How To Put Out A Grease Fire

June 12, 1951 — The Carteret County News-Times

The Mossadegh Project | December 28, 2017                    

This was the lead editorial in The Carteret County News-Times newspaper of Beaufort and Morehead City, North Carolina.

Political Flames Plus Oil Can Equal Devastation, Too

The situation in Iran constitutes, in one light in particular, a paradox. Iran wants to nationalize industry, the very same thing that Britain under its socialistic government has done, but Britain tells Iran, “No, no!” Britain can do it, but when another nation decides to do likewise, Britain, in essence, says, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

The billion dollar Anglo-Iranian oil company has as its controlling stock holder the British government. Its refinery at Abadan is the largest in the world. Although the United States produces half the world’s supply of oil, Iran and the Middle East hold telling cards in today’s tense game of peace and war.

Less than two months ago there came to power in Iran a man by the name of Mohammed Mossadegh — a man who throughout his life was alternately a minor power and non-entity in the fluctuating cycles of Iran’s government. [No, he was a highly significant politician] Today he is prime minister with his sole purpose being oil nationalization. He hates all foreigners. [No] He wants the British out of Iran. [More like British interference] Likewise — and here is a dim beam of sunlight — he hates Russians. [Nyet] With the same passion that Mexico fought United States oil interests and finally kicked them out, Mossadegh is fighting Britain.

The two great fears (not considering for the moment, the profit loss to the British should nationalization be effected) are that the Iranian government does not have the know-how to continue oil production, and secondly, should chaos result from inability to keep oil flowing, will Russia step in “to bring about order?”

The only thing that has prevented Iran from making a clean sweep and kicking Britain out, thus eliminating the present haggling and consultations, is the fact that the company is operated by British technicians. No more than 30 of the company’s top senior officials are Iranians and most of these are administration men.

The United States has informed Mossadegh that it will not furnish needed technicians from this country. While Russia is viewing the situation with pleasure, there is little likelihood that Messadegh [sic] will substitute one “evil” for another by bringing in Russian technicians, such as they may be.

Both Britain and the United States hope that the British can keep part control of the Abadan refinery as well as the distribution machinery — 1,718 miles of British-built pipeline and 147 British-owned tankers. Should the whole thing collapse due to inability of Iran to cope with production and manufacturing problems, large-scale unemployment and riots would constitute the ripe for-plucking situation delightful to the Soviets.

The resultant stoppage of flow of Iranian oil would cause crises in every western nation dependent on industrial machinery. Before western nations will allow their way of life to be jeopardized, they may take drastic means to return to the status quo. Those drastic means could be no less than war should Russia step in to “restore order.”

Flames of oil can spell disaster in any language. But the type of flames now burning in the Iranian oil fields can bring a devastation that would make the fearful fires of hell mere bonfires in comparison.

Richard Stokes’ Second Thoughts on Iranian Oil (1951 Letter)
Richard Stokes’ Letter to Clement Attlee, Aga Khan Concurs (1951)


Related links:

Statement on AIOC Mission to Iran | House of Lords, June 20, 1951

Persian Oil Blaze | The Goulburn Evening Post, June 22, 1951

Unwanted Peace | The Herald and Review, July 18, 1951

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

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Tumblr   Instagram