A timeline to think upon

If Iran Were America (And We Were Iran): A Timeline

This is a very well done example of reversing protagonists and putting shoes on other feet. It’s also a useful pointer for people who have been previously unaware of just how much throttling of autonomous political movements in ex-colonial resource-rich states has been done by the industrial powers of the West over generations.

Via Pandagon.

Categories: economics, history, social justice

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4 replies

  1. Just to be upfront about my political biases, libertarians are like the all you can eat buffet of political philosophy. The gold standard is the one true path to political salvation? You can pig out on it at the libertarian buffet. Like guns? Load up that plate! Jury nullification? Get a heapin’ helping, don’t need to eat anything else!
    The analogy has plenty of nits to pick. Iran was not a colony, so its turbulent history can be entirely blamed or explained on a single foreign power.
    It artificially frames Iranian history. One might think that Iran appeared in 1951 with the election of Mossadegh. Any history of Iran that ignores WWII and the very real tensions between the US, USSR and Britain during the war is either ignorant or engaging in misdirection.

  2. The misuse of “colony” was mine rather than the timeline author’s – mea culpa, although in my defence I do see attitudes of the major powers treating nations in regions of colonialisation the same whether that nation was a colony or not: no true acceptance of a nation’s sovereign right to pursue policies and vote for political parties that the major powers don’t like if they’re a nation cursed with important industrial resources.
    Doesn’t any timeline artificially frame history? It has to start somewhere. And of course an analogy is never a perfect comparison. That’s why it is an analogy.
    Reversing Iran and the USA (insert standard moan about essentialist use of “America” here) with respect to imagining how people would feel with the same degree of foreign interference into national sovereignty is still rhetorically powerful.
    I’m not quite sure why you mentioned libertarians, BTW.

  3. The piece is from LewRockwell.com which is something of a sink of crackpottery and has gotten my goat before. Writers at site have peddled Pearl Harbor and atomic bomb conspiracy theories and isolationism (US variant) as well as other pet libertarian hobby horses.
    As for framing, starting from 1953 puts WWII outside the picture and so the Anglo-Soviet invasion of 1941, the effective occupation of the country by Britain and the USSR, the establishment of Soviet puppet republics carved out of Iran, the tardy withdrawal of Soviet occupation in 1946, the collapse of said puppet republics and all the Great Power skulldugery that played out there. All that history was the vital stage setting for 1953.
    The framing also ignores the fact that in the first half of the 20th century, the US was the world’s largest exporter of oil. It hard to argue that the US had designs on Iranian oil in 1953 (though Britain certainly did).
    Yeah, I know it is an analogy but not a very good one. Iran certainly has had a bumpy history but it has been one largely of their own making compared to other countries.

  4. Ah, I wasn’t familiar with LewRockwell.com previously.
    I see your point that it would be more truly analogous to have another Middle East state be the reversi-Britain for the purposes of installing the Shah/King Joe McCarthy figure. Sad to say though, apart from poli-history wonks such as yourself, that would only confuse the target audience more than they’re already confused by the protagonist reversal in the first place.
    The target audience is not the wonks. The wonks are already fully aware that cynical conspiratorial interventions by the West in the political outcomes of resource-rich countries are a, if not the, major source of resentment within those countries against the West.

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