As a rule, few Americans try to understand other nations. For the few trying to cut through the bombast on both sides of the Iran nuclear agreement and understand Iran, here’s a good article on its history with the US and UK. From Brett Wilkins at antiwar.com:
Most Americans trace the origins of the US-Iran conflict back to the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran by Islamist revolutionaries overthrowing an erstwhile valuable regional ally. What most people in the United States don’t know is that the actions of those young Iranians nearly 40 years ago were in fact an explosive reaction to more than half a century of US and Western meddling in their country’s affairs, a mostly one-way relationship in which Iran’s vast oil resources were terribly exploited by foreign corporations while the Iranian people were brutally oppressed by a US-backed dictator.
“We Shall Soon Be in the Position of Actually Running Iran”
The British were the first to exploit Iran. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which despite its equitable-looking hyphenation was a British-owned virtual monopoly known today as BP, literally fueled much of Britain’s war machine during World War II. At the same time, the United States was, both by circumstance and planning, supplanting Britain as the world’s dominant superpower. During the war, US government and businesses began cozying up to Iran’s monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, in what seemed at first like a symbiotic relationship. The Americans got access to Iranian oil while reducing Soviet regional influence, while the Shah got aid and support for his authoritarian regime. Washington’s true intentions, however, were soon apparent: “The obvious fact,” State Department official Wallace Murray wrote in 1942, “is that we shall soon be in the position of actually running Iran.”
In 1951 the people of Iran, perhaps emboldened by President Harry S. Truman’s promise to “assist free people to work out their own destinies in their own way,” elected Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh as their new prime minister. Mossadegh fought to end Western exploitation, nationalizing Anglo-Iranian Oil, expelling British technicians from its refinery and breaking off diplomatic relations with London. His was the most popular – and democratic – government Iranians have ever known. Time, in naming him its “Man of the Year” for 1951, called him “the Iranian George Washington.”
To continue reading: To Understand Iran, Try History, Not Hysteria