Stephen Kinzer

Stephen Kinzer teaches international relations at Boston University and is a columnist for The Guardian.

Recent Articles

Handle With Care

"You did a great thing!" With that unexpected greeting from an Iranian diplomat in New York last December, my trip to Iran began to take shape. A few months earlier I had published a book that tells how, in 1953, the CIA deposed Iran's last democratic leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, and set his country on a path toward dictatorship and tragedy. Because my book honors Mossadegh, who was a secular liberal and who detested fundamentalism, I hardly expected any representative of the current Iranian regime, especially one who would rule on my visa application, to praise it. I soon realized, however, that this government official is one of the many Iranians dedicated to the ideals of reform and reconciliation with the West, especially the United States. Most Iranians I had spoken with on previous visits share these views. They are frustrated by their lack of freedom and their country's isolation in the world. In whatever ways they can, they are pressing for social and political change. A couple...

The Quiet Revolution

In a year of enormous global turmoil, the most astonishing political revolution of all has been unfolding not in Iraq but next door in Turkey. The first hint of its depth came on March 1, when Turkey's parliament shocked the world by refusing to grant the United States permission to launch an Iraq invasion from Turkish soil. Since then, an audacious new government has been working relentlessly to redefine both the nature of the Turkish state and the country's role in the world. This process has already permanently changed relations between Turkey and the United States. For half a century the two countries maintained an intimate partnership, underpinned by their joint campaigns against communism and later Saddam Hussein. With those threats now gone, Turkish and American leaders are wondering whether they still need one another. The Turks, hoping more fervently than ever to join the European Union, are sliding out of the American orbit and steadily closer to Europe. Their new government...

Regime Change: The Legacy

A very happy group of men convened at the White House on Sept. 4, 1953, to hear a cloak-and-dagger story that would resonate through all of subsequent American history. Two weeks before, the Central Intelligence Agency had overthrown Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh of Iran. It was the first time the CIA had deposed a foreign leader, and on this day the agent who ran the operation, Kermit Roosevelt, was to explain how he did it. Roosevelt's account of bribes, staged riots and artillery duels was almost too hair-raising to believe. It transfixed everyone in the room, including President Dwight Eisenhower, who later wrote that it "seemed more like a dime novel than historical facts." If there was a single moment when the United States can be said to have entered the modern era of covert action and regime change, this was it. "One of my audience seemed almost alarmingly enthusiastic," Roosevelt later recalled. "John Foster Dulles was leaning back in his chair. Despite his posture, he...