Seeds of War

August 14, 1952 — E. F. Tompkins

The Mossadegh Project | March 21, 2023                   

Hearst newspapers columnist E. F. Tompkins on the threat of war stemming from the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute.

E. F. TOMPKINS—Reasons for Worry

Will Iran Be Next Before Korea Is Over?

IRAN, OR PERSIA of yore, seems remote — as remote as Korea on the other side of the world.

Nonetheless, we know something about the land. The Old Testament relates that Ahasuerus reigned there and hanged Haman on a lofty gibbet. Secular history teaches that the Persian King Xerxes tried to conquer classical Greece, and that another king named Cambyses subjugated Egypt. Otherwise, however, Iran to most of us is a country in which Omar Khayyam wrote "The Rubaiyat" and which now ships Kermanshah rugs to Armenian dealers on Fifth Avenue.

On that kind of knowledge, apparently, the State Department’s Iranian policy is founded. And this is deadly serious, for Iran may be the next area to which American soldiers are sent to fight a local war against Russian Communism.

“Iran” said this column recently, “may become another Korea for us.”

WE ARE getting ourselves deeply involved in Iran, which Russia covets.

Russia wants Iran 1) as a satellite state to extend the Bolshevik empire and 2) because of the oil fields which the British developed and Mossadegh has “nationalized”.

Possessing Iran, Russia will command the Persian Gulf abutting upon the vast Indian ocean. In this location, with Chinese troops poised in Tibet, Russia can outflank India and the East Indies by land and sea. Conquest then will give Russia a virtual monopoly of natural rubber, tin and other strategic materials, plus an enormous additional pool of manpower for slave labor and Red armies.

Here obviously are the seeds of war, for —

1–Russia’s intentions toward Iran are belligerently shown. As the last war ended, Russian soldiers in Azerbaijan were with difficulty expelled. Today Russia is planted on the Persian shore of the Caspian Sea with sturgeon fishery and caviar concessions. Russia also supports the Communist Tudeh party in Iran; the leading Moslem Mullah is a Soviet hireling; [Ayatollah Kashani, on what evidence?] and Communist intrigue aggravates Iranian unrest.

2–This country clings to liabilities in Iran. During the war, we used Iran as a corridor to arm Russia. After the war, we never fully withdrew. As part of the Acheson “containment” program we have a military mission in Iran and are supplying money, machinery and technical leadership under President Truman’s “point four.” [Sec. of State Dean Acheson, Harry Truman] Not only does Russia denounce our Iranian “interference” — members of the Iranian parliament plainly under Soviet influence, openly proclaim that our “advice” is not desired.

NO DOUBT, we could linger peaceably in Iran for an indefinite time, had we only the Iranians to consider.

But, as in Korea, Soviet Russia hovers beyond the border.

And Russia does not intend for us to remain. As this column has reported, Soviet Russia has already rebuked Iran for renewing its aid agreement with us and placing “the Iranian army under the control of the United States government.”

The charge is probably false. But, by accusing Iran of “helping the United States government to realize its aggressive plans directed against the Soviet Union”, Moscow has characteristically prepared its position for defensive action by occupying Iran.

Our statesmen should worry. Will we be fighting in Iran before our Korean war is ended?

1951 cartoon on Korea and Iran by Reg Manning

SAFER AT HOME: U.S. Implores Shah To Stay In Iran (Feb. 1953)
SAFER AT HOME: U.S. Implores Shah To Stay In Iran (Feb. 1953)


Related links:

Iran More Dangerous Than Korea | Dorothy Thompson, May 18, 1951

Storm Signals Pointing From Kaesong to Tehran | Alsop Brothers (Aug. 1951)

Loy Henderson’s “Depressing” 2½-Hour Talk With Mossadegh | July 28, 1952

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

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