A CIA rent-a-mob in a coup 56 years ago does not balance the hostage-takings, throat-slittings, terror bombings and wanton slaughters perpetrated for 30 years by a thug regime in Tehran (and its surrogates) that our own State Department calls the world's "most active state sponsor of terrorism."
I am not going to dispute that Iran's Revolutionary Government has held hostages, sponsored terrorism, and committed wanton slaughter of innocent civilians. And I am not going to defend it. In fact, I completely condemn it. But it's amazing how Krauthammer can characterize the twenty-six years Iranians had to live under the thumb of the Shah and his CIA-trained SAVAK as nothing more than a rent-a-mob. To Krauthammer, the coup's the thing, and the consequences of the coup are nothing.
So, he comes up with an equation where on the one hand we have this hostage-taking and acts of terrorism, and on the other hand we have a couple of days of rioting 56 years ago. Doesn't seem like there is any equivalency there. But, a closer look at the Shah's rule is instructive. Back in 1979, Time Magazine was blunt:
The 5,000-member Iranian secret police force SAVAK (a contraction of the Farsi words for security and information organization) has long been Iran's most hated and feared institution. With virtually unlimited powers to arrest and interrogate, SAVAK has tortured and murdered thousands of the Shah's opponents.
It also pays to remember how the Shah behaved at the end of his reign.
At the end of Muharram 1978, the shah yet again cast himself as the enemy of the Shiah. On January 8, the semiofficial newspaper Ettelaat published a slanderous article about Khomeini, calling him "an adventurer, without faith, and tied to the centers of colonialism." He had led a dissolute life, the article averred, had been a British spy, and was even now in the pay of the British, who wanted to undermine the White Revolution. This scurrilous and preposterous attack was a fatal mistake on the part of the shah. The next day four thousand students turned out onto the streets of Qum: they demanded a return to the 1906 constitution, freedom of speech, the release of political prisoners, the reopening of the Fayziyyah Madrassah, and that Khomeini be permitted to return to Iran. What they got was a massacre. The police opened fire on the unarmed demonstrators, and, according to the ulema, seventy students were killed (though the regime claimed that only ten had died)...
...on March 30, the mourners turned out onto the streets once again, this time to weep for the martyrs of Tabriz. On this occasion, about a hundred demonstrators were shot in Yazd, as they left the mosques...
During the last week of Ramadan, when Muslims usually keep vigil in the mosques, there were demonstrations in fourteen Iranian cities in which between fifty and hundred people died.
[From Karen Armstrong's The Battle for God: A History of Fundementalism, pages 303-305, Ballentine Books, 2000]
All of this we gave to the Iranian people through the kind offices of Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA. What did those student protesters want? Freedom of speech, the press, and religion, and a return to constitutionality. Why did they want those things? Because they had been denied them for 26 years as a direct result of American meddling.
So, that's what sits on the American side of the scale. Not a mere rent-a-mob, is it?