According to a German proverb, “lies have short legs.” That’s not always true. Sometimes lies become enduring myths. A remarkable instance thereof is the yarn about how the CIA single-handedly toppled the “legitimate” government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in their famous “electric Kool-aid acid coup” back in ’53. Earlier posts on the subject may be found here, here and here. This particular thigh slapper became “historical truth” by virtue of what John Stuart Mill would have called its “utility.” It was useful to the CIA dilettantes in Tehran at the time because it allowed them to take credit for something that happened more in spite of than because of their botched efforts, even as they were justifiably commiserating with each other on their abject failure. It was useful to their bosses back in Washington to go along with the charade, so that some of the “glory” would reflect on them as well, although it beggars the imagination to believe that any of them were really bone stupid enough to take the transparently bogus after action report of their operatives in Tehran at face value. It was useful to the editors of the New York Times because it enabled them to strike their usual pious pose as noble vindicators of the “truth,” and fit their chosen narrative, according to which the CIA consists entirely of evildoers whose goal in life, for reasons incomprehensible to the rest of us, is to go about commiting bad deeds. It has been abundantly useful to generations of Iranian intellectuals, because it gave them a plausible pretext for experiencing the virtuous indignation and sense of victimization that have been the twin delights of intellectuals in all ages, assuming, of course, that they weren’t too finicky about the facts.
Small wonder, then, that the pathetic theocrats who now call the tune in Iran are, once again, playing the “Western instigation” card. There was a time when her people could bid defiance to the power of Rome in her heyday. How sad, that her rulers must now base their claims to legitimacy on such abject lies. Well, be that as it may, her people have lost none of their courage in the intervening years.