Governor Michael Dukakis Speaks on “How the U.S Killed Iranian Democracy – and Dealing with the Consequences”

On February 4th, the Luskin Center for History and Policy hosted a talk titled “How the US Killed Iranian Democracy: Dealing with the Consequences” presented by former Governor of Massachusetts and Democratic Nominee for US President, Michael Dukakis. Governor Dukakis began his lecture by pointing out the failures of the current U.S. administration in engaging Iran diplomatically – specifically highlighted by the failure of the Trump administration to comply with the nuclear agreement, JCPOA, reached under the Obama administration. Governor Dukakis argued that the deal represented “exactly how international diplomacy ought to work.”

Dukakis then began to delve into the meat of the discussion and the inspiration for the title, the CIA’s 1953 coup, or overthrow, of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh. At the time, Mosaddegh wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry which would restrict Britain’s access to a significant amount of economic profit they were reaping from the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Winston Churchill’s government applied pressure on the Eisenhower administration and warned of Communist threats coming out of Iran, and a potential alliance with the Soviet Union, at a time of heightened tensions internationally. Resultantly, through the leadership of then-CIA director Allen Dulles, the United States overthrew the Mosaddegh government.

The concluding question Dukakis posed to the audience was: What impact did this moment in history have on our relations with the Middle East to come? Is our interventionist role in the world really working? He argued again for a revisiting of successful diplomatic frameworks, ones that resemble the JCPOA, urging leaders to coordinate and collaborate with international institutions like the UN and include state actors like Russia and China in the conversation.

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