Exercises In Futility

September 14, 1951 — The Calgary Herald

The Mossadegh Project | June 7, 2023                

An editorial on Iran in The Calgary Herald newspaper (Calgary, Alberta, Canada).

Canadian media archive

Ancient and New Political Weapons

It is to be wondered just how much longer the mad tragedy of Persian oil can go on without actual violence and all the new perils that would bring to a world already dangerously deep in trouble.

The negotiations between the Persian government and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which is controlled by the British government, have reached a complete impasse. Britain, with cool calculation, is now putting Persia through an economic wringer, hoping that this will force the Persians to throw out the fanatical Premier Mossadegh and replace him with somebody more amenable to reason. If this doesn’t happen, Persia is headed for financial ruin in a matter of months.

Only one of the strange aspects of this tangled dispute is that the most ancient and the most modern weapons of political warfare are pitted against each other.

In Persia, the threat of assassination is still a potent and recognized political weapon, and it probably has as much to do with the government’s stubborn stand as any othen factor. Members of the Persian lower house ran away and hid rather than support Premier Mossadegh’s ridiculous “ultimatum” to Britain, which said that either Britain had to resume the negotiations within two weeks or Persia would expel the remaining 300 British technicians from the refinery at Abadan.

The deputies had good reason to expect to be murdered if they didn’t support it, and they had good reason to understand that their country would collapse if they did. Under the circumstances, many preferred to say nothing.

While Persia acts under the impulse of this ancient weapon, Britain is using the most refined of modern ones. The principle of economic warfare is not new, but Britain is using a refinement of the weapon by making it almost impossible for Iran to use even the money she has.

Not only has Britain restricted the ways in which Persia can spend the sterling she owns, but she has refused to allow any sterling at all to be converted into dollars. Persia now has lost its source of income and cannot even use what little savings she has to avert an economic crisis.

Premier Mossadegh’s threat to throw out the 300 British technicians is the act of a furious, desperate man, and it is a futile one. What would it accomplish? Persians in the oil areas cannot even repair their own refrigerators, which incidentally would not have been there except for the British oil industry. They could not operate the vast refinery at Abadan, and even if they could, where would Persia sell the oil, and how does she propose to transport it?

While Persia flails desperately in all directions, Britain fights with cold precision. Usually there is not much doubt of the outcome in such a struggle, but Britain does not want to destroy Persia. Neither does she want Russia to come to Persia’s “assistance.”

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Related links:

Has Persia Had a Change of Heart? | Calgary Herald, August 2, 1951

Dry Those Big Tears, Mr. Mossadegh | Calgary Herald, June 18, 1951

Security Council May Further Postpone Meeting on Anglo-Iranian Dispute (Oct. 1951)

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

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