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Our History With Iran

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Brent Baldwin's "Sopranos"/U.S. government analogy was very clever ("Mafia Blues," Back Page, March 28). And he quickly established his bona fides as hip (works at Style, watches "Sopranos") and liberal (Noam Chomsky reference), so some may have appreciated his analysis and the thumbnail history lesson on U.S. affairs.

Whatever the merits of his argument, Mr. Baldwin's history is wrong. The U.S.- and British-engineered ouster of democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh and the establishment of the monarchy presided over by Shah Reza Pahlavi occurred in 1953, not the 1970s.

In 1979, the Shah was overthrown by Iranian ayatollahs. The U.S. government bought off Iranian religious leaders to keep them compliant during the Shah's pro-U.S. regime. The payments stopped in 1977. Two years later the Shah was deposed.

A minor quibble is Mr. Baldwin's equation that the current U.S./Iran imbroglio is about the nuclear energy program the United States helped the Iranians to develop. This is inaccurate. During the Shah's reign, the United States built several nuclear power plants in Iran. The advanced state of Iran's current weapons program, which is what "we now worry about," is a result of technology and expertise provided to Iran through the network headed by Pakistan's A.Q. Khan, who was never shy about expressing his ambition to help other Islamic nations build a bomb.

I'm sure though that Mr. Baldwin's information about "The Sopranos" is top-notch.

Greg Hershey
Richmond

Editors' note: The sentence that may have caused confusion in the writer's timeline reference should have read, "Back in the '70s, after the U.S. overthrew the parliamentary government of Iran and installed a brutal dictator (the shah), we proceeded to help him develop the same nuclear energy we now worry about."

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