This article was last modified on January 18, 2007.

Honesty Needed to Assess Policy

The following editorial appeared in the January 14, 2007 issue of the Appleton Post-Crescent and was written by Lyle Boggs, not myself. Lyle Boggs is an Appleton resident (and has been since 1992) and previously served in the military. If Mr. Boggs or the P-C ask me to remove this, I will. However, many of the issues raised here are issues I have been concerned with and Boggs has phrased them in a succinct manner I would not easily be able to duplicate. For the benefit of everyone, and not just the handful of people in the Appleton area who actually read this piece, I am reprinting it here for anyone and everyone to discuss.


The consequences of our government’s failure to live up to a simple moral standard should be obvious. The Middle East of today is in many ways a reflection of our past choices.

The Editorial

I have a firm belief that, unless the citizens of this country are willing to be honest about the past, we have little hope for building a better future. The truth may not set us free, but it’s still the best place to begin this discussion.

In 1953, the United States government orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran and replaced him with a brutal tyrant, the Shah.

This decision was made for strategic reasons. The Iranian prime minister had nationalized the oil industry and was feared to be a potential agent for the communists in Moscow. The rights of the Iranian people to freely choose their own leaders were given little consideration.

The Shah of Iran was an ally of the U.S. government for the next 25 years. He outlawed all opposition political parties and eventually dissolved Parliament. He created a secret police force that tortured and murdered dissidents. He denied his people the rights of free speech and association.

Despite all this, our government embraced him until the very end.

When the Islamic revolution swept the Shah from power in 1979, it meant the end of American influence in the internal politics of Iran.

The taking of hostages made them a hated enemy. Our government soon looked for a way to punish Iran for its defiance of our guiding hand.

That search ended when Donald Rumsfeld made a trip to Baghdad in 1983 as a special envoy of the Reagan administration. We had found our man for the job.

The American government soon began to support Saddam Hussein in his war of attrition against Iran. It provided military intelligence on the troop movements of his enemies. The Department of Commerce authorized shipments of needed chemicals for his growing arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. He was provided helicopters that were easily fitted with missile launchers and given loan guarantees at U.S. taxpayer expense.

These aren’t pleasant memories for anyone with a conscience. The crimes for which Saddam was recently executed were never enough to deter the support of our government.

We simply didn’t care if he used chemical weapons on the Kurds until he threatened the oil fields of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Only then did our leaders discover their moral outrage for his many sins.

The final historical example of our need for humility that I’ll offer begins in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan at roughly the same time the Shah was being routed from Iran.

Our government saw an opportunity to trap the Soviet Union in a war of occupation against Islamic fundamentalists fighting the foreign invaders of this desolate land.

The CIA trained these jihadists in insurgency tactics and armed them with sophisticated weapons.

We will recall that our government defined these Islamic fundamentalists as freedom fighters, not terrorists, when their tactics and methods served our purposes.

I believe that honesty is a virtue with few peers. If we’re to be honest about the historical record of our government in the Middle East, we must accept that these things happened.

Our government imposed a tyrant upon Iran for a quarter-century. It provided material support to Saddam while he was gassing his own people. It armed and trained the future Taliban.

These inconvenient facts lead me to ask two basic questions. Who gave us the inherent right to make decisions that impact millions of people without their consent? How would you react if a foreign power employed similar rules of engagement with our independent rights as a nation?

These questions strike fear in many Americans. They accuse those who ask them of betrayal.

These questions force answers as to our own morality as a nation, if we’re to continue being honest and admit that oil and political influence played as vital a role in shaping our choices as any perceived threats to our own security.

Those who will defend and justify these prior actions will be guilty of ignoring the simplest of rules regarding humanity. It’s the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

The consequences of our government’s failure to live up to this simple moral standard should be obvious. The Middle East of today is in many ways a reflection of our past choices.

The war in Iraq continues a sad legacy of placing the national “interests” above the interests of national security.

For Further Reading

As always, I recommend you read the works of MIT professor Noam Chomsky and former State Department employee William Blum. Blum’s works Freeing the World to Death and Killing Hope cover the events discussed here in more detail. For a less controversial source, try The New York Times‘ correspondent Stephen Kinzer’s Overthrow.

Also try another article under Political
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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