Sometime right after New Year’s, 1979, I was at CIA headquarters in Langley for a meeting to come up with a plan or come up with something to deal with the fact that a guy named Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a.k.a., the Shah of Iran, was about to get his ass tossed out of the country because of an armed revolt led by some guy that nobody ever heard of named Khomeini who was sitting in a bungalow outside of Paris directing the whole affair.
How did we end up supplying the Shah with hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid? Because in 1954, we sent in the Marines to get rid of a democratically-elected Prime Minister named Mohammad Mosaddegh who had the balls, the audacity, to begin talking about nationalizing the country’s oil industry and God forbid return some of the profits being made by Western oil companies back to the country where the oil had been found.
We got rid of this Socialist bastard Mosaddegh and put Reza Pahlavi back on his throne. And then he had the balls to proclaim a ‘modernization’ of Iran even though the country was simply what in the West we politely refer to as a ‘client state.’ Client of whom? Whom do you think?
So, I’m sitting there at CIA along with the intelligence experts from not only CIA, but also NSA, State, White House, Army – you name it, they were there. Now understand that many of these geniuses had cut their bones during the Viet Nam War, where they all knew ‘for a fact’ that a bunch of guerillas in pajamas had no chance of beating the shit out of the U.S. of A.
Oh well, oh well, what’s another war? Another chance to trot out all the same bullshit you trot out for every war and see if it fits again.
But what struck me most of all about the CIA meeting in 1979 was that the entire intelligence community was present and not a single person in the room spoke or read Farsi, which just happens to be the national language of the country whose leader we had been handholding for the last twenty-five years.
At the end of the meeting, I bumped into a guy who had been a senior CIA analyst during Viet Nam and was now running a university program that trained students for foreign service and intelligence careers. When I mentioned to him that I couldn’t believe the lack of linguistic competency among all the attendees, he laughed and said, “I guess we’ll just fuck up another one. No big deal.”
Fuck up another one. Fuck up Korea in 1950, fuck up Cuba in 1961, fuck up Nam in 1968, fuck up Iran in 1979, fuck up Iraq in 1992, fuck up Afghanistan last year. Why do we spend gazillions of dollars on foreign intelligence and fuck it up just about every, single time? I’ll tell you why.
When we fought Germany and Japan in World War II, our adversaries were as modern, as sophisticated, as ‘westernized’ as we were. These were two very powerful, very industrialized nation-states. They weren’t democracies, but since when does the concept or practice of ‘one man, one vote’ have anything to do with how many widgets come off the assembly line? Think that political freedom and economic development go hand in hand. Yea, right - just ask the Chinese about that one.
All of the countries where we have screwed up our intelligence and screwed up the actions we took based on that screwed-up intelligence are countries that were still Western colonies after World War II. They all had ‘independent governments, but this so-called independence said absolutely nothing about whether these countries could really determine their own national-political destinies unless some kind of agreement had been brokered with the United States.
There’s a reason why the United Nations has always been headquartered in New York instead of in a more centralized location, the way that Geneva was chosen as the location for the League of Nations after World War I. This allows us to maintain the fantasy that we have become the world’s most important player, politically-speaking, for the last seventy-five years.
But the reality is that political movements like the ISIS, the Taliban, the Mujahideen, the Shiites, the Sunnis, the whomever comes next, could care less about how we view the world, or whether or not we try to intervene in their political affairs.
And the reason they could care less is they know that no matter how much we fuck things up overseas, it makes little, if any difference to the life we have over here.
Last night I watched Game 3 of the ALCS series between the Red Sox and the Astros at Fenway Park. I don’t think there was one empty seat in the stadium, and I didn’t notice so many people, if any of the fans, wearing masks.
And if you think we can’t afford to fuck things up in some ‘shithole’ country every once in a while, even if some of our own kids lose their lives, let me tell you a little secret, okay?
In 1978, gasoline went over a buck for the first time and everyone was shit scared. Taking inflation into account since then, we should be paying about $4.25 for a gallon right now. Yesterday I paid $3.19 and a six-pack inside the convenience store is still less than six bucks, which is where the price for a six-pack has been for I don’t know how long.
Now, just imagine that after the Shah left Iran and the oil spigots were turned off, we hadn’t been able to find alternate energy sources and the price at the pump shot up to eight bucks a gallon or more. And this was being predicted, by the way, at the same time that the Ayatollah Khomeini was flying back to Iran.
But it didn’t happen and there’s simply no way that anything can really change the fact that a six-pack will cost a buck a can at my corner convenience-store no matter what goes on in one of those countries whose language, customs, and traditions we don’t understand.
God Bless America – Home of the Brave, Land of the Free and a buck for a can of beer.
Stay Tuned - Next week I publish my latest gun book - Gun Myths.