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  • The Evolution of Morality and the Shifting Standards of Political Correctness

    Posted on June 30th, 2009 Helian No comments

    Robert Ardrey

    Robert Ardrey

    An interesting article appeared in the German news magazine, “Der Spiegel,” recently. It was entitled, “How Mankind Learned Humanity,” and discussed recent developments in the field of evolutionary science relating to the evolution of morality in human beings. Why was it interesting? Well, there was a time when the appearance of anything of the sort in a left-leaning publication like Spiegel would have been virtually unthinkable. You see, back in the day, Marxists, socialists, and dwellers in various other ideological straightjackets found such notions politically unpalatable. They were in conflict with the preferred version of human behavior as infinitely malleable, and determined entirely by environment and learning. Creatures possessing such ideal characteristics were indispensible if the various utopias then under construction for us were ever to work as planned.

    Back in the 60’s and 70’s, a brilliant thinker named Robert Ardrey and others like him began publishing books, such as “African Genesis,” and “The Territorial Imperative,” pointing out the rather obvious absurdities of such notions, and reviewing studies of animal behavior and other research that pointed to the conclusion that our capacity to act as moral beings had evolved, along with the rest of our characteristics. They were promptly demonized as fascists, racists, and “pop ethologists” by the puritan ideologues. Notions to the effect that there was any genetic component to human behavior became distinctly politically incorrect. References to such ideas in the popular media became few and far between. When they did, it was usually to the accompaniment of some slur about the moral turpitude of those harboring such notions.

    For those of us who lived through those times, and witnessed the shameful attempts of scientific poseurs like Richard Lewontin and Ashley Montagu to silence Ardrey and his colleagues with ridicule and spite, the unconscious vindication of his ideas represented by the Spiegel article and many others like it is both welcome and encouraging. I never doubted that vindication would come, because it seemed that, unless the Lewontins of the world were somehow able to cow the rest of the research community into suppressing every “inconvenient truth” that didn’t quite agree with their ideologically conditioned preconceptions, the weight of evidence for ideas that really amounted to little more than common sense would become overwhelming.

    In the end, it did become overwhelming. The Spiegel article and the ever increasing volume of others like it are a reflection of that fact. The genetic basis of morality, and of human nature in general, is now treated as a commonplace in the popular media, as it is in the scientific research community in general. To tell the truth, I never thought the day would come as quickly as it has. It’s a hopeful sign. In the end, as long as free research can continue, the truth really can prevail.

  • The Great Library of Alexandria has Gone Missing!!

    Posted on June 30th, 2009 Helian No comments

    Pompey's Pillar and the ruins of the Serapeum

    Pompey's Pillar and the ruins of the Serapeum

    Just as I was about to indulge myself in a self-congratulatory smirk for pointing out certain anomalies in the gaudy tales of the Great Iranian Coup now current on the web, I find that, while I was landing a sunfish, other bloggers have been reeling in muskies. To wit, Dave Schuler over at The Glittering Eye has just pulled off a controlled demolition of no less an edifice than the Great Library of Alexandria itself! Quoting the Eye:

    “My take: Alexandria was undoubtedly a center of learning and scholarship and, consequently, had a lot of books. Over time Alexandria’s influence, learning, and scholarship all declined. Was there a Great Library? I don’t believe that the evidence supports the idea.”

    Now, it happens that the worthy proprietor of “The Glittering Eye” is rather a more credible source than, say, the current author of the Wikipedia article on Mossadegh. When such a one claims that the Great Library is a mere mirage, it is most unlikely that clicking up a few links on Google will prove the opposite. I realize this will come as no small disappointment to those for whom the destruction of the Library has long served as a spendid historical club, for there are accounts to suit every taste. Depending on the particular object of ones disapprobation, one can bludgeon the Christians, Moslems, pagans, or even great Caesar himself, for there are versions of the story to suit all these occasions, and more.

    I can find nothing that directly contradicts the Eye’s conjecture. However, by way of throwing in my two cents worth, I will draw attention to a very interesting chapter on the subject in “The Arab Conquest of Egypt,” by Alfred Butler, which includes a great number of links to source material on the subject. From the account therein, it appears that the claim of Moslem culpability in the destruction of the Library can be dismissed with little ado. However, Butler does not let the Christians off so easily. He agrees that the existence of a Great Library cannot be proved, or at least not after the time of Julius Caesar. However, basing his conclusions on passages from Aphthonius, Eunapius and Rufinus, among others, he claims that the Serapeum, which was destroyed by the Christians in 391, apparently in accord with an edict of the emperor Theodosius, housed a very extensive library. If this was the Great Library (a very big “if”, and one that Butler by no means proves), he concludes,

    “The argument now stands as follows: the Library is proved to have been stored in rooms which, like the shrines of the old Egyptian gods, formed part and parcel of the temple building. The temple building is proved to have been utterly demolished and destroyed (by the Christians in 391). Therefore the Libary suffered the same destruction.”

    So much for the one pebble I could find to further muddy the historical waters. As Obama said to President Zelaya, “I hope that helps.”

  • Mossadegh, Iran, and the CIA’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Coup, Part III

    Posted on June 29th, 2009 Helian 2 comments

    The Operations Plan set forth in Wilber’s “History,” envisioned a “massive” propaganda campaign against Mossadegh.  Apparently, the expense of this “massive” campaign was to be some fraction of the overall budget.  As noted in the “History,” “The total estimated expenditure required to implement this plan will be the equivalent of $285,000 of which $147,500 will be provided by the US Service and $137,500 by the UK Service.”  Quoting again from the plan, “One or two weeks before the date set for Situation A, the intensive propaganda effort will begin. The details relative to the execution of this campaign will be the primary responsibility of the US field station.”  The spinners of the Great Coup myth would have us belief that this rather parsimoniously funded “massive propaganda campaign,” launched a mere week or two before the attempt, and consisting of a batch of political cartoons and essays, completely outfoxed the Communists, renowned masters of propaganda though they were, and the entire Mossadegh controlled media, in spite of Wilber’s admission that this magically effective propaganda never appeared in more than 20 of the 273 publications published in Tehran at the time.

