From the foundations of this nation, which veered towards a global player under Teddy Roosevelt, to become the undisputed world power with an economy and intact military post-WWII, America has had a comprehensive foreign policy for decades. Unfortunately, due to complacency and recklessness, foreign policy decisions have resulted in the blowback that the country and the world suffer today.

War is A Racket by Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler.


The term ‘blowback’ originates from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). With foreign policy risks came unintended and harmful consequences to the nation or allies due to unwarranted side effects from covert operations. There have been several notable covert actions that ultimately came to light due to leaks or Americans directly suffering from the activities of the government.

Operation Ajax

In the aftermath of World War Two, the United States had several vital allies in the Middle East before intertwining with the Gulf Monarchies and Israel. These included a then-Maronite-dominated Lebanon and the Imperial State of Iran.

Despite having excellent relations with Iran, America’s geopolitical interests came at a crossroads when Tehran’s then charismatic Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, wanted to nationalize the Persian oil fields away from the Anglo-Iranian and Arabian-American oil companies. Mossadegh had consolidated power enough to send the Shah and some pro-monarch officers into their first exile, which raised the alarm in both Washington and London.

The operation to overthrow Mossadegh was conducted between the CIA and British MI6, with Washington being skeptical of inflaming the situation as a nationalist fever could’ve been traced to the US, according to declassified documents. Nevertheless, Ajax succeeded; the Prime Minister was jailed, and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was renamed British Petroleum (BP).

Though Ajax was successful, the coup had negative impacts on the region to this day. Not only was it the first regime change operation of the CIA in the Middle East, but the coup had only heightened anti-Western and anti-Shah sentiments in Iran. Mossadegh was the closest thing modern Iran had ever had to a democratic leader.