The First American Implicated In the 1953 Coup in Iran

Gen. Schwarzkopf Denies Role in Overthrow

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | December 28, 2012                  

General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf (1895-1958) was hardly the only American involved in the overthrow of Mossadegh, but it so happens he was the first to be publicly implicated in the historic event.

In August 1953, simultaneous to fresh news reports of the coup d'état in Iran were headlines like, “Schwarzkopf Denies He Had Anything to Do With Revolt”, “American Blamed For Iran Upset”, and “Riot Is Fault of American, Reds Clamor”. The articles would only say, vaguely, that the accusation derived from “Communists”, presumably meaning the Tudeh press.

Schwarzkopf, in fact, had played a crucial role in the success of Operation Ajax. The CIA’s own post-coup documents refer to him repeatedly. He is specifically named, alongside spy Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., as a “key individual” in the coup. And according to the CIA, the alleged “good will visit” story the State Department fed the media was actually a calculated diversion:

“Schwarzkopf was given a cover mission consisting of a short tour to Lebanon, Pakistan, and Egypt so that his visit to Tehran would appear as a brief stop en route to a principal destination.”1
So now we know that Schwarzkopf’s bold-faced denials and fake alibis, as shown in the following wire report dated August 19, 1953, were complete lies.

Fascinating, eh? •

Schwarzkopf Denies Part in Iranian Revolt

AP (The Associated Press) WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (AP) — State department officials understand that the Communists are blaming Brigadier General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, internationally known police expert and one-time American adviser in Iran, as a promoter of the pro-Shah uprising against Premier Mohammed Mossadegh’s Iranian government.

The department said Schwarzkopf had made a trip to the Middle East and that he visited Iran. But it said his visit to Iran was made on a personal decision to see friends he had not visited for a long time and that he did not go there on any kind of government business.

Meanwhile, in Trenton, NJ, Schwarzkopf said he had nothing to do with the uprising and had visited Iran recently only for personal reasons.

An internationally known police expert, he visited Iran and the Shah on a trip to the Middle East and returned to New Jersey Aug. 11.

Schwarzkopf said his conference with the Shah was “strictly personal”, adding, “I went to pay my respects, that’s all. I was passing through and the Shah had asked me to call on him anytime I was in the country.”

He said he saw “no indications” during his visit that Mossadegh would be overthrown.

Asked to comment on Mossadegh’s overthrow, Schwarzkopf said: “I am not in a position to comment on the Iranian situation except for one thing. I think the Shah was within his constitutional rights when he appointed Gen. Fazollah Zahedi to replace Mossadegh last Sunday.” [sic—Fazlollah Zahedi] The appointment was part of a palace coup that failed and forced the Shah and his queen to flee Iran.

The State Department says Schwarzkopf’s visit to Iran was made on a personal decision to see friends he had not visited for a long time and that he did not go there on any kind of government business.

Officials said Schwarzkopf did have an official assignment from the State Department for the main part of the trip—to Pakistan, Lebanon and Egypt. The job was a good will visit to police chiefs in those countries to talk about police techniques.

Schwarzkopf once headed a U.S. military mission to Iran to train the national police organization serving on that assignment from 1942 to 1948.

After previous army service, he organized the New Jersey State police and commanded that force from 1921 to 1936. He became widely known through his work and directing investigations of the Lindbergh kidnapping case.


1 Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran (1954) by Donald N. Wilber


Related links:

Cloak and Dagger Tale Told in Recent Iranian Revolt | October 7, 1953

Campaign To Install Pro-Western Government In Iran | CIA Report: March 8, 1954

The CIA Scheme to Have the Shah ‘Dismiss’ Mossadegh | August 16, 1953

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

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