I was stunned the other day to see an opinion piece by Stephen Kinzer in The Boston Globe in which he was portraying the violent anti-government protests in Nicaragua as some kind of revolutionary insurrection. What is surprising about Kinzer’s position is that he is the individual who wrote the wonderfulbook, All The Shah’s Men– one of the essential readings about the CIA-backed coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in 1953.
What is happening in Nicaragua right now looks a lot like what happened in Iran during this coup, and yet, Kinzer somehow does not see this. In this way, Kinzer typifies the utter confusion of so many in this country — including those who should know better, such as many self-described leftists — about what is happening in Nicaragua and in Latin America generally.
First of all, let us look at what Kinzer correctly describes as the tactics used by the CIA in overthrowing Mosaddegh and installing the Shah of Iran in his place. The main tactic was to organize, pay and direct violent street protesters to create a chaotic situation which would then provoke a violent response from the government – a response which could be used to justify the military’s moving in against Mosaddegh under the pretext of restoring order and democratic rule.
In All The Shah’s Men, Kinzer describes the days leading up the coup as follows:
The riots that shook Tehran on Monday intensified on Tuesday. Thousands…