Iraq 1950-1959:
Nixon in Whitehouse. CIA Running Wild.

Without going into too much detail — well, any detail — the 1950's found Iraq's government leading a series of joint Arab military campaigns to wipe out Israel. You would think that playing leader for the homicidal neighborhood gang would have required a certain continuity and focus from Iraq, not to mention the feeling of national unity that usually arises from just such involvement in war. Still, with the kind of enthusiasm that remains unflagged by external events — zeal usually reserved for the favorite national sport — Iraq's record-breaking series of assassinations continued unabated.

The Jewish emigration halted in 1950 when the Iraqi government made it illegal for Jews to leave. They also declared Zionism a capital crime, which, like all popular laws passed by scheming bastards, was aimed at cracking down on terrorism, but really just gave everyone an excuse to harass and abuse an unpopular domestic element. In this case, the law increased persecution of Jews.

In 2001, the United States passed a similar kind of law called The P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. It's aimed at immigrants. A follow-on is under discussion and appears to be aimed at people who can think and read.

After intense negotiations aimed at rescuing Iraqi Jewry from further torment, the Israeli government negotiated a one-time airlift in 1951, called Operation Ezra. The emigrés had to leave most of their wealth behind — but it was probably going to be confiscated anyway if they stayed.

By the mid-50's, only about 6000 Jews still lived in Iraq. You might wonder why any stayed, but you have to understand that these Jews were stayers. Historical accounts, and certainly the Biblical accounts, tell of the Jews wandering all over the place. They also tell about where the wandering started: in what is now Iraq. The Jews are from Iraq, and were the descendants of Jews who finally said, "OK, we followed Abraham, and it wasn't so great. We're going home."

The expulsion of Iraqi Jews through 1952 ended a Jewish community that had lived continuously — in relative peace — for 2700 years.

You have to give those that remained credit for their loyalty to their homeland, and their unwillingness to be bullied — and much credit was given by those that tried to help. Many stories detailing the cruelty suffered by Iraqi Jews also have elements of compassion and generosity from Muslims and Christians who still saw them as old friends and neighbors. Ultimately, the only efforts that made any difference were those that helped the Iraqi Jews flee the country.

Not all of the Jews fled to Israel. The country was experiencing a massive tide of immigrants, many of whom had lost everything and needed the government to set them up with basic necessities. Although they were thankful, basic necessities were about all there was to give them. Other destinations promised a less spartan new beginning.

Also, while the Arab Jews — some prefer the term Sephardic Jews — had been mistreated, they had not endured direct experience with the Nazi Holocaust, and so were less likely have the siege mentality brought about by such extended trauma. Israel may not have appealed to them as a safe haven, as it did to others.

I'm just guessing. Maybe Israel isn't the only nice country you can move to. Who knows? I just wanted to point out that a lot of Iraqi Jews moved to other countries and that one of those countries was Iran. This surprises a lot of Americans.

That's because most Americans don't know anything about Iran before the 1979 revolution which saw the country taken over by radical fundamentalist Islamists.

Americans knew nothing about Iran before 1979. Americans knew nothing about Afghanistan between 1990 and 2001. Americans knew nothing about Iraq until 1990. I'm wondering when Americans will notice that they don't know anything about other countries until we are in some kind of violent conflict. Maybe if we paid attention to people when they weren't attacking us, or otherwise opposing us, then attacking and opposing us might not seem like such an attractive option, huh? Something to think about — if you think about things… which is another part of the problem...

The Persians were less upset by the formation of Israel, because it was really an Arab problems, and like most Arab problems, the Persians thought it beneath them. Although it surprises most Americans to find out, Iran is also a very diverse country with quite a few ethnic and religious minorities. Sure, Israel was also a Muslim problem, but mostly for Sunni Muslims, and the Persians were largely of the Shi'a sect.

So as an embattled Jewish Arab, Iran didn't seem like such a bad place. It was familiar in culture and language. It was prosperous. And there were established Jewish communities where you could move and find community support.

