Divide, Conquer (Repeat)
April 9, 1946 — The Buffalo Courier-Express

The Mossadegh Project | December 21, 2016                     

This was the lead editorial in The Buffalo Courier-Express newspaper in New York on April 9, 1946. It was accompanied by a cartoon by Leo Joseph Roche depicting ‘Iran’ being carried off on the back of the Russian tiger (Hungry Joe Stalin).


There is no reason why Americans or Britons should be unduly upset by the terms of the Russo-Iranian oil agreement. What is alarming is the technique used by Russia in “negotiating” it. This technique naturally gave rise to the suspicion that Russia was using quest of oil concessions merely as a pretext for political and military penetrations into Iran which ultimately would take Soviet arms all the way to the Persian Gulf. This suspicion is strengthened by the fact that it always was taken for granted in American and British quarters that Russia eventually would develop the oil resources of Northeastern Iran—for the simple geographical reason that Russia is the only nation which can pipe the oil out of that region except at almost prohibitive cost. Russia could make an oil deal with Iran without pulling a gun. Therefore, why the gun?

Russia, like the United States, is a great oil-producing country; and Russian acquisition of new and hitherto unneeded oil resources need worry only the non-oil-producing nations lacking access to new foreign fields. With most of the world’s oil now controlled by the United States, Russia and Britain, the United Nations might well took into the matter of guaranteeing reasonable oil supplies to France and smaller European have-not nations.

Despite all the consciously sophisticated talk to the effect that oil is the whole issue in Iran, there is plenty of evidence that the issue there is the same issue which divides Russia and the democracies elsewhere. It is the issue behind the anti-American propaganda and anti-British propaganda constantly emanating from Moscow and from Moscow-inspired sources in other countries. For the purpose of inciting worldwide distrust of America, the new and improved Comintern reports that Ecuador wants the Yankee imperialists to get out of the Galapagos; that Iceland is being held captive by the same Yankee imperialists, and that Cuba also is in our nefarious grip. For the purpose of stirring up anti-British prejudice in this country and elsewhere, Moscow plays on the old themes of Greece, Indonesia, et al., and offers something new in the charge that British recognition of Transjordanian independence “violates a treaty” with the United States.

To divide the democracies was the first rule of totalitarian diplomacy in prewar days. That rule seems still to be effective.

Cartoon by Leo Joseph Roche

What Went Wrong in Iran? | Amb. Henry Grady Tells All (1952)
What Went Wrong in Iran? | Saturday Evening Post, Jan. 5, 1952

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Related links:

Iranian Raps Red Policy — Treaty Violation Cited By Deputy | AP, March 4, 1946

The Tudeh Party: Iran’s Pro-Soviet Nuisance (1944)

Grave Danger in Iran | The Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 30, 1951

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

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