Water Gun Diplomacy

October 11, 1952 — The Independent Record

The Mossadegh Project | June 2, 2014                      

The Independent Record of Helena, Montana offered this unreticent repudiation of Dr. Mossadegh’s proposal to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in their lead editorial on Saturday, Oct. 11, 1952. The funny thing is, the newspaper claimed to only publish on weekday afternoons and Sunday mornings...

Iran Flirts With Reds Again

Premier Mossadegh again has stated the typical underdog’s idea of the fair deal by giving the British another take it or leave it proposal. It is the same as the attitude in Egypt. The British seem a bit slow in realizing they must throw out their century old diplomatic routine, to deal with modern tough tempos with such cases. The old style tea at 4 p.m. social hours are all washed out. Business is done nowadays right after breakfast—not around tea time.

The impression left by his message formally inviting Prime Minister Winston Churchill to meet the Iranian terms is that of a man aiming and firing a water pistol. [September 28th letter] Premier Mossadegh appears to have accepted the delusion that he is one of the oil potentates of the Middle East. He is not; his tanks and pipelines are idle and will remain so as long as the western nations, which are the chief purchasers, transporters and consumers of oil, have the good sense to resist the kind of bargain Mossadegh is seeking to drive.

The terms offered the prime minister are unacceptable; they ask everything and concede practically nothing.

Iran is ready to compensate Anglo-Iranian oil only for the loss of the company’s producing and refining properties at Abadan, but submitting its own and the Anglo-Iranian claims to the international court of justice, Iran insists on three conditions being observed. These conditions prejudge the issues in dispute, and in effect judge the case before the tribunal of the international court has a chance to consider the facts. Particularly untenable is the position of Mossadegh that disputes and claims arising between 1948 and 1951 must be settled according to the terms of a disputed 1949 accord. And that AIOC must pay “in advance and on account” $137,200,000 claimed due under the disputed terms. [for withheld royalties and back taxes to Iran]

Mossadegh’s point 3, that Britain must make good losses suffered by Iran from the embargo on oil sales that Britain employed as a lever to bring Iran back into negotiations, is equally preposterous. It asks the British to make good losses which Mossadegh brought on himself by the seizure and disruption of one of the world’s great oil-producing enterprises. In our law there is no equity for those whose hands are not clean.

After submitting this brusque proposal, Mossadegh went into a verbal weep. Iran, he said, must try to improve the social conditions of the deprived classes (a need which is only too obvious), but that would be impossible without income from oil. Failing this, he added, Iran would surrender itself “to probable future events, which would be to the detriment of world peace” in short, go Communist.

The premier of Iran is too smart to walk into the Russian trap without a last minute bid to the Allies. He well knows what will happen to him under Communism. He would be a big shot for a time, then an exile. In the face of that prospect, he continues to play a very bad role. But he has enough on the ball so that the British, and this country better start soon to get action. We have spent money in worse places than Iran. So have the British. A few good Yankee traders of the old school could be used in Iran now.

Winston Churchill | 1951 Campaign Speech on Iran Oil Crisis
The untold story behind Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's famous quote “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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Related links:

Mossadegh Pauses | THE WORLD This Week, October 2, 1951

George Middleton’s Letter to Foreign Office on Iran (Oct. 6, 1952)

Mossadegh Acts Like A Madman | The Times Record, October 2, 1951

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

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