Stephen Kinzer, a professor at Brown University, visited OU to speak about US relations with Iran. A former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, he is an expert in his field. As I do not have an extensive knowledge of Iran, the opportunity to hear Kinzer speak was an exciting one.
He began by giving us a brief overview of Iran’s history. Unlike most “fake” Middle Eastern countries that have no real history, Iran has a very rich heritage, stretching back to the days of the Persian Empire. More recently, during the 1930s, Iran was on the road to democracy, led by a harsh but visionary leader, Reza Shah. However, when parliamentarian Mossadeq was nominated as prime minister and announced his plans to nationalize Iranian oil, the British, who depended on this valuable resource, convinced the United States to overthrow Mossadeq, citing communism as the motive. So, in the summer of 1953, Kermit Roosevelt led the charge to overthrow the prime minister, bribing more than half the newspapers in Iran to publish incriminating stories and hiring famous gangsters to rampage through the streets and yell, "we love Mossadeq and communism.” At this point, the entire democratic system came to an end, Iraq attacked a weak Iran, and the United States’ opposition to the country was sealed with its support of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
After this enlightening account of the true history of Iranian affairs, Kinzer explained that the US and Iran have more in common than often realized. An alliance or at least an agreement could benefit both sides and end this needless conflict. This talk opened up a new interest in the subject that I would not have discovered otherwise.