As it turns out, Iran became a bad idea in 1953. In this case, it wasn't just bad for the Jews, but everyone. This was an equal-opportunity badness. Sound familiar? Of course, it does — equal opportunity badness comes from only one source: The US Government. And even for those still in Iraq, you had a front row seat so you could watch the United States commit the most hypocritical evil to date.

Strange Things Are Afoot In Persia

In 1953, Baghdad received a surprise visit from Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last reigning Shah of Iran.

Reza's father had been Shah at the start of World War II. When hostilities commenced, the British sent troops to Iran to protect its oil supply and to secure a pipeline that carried that oil to their brothers-in-arms, the Soviet Union (aka "The Evil Empire").

Reza's dad struck the Brits as creepy, untrustworthy and capable of random acts of idiocy. Nazis had already gotten set up one country over in Baghdad, Iraq, thanks to some Iraqi geniuses who allied with the Genocidal Germans. Both the cost and the risk of losing control of Iran to the Nazis were dangerously high. The risk of the Shah going bugshit in the middle of this delicate time could not be tolerated. Thus, driven more by pragmatism than politics, the British forces summarily deposed the sitting Shah.

I know it seems severe, and you probably suspect the Brits' motives, but one look at his son, and you'd instantly realize that the Pahlavi dynasty had wandered into the shallow end of the gene pool. The British felt that the Shah needed to be somewhere far away from anything important. Somewhere like Crawford, Texas.

At the conclusion of the war, the Brits left two legacies in Iran.

The first was a new oil company that put Iranian oil under British control just as IPC had done in Iraq. The other legacy was a monarch-free government and the opportunity to become a bona fide democracy.

A few years after the War, Iranians went to the polls and elected Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq to the office of Prime Minister in the first democratic government in the three millennia of Persian history.

The new PM was an odd character prone to emotional outbursts that were often angry or tearful. Still, he seemed to be pursuing the agenda of the electorate and they liked his passion.

In 1951, the PM pulled the plug on the British oil deal and declared the oil production back under Iranian national control. The UK and US were immediately gripped with concern that Iran's Russian Comrades might take control of the fledgling democracy and usurp its oil. The Soviets still had troops in the Northern regions of Iran. The obvious Plan A was to offer military support to protect Iran from the neighboring communist superpower. This kind of support was, in fact, a perfect example of "The Truman Doctrine," which pledged support to countries fighting communism.

Yeah, well, that was a great plan if your primary goal was to prevent the communists from getting the oil. It wasn't such a great plan if the real goal was to restore control of oil production to the Anglo-American Global Mafia.

The Central Intelligence Agency was just stepping into its Cold War role under the moral guidance its founder, Allen W. Dulles. Allen had become a spy during World War II, after having played a key role in helping Adolph Hitler come to power. His main task in 1951 was helping Nazi's escape to South America and getting them special provisions to work for the US government.

Anyway, the Nazis at the CIA had a clever plan for how to protect Iran from the Communists! It had never been tried before by the US, but it was exactly the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that made you glad you chose to put Nazis on your staff — that is, if you were also a Nazi.

The idea was to orchestrate a coup and install a friendly government. That actually wasn't a particularly original idea. The innovation was that the new government should be a brutal dictatorship, much like our beloved Fürher... ahem... I mean that awful Hitler. This government would be stable, compliant, and it could guarantee that our directives would be implemented without resistance by meddlesome citizens.

Logical? Yes. Ethical? Of course! Again, if you were also a Nazi. Patriotic Americans are not Nazis, although they can have fascist leanings. "But," we were told, "Realities of the Cold War need to be taken into account."

In 1952, when Dulles first suggested this plan, it was rejected by the President. President Harry Truman was a real American Patriot who believed in American ideals. He was disgusted that Dulles would even suggest that America destroy a nascent democracy and replace it with a monstrous dictatorship.

Truman didn't run for re-election in 1952. In a free and fair democratic election (maybe our last) Dwight Eisenhower, and his sidekick, Richard Nixon became the President and Vice President, respectively. The "Eisenhower Doctrine" was a modified version of the "Truman Doctrine." How was it different?

Oh, yeah! They removed the part about supporting other countries; all that mattered was fighting communism. Everyone would understand and love us when we beat the commies, right?

