Visit of Iranian Premier Gives State Department the Jitters
October 25, 1951 — Andrew Tully

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | April 14, 2020                      

Andrew Frederick Tully, Jr. (1914-1993) When former war reporter Andrew Tully (1914-1993) wrote the following syndicated newspaper article, he was a White House press correspondent, although one wouldn’t have been able to tell from reading it.

Though ostensibly a news item, Tully chose to don the hat of a humor columnist in his description of Dr. Mossadegh’s U.S. visit, so the various quotes were almost surely contrived. This, for whatever reason, is a humor piece, with all the requisite liberties.

Iran’s Premier Keeps ‘em Tense
U.S. Diplomats Afraid He’ll Swoon

Scripps-Howard Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25.—Iranian Premier Mohammed Mossadegh will be leaving town in a day or two, but it will take some time for the State Department to get back to normal. Sometime, that is, before everybody stops walking softly and dares to speak above a whisper.

“It’s awful,” one State Department hireling reported—in a worried whisper. “Everybody’s as nervous as a bunch of cats for fear something will happen to the guy while he’s in this country. Heaven knows how many different kinds of hell would bust loose over a thing like that.”

Harrowing Experience

The State Department, of course, couldn’t say any such thing, but it’s a pretty sure bet Premier Mossadegh’s visit has been the most harrowing in the Department’s history. It’s bad enough that he represents a country embroiled in an oil feud with Great Britain which we’re trying to arbitrate, but when you add the fact that even a slight raising of the voice might send him to bed, you’ve got a situation to test the hardiest diplomat.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson is pretty hardy; after all, he’s spent practically his entire tenure being attacked by congressmen. But even he looked a little shaken after a two and a half hour talk with the premier at Walter Reed Hospital. “No comment,” Mr. Acheson told the press as he left the hospital, and his tone was that of a man in need of a stiff drink.

President Truman, too has seemed unusually solicitous about Mr. Mossadegh’s health. Generally, Mr. Truman greets foreign visitors with all the hearty good humor of a Rotarian welcoming a brother from Dubuque, but he toned it down considerably for Mr. Mossadegh.

The President greeted the premier warmly enough, of course, and both of them gave with delighted grins. But then, as they turned to go into Blair House for lunch, Mr. Truman showed his solicitude by leading Mr. Mossadegh in by the hand. Mr. Mossadegh, the President seemed to be implying, might faint, but he was not going to go down without a struggle.

Another gimmick is that Walter Reed Hospital business. Washington is accustomed to visiting dignitaries taking over whole floors in swank hotels, but this is the first guy that ever shacked up at a hospital — at $50 a day.

To Bed At Once

Mr. Mossadegh went to Walter Reed directly after his lunch with Mr. Truman, and was ushered with great solemnity into the presidential suite, a tidy apartment of three rooms. He went to bed at once, and there he has lain most of the time while conferring with Mr. Acheson.

The poor man does look kind of peaked. He walks like his next step is going to be fatal, and he seems to have a hard time staying erect. This faulty gait inspired a silly crack from a bystander watching the ceremonies attendant to Mr. Mossadegh’s welcome at Blair House.

“Hell,” said the citizen. “He don’t need a doctor—he needs a guy-wire.”

Mossadegh Slept Here: the Walter Reed Hospital connection
Mossadegh Slept Here: the Walter Reed Hospital connection


Related links:

Soviet Whets Knife for Iran Waif in U.N. | Ivan H. Peterman, October 2, 1951

Truman Should Back Up in a Hurry | Robert Ruark, October 2, 1951

Weekly Commentary From Washington | Stanley James, October 3, 1952

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

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