Ted Koppel made his bones on the story of American hostages held in Iran, so it’s hardly a wonder that he sees the situation in Pakistan with US-backed dictator Pervez Musharaff as parallelled by the 1970’s situation in Iran with US-backed dictator Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in his “Morning Edition” political analysis today.
But it’s eerie to see how he manages to get it completely wrong.
The Shah was a dictator, installed after a CIA-backed coup in 1953 overthrew the elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh. He governed through intimidation, arrest, torture, and murder. He siphoned off billions of dollars — in a time when that meant even more than it does now — for his family’s enrichment. And he did that over a period of more than two decades as the tide of discontent (and the number of victims and relatives of victims) rose.
But in Koppel’s view, the reason the Shah fell is that Jimmy Carter was dedicated to a human rights agenda that led to him telling the Shah not to just gun down democracy advocates. Democracy, says Koppel, is what led to the Islamic state that’s ruled Iran since the Shah’s overthrow. Not a hint that perhaps it was the Shah’s repressive policies and the fact that he and the US had overthrown a democratic regime that led to a backlash.
Koppel even approvingly mis-cites Sen. Chris Dodd’s respons the other night at the Democratic debate, when Dodd said national security was more important than civil rights. In Koppel’s view, US interests come ahead of the lives and liberty of some wogs, never mind that every time the US makes that determination it seems to bite us in the ass. Of course, Dodd wasn’t even speaking about civil rights elsewhere, he was talking about the rights of Americans coming in behind national security.