    The Great Coup didn’t succeed because this “massive propaganda campaign” suddenly convinced the Iranian people they should turn against Mossadegh.  In fact, it was obvious from the start that the only hope of success lay in uniting the existing opposition to him in the country, and galvanizing it into action.  In the end, as we shall see, Mossadegh needed no CIA help to do that.  He pulled it off very nicely all by himself.

    It was the CIA’s opinion that “General Zahedi is the only figure in Iran currently capable of heading a new government who could be relied upon to repress Soviet-Communist penetration and carry out basic reforms.”  The other “key elements” in the plan reflected this conclusion.  They were 1) Get the Shah to go along, 2) Insure Zahedi has command authority, 3) An appeal to obey Zahedi.  Getting the Shah to go along was never an issue.  He fled the country on August 15, and would surely have come back to accept power from whoever offered it to him.  In the end, the rest of the plan was moot.  Zahedi was in hiding in a CIA safe house when the decisive events of the coup took place, and his “command authority” was, therefore, irrelevant, as was the appeal to obey him.  He only emerged from hiding when the coast was clear, and Mossadegh’s supporters had already been defeated.

    The CIA’s actual attempt to execute the plan outlined above is euphemistically referred to as “The First Try” in Section 6 of Wilber’s “History.”  In fact, it was the only try, as far as the CIA was concerned, and it was a failure.  Of course, as the old saying goes, “Success has a thousand fathers. Failure is a motherless child.”  When the Shah’s supporters won after all, even as the CIA staff were commiserating with each other on their failure, Wilber was quick to put a bold face on things.  He couldn’t tell bald-faced lies, though.  As a result, his “History” appears to be a fairly accurate account of what happened.  It is an account of a botched operation, as anyone who actually takes the trouble to read it can see.  In fact, it makes it quite clear that the CIA did not control or direct the events on August 19 that actually brought Mossadegh down.  The “First Try” occurred on the night of August 15.  It was a debacle.  Wilber’s version was as follows:

     “The precise order of events of the night of 15 August 1953 has not yet been established in all detail. The early accounts of various participants differed widely enough to make it impossible to follow the slender thread of truth through the dark night. However, the main outline of this first try is clear, as are two basic facts connected with it. These facts are: that the plan was betrayed by the indiscretion of one of the Iranian Army officer participants-primarily because of the protracted delay-and that it still might have succeeded in spite of this advance warning had not most of the participants proved to be inept or lacking in decision at the critical juncture.

    “At 0545 hours on the morning of 16 August 1953, Radio Tehran came on the air with a special government communique covering the so-called abortive coup of the night just ending, and by 0600 hours Mossadeq was meeting with his cabinet to receive reports on the situation and to take steps to strengthen the security forces at government buildings and other vital points. Again at 0730 hours the communique was broadcast.

    “Station personnel had passed an anxious, sleepless night in their office. From the fact that certain actions provided for in the military plan failed to materialize- no jeep with radio arrived at the compound, and the telephone system continued to function-it was obvious that something-or everything-had gone wrong. At 0500 hours, as soon as the curfew was lifted, Carroll toured the town and reported there was a concentration of tanks and troops around Mossadeq’s house, and other security forces on the move. Then Colonel [Farzanegan] called the office to say that things had gone badly, and he, himself, was on the run toward the Embassy in search of refuge. At 0600 hours he appeared, gave a summary of the situation, which was like that of the government communique, and was rushed into hiding. The station was now suddenly faced task of rescuing the operation from total failure…”

    Doesn’t sound much like the usual yarns you may have heard about the marvelously, magically successful CIA coup, does it?  In the upshot, the CIA collected up General Zahedi, his son, and some of the other key people they’d been relying on, hid them away, and probably started thinking up ways to explain their abject failure to Washington.  In fact, it isn’t hard to discern the truly dilettantish nature of the affair between the lines.  For example, as noted in the description of the aftermath of the failure in the “History,” “It was now well into the morning, after the papers had been out for some time. Shojat, the substitute for the principal Tudeh paper, Besuye Ayandeh, had been predicting a coup since 13 August. It now stated that the plans for the alleged coup had been made after a meeting between the Shah and General Shwarkkopf on 9 August, but that Mossadeq had been tipped off on the 14th. It should be noted that the Tudeh appeared to be at least as well posted on the coup plans as the government-how is not known.”

    Later in the document we read, “Throughout the long hours of 17 August, there seemed little that Headquarters could do to ease the pangs of despair. A wire sent to the station in the afternoon expressed the strong feeling that Roosevelt, in the interest of safety, should leave at the earliest moment, and it went on to express distress over the bad luck.”  Now, however, Mossadegh started making mistakes.  As noted in the “History,” “About 1000 hours a considerable body of the troops that had been dispersed throughout the city were called back to their barracks, as the government was certain the situation was well in hand.”  Mossadegh further alienated the military by broadcasting a list of names of real or supposed plotters who were to be arrested immediately.  Anyone who had previously expressed support for the Shah became suspect. 

    On the 17th, a broadcast on radio Tehran called the Shah a traitor, and Mossadegh decreed the dissolution of the Majlis. The Teheran prosecutor arrested thirteen Opposition deputies who had taken asylum in the Parliament building.  Communist rioters destroyed statues of the Shah, and thoroughly frightened religious leaders.  The situation as it appeared at the time was reflected in a contemporary New York Times article:  “Thus, at day’s end, Dr. Mossadegh was alone with the Tudeh party in Iran’s political arena. At the moment, however, the two are uneasy allies.”  The next day, pro-Mossadegh papers further alienated traditionalists by announcing that the Pahlevi dynasty had come to an end.  Of course, the flight of the Shah brought home to many people just how far Mossadegh had gone. 

    In a word, Mossadegh had succeeded in uniting and galvanizing opposition forces beyond the wildest dreams of anything the CIA could do with the paltry sums at its disposal.  However, the all-seeing, all-knowing Agency was completely unaware of just how volatile the situation had really become.  As noted in the “History:”

    “”Headquarters spend a day featured by depression and despair. The immediate direction of the project moved from the Branch and Division to the highest level. At the end of the morning a handful of people worked on the draft of a message which was to call off the operation. As the message was finally sent, in the evening, it was based on the Department of State’s tentative stand: “that the operation has been tried and failed,” the position of the United Kingdom that: “we must regret that we cannot consider going on fighting” and Headquarters’ positon that, in the absence of strong recommendations to the contrary from Roosevelt and Henderson, operations against Mossadeq should be discontinued.” 

