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What in the world is happening on Wall Street? Economic indicators, he knows where this is going to end up.
You understand the economy. You have to understand human nature. This podcast is powered by a cost. How do you do there? It's David, it's podcast time. You know the drill. We're trying to make economics a little bit more comprehensible, a little bit more relevant and hopefully a little bit more germane to everyone's life. Hope you had a good week, Mr. Davis. Man how was your week? I was really good, actually, Mark. Yeah, I actually got out to do a bit of a decent hike, which have been wants to do for a while.
I persuaded a few of the lads to join me and told them that, you know, for three or four hour hike, which ended up being seven and a half cheese jump. Where did you go? No, we went up over Cometary Mountain, so we kind of lost the trail. So a lot of memories of tumbling down Heather Hills and stuff like that. It's great fun just sent around by our hell and back into Glendale lot. But of course, the worst bit of of this kind of hike in a space where you don't plan it so well, it's always the last stretch, which you think is how we'd be back to the car in about a half hour, two hours later.
So the lights are kind of kind of broken. I was in great shape myself. Remind me remind me not to be getting those walking boots on the next time you introduce me for a guy who wouldn't be able to get you out of this. And so all his goods are that the communist full band has moved in. So as you know, the control the control is waiting to get, the processes are all gone. But no, it has been a good week this week.
Song to have a fair play we play. So she really said, yeah, this week it just passed one million downloads, which is free money. Oh, that is amazing. You know, a no no marketing, no publicity, none of that sort of stuff except for, of course, yourself and myself in a away John. But as well I could I absolutely love it. Oh, hold on me first. OK, you can get your time.
I've I've invested, but she's a new single out called Runaway because you sound like an old fogey Terremark with your singles. Do we call them singles. No, we call them tracks or something. Just not a new track. It's not Top of the Pops. Of course they're gonna drop dropping you track. Oh yeah, absolutely. At the drop. Just a drop does it? OK, we're dropping you. This is dropping the new tracks. Just drop the new track called Runaway and we're going to we're going to do what is now tradition after all.
Yes. We are going to play out with Lucy MacWilliams new track called Runaway. So it's been a good week. Been a good good week. Excellent. What are you making of all the new lockdown's stuff? Well, you know, I'm like everybody else. I am absolutely sick of covered and lockdown and all the rest. But, you know, it's a funny thing. What about 98, 99 percent of covid tests being negative? I think it's made people a little bit more complacent with all the pent up anxiety and all the rest.
People just want to get out. But this is the predicted second wave like we knew this was coming. So we still need to remain vigilant and we're fucking mask.
Yeah, no, I think yeah, I think you're absolutely right. And there's also there's also a very sort of strange blame game going on. It seems that if you contrast. Yeah. The performance of the government. The last one. Yeah. Yeah. If he wants to go. Yeah. They don't seem to be quite so. Yeah. They don't seem quite on the case. These guys seem to be the kind of all over the shop.
Yeah. It's covered fatigue. You know, certainly talking to younger people there is a real sense of they feel there's an overreaction. They also feel they're getting blamed and there's very little they can do. Sure. It's what can they do? You know, they they want to go out. Yeah. It doesn't mean you've got to go back and go mental. But they want to go out. They want to hang out with their friends. And for them, again, this idea is a covered is really remote.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because they know that mortality rates amongst the young are incredibly low and true. They understand that mortality rates in general, the population are quite low. And again, it's like Elton John when you're when you're nineteen twenty twenty one. Yeah. You're, you're absolutely invincible. But, you know, I tell you, John, I've been reading this week about, of course, you have the hunter gatherers and all the transition between humans.
Yeah. Going from hunter gatherers to humans going to become the agricultural revolution. The first agricultural revolution was an amazing statistic, John, and it's important with the context of this conversation. Go on in, let's say so. For example, humans started to settle down around 10000 B.C. That's the archaeological evidence, right? Yeah. Yeah, 10000 B.C. to 5000 B.C. The human population on Earth went from four million to five million, which is a tiny, tiny, tiny increase.
Yeah, yeah. From 5000 B.C. to, let's say, when Christ was knocking around chasing the moneylenders out of the temple. I just guess it was Bernie, the bondholders, Bernie, the actually, Bernie, the voters, I'm not accepting that currency as go right for the 5000 B.C. to then that five thousand years, the human population goes up to a hundred million. Wow. So the first five thousand years of, let's say, domestication, human population hardly increases at all.
Second, five thousand years, it goes up twenty five times. The question is, why now? The problem with history is it gets very, very blurry the further back you go.
Hang on. How did I know this occurred to the county population from back in those days? From all sorts of carbon dating and carbon records and trying to figure out how many archaeological sites there were, etc.. So, you know, these are, again, a bit of guesswork. There's a fair amount of guesswork. But again, there's some really, really good demographic economists, historical economists were out there working. And an interesting area. One of the fascinating things is done.
