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Mike Barnhill

Ashland

Dear Editor:

The history of modern Iran began after WWII with the installation Mohammad Reza (The Shah of Iran) as premier and the overthrow of the then current Premier Mohammad Mossadegh. On Aug. 19, 1953, the Iranian military, backed by street protests organized and financed by the CIA, overthrew Mossadegh. The Shah took power and, as thanks for American help, signed over 40 percent of Iran's oil fields to U.S. companies.

Mossadegh was arrested, served three years in prison, and died under house arrest in 1967. The Shah became one of America's most trusted Cold War allies, and U.S. economic and military aid poured into Iran during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In 1978, however, anti-Shah and anti-American protests broke out in Iran and the Shah was toppled from power in 1979. Angry militants seized the U.S. embassy and held the American staff hostage until January 1981. Nationalism, not communism, proved to be the most serious threat to U.S. power in Iran.

The Shah lost support of both the clergy and working-class due to his strong policies of modernization, strong relations with Israel and corruption issues surrounding himself and the royal family. According to official statistics, Iran arrested up to 3,200 political prisoners as a result of what eventually became a revolution. Forty percent ownership of Iran's oil wealth by foreigners contributed to the overthrow. America's nefarious activities through the CIA and the 40 percent ownership of Iran's oil reserves have all contributed to Iran's current distaste for American foreign policy.

We in America have experienced little compared to Iran with foreign intervention in our political affairs. However, Russian influence in our 2016 presidential election (denied by many) clearly demonstrates how detrimental foreign influence can weaken and eventually wreck a democracy. There is little doubt that we in America differ from the views of Iran. But when it comes to either country who we trust as our leaders, it must be left up to the masses who have the freedoms to lose.

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