    Then, as the CIA licked its wounds, there was a dramatic reversal of fortunes.  Again, quoting from the “History,”

    “…before 0900 hours pro-Shah groups were assembling in the bazaar area. Members of these groups had not only made their personal choice between Mossadeq and the Shah, but they were stirred up by the Tudeh activity of the preceding day and were ready to move. They needed only leadership.”  (No there is no mention whatsoever of CIA involvement in getting these people on the street, or any claim that it quickly sprang into action and provided leadership).

    “The news that something quite startling was happening spread at great speed throughout the city. Just when it reached Mossadeq, who was meeting with members of his cabinet, is not known. By 0900 hours the station did have this news, and by 1000 hours word had come in that both the Bakhtar-i-Emruz office and the headquarters of the Iran Party had been ransacked. Also about 1000 hours contact was established with the Rashidian brothers who seemed full of glee. Their instructions, as well as orders directed to [Keyvani and Djalili] were now to attempt to swing security forces to the side of the demonstrators and to encourage action for the capture of Radio Tehran. To what extent the resulting activity stemmed from specific efforts of all our agents will never be known, although many more details of the excitement of the day may slowly come to light.” (In other words, the actual assets of the CIA on the street as these events were going on consisted of a grand total of two agents.  The idea that the “specific efforts” of these two altered events one way or the other is ludicrous.  Their accounts of their activities, such as they were, were no doubt embellished, as they knew their compensation would depend on the CIA’s assessment of their actual contributions.)

    Continuing with the CIA account:

    “Fairly early in the morning Colonel [Demavand] one of those involved in the staff planning, appeared in the square before the Majlis with a tank which he had secured from the Second Battalion of the Second Armored Brigade, [a battalion originally committed to the operation] Lt. Col.[Khosro-Panah] and Captain [Ali Zand] were on hand and were joined by two trucks from the same battalion, while members of the disbanded Imperial Guard seized trucks and drove through the streets. By 1015 hours there were pro-Shah truckloads of military personnel at all the main squares. (Again, the CIA had nothing whatsoever to do with the actions of these military units, which were undertaken at their own initiative.)

    “While small groups had penetrated to the north of the city by 0930 hours, the really large groups, armed with sticks and stones, came from south Tehran and merged as they reached Sepah Square in their progress north toward the center of the city. There the troops held in readiness fired hundred of shots over the heads of the crowd, but apparently were not willing to fire at these partisans of the Shah. As a result the crowds were able to fan out toward key points. Just up Lalezar, a main shopping street, the Saadi theater, long sponsored by the Tudeh Party, was burned. The surging crowds of men, women, and children were shouting, “Shah piruz ast,” (The Shah is victorious). Determined as they seemed, a gay holiday atmosphere prevailed, and it was if exterior pressures had been released so that the true sentiments of the people showed through. The crowds were not, as in earlier weeks, made up of hoodlums, but included people of all classes-many well dressed-led or encouraged by other civilians. Trucks and busloads of cheering civilians streamed by and when, about noon, five tanks and 20 truckloads of soldiers joined it, the movement took on a somewhat different aspect. As usual, word spread like lightning and in other parts of the city pictures of the Shah were eagerly display. Cars went by with headlights burning as a tangible indication of loyalty to the ruler.” (In other words, the demonstrations were spontaneous, and the military actions were not guided or directed by the CIA, which would certainly have claimed credit in this self-laudatory report if they had even the slightest basis for making such a claim).

    “Those army officers previously alerted to take part in the military operations provided by TPAJAX were now taking separate but proper individual action.” (Another transparent attempt to take credit for something military forces were doing, as the CIA itself was forced to admit, on their own)

    “Radio Tehran was a most important target, for its capture not only sealed the success at the capital, but was effective in bringing the provincial cities quickly into line with the new government. During the heat of activiy, it broadcast dull discussions of cotton prices, and finally music only. Already at 1030 hours there had been an inerruption of its schedule, but it was not until early afternoon that people began streaming up the borad avenue toward their goal, some three miles to the north. Buses and trucks bore full loads of civilians, army officers and policemen. Sheer weight of numbers seemed to have overwhelmed the defenders of the radio station, and after a brief struggle in which three deaths were reported, at 1412 hours the station was in royalist hands. At 1420 hours it broadcast the first word of the success of the royalist effort, including a reading of the firman. A stream of eager speakers came to the microphone. Some represented elements upon whom reliance had been placed in TPAJAX planning, while others were quite unknown to the station. Among the former elements were opposition papers [Bakhtiar and Zelzeleh,] one of [Ayatollah Kashani’s sons,] and [likeh Etozadi.] Among spontaneous supporters of the Shah to come to the microphone were Colonel Ali Pahlevan and Major Husand Mirzadian; their presence was the proof- no longer required-of the truth of the TPAJAX assumption that the army would rally to the Shah under just such circumstnces. For some period of time, Radio Tehran was alternately on and off the air. It may have been finally put into good operating condition by those engineers who, as one speaker said, had come along for just such a purpose. Here, as in so many other phases, chance served the cause very well, for, had the original defenders of the radio station managed to damage its facilities, the firm control of the capital might have been delayed.”  (In other words, the decisive takeover of radio Tehran was accomplished entirely by forces in no way directed or guided by the CIA.  Putting a bold face on events, the best it can do is claim, “We knew those guys.”).

    This, then, was the reality of the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Coup.  It bears little resemblance to the gaudy tales of hoards of “fake anti- and pro-monarchy protesters,” killing each other by the hundreds, supposedly all hired with the paltry sums left over from the CIA’s propaganda campaign, and stage directed by Wilber and Roosevelt.  Google the story, and you’ll find this kind of disinformation spread across the Internet far and wide.  Among the worst of the liars are those who have not only been given a haven in the country they malign and slander, but even hold prestigious and well-paid jobs here.  The words of Mark Twain come to mind; “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”

    Parts I and II of this post can be found here and here.