This comes back to Colvert. The question is, why did the human population at a time when and this is the interesting thing, at a time when human fertility increased because the Hunter thing for the hunter gatherers, they actually staggered their children because you actually can't carry around more than one or two children if you're moving around. So hunt hunter gatherer women had far less children, then settled women, right? Yeah, yeah. That what you see is a massive increase in fertility and just increase in babies once we start to settle down in these communities.
But then the question is, the question is, if there was an increase, a massive increase in fertility, why didn't the population increase dramatically? What must be the case is that when we began to settle down, when we began to domesticate animals, sheep, goats, cows, chickens, all that sort of stuff, we suddenly became exposed for the first time in human history. And if you think if you go back to human history, when we were using fire for two or three hundred thousand years before this threat as hunter gatherers.
So we were figuring out the world, but. We get exposed to diseases, to pathogens. Which existed in the animals, but we had no immunity to them in the same way as covid comes from Wuhan jumps from a back to a human. Yeah, and the rest we know to be history in the last 12 months. Well, allegedly. Allegedly. Allegedly. Right. But so. The conclusion that these long run demographers are having about the economics of the Stone Age is that all the way up to now is that humans?
By domesticating ushered in a period which is probably the most lethal period in human history for humans, because we get exposed to influenza, to smallpox, to measles, to at of these diseases, to all these various plagues. And then I was thinking I was doing some reading on Mesopotamia, which was the first place that humans actually settled in cities, had states, had tax collectors, had grain stores, all that sort of stuff. Really interesting. The language they spoke the language called Arcadium, and they were really well aware of contagion and epidemics.
They understood exactly what was going on, that these were coming these were these were diseases that were jumping from healthy people, from sick people to healthy people. Right. But the word for epidemic in Akkadian literally means certain death. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that amazing? Yeah, that's good to come back to our lockdown. Right. So we're talking about seven thousand years ago, they deployed exactly the same tactics that we are deploying now. Despite all our advances in science and then in medicine, everything they had lockdown's they had quarantine and trace.
They were suspicious of people from coming outside the city walls. They made people who were coming from outside the city walls, quarantine outside the city. They worried about the collapse and taxation. I mean, the great thing is this, the language, they they they they wrote from cuneiform and this has preserved enormous records that they worried about the collapse in tax revenues because people weren't working, because the fields were fallow. They worried about spending too much money but government spending when there wasn't revenue.
And so they worried about exactly the same things as we do now. And yet the lockdown and quarantine existed 7000 years ago. Wow, that's extraordinary. And they're still very much the only policies were deploy now, which I find that kind of extraordinary.
Yeah, I mean, time and time again, we see history repeating itself, but so who were the guys that kind of recognized how sickness and disease were passed on? And also who were the guys who came up with the idea of quarantining in the first place or whether they had had Druids?
And they had they had medics and they had if you think about the hunter gatherers knew so much about. Yeah. The power of flowers and fauna and medicine and vegetation. And they passed this down already, even though they settled. So they had quite a comprehensive understanding of basic medicine. They also had tax collectors, they had bureaucrats, they had kings, they had soldiers. So they had a structure in the economy that worked extremely well. In fact, I've just found evidence of the first Excel spreadsheets ever cuneiform, which is kind of shocking.
The whole Microsoft Office. Yeah, yeah. There was an Excel spreadsheet which was actually has all these inputs and outputs about Heard's and how much that create. And if you invested in this herd, how much money you'd make at the far side, kind of terrifying that they were being bullied by Excel in the same way as we are seven thousand years ago. I always knew Bill Gates as a time traveler and they also PowerPoint. So this is what I could use for PowerPoint as well.
See Gates again. They did because they had investors and they could make pitches to them like this. Really, it's not that dissimilar to us. It's not. I love it. You see, nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. Except they better suits, I suspect, and amazing beards and their fantastic beards. I mean, they would make the hipster ashamed of their be waxed efforts. These fellows had curly beards, proper ones, and they also used wax beeswax in the beard.
And so nothing has changed at all. You know, they had man bags and drink and smoke and a frappuccino that they did have oatmeal. I bet you they did. Of course, they had plenty oatmeal because you know what happened then? They moved from the very dyas of the hunter gatherer to a terrifyingly. Yeah, tiny sliver of a diet based on wheat and oats and garlic. And this is one of the great things. And if you read German Hariri, you, Val Harare's book Sapience, which is a great book and I know you're a great book.
You know, he makes the point that the biggest fraud in history was this idea that was a progression from the Hunter-Gatherer lifestyle to the settlers sedentary lifestyle. Yeah, he's saying that wasn't the case. In fact, the hunter gatherer was a much freer geezer.
Yeah. And he actually said that they were, you know, almost like an elite. They do much better lifestyle, the much healthier diet, much more varied diet, as he said. And they didn't have to break their backs working as farmers. They even physically jump. They were at least three inches taller. Oh, really? Because they're. Yeah, because they're tired. So, again, it's back to looking at graves and figuring out the size of skeletons and all that from archaeology.
