The Blog

A Little Light Coup

The CIA has finally admitted that it orchestrated the downfall of Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. You remember Mr Mossadegh don't you? Of course not, he appeared on the news at about the same time as the Hula Hoop materialised, which lead directly to the invention of sex, so the media's eye was elsewhere.

Mohammed Mossadegh used to run Iran and made the schoolboy error of restricting the flow of oil to the West. The West may seem like a friendly sort of chap: all smiles and waves and good to his mum but he turns into a screaming infant when you take away his sippy cup, especially when it is filled with petrol.

The US was not even the Dick Dastardly in this. In Britain, we have become accustomed to being America's Muttley, but this time the dog was calling the shots. After fruitlessly asking for access to Iranian oil and presumably threatening the Iranian leader that if we didn't get it we would take a leak in his cock-a-leekie soup, we went whining to the Americans for them to sort this out for us. Like a small child who doesn't get what it wants, asks a bigger boy to get it for him. Actually, less like a school yard scrap and more like the basis for doing business of the Cosa Nostra.

When Iranians found they were not standing on a barren stretch of sand but that their arid land hid vast lakes of fresh delicious oil, we Brits stormed in to the place to nab it for ourselves. Traditionally, that has been our place in the world and even now, with great competition from China and the US, we are still in the premier league of the smash-and-grabbers.

MI6 and the CIA, somewhat put out that the democratically elected leader of a country should be acting to his own country's advantage and not ours, hatched a plan to remove the man from office, pop him in prison and install our own man in his place. That man was the Shah of Iran. What could possibly go wrong?

With depressing predictability, the Shah took a look at himself in the gilt mirrors of his palace, liked the cut of his epaulettes and decided to become a nutter. Specifically, he came to the conclusion that the best interests of his country would be served by catering to the best interests of the Shah and he proceeded to become one of the most unpleasant people that have ever run a country. That is a pretty crowded list.

He should not have been allowed to run a fruit stand. He was unstable and unsuitable but at the time we thought that at least he would be OUR unstable and unsuitable leader, and our access to a seemingly limitless supply of cheap oil would be secured and peace in the Middle East was assured under our direct control.

Having researched this story for at least the last three minutes, I am fairly certain that it did not quite work out that way.

The manner in which our security services and the politicians of the age used to look at the world as though it was their personal property and that whatever some third world country found beneath its feet was ours for the taking, does not sit well with our own self image of tea on the lawn and jolly hockey sticks fair play.

That we would plan the downfall and imprisonment of the leader of a whole country just to make some money is quite a shocker. I am sure that British and American based oil giants would not dream of doing something like that today. And if you believe that, I have a bridge I would like to sell you.

The result of our greedy little plan, and many more like it, is that an entire region of the world is to this day rather put out with us, to put it mildly.

The outcome was so poor that there are other developments in recent history that could only be explained with the involvement of the US and UK secret services. For instance, the invention of Simon Cowell - his annexing of the light entertainment and music industries can surely not have been possible without the full backing of the military.

Then there is the complication of the modern car. That must have been a top level plan to make them easier to mend. Let's fill them with computers and electronic systems, they thought, then they will practically fix themselves. The result is that where once a monkey with a spanner could get a broken car going again for the price of a bag of peanuts, now if your car goes wrong, it will be so problematic and expensive to repair that you might as well leave it where it is and march straight into a dealer to buy another one.

Then there was that whole Raleigh Chopper episode. It was a bicycle so unstable and useless that the government MUST have been involved in its design. Maybe they should have installed one of those to run Iran.

The lesson we learn is that the government - our government, America's, actually any government you can think of, should not be allowed out to play and should on no account be given the keys to the gun cupboard.