  • Mossadegh, Iran, and the CIA’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Coup, Part II

    Posted on June 28th, 2009 Helian 3 comments

    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Coup has everything; the CIA, an evil corporation, an heroic, democracy loving man of the people, all with an anti-American slant to top it off.  It’s an ideologue’s perfect fairy tale.  The fact that the narrative is palpably and obviously a pack of grotesque lies doesn’t matter to them.  Don’t believe me?  Just Google the story.  You’ll find link after link to historical fantasists, all flogging the same bogus line, all professional paragons of ostentatious, self-proclaimed virtue, all with big crocodile tears streaming down their faces.  For them, the pose is everything, and the reality nothing.

    Let’s continue deconstructing the Great Coup myth.  Take a close look at what’s out there, and you can get a pretty good idea of what really happened.  In fact, the CIA did try to pull off a coup.  According to the narrative, it did so at the behest of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC).  This flimsy fabrication falls apart as soon as you shine the light of day on it.  In fact, the CIA became involved because the US feared a Communist takeover in Iran.  The author of the Wikipedia article on Mossadegh is typical of the genre in implying that the Communist menace was just a fig leaf, citing Mossadegh’s “open disgust with socialism.”  In fact, it was obvious to US decision makers at the time that Mossadegh wasn’t a Communist, but they weren’t stupid enough to believe that this would somehow magically protect Iran from a Communist takeover.  In fact, they had taken over numerous other countries in the decade preceding the coup, including those with “nationalist” leaders, like Iran. 

    Czechoslovakia is a case in point.  There they had gradually infiltrated the police, security and military forces until they felt strong enough to seize power for themselves.  In fact, the same thing had been going on in Iran.  It was discovered after the coup that the Iranian Communist (Tudeh) Party had “477 members in the armed forces, ’22 colonels, 69 majors, 100 captains, 193 lieutenants, 19 noncommissioned officers, and 63 military cadets,’ although none of these were in the ‘crucial tank divisions around Tehran’ that could have been used for a coup d’état and which the Shah had screened carefully.  Ironically, a Tudeh colonel had been in charge of the Shah’s personal security – as well as that of Vice President Richard Nixon when he visited Iran.” Is it any wonder that western leaders saw Mossadegh as a “sorcerer’s apprentice,” likely to unleash powers he couldn’t control?

    Following World War II, the Soviet Union did not withdraw the troops it had stationed there for strategic reasons during the war, but used them to occupy parts of the north of the country, where it established puppet states.  These were not finally suppressed by Iranian troops until November 1946, after the Soviets had withdrawn in return for an agreement giving them access to Iranian oil.

    The role of the Tudeh is typically glossed over by the Great Coup storytellers.  In fact, Mossadegh, who had no organized power base of his own, had been openly collaborating with them, relying on their support to garner over 99.9% of the vote in a rigged, non-secret plebiscite.  The Tudeh had staged a massive demonstration in his support on July 21, about a month before the coup, and had again rampaged in the streets on August 17, destroying statues of the Shah, who had fled the country by this time.  The yarn spinners claim Kermit Roosevelt’s book, Countercoup, proves he hired these very demonstrators.  It proves nothing of the sort.  In purported Great Coup leader Roosevelt’s own words, he was surprised by the demonstrations, and they “scared the hell” out of him.  The New York Times report on these events is typical of perceptions in the US:  “Thus, at day’s end, Dr. Mossadegh was alone with the Tudeh party in Iran’s political arena. At the moment, however, the two are uneasy allies.”

    Following the events of August 17, Mossadegh used loyal military units to clear the Communists from the streets and “restore order.”  It proved to be a fatal mistake.  Other than the Tudeh, by this time he had little organized support left.  He had succeeded in alienating military leaders and civilians loyal to the Shah, Ayatollah Kashani and other powerful clerics, and anyone fearful of a Communist takeover.  With the Communists out of the picture, it proved an easy task for his opponents to unseat him.  In the end, they did so on their own, without significant CIA help or direction.

    The point of all this is that the Communists were cited as the reason for CIA involvement, and that, in fact, that reason is credible, because the Communists were perceived as a threat, and actually were a threat to the security of Iran at the time.  The myth that the whole show was motivated by an oil company is just that, a myth.

    Now let us turn to the legend of Mossadegh himself.  He is described in the narratives as a popular, democratically inclined leader.  In fact, he was a Hugo Chavez prototype.  The legend that he was a virtuous, disinterested democrat falls apart if one looks at his track record.  In 1951 elections for the Iranian Majlis, or parliament, Mossadegh suspended the vote after he had achieved a quorum, denying rural voters, who likely would have opposed him, a voice.  He justified this high handed act by claiming “manipulation” by foreign intelligence services.  This lame, self-serving excuse, stock-in-trade for any would be dictator, has been swallowed whole by western journalists of the “good-guy, bad-guy” genre, like the New York Times’ Steven Kinzer.  He informs us breathlessly that this pathetic, self-seeking power grab was justified because British intelligence was pumping a whole 10,000 pounds a month into the country.  Once again, we are to believe the usual yarn about the infinite effectiveness of CIA and MI6 money, the infinitesimal effectiveness of funds similarly spent by the Soviets and their Tudeh pals, and the complete disinterestedness of the noble Mossadegh.  When cautioned by his advisors that western journalists would see through some similarly abject imposture, Stalin once replied, “Don’t worry, they’ll swallow it.”  He was right.  The “good guy, bad guy” school of journalists, capable of infinite self-deception and an infinite capacity to swallow their own narratives in the teeth of contradictory facts have been the bane of the truth for a long time.  In 1952, the “democrat” Mossadegh convinced the Majlis to grant him “emergency powers” for a period of six months.  When that period expired, he had these dictatorial powers extended, this time for a year.  We’ve already mentioned how he held a plebiscite on his policies, removing the secret ballot protection for the occasion.  The result, 99.94% in favor, was reminiscent of the Soviet Union in its heyday.  Of course, even this has not been enough to sway the Kinzer school of journalists, bitterly determined as they are to portray Mossadegh as the “good guy” no matter what, and the facts be damned, but his own countrymen were not similarly bamboozled.  Previous supporters such as the powerful cleric, Ayatollah Kashani, began to suspect that the “pure, noble democrat” Mossadegh was actually a nascent dictator.

