Toothless Tiger

July 6, 1951 — The Evening Sun

The Mossadegh Project | February 25, 2020                     

An editorial on Iran and the World Court in The Evening Sun newspaper of Baltimore, Maryland, which ceased operations in 1995.

Exercise In Futility

The International Court of Justice has dealt with the British-Iranian dispute in a gingerly fashion, as well it might.

The court has been asked by London to enjoin Iran from seizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s properties. Iran in its turn has argued that the tribunal has no jurisdiction. On this point the court has simply reserved judgment. Naturally, until it reaches a conclusion, it will not pass on the matter of the injunction.

Apart from the legal problem involved, the cautious course is obviously the part of wisdom. Like so many excellent international agencies, the court lacks power of enforcement. If it did enjoin Iran, the action would be an empty one. There is not the slightest sign that Premier Mossadegh would accept the finding and yield to it, thereby reversing his policy of nationalization.

Indeed, everything points in the opposite direction. And, confronted with defiance, the court would have no way of carrying out its decision. In these circumstances the international judges did the proper thing. They sought to bring about an interim agreement between England and Iran which would keep the oil fields producing and stave off, any worsening of the situation between the two countries.

The fairness of their proposal will appeal to most persons. The court wanted the nations to guarantee they would take no steps that would deepen the crisis. And it asked for continuation of the company’s operations under British management, supervised by a board on which Britain and Iran would be equally represented and on which a fifth member would be a neutral. Such an arrangement would have been eminently reasonable, but Iran has rejected it.

So there seems to be nothing left for the court to do now but to decide whether it has the right to reach a decision which it cannot in any event translate into reality.


Related links:

Iran Dangers Continue | The Salt Lake Tribune, July 8, 1951

Iran’s Problems | June 17, 1952 editorial

Hague Considers Iran Oil Question | The Spokesman-Review, June 23, 1952

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

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