The ethics of national governments in the first half of the 20th Century had been grimly sparse, but perceptible; cold war reality would demand that they be discarded entirely, if evil was to be battled. Without cumbersome ethical constraints, this first-ever inexcusable act of blind self-interest was cleared for takeoff. What's more appropriate, than to ruin this historic first democracy with America's historic first CIA-orchestrated coup? It would simultaneously betray one of the world's oldest societies — Persia — and one of the world's newest, America. Few evil deeds are that evil.

Today, Americans wonder aloud whether or not the Muslims in the Middle East are capable of forming democracies.

It takes some big balls and tiny brains for Americans to say shit like that.

A certain General Norman Schwartzkopf Sr. was tapped to manage the American military force that was poised to enter the country after the coup — at the behest of the new government, of course. This would be a critical component in the plan to completely fuck over Iran.

General Schwartzkopf's son, General Norman Schwartzkopf Jr., would return to the Gulf region 40 years later and administer an even more jaw-dropping screwing to the people of neighboring Iraq. Those are American Family Values at work!

The Great CIA Near-Fuckup of 1953

The most obvious candidate to install was our friend Reza Pahlavi. Everyone, even the CIA guys who picked him, thought he was a complete loser asshole — but he wasn't going to be running our country, just following our orders, so who cared?

We should have. The CIA-sponsored Shah turned out to be too stupid to even follow simple instructions, which put the operation in jeopardy from the start. The whole scheme appeared to unravel before the agent's eyes when several Iranian military officers — officers supposedly loyal to the US — seized power on their own.

Before anyone knew what was going on, the cowardly proto-Shah fled to Baghdad. I couldn't find records as to whom he met there or what they might have discussed, but if he didn't tell the Iraqis about the CIA-backed coup, they could have found out on the evening news. It wasn't a secret for long.

US involvement in the coup was publicly revealed by Mosaddeq administration news releases. Radio broadcasts explained the confusing events, and that they failed to achieve a coup.

Unfortunately, Dr. Mosaddeq saw Reza Pahlavi's departure from Iran as a sign that the danger was over. The CIA and several of its loyal Iranian officers were still operating in Iran and their campaign to incite anti-Communist fervor was starting to show results.

Believing the political situation stable, Mosaddeq began to "clean up" the corrupted government. His first step was to dissolve the Parliament. This created outrage and panic in the citizens who then took the CIA's bait hook, line and sinker. A couple of days later, cheering crowds welcomed Reza Pahlavi's return as their Shah.

The official story was that the US helped drive out a communist puppet government from Iran, restored the rightful leader, the Shah, and thus won his indelible loyalty and gratitude. This loyalty was expressed by essentially handing us the deeds to the Iranian oil fields.

The Shah's rule was characterized by senseless cruelty, merciless brutality and a record of human rights abuses so massive that photons could not escape its gravity. Additionally, he was a completely inept governor.

He was Grade-A CIA Dictator material.

And The Persians Lived Happily Ever After

That's basically it. The CIA learned from its mistakes and proceeded to help spread freedom around the globe by replacing free, democratic governments with insane murderous dictators. We'll hear from the CIA later — can you guess how? It should be painfully obvious.

Iran will show up later, too, when we see how a 40-year national nightmare can turn the region's most promising Muslim democracy into a world-class exporter of violent Islamic radicalism — one that still has time to maintain an appalling human rights record!

A Nudge Toward Democracy…

In the Iraqi memory, the most important event of the 1950's was the "Revolution" of 1958.

A populist leader, Abdel Qassim (alternate spelling: Qasim), led a military coup and disposed of the Monarchy, quite literally. With most of the Royal family swinging on ropes in front of the palace and the rest of it scattered in pieces throughout the streets of Baghdad, Qassim and his pals changed the country to "The Republic of Iraq."

Was this inspired by the brief shedding of the monarchy in neighboring Iran? I don't know. It's possible that ambitious Iraqi politicians realized that it was harder for arbitrary people to take power if there was a Dynasty at work. Anyway, Iran actually created a democratic regime and Iraq hadn't quite gotten past the "vote with your AK-47" method of regime change.