    In tomorrow’s installment, we’ll take a closer look at Wilber’s “History,” and some of the other source material commonly claimed as “proof” of their version by the peddlers of the Great Coup myth, and see what they really say. 

    Parts I and III of this post can be found here and here.


  • Mossadegh, Iran, and the CIA’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Coup

    Posted on June 26th, 2009 Helian 6 comments

    Historical myths abound in our day.  Stretching historical truth, or chopping off its legs to make it fit this or that religious, political or ideological Procrustean bed has become a commonplace.  One stands little chance of approaching the truth unless one personally consults the source material.

    An interesting example that has been popping up in the news lately is the wonderful yarn about how the CIA single-handedly took down Iran’s Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, back in 1953.  New embellishments keep cropping up at an exponential rate, so that in its current incarnation the yarn has assumed truly psychedelic proportions.  Ken Kesey would surely have called it “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Coup,” and Saddam, of course, “The Mother of All Coups).  A common version is supplied by one Sasan Fayazmanesh, an assimilated Iranian (assimilated in the sense of being able to give a perfect impression of the holier-than-thou preening of an ostentatiously pious leftist ideologue).  In company with many others with similarly vivid imaginations, Ms. Fayazmanesh cites a declassified CIA history of the event as “proof” of what, on examination, turns out to be a host of more or less egregious fabrications.

    According to Ms. Fayazmanesh, the document purportedly shows, “how, by spending a meager sum of $1 million, the CIA ‘stirred up considerable unrest in Iran, giving Iranians a clear choice between instability and supporting the shah’; how it brought ‘the largest mobs’ into the street; how it ‘began disseminating ‘gray propaganda’ passing out anti-Mossadegh cartoons in the streets and planting unflattering articles in local press’; how the CIA’s ‘Iranian operatives pretending to be Communists threatened Muslim leaders with ‘savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh”; how the ‘house of at least one prominent Muslim was bombed by CIA agents posing as Communists’; how the CIA tried to ‘orchestrate a call for a holy war against Communism’; how on August 19 ‘a journalist who was one of the agency’s most important Iranian agents led a crowd toward Parliament, inciting people to set fire to the offices of a newspaper owned by Dr. Mossadegh’s foreign minister’; how American agents swung ‘security forces to the side of the demonstrators’; how the shah’s disbanded ‘Imperial Guard seized trucks and drove through the street’; how by ’10:15 there were pro-shah truckloads of military personnel at all main squares’; how the “pro-shah speakers went on the air, broadcasting the coups’ success and reading royal decrees’; how at the US embassy, ‘CIA officers were elated, and Mr. Roosevelt got General Zahedi out of hiding’ and found him a tank that ‘drove him to the radio station, where he spoke to the nation’; and, finally, how ‘Dr. Mossadegh and other government officials were rounded up, while officers supporting General Zahedi placed ‘unknown supports of TP-Ajax’ in command of all units of Tehran garrison.’ ‘It was a day that should have never ended,’ Risen quotes Wilber as saying, for ‘it carried with it such a sense of excitement, of satisfaction and of jubilation that it is doubtful whether any other can come up to it.'”

    Except that it doesn’t.  Some of the above statements are accurate, and some are not.  Taken together, they paint a completely dishonest and bogus version of what really happened.  Ms. Fayazmanesh is able to get away with foisting her disinformation on a gullible public, accompanied by all the usual faux virtuous indignation, because she’s well aware virtually no one will bother to fact check her.  Americans seldom bother to look at historical source material.  It’s time they got in the habit.  It will save them a lot of embarrassment down the road.  In fact, if you take the time to actually read the CIA document Ms. Fayazmanesh cites as her “proof,” you will find that it completely demolishes the whole fairy tale.

    Let’s take a look at how her version agrees with what’s she claims is in Wilber’s document, as cited above:

    “how, by spending a meager sum of $1 million, the CIA ‘stirred up considerable unrest in Iran, giving Iranians a clear choice between instability and supporting the shah’; ”

    This $1 million is a sum Roosevelt had stashed in a safe in the form of Iranian currency.  In fact, as you can see here, only $100,000 of the $1 million were ever spent on the coup.  In other words, we’re to believe that the incredibly, miraculously talented CIA agents were able suborn all those thousands and thousands of demonstrators, clerics, military officers, politicians, etc., etc., according to the mythologists’ own claims with a mere $100K.  Of course, the story is poppycock, but, tell me, how does it reflect on the Iranian people?  I mean, we’re talking a nation that stood toe to toe with the Roman Empire for centuries, trading blow for blow.   Is it really even credible that this great nation sank so low in our own time that it could be bought for $1 million?  It shows you just how desperate these people are to blacken the reputation of the United States, a nation that many of them are even now exploiting as a safe haven.  They’re quite willing to humiliate and slander their own country to do it. Proceeding with our fisking:

    “how it brought ‘the largest mobs’ into the street;”

    Except the document makes no such claim.  Read it, and you’ll see that Wilber and his pals, skulking away from the action, were surprised by the decisive demonstrations, deemed them spontaneous, and had a miniscule role, if any, in provoking them.

    ” how it ‘began disseminating ‘gray propaganda’ passing out anti-Mossadegh cartoons in the streets and planting unflattering articles in local press’;”

    According to the document, “It was, however, agreed that the station should begin at once with its new policy of attacking the government of Mossadeq through grey propaganda. The station relayed this line to its own agents and passed it on to the Rashidian brothers of SIS. The CIA Art Group, a section of the PP Staff Advisory Panel, was asked to prepare a considerable number of anti-Mossadeq cartoons.”  It later mentions that these cartoons later appeared in 20 anti-Mossadegh papers, among the 273 published in Tehran at the time.  Are we to believe that a few cartoons published in already anti-Mossadegh papers bamboozled the entire population of Tehran into pouring out on the streets and staging a coup?  Just asking.

