken an anti-American stance ever since.
So, why do we hate Iran? We hate Iran because they refused to be ruled by us. They believed – and still believe –that they can run their country better than we can. In case you were wondering, they’re right. We don’t know what Iranians want any more than Iranians know what we want.
Instead of hating Iran and seeing Iran as a threat, we should look ourselves in the mirror and understand that we created this problem sixty-five years ago. What’s happened between the US and Iran since then has been our fault.
Maybe people would stop hating the US if we let them run their own lives.