Partner or Pawn

August 21, 1953 — The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Mossadegh Project | February 23, 2023                  

The 1953 coup in Iran

Lead editorial in The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) newspaper.

Only A Battle, Not A War

Iran is something like 6000 miles from here. Even if we were much closer, the tortuous patterns of its violent political life would not be any too clear. The large-scale fighting in the streets of Teheran is among factions who shout political slogans but whose loyalties in fact are chiefly to personalities. In general, nevertheless, it is a turbulent conflict between those who have only hostility for the Western nations and those who may distrust the West but feel a still greater hostility toward the Soviet Union.

The flight of the young Shah of Iran after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Premier Mohammed Mossadegh was bad news for the West. The Shah is distinctly pro-Western in outlook, and he was working steadily to restore good relations between Iran and the United States and Great Britain. Ha gambled on his ability to force the Premier out of power—and he lost.

Premier Mossadegh in turn lost out as pro-Shah army units turned the tables in a day of wild disorder. And it began to look as though the youthful sovereign might emerge from his brief exile stronger than at any time since the expropriation of Britain's oil properties two years ago. If in fact this is the net outcome, the stage will be set for a compromise solution of the oil dispute and the Tudeh or Communist party will have suffered a disastrous setback.

As for Soviet objectives, we need have no illusions. The Kremlin today is reaching for most of the long-range goals the Czars set out to gain. One of them is to extend Russian power southward around the Caspian Sea and down the length of Iran to the Persian Gulf.

Once firmly established there, the Russians would have a far larger supply of oil, which they need, and naval bases on the Indian Ocean.

Beyond this, they would have in Iran advanced positions directly threatening the Arab states to the west, the oilfields now worked by American, British and other Western interests, and the land bridge across the Isthmus of Suez leading from Asia into North Africa.

★              ★              ★

IT IS CLEAR that this is a game for high stakes in world politics. The threat of Russian control of the Persian Gulf is perhaps as grave as Russian control of Germany would be. But while the Western nations have some high cards to play in the game for dominance in Middle Europe, they have today almost no means of influencing the outcome of the tug of war in Iran.

Our geopolitical stake in Southwest Asia depends on the fortunes of various shouting mobs and army factions in the streets of Teheran. It is ironical that the sedate chancelleries and august military staffs of the great powers should have to wait, breathless, while frenzied throngs of Iranians resolve their feud and thus determine which of the great coalitions can count Iran as a partner or a pawn.

Causes and Circumstances of Mossadeq’s Downfall | CIA, Oct. 1953
Probable Developments In Iran | Causes and Circumstances of Mossadeq’s Downfall | Oct. 5, 1953


Related links:

Revolt In Persia | The Milwaukee Sentinel, August 21, 1953

Coup in Iran | The San Francisco Examiner, August 22, 1953

The Mighty, Fallen | The Cincinnati Enquirer, November 8, 1953

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

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