What Went Wrong in Iran?
Henry Grady | Saturday Evening Post (1952)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| July 23, 2020                                                          


“A man who stood by in Teheran while the battle for Persian oil shaped up tells the inside story of shocking British blunders and wishy-washy U.S. policy that brought on the trouble.”

The Saturday Evening Post, January 5, 1952 When Henry Grady left the post of U.S. Ambassador to Iran (and his entire diplomatic career) behind in Sept. 1951, he did so in a state of frustration and estrangement. The United States, he said, had badly mishandled the Iranian oil crisis, largely due to its subservience to the outdated British proclivity for domination.

In articles, talks and interviews, he expressed his disappointment with how the oil talks broke down. His most notable statement, in terms of exposure, was a Jan. 5, 1952 article in one of the most popular American magazines, The Saturday Evening Post.

WHO BLUNDERED IN IRAN? read the cover teaser, published the very same week that Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh was cynically named TIME’s Man of the Year as the man who “oiled the wheels of chaos”. In contrast, Grady praised the Prime Minister’s intelligence, skills, and great popular appeal. “The real tragedy of the Western world’s major setback in Iran”, wrote Grady, “is that it was unnecessary.”

Grady’s article was widely read and its influence at the time was tangible, with U.S. commentators quoting from it in various write-ups. The Iranian government took notice, too, though it rejected Grady’s contention that the British offer made by Richard Stokes was a fair one. Nevertheless, since it confirmed much of Iran’s contentions, the government distributed the article among its circles and even had it translated into multiple languages.

Back at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the more reasonable Grady was replaced by Amb. Loy Henderson, who went on to participate in the 1953 coup that ousted Mossadegh and elevated the Shah (establishing absolute rule in Iran), and the subsequent Oil Consortium Agreement in 1954, reversing oil nationalization and further pillaging the country. Decades later, the 1979 revolution ushered in the most anti-American regime in Iranian history, leading many to ask a familar question...what went wrong in Iran?



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LETTERS TO THE EDITORS | January 12, 1952

Iran’s Oil

I am pleased with your article WHAT WENT WRONG IN IRAN? by Former Ambassador Henry F. Grady in your January 5th number. In timeliness, the importance of its subject, the breadth of its coverage and its excellence of statement, it is outstanding. The American public needs such an article at this time in order to help them to weigh the present administration. The evidence continues in the line of confirmation that our foreign policy has been one of almost complete bungling and general incompetence . . .

Roy L. Myers

El Indio, Texas



The U.S.-Britain Alliance To Erase Mossadegh Was Not Inevitable
The U.S.-Britain Alliance To Erase Mossadegh Was Not Inevitable


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Related links:

Pres. Harry Truman’s Testy Letter to Amb. Henry Grady (Nov. 18, 1952)

Underwriting Colonialism | Hamilton Butler on Iran, January 6, 1952

Britain’s Attempt to Force Iran to Yield on Oil May Provoke Third World War (Oct. 1951)



MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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