Christian Herter, U.S. and Iran
Question to Edgar Ansel Mowrer — Feb. 3, 1953

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | April 21, 2021                               

Christian A. Herter (1895–1966) In 1953 Christian A. Herter (1895–1966) had abruptly switched from being a Republican Congressman to Governor of Massachusetts. He became Pres. Eisenhower’s Under Secretary of State in 1957, and replaced the ailing John Foster Dulles as Secretary of State in 1959.

Here is a question Herter submitted to foreign policy writer Edgar Ansel Mowrer on the British-Iranian oil row, as excerpted from his newspaper column where he answered reader questions on current events.

At a National Security Council meeting in June 1960, Eisenhower brought up the wave of revolutions sweeping the globe. According to the memorandum: “Secretary Herter said we had believed that Iran had taken a turn in the right direction when it dismissed Mossadegh.”

‘Wait and See’ Policy Wise To Appease Iran and Britain

“Dear Edgar: The question which I am submitting is: ‘What shall we do in Iran?’ It is not an easy one.”
—(Christian A. Herter, Governor of Massachusetts.)

Are you right, Chris! Yet we have to do something.

My formula goes like this: For the present, sit tight where we are. Act as honest broker between our British and Iranian friends, urging a reasonable compromise on both sides.

Ultimately, we may have to choose between two risks. If we stuck with the British, Iran might deliberately go Communist. If we stuck with the Iranians, we should further cool Britain’s friendship and ultimately lose our own oil-holdings in the area, for the Iranian example would be contagious.

So if we have to choose, I consider it less dangerous to let Iran go broke than to help Iran eliminate the British without full compensation for the seized properties. The Iranians are not united. Mossadegh threw out Khavam as a friend of the West. [Ahmad Ghavam] Mullah Kashani considers Mossadegh as too friendly toward Americans. [Ayatollah Kashani] The madmen of Fedayah (who specialize in assassination) consider Kashani too soft! [Feda’ian Islam] But even they have more to fear from Russia than from us.

So let’s just keep our shirts on and, while doing what we can to bring back peace, not be too impressed by those who say they will bite themselves to death if they don’t get what they want. Few people have ever done that.

Vernon Walters Amuses Crowd With Mossadegh Stories (1974)


Related links:

Mossadegh Unaware Of Dangers in Dual Play | Edgar Ansel Mowrer, Oct. 15, 1952

It’s Time To Face Facts About Iran | Alsop Brothers, August 25, 1951

Rioting Continues Third Day in Iran; Americans Stoned | UPI, March 2, 1953

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

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