    “how the CIA’s ‘Iranian operatives pretending to be Communists threatened Muslim leaders with ‘savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh’;”

    Here’s the section referred to from the document:  “At this time the psychological campaign against Mossadeq was reaching its climax. The controllable press was going all out against Mossadeq, while [Blacked-Out] [Blacked-Out] under station direction was printing material which the station considered to be helpful. CIA agents gave serious attention to alarming the religious leaders at Tehran by issuing black propaganda in the name of the Tudeh Party, threatening these leaders with savage punishment if they opposed Mossadeq. Threatening phone calls were made to some of them, in the name of the Tudeh, and one of several planned sham bombings of the houses of these leaders was carried out.”

    Not mentioned here is that the Tudeh didn’t need any help “scaring religious leaders.”  The party faithful staged massive demonstrations on August 17, following the initial botched CIA coup attempt, smashing statues of the Shah and the property of his supporters, as well as taking over government buildings in Enzeli and Rasht in the north of the country.

    “how the ‘house of at least one prominent Muslim was bombed by CIA agents posing as Communists’; ”

    As one can see by looking at the actual excerpt from the document above, Ms. Fayasmanesh seems to have left out a rather important word here; SHAM bombing.  Go figure…

    “how the CIA tried to ‘orchestrate a call for a holy war against Communism’;”

    I would be very interested in hearing Ms. Fayasmanesh elaborate on why it was a bad thing to “orchestrate a holy war against Communism.”

    “how on August 19 ‘a journalist who was one of the agency’s most important Iranian agents led a crowd toward Parliament, inciting people to set fire to the offices of a newspaper owned by Dr. Mossadegh’s foreign minister’;”

    The claim that any CIA agent among the demonstrators was acting directly on its orders, or had somehow provoked or was leading the demonstrations is a complete fabrication, utterly unsupported by Wilber’s history.  Again, Fayasmanesh is relying on the ignorance of her audience and the assumption they will be too lazy to read the actual document to put over her lies.

    “how American agents swung ‘security forces to the side of the demonstrators’;”

    Again, if you will take the time to read the document, you will see that Wilber makes no claim whatsoever that American agents played any decisive role in “swinging security forces to the side of the demonstrators,” on the day of the successful coup.  To the extent that it claims to be based on the document, this is another lie made up of whole cloth.

    “how the shah’s disbanded ‘Imperial Guard seized trucks and drove through the street’; how by ’10:15 there were pro-shah truckloads of military personnel at all main squares’; how the “pro-shah speakers went on the air, broadcasting the coups’ success and reading royal decrees’;”

    …and your point is, Ms. Fayasmanesh?  There is no basis in the document whatsoever for the claim that any of this was done at the behest of the CIA.

    “how at the US embassy, ‘CIA officers were elated, and Mr. Roosevelt got General Zahedi out of hiding’ and found him a tank that ‘drove him to the radio station, where he spoke to the nation’;”

    In other words, the CIA “leaders” of the coup were finally brought out after it was all over.  No surprise here.

    and, finally, how ‘Dr. Mossadegh and other government officials were rounded up, while officers supporting General Zahedi placed ‘unknown supports of TP-Ajax’ in command of all units of Tehran garrison.’

    Here’s the excerpt she’s referring to from the actual document:  “Colonel [Farzanegan] following Zahedi’s instruction, and Carroll now closed up the operation. While [Batmangelich] had [been named Chief of Staff, Farzanegan]-at that office- kept in touch by phone and placed known supporters of TPAJAX in command of all units of the Tehran garrison, seized key military targets, and executed the arrest lists.”

    In other words, she has, apparently deliberately, replaced “known supports” with “unknown supports.”  Since she’s only directly quoting four words, it seems highly unlikely that the misquote by this university associate professor was a mere “mistake.”  The implication that the CIA was somehow directing appointments to the commands of the Tehran garrisons is, of course, also absurd.  “Supporters of TPAJAX” are merely those who supported the coup, and were, therefore, on the same side as the CIA.  They were by no means its agents.

    ‘It was a day that should have never ended,’ Risen quotes Wilber as saying, for ‘it carried with it such a sense of excitement, of satisfaction and of jubilation that it is doubtful whether any other can come up to it.'”

    As can be clearly seen from actually reading the document, it was also a day on which the CIA itself, convinced that the coup had failed, sat meekly on the sidelines, taking no significant role in directing events whatsoever.

    Don’t take my word for it. I’m not trying to sell you an alternate point of view. I’m trying to get you to read the Wilber document, and, if you can manage it, Roosevelt’s book and some of the other source material, and then think for yourself. I know at the outset that I’m wasting my breath with Ms. Fayasmanesh and her ilk. They live in little ideological boxes, caged in with intellectual bars. One of those bars is the Great Coup fairy tale. If they break that bar, they’ll have to leave the box, and that’s something only a rare ideologue can ever bear to do. I hope, dear reader, that you’re capable of thinking for yourself.

    Let’s move on to another version. You’ll find it in the Wikipedia article about Mossadegh linked above, complete with embellishments never imagined by Ms. Fayazmanesh. For example, we are fed such fanciful fabrications as, “Soon Pro-Mosaddeq supporters, who were actually paid plants of the U.S. operation, threatened Muslim leaders with savage punishment if they opposed Mosaddeq’, giving the impression that Mosaddeq was cracking down on dissent, and stirring anti-Mosaddeq sentiments within the religious community.” “(The Shah) actually signed two decrees, one dismissing Mosaddeq and the other nominating the CIA’s choice, General Fazlollah Zahedi, as Prime Minister.These decrees, or Farmāns as they are called, were specifically written as dictated by Donald Wilber the CIA architect of the plan, which were designed as a major part of Wilber’s strategy to give the impression of legitimacy to the secret coup, as can be read in the declassified plan itself which bears his name.”

    This is a complete fabrication. Read the document and you will see Wilber claims nothing of the sort. According to the document itself, “After discussion between Roosevelt and Rashidian, they reverted to a decision closer to the original London draft of TPAJAX, deciding that there should be two firmans (royal decrees), one dismissing Mossadeq and one naming Zahedi as Prime Minister. Rashidian and [Behbudi] , the Shah’s [palace] [head] and an established UK agent, prepared the documents, and on the evening of 12 August [Colonel Nematollah Nasiri], [Commander of the Imperial Guard] took them by plane to Ramsar.”).

