Premier of Iran Refuses to Accept Letter from U.S.
Drew Pearson — September 11, 1952

The Mossadegh Project | March 5, 2015                    

In this excerpt from famed muckraker Drew Pearson’s widely syndicated column The Washington Merry-Go-Round, Pearson begins by referencing President Harry Truman’s recent handwritten invective.

On December 6, 1950, Truman wrote an irate, threatening letter to Washington Post music critic Paul Hume, who had trashed the performance of his daughter Margaret, a professional soprano. The recital in question had been held at DC’s Constitutional Hall with the likes of British Premier Clement Attlee in attendance.

Pearson then moves to the ‘rude’ Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, whom he claims rejected a letter from President Truman and Winston Churchill. Actually, there was no letter at the time, only a verbal message. The rest of the column is similarly misleading.

Premier Of Iran Even Outdoing
Russians With His Rudeness

Drew Pearson WASHINGTON — President Truman may be able to write letters to music critics, but he’s had great difficulty delivering a letter to the premier of Iran.

In fact, U.S. relations with Premier Mossadegh, always difficult, have become so bad that its now almost impossible even to hand him a diplomatic note containing a new concession from the British and a loan from us.

Not even the Russians act this rudely. Never yet have they refused to receive a diplomatic note. However, the impasse in Iran probably means that the Russians will eventually take over.

What happened in the Iranian case was that Prime Minister Churchill and President Truman sent personal messages to the premier of Iran last week. In them the British went further than they ever have before, virtually giving up their claims in Iran, and offering to help market Iranian oil if Iran would submit part of its dispute to the World Court. President Truman in turn offered a $10,000,000 loan to help tide Iran over its financial crisis.

When Ambassador Loy Henderson and British Charge d’affaires George Middleton delivered the notes, Premier Mossadegh read them. Then he grumbled:

“This is too good. There must be a trap in it.”

Abruptly he handed back the notes, proceeded to bawl out the ambassadors. They took back the notes and walked out.

When Henderson reported this to Washington, President Truman hit the ceiling. The fact that a foreign official refused even to receive a message from him was unprecedented. So Ambassador Henderson was instructed by cable to go back, redeliver the note to Mossadegh even if he had to ram it down his throat. London sent similar instructions.

Two days later the British and American boys called on the premier again, told him he had to accept their notes. Coldly, Mossadegh told them to put their notes on the table and leave.

Meanwhile, Iran’s financial situation is drifting from bad to worse, while the Tudeh Communist party is getting stronger. Its underground army is now well equipped, and with a little Russian support could take over the entire country almost anytime Moscow give the word.

NOTE — President Truman has said privately that this is the last time he’ll ever write to the premier of Iran. Since the White House staff also want him to lay off letters to music critics and Bernie Baruch, [his estranged United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC) appointee, Bernard Baruch] this leaves the President’s letter-writing scope somewhat restricted.

Alternate headlines:

Mossadegh Is Ruder Than Russians To U.S.


Related links:

An Ultimatum | Oakland Tribune, October 3, 1952

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

Iran Offers Almost Hopeless Problem | Constantine Brown, September 8, 1952

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

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