Reposted from 2016 because the myths are going to start up again. There are good comments, and a good internal link from Richard Johnson giving more detail about the "installation" of the Shah.
The CIA-assisted coup in Iran in 1953 was referenced in Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). I hadn't thought about it in a long time, but I remembered something, and pointed out that it lacked a longer perspective and opposition context.
As an aside, commenter Richard Johnson provided a link that showed that narrative was even worse than deserved. Short version: The CIA certainly tried to assist, and loved to claim that they had indeed been key; also, the Muslim fundamentalist opposition loved to claim that it was the American CIA which had done them so wrong. But what spooks actually accomplished was probably not that decisive: some cartoons in newspapers, a few million dollars trying to gather some rent-a-mobs and another few million in bribes. I'm not sure you could turn a gubernatorial race in a small state with that, and you certainly couldn't count on it being permanent.
The same historical example just came up again in my reading of Chuck Klosterman's book But What If We're Wrong? (Quick Review: Great concept, great start, otherwise disappointing, with a few memorable lines per chapter. Browse the beginning if you find it. No more.) Klosterman used it as a Howard Zinn type of example of something that was previously denied and generally unknown, but now simply everyone knows is true. You know how I am about any claim that simply everyone knows is true.
Yesterday it showed up on the Wikipedia main page, as 8/19 is the anniversary of the coup. I admit that three occurrences is a small sample size, and there is a coincidental aspect to my encountering the first two examples now, neither of which were written this year. Yet I still think there is something afoot. As events play out in the Middle East, there is a type of mind that reflexively wants to instruct the common American opinion, always ready to say "Well, you know, the US bears some of the blame for this. You should remember what bad things we have done in the past." They just believe there is a lesson to be taught, and it should be taught at every opportunity. It is not the mere balancing act of trying to get some of both sides into a discussion, because there would then be statements inserted from time-to-time about benefits to the Middle East that have originated in the West, especially America. They believe that theirs is the minority view which they must valiantly proclaim against an oppressive majority culture, even though they are now the holders of power. Mere dominance is not enough, apparently. Opposers must be crushed.
All groups do this, of course, though not on this issue, where the sermonising comes only from one side. But I have certainly heard conservatives, including (especially?) religious conservatives do the same, reflexively lecturing on points of history. In accordance with the pattern I have often noted, liberals tend to fire the first shot, often not realising that they are igniting controversy, because they are just helpfully pointing out what they learned in freshman history. Conservatives are less likely to initiate, but they lie in wait for the unwary, prepared to escalate quickly.