But let's come to the lockdown. Let's what is fascinating for us is the fact that our lockdown is broadly similar to theirs and our medical knowledge, although Fanti. Drastically better than theirs has been flummoxed by this pretty basic disease. Yeah, right. So apart from their expertise and their their experience with Microsoft Word is such ancient PowerPoint. Yeah, exactly. But from an economic perspective, I suppose the likes of Cyrus the Great and Gilgamesh and all those kind of heads, I suppose they acted like the central bank and helicopter money, as it were, from those days.
Are there other similarities or things that we can learn from those guys from way back when? Well, I think there are similarities, John. You don't stretch these things too much. But what is very clear is that then the pandemics killed the majority of people. Yeah, that's why I go back to my idea that it was immunity in the second half of that. Ten thousand year period learned over centuries that survivors passed on the genetic information of immunity to their kids.
Then once we became more immune to these diseases, the population goes through the roof because we're not being killed all the time by recurrent pandemics. Sure, we're being killed, but we figured out how to deal with them and quarantine them and we certainly immunity. So you see that humans built up immunity in the best way you see this is that when Western Europeans arrived in Latin America. Yes, those people have been cut off from us for twelve thousand years.
And we gave them smallpox straight away, a disease that we built up a certain amount of immunity and killed almost 80 percent of them. But then the thing is, we didn't really we still don't have total immunity to the common cold. But the point is, it doesn't kill us. So it doesn't it is constantly evolving. But if it kills you, then you need to build up immunity anyway. So are people those those populations. Anyway, the point I was thinking about was where we really have lost our imagination on this.
John is on the economics. Right. So let's think about lock down to lock down to commercial property goes through the floor because people are not allowed to go back to the office, let alone want to go back, even if people don't want to go back. And I believe people don't want to go back, as we talked about last week. And that would be a real change in the way in which we deal with work and going to work in the second retail.
Third thing, think of it, all the bars and restaurants being asked to close again. Right. Think about the arts industry, the sort of stuff that we do with the festivals, which is sort of on the margins of the crack economy. Think about all the theaters, all the musicians, all the creative artists, all the performing arts to these industries are all gone, that they cannot survive a second lock down simply because they have no cash.
And when they have no cash, what happens is the people walk back to that idea, John, that when you have no cash, you've got a credit crunch because the people who you owe money to think, OK, these guys are not allowed open again, therefore they have no income, therefore they have no cash. Therefore, I don't have an asset on my balance sheet, which is called the money that David or John owes me. But I now have a bad debt and therefore my balance sheet is going to be impaired.
Therefore, I call in my debts and suddenly what you see is you get another credit panic in the economy, a winter credit panic. Suria and then I was thinking what the people in Mesopotamia didn't have, but we have is the bond market. The bond market is the key to saving the economy because the bond market allows us to borrow from the future to prop up the present, if you think of it in that way. Right. So you can borrow for what you imagined to be a brighter future in order to prop up what you know, to be a traumatised present.
Yeah, yeah. That wasn't available to our friends, the Mesopotamians. Right. So then you think, why don't we use that? Why don't we think about that? And it's back to this idea of helicopter money. If the problem in the businesses that have been locked down and will be locked down in the next few weeks is if the problem is a lack of cash, then give them cash. Yeah. And the problem goes away. And how do you give them cash?
The Irish state just simply goes up to the ECB and presents an IOU. The ECB gives real cash and they just give it to businesses. Now you can have all sorts of checks and balances and obligations and small print or whatever, but the idea is helicopter money, which we talked about in March, is still the solution, John. Six months later. Yeah, that's the interesting thing. And the ECB is still the institution that has given us the opportunity to do this.
And it's still saying keep doing it, and yet we're not doing it. And so when I hear the states saying we're going to lock down again and then I hear business saying, well, hold on a second, we can't deal with this, it's as if there's a dialogue of the deaf between the two, right? Yeah, absolutely. But there's a but there's a way forward and there's a way through this. And that is to use the bond market in the way in which the bond market was always designed to borrow from the future to pay for today.
Sure. And again, I come back to it sometimes, John. Simple solutions are avoided by intelligent people because intelligent people believe that simple solutions equate to stupidity. But we know that complicating things equates to stupidity when the solution is right in front of your face. And I'd say if the poor Mesopotamians, with their funny beards and their waxed parents and their and their basic Excel spreadsheets, if they had had the opportunity to borrow from the future to prop up the present, they would have done so.
Yeah, and the only reason we don't do that, John, is that the people who run our place don't have the imagination. We have the tools. Yeah, you have the capacity. Interest rates are zero percent. Long term interest is zero. Percent of the money is free or we don't have is the imagination to realize that that is the economic and financial vaccine to covid we have it. We're just not using it.
