Low Road to China

August 1, 1952 — The Kokomo Tribune

The Mossadegh Project | May 19, 2020                     

A 1952 editorial on the possibility of U.S. military force in Iran. The Kokomo Tribune newspaper (Kokomo, Indiana).

Do We Fight in Iran?

The troubles of the little country of Iran may seem remote to a businessman or a housekeeper in Kokomo, and yet if that country goes Communist or if Egypt goes Communist the scales are weighed that much more against our free world.

A Red sweep into the Middle East would provide problems for the United States comparable to those which the Communist capture of China provided. It might even mean American soldiers fighting in Iran, or at least American military equipment sent to friendly forces there. Military invasion of Iran may not be necessary for Stalin to add that country to his list of captive states. The job may be done from within, like it was done in Czechoslovakia. In fact, it could be dangerously approaching that stage now.

Dr. Mossadegh, the aged, weeping and fainting statesman, has been called back to head the government after a brief interval in which Ahmed Qavam served as prime minister. [Ahmad Ghavam] It now seems possible that Mossadegh may fumble away Iran into Communist hands.

The man the western world counted on to keep Iran out of Soviet hands was the young Shah. He, however, has lost his power to Mossadegh and the extreme Nationalists, and Mossadegh himself is in danger of losing the reins of government to the religious fanatic, Mullah Kashani, who has made an open alliance with the Communist underground. [Ayatollah Kashani publicly disowned the Tudeh camp]

A few days ago Ahmed Qavam, who had promised to reach an oil settlement with the British, was arrested after only four days in office. It was at that moment that the Shah lost his great chance. He could have used the then still loyal army and security forces to suppress the Communist-inspired anti-Qavam riots, but his timid advisors warned of civil war and the Shah hesitated. As a result, the army and the security forces are now wholly controlled by Mossadegh’s National Front. Mossadegh’s deputy, Hussein Makki, has warned the Shah that his head may roll if he attempts to interfere. [No record of Hossein Makki ever saying this]

When Mossadegh returned to power, he summoned the British and American ambassadors and talked of terms for a possible settlement. He mentioned reasonable compensation for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, with the company to have worldwide distribution rights. The British were on the point of resuming negotiations over the oil when Mossadegh did a complete about-face and refused to discuss a settlement. The explanation is believed to be that the ruthless Mullah Kashani sees a chance to seize the government, with the help of Communists, if there is no settlement with Britain. He is presumed to have put pressure on Mossadegh to block such a settlement.

The tragedy will be that Kashani, if he comes to power, will be only a Kerensky—a forerunner of the real Communist regime. [Deposed Russian leader Alexander Kerensky] Mossadegh is not a Communist and it may be that he is playing for time in the hope of gaining full control over the security forces so as to defy Kashani. If not, however, the outlook is gloomy.

A recital of these prospects is necessary to understand what may face the United States in the near future. The U.S. may be faced with the choice of letting Iran go the way of China or intervening forcefully to support any anti-Communist forces in Iran. Some of our government people in Washington believe that a Communist take-over in Iran must be averted at whatever cost, which indicates the gravity of that situation.

The free world must make an effort to hold the Middle East against the Communists. If that means Allied troops in support of friendly Iranian forces, the American people should be mentally prepared.

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Related links:

Is the Middle East Going Like China? | Marquis Childs, October 18, 1951

Will U.S. Lose Big Gamble on Aid For Explosive Iran? | July 29, 1952 editorial

Weekly Commentary From Washington | Stanley James, October 3, 1952

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

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