Review: Operation Ajax by Daniel Burwen and Mike De Seve

Operation AJAX


There have been quite a few books about Mossadegh's overthrow and how oil has come to dominate its political tribulations. However, a graphic novel about a crime so serious deserves utmost attention. For it makes complex machinations easier to understand for those who rarely read; but does it beat Palast's picnic in reaping the goods? Well, no. But you can't really compare these two here. Because for understanding a Palast, you have to read it thrice: the first two times to enjoy his satire, the last time to link-up the stories. Ajax even manages to put in a few pages of the original TPAJAX documents. It shouldn't come as a surprise why democracy is thriving everywhere. Ah, just about everywhere.

In the beginning there is a cast of characters - Iranian, British and American. The narrator is somebody out of the Ivy league and lands a job with the CIA. And after anger, depression and self-questioning gets thrown in the Iranian cauldron in the 1950s. He is nightmarish about it in his old age, and can't help but shout at his aging wife and wake up amidst nightmares, just like the Mossad agents in Munich. Anyone who thinks Churchill was a great statesman should just read a few pages of this one to understand why he was not. And if they still believe he was, then probably my definition of a statesman is skewed. The moment when black oil is discovered in the parched horizons of the then Persia, the capitalists eyed it green with greed and got most of the oil in exchange of few million dollars here and there to the Shah dynasty. But in comes Mossadegh, a European trained lawyer, who can't stand this and ends up as the Prime Minister and nationalizes oil. But the Brits won't have a thing of it and choke their economy with sanctions and naval blockades. Before they could kick-off the Third World War in the Midde East, the grand-daddy of all steps in and plans a perfect coup, to be executed by the Ivy-leaguers of CIA. What money can't buy can be bought with a little more than money. Throw in the Red-scare, along-with paid off Majlis, local thugs, buttered mullahs and bribed journos, and you have got the best ingredients for having a democracy on its knees with a noose around its neck.

This graphic novel is a grim reminder of the fact that our values and morals stand good only till they serve us. The moment they start stinking, you got to burn them and grow new ones. And it makes for an interesting gift to anyone interested in Middle East, Iran and Democracy.

Go, read it.


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