You know, as you're talking about Mesopotamia and ancient Persia and all that kind of stuff, but I do find really interesting is that, you know, this area was the the cradle of civilization. You know, from there back in the day, we got the first urban areas. We got money, we got communication, we got writing, we got agriculture, all that stuff. Yeah, but I find amazing is that the area is still so incredibly volatile, largely because of the interference of of the West.
Yeah. You know, I also find it is incredible that a lot of the American soldiers going into the Iraq war, one or two or whatever, had no idea about the significance of the people and of the place and kind of treated them as backward and almost uncivilized. Well, absolutely. I mean, it's it's the cradle of our civilization. It's where the world begins to take a form that starts to look and feel like the form that we have.
You know, we that the tax collectors, bureaucracy, soldiers, kings, temple's money, of course, money emerges, their rights in literature, all those things. And over time, they become the basis for our civilization, Semitic languages, all that sort of stuff. You know, great religions come from that place. The Zoroastrians and Persians, the Arabs, the Muslims, the Christians, the Jews, all these great tribes come from that neck of the woods.
And what has been endlessly, endlessly tragic has been the amount of wars that have been fought in those regions because it's like the three big, big tribes. There's the Turks, the Persians and the Arabs all looking for supremacy there. Every now and then, the Russians come down looking for a sniff around. The Brits came down. So the Brits want to actually preserve that neck of the woods. And we're going to talk about this in a second.
And after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, when the Ottoman Empire begins to atrophy and when the sultans begin. The gradual and then very sudden process of leaving the extremities of the empire, what you see is. The discovery of oil and the discovery of oil changes everything, because it's a thing that they call an economic slowdown, the curse of oil, that you're actually cast in a way when you find oil because everybody wants a piece of your country, everybody pushes you around, everybody tries to invade you, corruption becomes endemic, all those things.
So, yeah, it's like the curse of the lottery winner as well, John. It's exactly the same. It's now on this note from Mesopotamia, Iran, the Fertile Crescent Oil. We have a fantastic interview and conversation coming up. A wonderful, wonderful documentary has been released. Amazingly, it couldn't get general release in the United States because it's so inflammatory, but it's actually more inflammatory about the British involvement in the coup in nineteen fifty three in Iran to depose Mossadeq, the elected leader of Iran who actually ran on a ticket of we are going to take back the oil revenues of this country.
Now, who owned the oil revenues? British Petroleum. It was called the British Persian Oil Company. Think about it. And this guy gets deposed in a coup. Now, what is fascinating for us now is the coup in Iran sets the tone for all sorts of interventions in the Middle East we've seen since then.
Yeah, you know, the 1953 coup seems to be the ground zero for everything that we're reaping now, all the chaos and conflict and hatred of the West all stems from or appears to stem from this 1953 coup. But hold on. Let's first of all, have a listen to a little clip and then the conversation, because it's really, really good. In 1953, the United States, together with Britain, participated in a coup in Iran. And his government were swept from power in favor of General Zahedi, 300 killed and hundreds wounded.
A conservative estimate. The British government has never officially acknowledged its role in the coup. I don't think at any time we really planned a coup d'etat. These words have not been heard or seen for over thirty four years.
Evidence that has the potential to turn a dark chapter in history inside out. Now, we were just talking there about Mesopotamia, the Middle East, and how the Middle East has fared in our history and our culture, our language, our religion, everything over the years. But now we want to ask the question. Why was the West involved in the Middle East, when did it all start? How did it start? That is a brilliant movie to use that called Coup Fifty three.
It's only if the Irish Film Institute in Dublin right now and it explains the extraordinary and chilling story behind what happened in a coup d'etat in Iran in nineteen fifty three. And I have on the line the two men who made this documentary. One is Tigi Amarante, who is an Iranian physicist who gave a physics to start making documentaries, amazing documentaries. And the other man on the line is Walter Mersch. Walter Mersch is a legend. This is a man who's won three Oscars, nine Oscar nominations.
He has done the editing, the sound of Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, American Graffiti, the English Patient, etc.. So, gentlemen, how are you? Good afternoon, Tucker. Can I start with you? Just set the scene for me. Iran, nineteen fifty nineteen fifty one. Nineteen fifty two. Who was in power? What was going on. What was the big play. Right. Something important happened in fifty one. Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Morsi got elected on the ticket of nationalizing Iranian oil, which at the time was controlled by the British and had been exploiting the Iranian oil resources for nearly 50 years.
In fact, when oil was discovered in Iran, Churchill described it as a prize from Fairyland. Beyond our wildest dreams, the Anglo Iranian oil company was set up to export Iranians Iran's oil. It it took all the all the revenue back to London without getting any money back to the Iranians. It was the biggest overseas assets of the British, and they were having an incredible time using this resource to run the British Navy to rebuild Britain after the war to pay their debts.