With the possibility of different parties in power, an Iraqi Ba'th party formed. The Ba'th party had a Pan-Arabist agenda envisioning an Arab confederacy stretching from Eastern Africa to Pakistan. You may notice this geography has a lot of non-Arabs in it. It was as if a nice left-wing ideology was being distorted for an authoritarian nationalist agenda.

But, unlike on television, everything was exactly as it appeared. The nice left-wing ideology was being distorted for an authoritarian nationalist agenda. Who saw that coming? Oh yeah, I already told you.

Murdering His Way Into Politics

In his home-town of Tikrit, a 20-year-old Saddam Hussein joined the Ba'th party and promptly assassinated a leading local supporter of Qassim. This stellar showing qualified him to participate in the first Ba'th assassination plot, which was staged in 1959.

Qassim was to be killed while being chauffeured on an anticipated car trip. A six-man team planned to attack the motorcade the moment that Qassim had been locked into the car, but before the car began moving. This would make Qassim an effectively immobile target.

The assassination attempt failed, thanks to the youthful exuberance of a certain Saddam Hussein. Hussein opened fire too soon, killing the chauffeur, but only wounding Qassim. Because Qassim not settled into his passenger seat, he was able to escape further harm.

Admittedly, there was some pressure to commit the murder before the motorcade began to move. Had Kennedy been in a convertible, the CIA could have placed sharp-shooters along the route, especially if there was some kind of plaza where they could create a cross-fire… Oops! That's not right! I should really edit out such a glaring typo, but I'll leave it in because it's such a hilarious non sequitur.

I meant to write: Had Qassim been in a convertible, the Ba'th party could have placed sharp-shooters along the route, especially if there was some kind of plaza where they could create a cross-fire. Then, the whole thing would be covered up by a ridiculous collection faked evidence and bizarre claims of impossible bullet trajectories.

Sophisticated, media-savvy Americans might find it hard to believe that such a phony hoax would ever endure scrutiny, but we forget that outside our free system of government, such scrutiny doesn't exist. We're accustomed to an open government answerable to the people. We're empowered with a free press that gives us all the facts — not just the ones the government wants us to get!

Anyway, let's get back to Saddam Hussein — who probably already had Weapons of Mass Destruction, even then!

Rookie Mistake

Despite the time pressure, the premature initiation of the attack was borne of undisciplined impatience. It was the kind of "trying too hard" you'd expect from a boy who saw this humble murder as his first — and last — chance to "make it" in life.

Saddam didn't have much as a child, having grown up on a farm in the town of al-Awja, a rural suburb of Tikrit.

His father died, or left, when he was very young, and his mother remarried. His stepfather was cruel to him. Saddam would be beaten, verbally abused and forced to work in the fields rather than attending school.

At age 10, Saddam went to Baghdad to live with his uncle.

While in Baghdad, Saddam attempted to gain admission to Baghdad's Military Academy. This was a well-known path for a bright, working-class boy like Saddam to enter the upper levels of society.

Saddam was rejected, probably because he had not finished the requisite level of schooling.

OK! Hold it!

Let's see:

OK... can't we somehow stop this from happening, 'cause it's the same story as... you know.

Implicated in the 1959 coup attempt, Saddam had to flee to Egypt for four years. He finished school, probably meaning he achieved roughly a "high-school" education.

During his stay in Egypt, Saddam Hussein lived in the Doqqi neighborhood in Cairo on a small refugee stipend. It was pretty much an open secret that this was a dumping ground for American operatives. Apparently, Hussein frequented a small family-run restaurant in the neighborhood, The Indiana. The owner extended credit to his regulars, which included the young Iraqi exile, and when Saddam left Eqypt, he was about 30 Pounds in debt to the owner The Indiana.

The generous restaurateur has since passed away, but his son recalls that several years later, the Iraqi ambassador to Egypt came to The Indiana to pay Hussein's tab, and the suprised owner responded, "What? Saddam got a job?"[1]

In America, we like our leaders to have college degrees, because it shows intelligence, but if they act like they learned anything past grade school, they are branded as elitist intellectuals, likely to favor socialism.

1. MacInnes-Rae, Rick. CBC Report. From the show "Dispatches." Listen in Real Audio
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