Monday, April 11, 2022

On Churchill’s Operation Boot

While the Americans had given the name “Ajax” to their 1953 coup to overthrow the Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, their British collaborators had their own name for the coup. The British called it: Operation Boot. 

It is a cardinal rule in spycraft that one should not use a name which might reveal the character of the mission. The British were filled with such contempt and hatred for Mosaddegh, because he was demanding a fair price for Iranian oil, that they violated this rule. After the coup was successful, some British officials and oil company executives used to joke in Tehran that their mission to remove Mosaddegh was called “Operation Boot.” When the Iranians learned about the British name for the coup they were filled with great anger against the West. 

Winston Churchill was the prime minister of Britain when the Operation Boot/Ajax was orchestrated in Iran. He had the habit of using very bad language to describe the people and politicians in non-Western countries. (Look at the kind of ridiculous language that he has used to describe the Indians masses and politicians.) He belonged to an aristocratic family but his language was vulgar and frivolous. So it is not at all surprising that a coup orchestrated by his government should be called “Operation Boot.” This is typical Churchillian language. 

Mosaddegh was a decent and soft-spoken man. He would not use the kind of language for the British that politicians like Churchill were using for the Iranians. But in the 1960s, the Iranians flocked around a leader who was as ruthless, determined, and verbose as the Churchills of Britain: Ayatollah Khomeini. In his speeches Khomeini made a big issue of the fact that the British had given the name “Operation Boot” to their 1953 coup. He started exhorting the Iranians to boot the West out of Iran. The Iranians loved his message.

When you read Khomeini’s speeches, you find that his language was much more colorful than Churchill’s language. In 1979, he called America the Great Satan.

No comments: