Friday, July 01, 2005

What If He Did?

Let's play devil's advocate for a minute and suppose that it really is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in those 25-year-old photos of Iranians taking American embassy workers hostage. Let us even suppose that Ahmadinejad was not just along for the ride, as they say in the 'hood, but a ringleader -- nay, the ringleader.

What do you want to do about it? Go to war? With what troops? Demand Ahmadinejad's resignation? You think 70 million Iranians give two squirts for hurt American feelings from a quarter-century ago? You have any idea how many Iranian citizens were viciously tortured by SAVAK over the years to keep that vile thug Reza Pahlavi installed on the Peacock Throne? You think forcing Ahmadinejad to step down would have any result other than further polarizing an already-seething populace?

SAVAK paid Rockwell International to implement a large communications monitoring system called IBEX. The Stanford Technology Corp. [STC, owned by Hakim] had a $5.5 million contract to supply the CIA-promoted IBEX project. STC had another $7.5 million contract with Iran's air force for a telephone monitoring system, operated by SAVAK, to enable the Shah to track his top commanders' communications.

Over the years, SAVAK became a law unto itself, having legal authority to arrest and detain suspected persons indefinitely. SAVAK operated its own prisons in Tehran (the Komiteh and Evin facilities) and, many suspected, throughout the country as well. SAVAK's torture methods included electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting brokon [sic] glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails. Many of these activities were carried out without any institutional checks.

At the peak its influence under the Shah SAVAK had at least 13 full-time case officers running a network of informers and infiltration covering 30,000 Iranian students on United States college campuses. The head of the SAVAK agents in the United States operated under the cover of an attache at the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, with the FBI, CIA, and State Department fully aware of these activities.

In 1978 the deepening opposition to the Shah errupted in widespread demonstrations and rioting. SAVAK and the military responded with widespread repression that killed thousands of people. Recognizing that even this level of violence had failed to crush the rebellion, the Shah abdicated the Peacock Throne and departed Iran on 16 January 1979. Despite decades of pervasive surveillance by SAVAK, working closely with CIA, the extent of public opposition to the Shah, and his sudden departure, came as a considerable suprise to the US intelligence community and national leadership. As late as September 28, 1978 the US Defense Intelligence Agency reported that the shah "is expected to remain actively in power over the next ten years."

Maybe I'm just too stupid to get it, but I have never understood our propensity for insisting that our pet grudges count infinitely more than everyone else's. Why is it perfectly fine for scumbags like Elliott Abrams and Otto "Fourth" Reich to walk the halls of US government with impunity; why do we not care about murderers like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles walking the streets of Miami like they own the damned place?

Lord knows I was as horrified as anyone else during the 444 days that our people were held hostage over there back then, but they made it out alive, and without having boiling water poured into their rectums. And I realize that the White Revolution did have a goal; the Shah did seem sincere in his desire to modernize Iranian society, to make it more effective and competitive with the rest of the world.

To be sure, the burqaphiles of the world are going to have to grow the hell up and get with the program, but amidst the current gnashing of teeth about the past of Ahmadinejad, we'd better get real about the prospects of us being able to do anything about it.


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