    Quoting again from the Wikipedia article, “Soon, massive protests, engineered by Roosevelt’s team, took place across the city and elsewhere with tribesmen paid to be at the ready to assist the coup. Fake anti- and pro-monarchy protesters, both paid by Roosevelt (as he reports in his book, cited), violently clashed in the streets, looting and burning mosques and newspapers, leaving almost 300 dead. The pro-monarchy leadership, chosen, hidden and finally unleashed at the right moment by the CIA team, led by retired army General and former Minister of Interior in Mosaddeq’s cabinet, Fazlollah Zahedi joined with underworld figures such as the Rashidian brothers and local strongman Shaban Jafari to gain the upper hand on 19 August 1953 (28 Mordad). The military joined on cue: pro-Shah tank regiments stormed the capital and bombarded the prime minister’s official residence, on Roosevelt’s cue, according to his book.”

    This is a complete pack of lies. Roosevelt didn’t “engineer” any of it. The part taken in the protests by people working directly for the CIA was limited to the independent acts of two – !! Count ’em, two, the total of the CIA’s actual “assets” claimed by Wilber in all of Tehran – agents, acting on their own, with guidance from no one, as stated repeatedly by Wilber in the document. Roosevelt makes no claim whatsoever in his book that any significant number of the demonstrators who played a role in the coup were “fake anti- and pro-monarchy protesters” he had paid. (Again, read the source material, in this case, Roosevelt’s book), the “pro-monarchy leadership, chosen, hidden and finally unleashed at the right moment by the CIA team” in fact played no role in the successful execution of the coup, which was a fait accompli before they ever left their CIA safe houses, and no “cue” to the military units that were decisive in the struggle to seize power is mentioned, either in Roosevelt’s book, as suggested by the lying author of the Wikipedia article, or in Wilber’s CIA history.

    In a word, the authors of these fanciful tall tales about the Great Coup are either lying through their teeth, or haven’t bothered to actually read the documents they claim as “proof” of their assertions themselves. Meanwhile, our brilliant leaders, including Madeleine Albright, John Kerry, and President Obama himself, simply swallow these impostures whole, humiliating their country by apologizing for crimes it never committed.

    There’s a lot more about the “Great CIA Masterstroke” that may interest you. I’ll continue the story tomorrow.

    Parts II and III of this post can be found here and here.

    Mossadegh and Ayatollah Kashani

    Mossadegh and Ayatollah Kashani

  • German Anti-Americanism for Connoisseurs

    Posted on June 24th, 2009 Helian No comments

    A recent Spiegel cover

    A recent Spiegel cover

    While most of you were sleeping, the German media were carrying on a campaign of anti-American hate mongering that made one wonder exactly what they’d learned, if anything, from losing two world wars. At its peak, during the final years of the Clinton and the first years of the Bush Administration, it became incredibly vicious, amounting to little less than racism without the race.

    It was driven, to some extent, by the hatred of the German 68ers for the United States, but, more importantly, by greed. When editors who had previously taken a more or less neutral attitude towards the US noticed that Spiegel and its hangers on in the “avant garde” of anti-Americanism were raking in big dough by peddling hate, that quickly jumped on the bandwagon.

    There are, however, a lot of decent Germans who were revolted by the shameless America bashing. One of them was David of Davids Medienkritik. Medienkritik is inactive now, but you can still find much of what I’ve alluded to above amply documented there. David and many others started pushing back, in forums, blogs, and wherever they could make their voices heard. Eventually, a few Americans noticed, too, and the word started getting around that what was going on in the German media has nothing to do with “objective criticism,” a favorite euphemism of the hatemongers.

    In the end, Spiegel and the rest realized they couldn’t continue the brazen peddling of hate and maintain any credibility or reputation for “objectivity” at the same time. As a result, anti-Americanism in the German media has become a great deal more subdued. However, the bottom line requires that they still occasionally throw out a little red meat to keep the interest of the America haters from waning.

    At the moment, “red meat” takes the form of exploiting any opportune accident or disaster to pontificate about how whatever system, infrastructure, or whatever, happened to be involved was “antiquated,” “typical of Third World countries,” “rotting,” “decaying,” etc., etc. You get the idea. The deaths of nine people and the injury of many more in the recent Washington Metro accident gave them a perfect opening. They didn’t fail to exploit it.

    An article that appeared in Spiegel, as noted above, one of the most unabashed hate peddlers during the heyday of anti-Americanism, is typical. According to the article:

    “Nine people were killed and more than 70 injured in the collision of two subway trains in the Capital of the US.  The exact cause of the accident is still unclear, but pointed questions are being raised:  Is Washingon’s antiquated traffic net a security risk?”

    According to the “zinger” sentence at the end of the article, “‘The system is becoming obsolete, and must be carefully investigated,’ said Peter Goelz, former head of the Transportation Safety Board, to the New York Times.”

    Of course, the investigation into the actual cause of the accident isn’t anywhere near complete.  Perhaps old equipment will eventually get the blame, and perhaps not.  The point is that Spiegel had no way of knowing one way or the other at the time their article appeared.  No serious attempt was made to compare the subway infrastructure in Washington with that of any city in Europe, or the United States for that matter. 

    It doesn’t matter to Spiegel, and it won’t matter in the future.  I guarantee you, you will see this pattern repeated over and over again, every time there is a significant accident or disaster in the United States.  It’s the current manifestation of the anti-American narrative in the German media.  True, that narrative isn’t nearly as “over the top” as it was five years ago, but it’s still there.  I will occasionally draw your attention to the most egregious examples.

  • A Tribute to Neda

    Posted on June 24th, 2009 Helian No comments

    Neda Soltani

    Neda Soltani

    This is a public service announcement for all you religious bigot thrill killers out there who think a “martyr” is one of the brainwashed zombies you send out with a suicide belt to murder innocent people. This is what a real martyr looks like.