Iranian oil field, Britain for a long time was that that came to power in nineteen fifty one and got elected on two tickets. Only two things on his ticket, nationalizing Iranian oil, taking control back to Iran and kicking the British out and reforming the election electoral system. This didn't go down well with Churchill. We used to have called the Musse duck and so they began a battle between the two forces. There were one side to nationalize the nationalists and the one side and Churchill on the other side.
And so it came to a head when was attacked with them out. They evacuated the refinery. The refinery was like almost like a state within a state. The British treated Iranians like second class citizens. In fact, we had an amazing nine minute documentary that they treated Iranians like was as the word that's used the was like second class citizens. And when they left the refinery, they decided, this is it. We have people in the film saying our goal was to remove Saddam as soon as possible.
He wasn't doing any good for Iran, not that he wasn't doing any good for us. He wasn't doing anything for Iran to cut a long story short, because I want you to see the film. They couldn't really get rid of him on their own because they kicked them out. He closed the embassy and threw them all out. And so Churchill reached out to Eisenhower and said, you've got to help us get rid of this guy, not because we want control of our oil, but because he's got a tiny Iran communist.
There's a threat of communism. He's secretly he's got communist tendencies. And so the plans for the coup are in place. MI6 got involved, CIA got involved. You know, as you said in your intro, for the last six or seven years, this has been known as the CIA coup in Iran. What our film reveals in an explosive way that this was actually an MI6 masterminded coup. They brought the American Americans in to help them out. So it's very much a British coup in Iran with American support.
And that's what the film reveals for the first time, Turkey.
Can I just bring you back to the oil there? Because I read many years ago that Iranian oil allowed the British and I think it might have been even Churchill himself to switch the British Navy from coal to oil powered. And that gave them a huge technical advantage just during the First World War when they were building up their fleet. Is that the case? Yes. In fact, Churchill in his previous life, the first lord of the Admiralty, he converted the British Navy from coal to oil with the backing of Iran.
You know, that was the impetus.
So tell me what actually happened at the coop, what actually happened on the streets of Tehran? OK, well, when the British were kicked out and Churchill reached out to Harry Truman first and Harry Truman said no, I think that he has a point that they have to respect Iranian sovereignty and do a deal, come to some kind of arrangement. But then Truman left office, Eisenhower came in, the Dulles brothers, the terrible Dulles brothers who were Secretary of State John Foster and Allen Dulles, head of the CIA.
They had they had personal interests in Iranian oil even before then. That person in. Huge contracts in Iraq, which was nipped in the bud, Eisenhower was more receptive, the supporters got on the case. They masterminded the plan with the British agents. It was a classic coup plan. It was the first time the CIA were involved in the coup. It was in brand new kid on the block. Lots of money. It wanted to go and play.
And I said, come and play here. Bring your muscle. It was the ingredients for bribery of politicians, recruiting military officials, putting out propaganda in Iranian press, fake news. Trump keeps going on about fake news for the CIA and MI6 invented fake news in Iran in nineteen, 1953 three to undermine and destabilize Mossadeq. So these elements were all into play. Of course, they had to have the Shah, a very young, inexperienced and kind of unstable in terms of his decision making, came to that to get him on board.
And and I don't again, there are so many dramatic twists and turns that you see in the film, which kind of unfolds, people are telling us unfolds like a thriller until finally on August 19, 1953, everything set into place for the coup plotters. And they overthrew Mossadeq. They picked an army general to take over just like Pinochet in Chile and the Shah, who had escaped during the days of the upheaval because the first attempt of the coup failed, the shah returned and Mossadeq was put on trial, believe it or not, the treason and then jailed for three years in solitary confinement and exiled to his house until he died.
So he was actually Mossadeq, the elected leader of Iran, was more or less disappeared from the scene. How was this reported in the 50s? Because Iran is a huge country, a massive oil player. In fact, the end of the Second World War and the carve up was constructed in Tehran between Eisenhower in Tehran, between Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt. I mean, this couldn't have gone unnoticed in the West.
Well, yes, it was first thought that the actual covert operation obviously was never reported. But the way it was portrayed was that this kind of crazy, rather bizarre, eccentric prime minister who stood up to the mighty power of the British Empire needs to be got rid of because he's destabilizing Iran is cutting off our oil supply. And he's a he's a threat is a potential he's going to give Iran to the Russians. Iran was obviously at this kind of very hypersensitive, as you say, geopolitical position of north, the Russians, south, the Brits.
And this power play had been going on since the war. And so when the evacuation happened and the Iranians, the British were expelled from the British embassy, the British did something crazy. They put adverts in all foreign newspapers saying anybody who buys Iranian oil is actually buying stolen oil. It's ours. If you think sanctions and embargoes, which are how that's amazing that they got the lawyers. I mean, that's another thing to know. Iranian oil company is BP.
How many people know BP was born in Iran? British Petroleum was born in Iran, first as Anglo Persian oil company, then angry Iranian. And after the coup, it became it came out fully as BP and had to share the Iranian oil with Americans.
