Last of the Wily Schemer

August 21, 1953 — The Milwaukee Sentinel

The Mossadegh Project | February 4, 2014                     

This was the lead editorial in The Milwaukee Sentinel on Friday, August 21, 1953. The newspaper was owned by the Hearst Corporation at the time, and held the motto “Dedicated to Truth, Justice and Public Service”. The oldest continuously run business in Wisconsin, it was founded in 1837, and merged with The Milwaukee Journal (which already shared the same parent company) in 1995, becoming The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Revolt in Persia

IT IS TO BE HOPED that the army revolt in Persia against Mossadegh is successful and that the world has seen the last of this wily schemer. Mossadegh brought his country no benefits and has consciously developed it into one of the danger spots of the earth with the object of putting himself in the middle between East and West that both might court him.

In modern times, Persia (Iran) was divided between Great Britain and Russia (1907) into spheres of influence. Czarist Russia accomplished little more in Persia than to establish political outposts that were most useful in suppressing the self-determinism of the Armenian population in Azerbaijan, the remnants of that remarkable historic nation, the Hittites.

The British, however, found oil. It is oil that makes Persia a tremendously important factor in world affairs and in the continuance of Great Britain as a leading power. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now called Anglo-Iranian Oil) not only produced oil for the British Navy, but the British government owned a large part of its shares.

IN 1951, Mossadegh, having become premier of Iran, made the nationalization of oil the central point of his program. The move started with government-inspired strikes and anti-foreign riots. Involved were many complex problems, with considerable wrong on the British as well as the Iranian side. The British were willing to accept nationalization but not confiscation; they were willing to revise the Anglo-Iranian oil agreement of 1933 to operate the oil installations under new terms more satisfactory to the Iranians.

This, however, did not suit Mossadegh who believed that he could operate the oil industry on his own. Politically, he recognized that while the West was involved in the Korean War and numerous difficulties with Soviet Russia, he had an advantage that he could push to the limit.

In none of his policies was he supported by the young shah, whose views were broad and who was more concerned with the welfare of his people than with the role in international relations that Mossadegh was preparing for Iran–the role ultimately of using Soviet Russia as a threat against Great Britain and the United States.

The British left the field to Mossadegh, who encountered, much to his surprise, resistance to the purchase of Iranian oil throughout the world. The Russians have no means of getting and transporting the oil; most other countries refused to buy, fearing a lawsuit in their own courts.

AS A RESULT, poverty increased in Iran. While Mossadegh was able to stimulate nationalism to riotous intensity, he was not able to maintain even the low standard of living of his people. Meanwhile, the Tudeh party, the Iranian Communists, were developing strength as a result of discontent and in the interest of Soviet Russia.

As usual, the State Department, under Dean Acheson, missed the boat in Iran. American interests could best have been served by strengthening the position of the Shah. Instead, we supported the British so wholeheartedly we came to be distrusted as British agents.

Mossadegh was an evil influence in world affairs. His elimination may save Iran. Continued disturbances can only be in the interest of Russia. Therefore, whatever can be done for stability and the improvement of the life of the people should be done–and quickly.

Truman and Mossadegh’s First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)
President Truman and Premier Mossadegh's First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)


Related links:

Iran—The Chance For Charity | The Deseret News and Telegram, August 20, 1953

“The Things We Did Were Covert” – Eisenhower’s Diary Confession — October 8, 1953

Schwarzkopf Denies Part in Iranian Revolt | Associated Press, August 19, 1953

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

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