“We Are Not Imperialistic”

Eisenhower on Iran (1953 Press Conference)

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | March 13, 2022                       

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower fields questions on Iran at a White House press conference on March 5, 1953. This was soon after the No’he Esfand incident in Tehran, Feb. 28th, when news of the Shah’s impending departure led to a violent mob scene outside Mossadegh’s home.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower | Letters, Speeches, Etc.

22 ¶ The President’s News Conference of March 5, 1953.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: I wondered, sir, if you would comment on the Iranian situation, and especially whether you had made any appeal to the Shah or to the Prime Minister there recently?

President Dwight D. Eisenhower THE PRESIDENT: I exchanged greetings with the Prime Minister before the inauguration, to assure him of our continued friendly interest in that region. [Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh] Since this latest difficulty has arisen, I have not personally sent any message, although, of course, our whole Government watches this with the closest attention. It is a very delicate situation, and since it is an internal one, there is little that any outsider can do, even when they intend to be very helpful. We have a lot of hopes, of course, that this thing will straighten itself out, but it is, to say the least, delicate.

Q. Mr. Reston: Do you regard the activities of the Tudeh Party—the Communist Party in Iran—as an internal situation?

THE PRESIDENT: We may not. But in any country where a Communist Party is recognized, for them it is an internal situation. We would very greatly resent anyone coming in America from the outside and telling us what we should do about Communists; we think we know, or that would be our attitude. So for them, it is an internal situation, no matter where the inspiration for the Tudeh Party comes from.

Q. Arthur Sylvester, Newark News: Mr. President, do you, by considering Iran an internal problem, relinquish the initiative to the Russian Communists operating through the Tudeh Party?

THE PRESIDENT: Very naturally—we are represented there. We do every single thing we can to protect the interests of the United States everywhere on the globe, including Iran. What I meant was, that it is not proper for me here to comment on things that are internal and which could be properly resented. But make no mistake: the reason we have representatives around the world is to protect American interests wherever they may be endangered or in difficulties.

Q. Mr. Sylvester: May I ask one other question? Do you consider that a field for your psychological warfare man, Mr. Jackson or whoever it may be? [Charles Douglas Jackson]

THE PRESIDENT: I rather dislike the term “psychological warfare,” although no one really has invented a better one. The United States is trying to present certain salient facts to the world, facts, for example, as to what our purpose is, our intent, what we are doing and what we are prepared to do to further those purposes. And they are not understood. All of you are familiar with stories of where we have tried to be helpful and have earned nothing but vituperation and criticism. What we are trying to do is to find some way of making effective all of the things we do in one concerted plan, of showing the world what this purpose, what these methods, what they are specifically—that we are not imperialistic, we are simply trying to help create a world in which free men can live decently.

NOTE: President Eisenhower’s third news conference was held in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 5, 1953.

• Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954

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Related links:

President Eisenhower Tells Press: Iran Situation “Looks Much Better” (1954)

“Plenty of Opportunity For Settlement” Pres. Truman on Iran, June 28, 1951

Iran Embassy Press Attaché Defends Premier Mossadegh | July 22, 1953

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