So there are there are a lot of things happening right now which have echoes and parallels with fifty three oil sanctions, embargoes, fake news and the demonization of Iranians. And it's a pivotal event, the consequences of which we're still living with water. Can I ask you, how did you get involved in this project? Kentucky, I can see, is Iranian. This is part of his family history, his own history. How did you get involved? I mean, a mutual friend of ours, actually, who, you know, Etana told me that water only gets involved in projects now that he really wants to.
So what was it? Well, it's certainly true in this case, I have edited Sam Anderson's film Jarhead in 2005, and in the process of doing that, I had learned about Mossadeq and about the history of Middle Eastern oil, the whole Churchill turning the fleet from coal to oil, which is fascinating. And I met Torgny in 2012 when I was in York editing another documentary, Particle Fever, about the search for the Higgs boson, the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.
All of that target graduated in physics from Nottingham University, and we met the gentleman who was financing both films Fifty Three and Particle Fever. And so we started talking physics and film and he came to see a screening of Particle Fever, loved it, helped us get into the Sheffield Documentary Festival, where the film won the audience award. And we just kept in touch after that when he would come to San Francisco to raise money. Most of the money for the film comes from Silicon Valley people, although not exclusively, but a large portion of it.
And so he'd stay at our house and make his way down to the peninsula to shake the can and come back. And we would count the pennies and he'd go back to London. I never thought I would work on this film, but a project that I was working on came to an end and I was at loose ends, as always happens with no idea of what's next. And my wife, who's English and Tigi, put their heads together and said, well, we think the best thing for you is to go to London and work on this little documentary, historical documentary for six or eight months.
And as they say, the rest is history. Here we are five years later with many, many twists and turns in in between.
I to I mean, anybody who's made a documentary will know that the real magic actually happens in the edit suite, in your domain, in your manner, so to speak. Was there a moment where there are moments when in the edit you just uncover things you said, wow, look at this, this is new stuff and that's really what got the whole documentary going. That's true. And I have a flag that I for as often as I can, which is that any film editor who works on a unscripted documentary as as this one was, as well as particle fever really deserves to get co writing credit, which is what happened on on two fifty three with me because of exactly what you said, that we are uncovering things and trying to figure out the structure.
New material is coming in that has to be evaluated. And frequently that new stuff upset the apple cart that you just spent three weeks making, all nice and neat. But that's part of the fantastic creative frenzy that goes on in the cutting room of any kind of documentary. The difference between a fiction film and a documentary film is that the editor, particularly in the early stages of a fiction film working from a script, is really like a musician, a pianist who is interpreting a written work.
How how strong should I play this chord? How should I handle this one? How quickly will I trill through this section? Whereas on a documentary like fifty three, you are really digging deep into the DNA of the whole story and writing it. You're not writing it in words so much, although that it does occasionally happen too. But so you are really putting together this complicated structure that we had five hundred and thirty two hours of material which was oh my God, let's now look small in comparison.
And the first assembly was eight and a half hours long. And the film that you're about to see is just under two hours long. So there's many a story of how we get here from there.
Tiny, can you put into context what is the lesson of fifty three for us now? I'm in the Middle East is still a cauldron of intervention, of various alliances, of rivalry. Russia is involved. America is involved. Britain's involved. Israel doing a deal with the UAE in the last week or two. What is the lesson and the legacy of fifty three. That's a fantastic question. You know, Harry Truman said there is nothing new in the world except the history.
You do not know. And a lot of things that are unfolding now happen before we drown, there are echoes of it everywhere. You listed a whole bunch of them, I think, when it comes to the Middle East. It's always been about the oil. It was about the oil industry. It was, as you say, in the first Gulf War in 91 and then the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Incidentally, my brother made an amazing thing about that as well.
And so we said earlier, for everyone, Iran really didn't it didn't exist, wasn't on everyone's mental map until the 1979 revolution. Iran started a revolution, the hostage crisis, and it didn't happen afterwards. We say no, go back. Context is everything. And we'll just that. I studied physics as a physicist. I'm interested in cause and effect, know equal and opposite reactions, as you have said. I'm saying go back to fifty three.
Everything is rooted in that original sin. There would have been no revolution without fifty three. The resentment that was built into the Iranian minds and hearts from fifty three exploded onto the streets in seventy nine and the downfall of the Shah. And why would they say he's an American puppet if he wasn't put put in power. Put in power back in nineteen sixty three. And of course we're living with the aftermath of the revolution right now. Iran, Iran is the bogeyman of the world, the axis of evil speech and the fact that they're ratcheting things up right now because there's an election coming up and there's an election coming up.
Americans need a foreign foreign enemy to unite the voices and the electorate's thoughts. So the UN resolution a few days ago to increase the arms embargo and its potential October surprise that we keep seeing in various articles. So it it's the original sin, the consequences of which we are living with. And people need to understand I don't subscribe to the idea that Americans are ignorant or they just don't have the information. They're not stupid. If they really understood what their government did in their name with their money back in the day, they might have a different perspective on American foreign policy.
