Don’t Mess With the U.S.
Edgar Ansel Mowrer — August 26, 1953

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | October 15, 2014                         

Edgar Ansel Mowrer — journalist, foreign correspondent and commentator

The fall of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, the fulfillment of straight-shooting foreign policy analyst Edgar Ansel Mowrer’s wet dream, materialized on August 19, 1953.

Mowrer’s reaction to the coup, in accord with his ardent pro-British and pro-Israel views, is instructive, exemplifying a contemptuous mindset that still prevails in diplomatic circles, despite the glaringly conspicuous absence of positive results to show for it.

In his syndicated column, Mowrer credited the outcome to a “tougher” U.S. foreign policy against non-aligned nations, and suggested that the same tactics which paid off so well in Iran be tried elsewhere in the world. As he augured menacingly — it doesn’t pay to mess with the USA •

Iran Coup Vindicates Tough U.S. Policy

THE Shah of Iran’s overthrow of the treacherous weeping Mossadegh is a first vindication of the new U.S. policy of rewarding friends and cold-shouldering dubious “neutrals.”

It should end the legend—current from India to Morocco—that Americans are so weak in the head that a mere threat of “going Communist” will bring them running with pocketfuls of dollars and political support for immediate “independence.”

President Eisenhower’s refusal to give any greater amount of assistance to Mossadegh so long as the latter continued in his dishonest policy of robbing the British, and backed it by a flirtation with the USSR, has resulted—at least temporarily—to the triumph of the friendly and honorable Shah. If now the latter proves willing to accept any of the several reasonable proposals for an oil settlement that would get the Iranian wells and refinery running again, the United States should be lavish with financial and other assistance.

Our business is — as stated a dozen times in these columns — to show that it pays to be friends with Uncle Sam — and does not pay to cross him.

Lesson For Others

NOW that this policy has scored a victory in Iran, it should set the pattern for dealing with the other tepid countries that believe they can extract financial and political aid from the United States while remaining “neutral.” There are several of these in the Middle East. One of these is General Naguib’s Egypt. [Mohammed Naguib] Now most Americans, including this writer, have the greatest sympathy with the general’s attempts to modernize his country and do what Egypt’s slender resources permit to help the peasants. But by the same token, most Americans believe that the inhabitants of the Sudan—which Egypt is trying to annex—have a right to remain with Britain if they choose, which Egypt denies.

And most decidedly, it is not in the interest of the United States to see Britain forced out of the Suez Canal zone and leave its defense in the hands of Egyptians who could not, despite their recent military instruction at the hands of Nazi German officers — defend it against a brigade of Soviet parachutists.

AS a sovereign state Egypt is of course entitled to continue threatening to war on the British if they do not immediately decamp. But so long as it so continues, it should receive little or no aid of any kind from the United States.

Our own immediate interest forbids such support. For—whether most Americans realize it or not—if the Egyptians should succeed in chivvying the British out of Suez, it would not be two years before the Panamanians started trying to chivvy the United States out of Panama.

Press Threatens Israel

The same goes for the other Arab countries. Not only the Egyptian press but the press of Syria, Lebanon and even Jordan continue to promise war on Israel.

In the words of the Damascus radio, the Arab press emphasizes the readiness of the Syrian army “to save an Arab territory” (Palestine) “from those who stole it”.

The Lebanese Al-Hayat newspaper declares that “Arabs and Zionists cannot live together in the Middle East.” The Iraqi newspaper Ash Shaab asserts that forty million Arabs “have only one aim, to cleanse their holy land from atheistic Zionism”. And so on, day after day.

WELL, here again we who believe in free speech cannot wish to curb the provocative threats of Arab fanatics. But the U.S. Government could and should make it clear that until the Arab governments not only cease their threats but state publicly that they accept the status quo they will receive neither military nor political support from the United States.

The reasons are simple: any new war in the Middle East would serve Soviet ends; the U.S. does not wish to have to go to the rescue of beaten Arabs again — as Britain interfered to save them from the victorious Israeli once; and finally, the existence in Palestine of technically competent western-minded people, the Jews, is an advantage to the United States.

Colonialism OK — For Now

BUT the successful policy towards Iran can be applied farther — in French Africa and in India. Most Americans including this writer are frankly against colonialism — in principle. But it is not in the present interest of the United States that France or Britain or any major ally should be weakened by being stripped of its possessions.

Whether the French have acted wisely in deposing the Sultan of Morocco may be questionable. But it is emphatically their business, not ours. [Sultan Mohammed V]

It is time to put an end to the insane Roosevelt policy [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] that consisted in handing over new colonies (called satellites) to the USSR and promising independence to the Indians, the Burmese, the Indonesians and the North African Arabs.

Such — it seems to me — are a few of logical developments of our tougher new policy. It has paid dividends in Iran. It ought to be tried elsewhere.

“If I sit silently, I have sinned”: A guiding principle
The untold story behind Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's famous quote “If I sit silently, I have sinned”


Related links:

Iran At Crossroads | The Detroit Free Press, August 27, 1953

U.S Getting ‘Last’ Chance To Save Iran | Marquis Childs, August 26, 1953

Iran Needs Chance To Earn Its Way | The Saratogian, August 27, 1953

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

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