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Guyana President Cheddi Jagan pays a visit to the White House, seeking financial aid and offering assurances that Guyana will not host a Soviet base. President Kennedy tells Jagan that the US is not concerned with his left-leaning politics. Kennedy says: “National independence. This is the basic thing. As long as you do that, we don’t care whether you are socialist, capitalist, pragmatist or whatever. We regard ourselves as pragmatists.” Also in attendance at the meeting are the president’s special assistant Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and George Ball, the Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs at the State Department. (Weiner 10/30/1994; Ishmael 2005 Sources: Cheddi Jagan) Following Jagan’s departure, US President John F. Kennedy will meet in secret with his top national security officers and issue a direct order to remove Dr. Jagan from power. (Weiner 10/30/1994; Jagan 1999 Sources: Unnamed US Government officials familiar with the secret papers.) Sources will note that “Though many Presidents have ordered the CIA to undermine foreign leaders, they say, the Jagan papers are a rare smoking gun: a clear written record, without veiled words or plausible denials, of a President’s command to depose a Prime Minister.” (Weiner 10/30/1994)
In December 1978, President Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski says, “An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.” (Time 1/8/1979) There is widespread discontent and rioting in Iran at the time. State Department official Henry Precht will later recall that Brzezinski had the idea “that Islamic forces could be used against the Soviet Union. The theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and so an arc of Islam could be mobilized to contain the Soviets.” (Scott 2007, pp. 67) In November 1978, President Carter appointed George Ball head of a special White House Iran task force under Brzezinski. Ball recommends the US should drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the radical Islamist opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini. This idea is based on ideas from British Islamic expert Dr. Bernard Lewis, who advocates the balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. The chaos would spread in what he also calls an “arc of crisis” and ultimately destabilize the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union. The Shah will later comment in exile, “I did not know it then, perhaps I did not want to know? But it is clear to me now that the Americans wanted me out. Clearly this is what the human rights advocates in the State Department wanted. What was I to make of the Administration’s sudden decision to call former Under Secretary of State George Ball to the White House as an adviser on Iran? Ball was among those Americans who wanted to abandon me and ultimately my country.” (Engdahl 1992) While there is later debate about US policy towards Iran actually is at this time, it will be noted that the Carter administration had “no clear policy” due to internal divisions and confusion. (Keddie 2003) The Shah abdicates on January 16, 1979, and Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile to Iran on February 1, 1979, taking over the government. Brzezinski will attempt to create a de facto alliance with Khomeini’s new fundamentalist government, but his efforts will come to a half with the Iranian hostage crisis in November 1979 (see February-November 4, 1979).
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