And the same here in Britain. You know, the British keep talking about this wonderful British sense of fair play, the English sense of fair play. The thing is, when they pack their bags to go to Iran as some kind of imperial experiment, they forgot to pack that first instance of play. It's OK here, but it's not OK outside. And so, yeah, it's it's blowback. It's what the Americans call blowback. We did something then.
It's blowing back in our faces.
Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that the CIA was created in the late 1940s as a scholarly organisation, and that's how it remained more or less during the Truman administration. But when the Dulles brothers and Eisenhower came to power in fifty two, they weaponized the CIA and turned it into a Cold War version of the O.S.S., which both Dulles brothers had been involved in. And the first thing out of the box as a test case was this overthrow of Mossadeq and the end of democracy in Iran by their own lights.
At the time, it was a huge success, and that also became the template for how the United States would control contraries views of each of their own special interests. They tried trotted out the next year in Guatemala and then the following year in Vietnam and the installation of JEM in Vietnam. And fifty five or so was a CIA orchestrated event. We all know the ultimate consequences of what happened in Vietnam. So there are certainly as many cases of all of the blowback in the Middle East.
But really it's an even bigger question, which is this became a template for all of the covert actions that the United States was involved in up to this day.
What I thought that was a very interesting point, the idea that basically fifty three embolden the CIA for. Lots and lots of subsequent interventions and regime changes that had orchestrated all around the world, but Tucker, you just mentioned something there about the American election coming up in a couple of months. The America needs an enemy. Do you think we're looking down the barrel of a conflict between America and Iran ahead of that election on the basis that it's always good to have an external enemy when you're fighting an election in the United States?
Well, as an Iranian, I hope very much not. But we be dealing with a very erratic, unstable president who's in a desperate position and desperate times call for desperate measures. Anything is possible. And I know they're pushing for it. I mean, they had a humiliating defeat at the U.N. just a few days ago with this resolution. And they had one vote from Dominican Republic, I think, and everybody else abstained. But there is a huge lobby that wants war for their own purposes.
I know Trump keeps saying he's a deal maker, but then he came in to power and tore up the deal on the nuclear negotiations that Obama had worked on for so long. I'm an optimist and I think and I think some of this some of this might be just grandstanding and just hot talk. I really do hope that Trump doesn't decide war with Iran is going to help him get reelected. But, you know, war has always helped politicians. We have had Thatcher in Argentina, so who knows?
Let's talk about Iran now, because it looks to me like Iran has won the peace in Iraq. It's much stronger. It's much more influential in the region. And in fact, as America fought the war in Iraq, ultimately to tell Iran back off for your next battle, it seems that America's greatest enemy has actually been delivered a victory in the Middle East, and that is Iran is stronger than ever.
Absolutely. I mean, Iran and Iraq have got historical roots going back forever. So and they're very close in many ways. So that power vacuum that the invasion of Iraq created by destroying the infrastructure, disbanding the army and creating this like mess, allowed Iran to move in and have huge influence. And they've got a lot of influence. In fact, a lot of infrastructure in Iraq is built by Iranians. And, yes, in a way, they kind of shot themselves in the foot, the gate they gave Iraq to them to their worst enemy.
I mean, we've all had the kind of cheesy joke that when Bush invaded Iraq you got it makes you want to go to Iran.
But chance, just as a final question now, when the dust has settled and people have watched the movie, what would you hope both of you people would take away from the documentary?
I think we haven't really dug into the character of Norman Darbyshire, who was not on our radar at all when we began this project. And what your film is, the character played by Ray Funds or channeled by raising funds that played the decisive role in not only carrying out the coup under his own direction, but he was one of the co-authors of the plan itself that was undertaken by MI6 and CIA. Although the CIA came in really as glorified bag men who brought in lots of money to help grease the skids for all of the mercenaries who had been lined up, or Boreman Darbyshire operating by mysteriously by radio from Cyprus.
And this was just a fascinating aspect of the story. But it's still going on today. We found amazing stuff about Norman Derbyshire even after the film was finished. So this a real character study aspect to this that is fascinating beyond all of the geopolitics. And it's marvelously portrayed by Ray funds in this film.
Yes. Now, obviously, the revelation of Darbyshire is absolutely fascinating. And it's one of the beautiful things about a granular, granular documentary. It makes those things possible. You see things you never saw before. Tigi, what do you hope people will come away with?
OK, so that's a very good question. And I'm going to give you a little anecdote. We've been doing it a bit of social media clips to promote the film, and we took a clip from the film about the oil revenue and how the British were supposed to give you around 60 percent, but even cheated them out, cheated out of that and basically got nothing of their own money. We put this on social media, and I tell you, three countries have gone crazy about this clip.
The viewing figures and the debate is just astounding. Ireland, Scotland and India are going crazy about this clip. Over a million people in India watched it. The Irish and the Scots saying, oh, you're talking about your problems with the English and the oil in Iran.