  • The Big NIF Dis

    Posted on June 22nd, 2009 Helian No comments

    NIF Beam Lines

    NIF Beam Lines

    It appears the dedication ceremony for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) has come and gone, but a rather important guest who had promised to be there turned up missing. I refer to Secretary Chu, avatar of alternative energy (er, politically correct alternative energy that is). At the last moment he discovered that he was “too busy” to attend, (or did he get a headache, I forget?).

    True, the NIF was built as a weapons facility, and that’s a big strike against it in the warm, fuzzy world of today. That’s not the whole story, though. The “ignition” in National Ignition Facility means inertial fusion ignition, and a great number of dedicated scientists have devoted their careers to the proposition that fusion ignition will usher in an era of clean energy with a virtually limitless fuel supply. I, personally, find that proposition dubious, at least with the hot spot ignition approach currently envisioned for the NIF. However, a lot of outstanding scientists who probably know more of the relevant physics than I are not similarly dubious, and believe the daunting technical, economic, and engineering hurdles on the path to inertial fusion energy can be overcome.

    Now, 35 long, difficult years after the first confirmation of fusion neutrons produced by laser implosion, we finally have an operational facility capable, according to the theorists, of achieving significant energy gain, and we stand on the threshold of the decisive series of ignition experiments that are likely to determine whether they’re right or wrong once and for all. It seems to me that those who have dedicated their lives to a goal they believe will be of incalculable value to all mankind should now, at least, be given a fair shot at achieving that goal. The tool they need is in their hands. Given what’s at stake, not to mention the massive amounts we’ve recently been spending on far less worthy goals, does it not seem logical to give them a chance?

    Perhaps Secretary Chu does not agree. It would certainly seem so. NNSA, a part of DOE, manages the NIF, and its budget has been cut to the bare bones. This budget slashing cannot help but affect the coming campaign of ignition experiments at the facility. Well, then, if Secretary Chu does not agree, perhaps it would better befit the leader that he is supposed to be to stand up and explain why, instead of playing hide and seek at dedication ceremonies. Those who have worked long and faithfully to make this project a reality deserve no less.

  • The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

    Posted on June 22nd, 2009 Helian No comments

    I must leave the question of our ability to know the truth with absolute certainty for others to debate.  For my part, I act according to what appears to me to be closest to the truth, although I realize I can’t be perfectly sure it really is the truth.  Rather, I accept the conclusions that seem to me to have the highest probability of being true, and act on them as if they were the truth.  It seems to me that actions based on the truth are more likely to have a positive outcome than actions based on falsehoods.  Therefore, I reason, investigate, and experiment in order to approach the truth as closely as I can.

    Human beings have accomplished some remarkable intellectual feats, but usually by confirming their hypotheses with experiments every step of the way.  Take, for example, the conclusions of several talented physicists regarding the discovery of nuclear fission.  Although they were dealing with processes they couldn’t actually see, they predicted that it would be possible to build a nuclear weapon.  They proceeded to build such a weapon.  The weapon worked.  Therefore, there must have been some element of truth in their original conclusions.  Terrible as its result may be, the development of the bomb was, nevertheless, an awesome achievement of the human mind.  However, it did not result from much spinning of complex intellectual webs, carried out purely in the realm of theory.  Rather, to the extent possible, theory was confirmed by experiment every step of the way.

    Despite such remarkable achievements, however, we are far less logical and intelligent than we give ourselves credit for.  Our conclusions about what is true are subject to a host of emotional biases having their origin in “human nature,” the way in which evolution has hard-wired various predispositions and responses in our brains.  We experience reality conditioned by a host of preconceived notions.  As a result, the more complex our theoretical and ideological speculations become, and the further we depart from the realm of experiment, the more likely we are to wander off the path of truth into intellectual swamps.  History is full of cautionary lessons to this effect.  Communism is an outstanding example.  Many others can be drawn from our endless quarrels over obscure matters of religious doctrine. 

    The conclusion?  The truth is never “crystal clear,” and no individual or sect, whether political or religious, has a monopoly on it.  It is elusive, and easily lost sight of in the mist.  If you would approach it, do so with due humility, never assuming that you know it in advance.

  • The SPAWAR Experiments and the Recurring Resurrections of “Cold Fusion”

    Posted on June 22nd, 2009 Helian No comments

    Tabletop Cold Fusion Experiment (hat tip Indymedia)

    Tabletop Cold Fusion Experiment (hat tip Indymedia)

    Cold fusion is the scientific heresy that just won’t go away.  In fact, it made quite a splash recently on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”  The experiments in question were carried out by Frank Gordon and his colleagues at SPAWAR.  I have heard both Frank and his colleague, Larry Forsley describe their experiments.  Neither fits my mental picture of, say, a UFO conspiracy theorist or a raving phrenologist.  They both seem to be very down to earth guys who are convinced they are seeing something unusual in their experiments.  Neither of them claims to know for sure what is causing it, and neither seems to have any obvious reason for deliberately trying to deceive the scientific community.  I tend to be taken aback by the visceral response of some scientists at the mention of cold fusion.  To listen to them, one would think the infidels were at the gates, ready to defile some scientific Holy of Holies, and plunge us back into the Dark Ages.  I must confess, I really don’t understand why these people feel so threatened. 

    There are many government agencies, including the Military that would seem to have at least some interest in promoting research in this area, with DOE in the forefront.  Unfortunately, the appointment of Steve Koonin as the new Under Secretary for Science does not bode well for the new technology.  Steve is a brilliant, conscientious scientist, and would seem to be the ideal man for the job.  However, he was also a prime mover in the scientific community’s initial rejection of cold fusion following its ill-conceived debut back in 1989.  He is unlikely to be enthusiastic about eating crow, as it were, 20 years later.  Be that as it may, DOE just stood up ARPA-E, and handed them $400M to fund just such high risk, high payoff work as this.  It seems eminently reasonable to me that, given the organization’s stated mission, some fraction of this largesse should be devoted to cold fusion research.  In terms of the nation’s overall research budget, we’re talking chump change here.  What do we have to lose?  Is it really worth unleashing a scientific Jihad to stop it? 

    For anyone interested in learning more, here are some links to recent publications in the Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) community, some graphics and descriptions of experiments, and a paper disputing the SPAWAR results.

    Let reason prevail and the research go forward.