Mossadegh Learns the Hard Way
November 19, 1951 — Bruce Biossat

The Mossadegh Project | May 30, 2012     

Widely syndicated weekly column by veteran journalist Bruce Biossat (1910-1974) on Iran — Monday, November 19, 1951.

On November 21st, The La Crosse Tribune in Wisconsin ran it as their lead editorial with no credit to Biossat, under the title Blackmail Just Doesn’t Pay.

Message to Mossadegh: Blackmail Does Not Pay

by Bruce Biossat

Bruce Biossat, syndicated columnist It would not be accurate to describe Premier Mossadegh’s lengthy stay in America as a total loss for Iran. But it has not proved much better than that.

In the long series of talks with the U.S. State Department over the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute Mossadegh showed himself incapable of significant compromise.

Unquestionably his performance was dictated in large part by the Iranian extremists whose prisoner he is. He could not yield one inch that would look like a concession to the hated British. [And why are they hated?]

So he remains adamant against operation of the big Abadan oil refinery by any foreign country, even non-British. [not true] He insists that the new Iranian oil company, which completely lacks technical experience, can handle the task with a “few foreign technicians.” The general consensus among oil men is that he and his countrymen do not grasp the complexity of the industrial problem they face.


Secondly, Mossadegh will not discuss adequate compensation to the British for Iran’s seizure of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co.’s properties. [absolutely false] Without fair payment nationalization is bald confiscation. No government can acquiesce in such a step without emboldening others to try the same unprincipled tactics.

And lastly, Mossadegh is asking a price for Iranian oil which is said to be well out of line with the world price structure. He is seeking advantage for his country which is possessed by no other oil-rich nation. [Again, absolutely false. Iran, in fact, slashed its oil prices drastically]

This particular demand reveals something basic to the whole Mossadegh approach. He is content to do the bidding of Iranian extremists because he believes he has the West over a barrel.

The premier calculates that he can get whatever terms he seeks because he constantly holds before the West the threat that otherwise Iran will go Communist. Thanks to the reckless course he has pursued, this threat is real. For Iran today is teetering on the brink of national bankruptcy. Deprived of oil revenues, its economy is crumbling.

Mossadegh, returning home without an oil agreement, wants the West to tide him over with a $120,000,000 loan—$50,000,000 right away. [Not “the West”—the United States]


The British, who believe Mossadegh has overplayed his hand at home as well as abroad, would like to see him left to struggle without a cent. But the International Monetary Fund has extended $8,750,000 to meet the immediate crisis, and some additional funds may be forthcoming from other sources.

Yet even the United States, which fears a bankrupt Mossadegh government will only open the door to Stalin, is not in favor of large-scale financial aid at this time. Our Middle East experts want Iran to have just enough to keep going while the possibilities for a real oil settlement are exhaustively explored. They do not want the West to pay blackmail to political leaders who are choosing to exploit their country’s weakness for the advantage of nationalist extremism.

Mossadegh quite plainly has yet to learn a hard lesson: that legitimate nationalist aspirations do not justify international immorality. If he does not take this instruction soon, the West will lose a valuable prize. But Iran may lose its independence and its soul—the very things its leaders profess to be serving.

Related links:

Time Favors Mossadegh on OilThe Herald Statesman (Yonkers, NY), March 27, 1953

Editorial: Man of the YearThe Schenectady Gazette, January 5, 1952

Iran Premier’s Stubbornness Brings CrisisThe Brooklyn Eagle - September 12, 1951

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

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Tumblr