One Man Rule

August 18, 1953 — U.S. Editorial

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | May 20, 2015                       

After the first coup attempt to overthrow Premier Mossadegh, The Waukesha Daily Freeman of Wisconsin ran this editorial on August 18, 1953. A day later, the day the coup succeeded, The Record-Argus in Greenville, Pennsylvania ran a truncated, slightly edited version titled One Man Rule.

The Record-Argus, whose front page headline blared REPORT MOSSADEGH OVERTHROWN IN IRAN, removed the first sentence and the sentence “A new parliament may give Mossadegh the power to rule by decree”, seemingly to reflect the news that he had been deposed. Yet the remaining text gave the opposite impression, describing him as though he were still in power. Curiously, neither version made any mention of the Shah.

These are the only two instances I have found of this editorial in print, but there may have been others.

Dictatorship Replaces Monarchy in Little Iran

Aged and eccentric Premier Mohammed Mossadegh holds supreme power in Iran today after crushing a fruitless attempt to unseat him. There are disturbing aspects in this situation which go far beyond the borders of that small but strategic country.

Not so long ago Mossadegh staged an election to find out whether the people favored his idea of dissolving parliament. The balloting was not secret and those who wished to vote against the premier had to appear at special polling places where their names and addresses were recorded as they cast their votes. It was not surprising that an overwhelming majority was registered in favor of dissolving the parliament and Mossadegh wasted no time in sending parliament home.

Mossadegh has held almost absolute power in Iran for many months. While the recent parliament remained in session, however, the opposition was strong enough to act as a brake on some parts of his program. Now almost all obstacles in his path have been removed and Mossadegh has hopes that when a new governing body is elected it will act as a rubber stamp for his ideas.

The Iranian premier is not a bad man in the sense that Hitler and Mussolini were bad men. He is sincerely convinced that his actions are for the good of his people. But he will tolerate no opposition. [Simply untrue] His high-handedness has several times worked to the detriment of his country; he was one of the factors in driving the British from the oil-fields, a move which resulted in the loss of Iran’s greatest source of income. A new parliament may give Mossadegh the power to rule by decree.

Mossadegh now talks of dealing with the Russians. [False] Obviously he intends to put pressure on Britain and the United States into accepting his terms. If he blunders into agreements with Russia, as he blundered into the position where he had to demand that the British give up their oil interests in Iran, he may be doing his country the greatest disservice in its history.

The prospect is not bright and Iran stands as an example of what can happen to a country where one man succeeds in making himself dictator. The wisdom of the entire country is limited by the prejudice and convictions of the man whose word is the only law.


Related links:

Flight of the Shah | The New York Herald Tribune, August 18, 1953

Cutting Off His Nose | October 21, 1952 editorial

One Less Monarchy? | The Times Record, August 18, 1953

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

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