They've been doing that for us. That leads me to this bigger picture I used to sit down with Fondas saying give me money to make this film and ask me the question why? And I would never say it openly, but now I can, because this huge this critical mass building behind us. I think it's time the British government officials acknowledged its leading role in the school because they haven't done that for six or seven years. I think it's time they did that.
It's the worst kept secret is the absurd situation that everyone knows, but they're not admitting it. And it's not far too far fetched that they should really apologize for what is a historical crime to the Iranian people. You know, I think I think a government official apology is not unheard of in Cameron apologized for Bloody Sunday, I think. And yes, he did. Gordon Brown apologized. So I would love I would love the people to first understand the context of the history, really understand what really happened, because most people don't for the reasons we've talked about, and then get on with us and get get get them, persuade them it's OK.
Push them for some, I think, for the good of their own soul. So to do this, it will be good for them to come clean and unburden themselves and then go forward with Iran in a more mutually respectful and understandable kind of harmonious relationship. And I no apologies don't come easy to Boris Johnson, but it would be amazing. It would be amazing if they just simply offered an official apology to Iran for looting or overthrowing the democracy and messing their future for the next seven decades.
Very interesting little detail there about Churchill sort of undermining and belittling Mossadeq on the basis of his surname. It sounds almost the sort of thing that Boris Johnson would do. And it's kind of typical of the colonial sneering at the colonized. Look, I can't wait to see this documentary coup. Fifty three days, the iPhone now. So take Yamarone and Walter Mersch. Thank you both so much for taking the time to talk to us on the podcast. Thank you very much.
Thank you. David and John Unjam. Thank you. Wow.
Fascinating stuff, isn't it? But actually, as I was listening there, I was just thinking to myself, I actually want to talk to older much more about sound design, career kind of nerd out of this is great. But anyway, you know what I think is the most striking thing about the whole story of the coup? Fifty three is the blatant hypocrisy of America, Britain and the West as a whole, you know, preaching the virtues of democracy, blah, blah, blah, while creating a festering wound.
And it's Taghi says, you know, this is an issue that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Like, I'm not sure how that will come about, but but it is a wound that needs to heal. Like it's a fascinating story. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. Yeah, no, it is. I mean, I always think that the expression from Cecil Rhodes, which was the white man's burden, which was referring to the white man's burden, is the white man's burden to civilize Africa was very much the tone taken in all those colonists and all those imperialists and all those people who decided that they would take it upon themselves to.
Determine who ran a country. I think the Americans were completely terrified during the Cold War of Russians. They had the domino theory, the domino theory, which was that basically, if you allow one country go communist or nationalist internationalising, it'll domino into another country. The Russians were not beyond playing the game as well and were very, very instrumental at destabilizing lots and lots of countries, particularly you think they invaded Afghanistan in 1978. That was long after the Americans had involved themselves in the area.
So everyone's really at fault. But the Russians, the difference between the Americans and the Brits, the Russians as the Russians never really said they were coming in for civilization. You know, they actually said they actually said you need to spread Marxism and Marxism was a civilization. But I can't wait to see that. It'll be really interesting. And but, you know, I should mention here as well is that when we did that interview with John Brennan a couple of years ago at the Donkey Book Festival, and you asked him about the the coup in 53, he was incredibly uncomfortable.
He and he he was by the way, that interview is on Patreon Slash Dave MacWilliams. It's there. It's a it's a great interview and it's a great insight into well, as much as he would give away the workings of the CIA, but I did think it was very telling that he was very uncomfortable with that element. It but that's interesting. So that's on Dave MacWilliams, agent to come forward. David McWilliams. That's John Brennan, former head of the CIA.
John, before we go, before we go, Lucy has a new track out this week, and I know that's brilliant, runaway and the as I say at the top, you know, the last track, I mean, she was amazed at how well it did Fairplay. So this was a bit like you've had a quick listen to it, aren't you? Yeah, I have. I think it's brilliant. And I'm not just saying that it's kind of got a nostalgic feel.
It kind of reminds me of that RMV jazz kind of cool scene in London in the early 90s. And then Lucy's voice really suits that. I think it's fantastic. There's a great tune, a lot of great tune. She's crossmatch. We actually sound like smashy and nice. Well, as I always know, the Larry clearly is the home of Orombi and Bossa Nova, and that's where it comes from. Let's play out with Lucy MacWilliams, this last track.
I would talk to you all next week. Take care.
Sometimes I wish I could run away.
Run away. Run away. I know it's not that simple to run away. Run away. To run away from. The things that. We said yes. From all the pain. But I know deep in my bones that I need. Teach me everything, you know, cause I love you, so, yes, I love you, so I want you to. But I know in my bones. Want you to see everything, because I love you, so, you know I love you, so I'll go to.
Grenell ran away, ran away from his stance, helped change friends, now some things stay the same.
Yes, some things never change. But I know deep in my bones.