(Prime Minister Nuri As-Said of Iraq in 1958 - perceived as a good guy but perceptions went askew)
At the risk of overdosing on Year-end Reviews, I thought I would toss one last one in before putting to bed until next year. This one comes via the CBS Radio program "Years Of Crisis" - in 1958 they were celebrating 10 years on the air and, in addition to looking back at the news events of 1958, also looked back at the significant news events of the previous ten years. A fascinating look at how history has changed very little in the fifty-two years since. Also interesting is the assessment of Iraq, having gone through a revolt in 1958.
Edward R. Murrow: “Winston Burdett, what was the most important development in the Middle East?”
Winston Burdett (CBS News): “It was the revolution in Iraq. Only six months ago we were all still thinking of Iraq as an island of stability in a stormy area. It was tied to the west by the Baghdad Pact. It was enjoying the benefits of more than two hundred million dollars a year in oil revenues. And it was carrying out the biggest building program in roads, schools and dams since the Mongol invasions. Iraq had a likeable young King and a Prime Minister, Nuri as-Said who for sheer ability was the grand champion of all Middle East politicians. And through him the country went through the motions of parliamentary democracy. All of this: Parliament, Prime Minster, King and dynasty was swept away in a one day revolution. Obviously, we had been wrong about Iraq. Their stability had been an optical illusion. We had forgotten that her old regime was widely unpopular, her democracy a sham, her elections rigged, her press gagged, and her newly educated classes excluding from leadership. Above all, the Baghdad Pact itself was detested.
In the eyes of the Iraqi nationalists the pact was just new tag for the old subservience to a foreign power, Britain. An alliance that cut Iraq off from the mainstream of Arab nationalism. It was the coup in Iraq that sent U.S. troops into Lebanon and British troops to Jordan. Those operations did hold back the tide for a while but they changed noting and they produced no solutions. They merely prevented something worse from happening. The revolt in Iraq proved again that Nationalism is the ruling force in the Arab world today. Stronger than Kings and politicians and even military alliances”.
It seems history has proven us wrong about many things. The problem being the uncanny ability not to learn from those mistakes.
And so it was too in 1958.