Two Leviathans

February 4, 1953 — U.S. Editorial

The Mossadegh Project | September 3, 2014                 

This piece ran in the editorial section of newspapers across the country in early February 1953.


The sick man of Iran is for the moment standing off the two mightiest forces in the world, and winning plaudits from each for his exploit against the other. For it is to be taken for granted that the Russians cheer his nationalization of Iranian oil, which strikes at the British and Americans and he may be sure his decision to abrogate Russia’s 25-year monopoly of Iranian caviar is equally applauded in the West.

True, caviar is not as useful as oil. Even the Russians, whose affinity for caviar and vodka is famous, can do without Iranian caviar if they have to. The haul is only 110 tons a year. Even so, Mossadegh is thumbing his nose at both leviathans and getting away with it. From his sick bed, where he conducts his official business, he lectures American and Russian ambassadors with equal severity, and each walks out with the headache with which he is supposedly ailing. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company so far has been able to keep Iran from marketing the oil for which it refuses to compensate the old English owning and operating company. [False—compensation was mandated by the Oil Nationalization Law]

While Russia has marketed the caviar in the past, it is not difficult to transport a couple of tons of the delicacy a week to world markets. Unless the Russians decide the Caspian is an all-Russian sea and send battleships to protect its concession, the little David Mossadegh seems to have downed two Goliaths at once.

Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954
Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954


Related links:

Attitude of Shah Concerning His Present Position | CIA, March 16, 1953

Blackmail | The San Francisco Examiner, July 13, 1953

It’s Not What You Own — October 26, 1951 editorial

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

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