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October 9, 1951 — Bruce Biossat

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | April 25, 2014                      

Columnist Bruce Biossat (1910-1974) of the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) viewed the danger of a Soviet takeover in Iran as real and imminent failing an oil settlement with England.

Strangely, this piece was reproduced in numerous U.S. newspapers as an original editorial, as opposed to a syndicated column with byline. Among these fakers was The Courier-Gazette of McKinney, Texas which ran it as their lead editorial on Oct. 10th. The next day, The Logansport Press (Indiana), ran it as a lead editorial under the heading “Editorial Comment”, and The Sandusky Register (Ohio) who also led with it. The Wilmington Morning Star (North Carolina), too, passed it off as their own, titling it "Time Running Out In Iran". However, The Morning Herald in New York named it "Bruce Biossat Says: We Must Retain Iran’s Friendship" and The Warsaw Times-Union of Indiana did credit the author—at the very end of the column.

“Iran Problem” Now Is To
Keep Her On Our Side

by Bruce Biossat

Bruce Biossat WHEN THE Communists invaded South Korea in 1950, many pundits saw the move as only the first of a series of limited actions against soft spots in the free world.

Some went so far as to say Korea was merely a diversion, that the real goal of the Kremlin was Yugoslavia, or Iran, or Western Germany. It was agreed the loss of any of these would be tragic. There was a lot of official worry over what we could do to prevent such grabs it they were tried.

But up to now the new thrusts have not been made. The Russians, beyond doubt genuinely surprised at the stubborn world reaction to their Korean adventure, tread more cautiously thereafter. Western statesmen congratulated themselves that their firmness had paid off.

Unfortunately, however, the currents at work in the world power struggle are tricky. They are undependable. This spring an Iranian premier was assassinated [Gen. Ali Razmara] and his country was plunged into a ferment of nationalistic fever. In a flash Britain’s important oil interests there were caught up in controversy and the whole Middle East was unsettled.

No need to review the painful catalogue of events since then. Today the British have yielded their last foothold at Abadan, the great oil refinery, and they are out. Western fortunes in Iran are at low ebb. And the Iranian economy, its oil revenues dried up, totters on the brink of disaster.

If Russia had marched into Iran, we would have been inflamed. Dire warnings would have gone out that we dare not let that country fall under Soviet control. Yet right now there is a very real danger that the Kremlin may gain that end without a Russian soldier stepping onto Iranian soil.

Iran would prefer to remain within the Western orbit—on its own terms. But in desperation it is beginning to listen to Russian overtures. A trade agreement currently is under discussion. Sometimes a wedge like that is all Russia needs—especially when its “friendly neighbor” is on the ropes.

It may be a mistake for the West to assume that Russia can do nothing about Iranian oil for lack of transport and sufficient technicians. Some analysts have suggested Moscow might be able to acquire an adequate tanker fleet to carry the fuel to its Black Sea ports.

All in all, the outlook is black. At this stage, recriminations over past errors by Britain, the United States and others are senseless. Nor can the U.S. sit back and enjoy Britain’s ouster as a “well-deserved knock”. Our own fortunes are too closely bound up with Iran’s future.

The requirement for this moment is a solution will keep Iran in the Western fold, keep its oil out Russian hands, keep the iron grip of the Kremlin out of the Middle East. There isn’t much time left to find that answer. Premier Mossadegh, handcuffed by his own fanatics, comes before the United Nations soon to state his case. If the makings of a settlement are not then in sight, it may be too late. It may then be just as bad as if the Russians had marched.


Related links:

A Confused Leader: Persia’s Future at the Cross Roads | The Age, June 23, 1951

Another Moscow Victory? | Drew Pearson, August 3, 1952

Moslem Lands Must Recognize Dangers Posed by Extremists | Bruce Biossat, Aug. 30, 1951

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

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