The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
The New York Times — August 15, 1953

The Mossadegh Project | December 22, 2010                   

Four days before the successful military coup of August 19, 1953 that overthrew Iran’s popular Prime Minister, The New York Times published this non-factual vilification, falsely accusing Mossadegh of being a Communist sympathizer, abuser of human rights and a “ruthless demagogue”.


The New York Times The world has so many trouble spots these days that one is apt to pass over the odd one here and there to preserve a little peace of mind. It would be well, however, to keep an eye on Iran, where matters are going from bad to worse, thanks to the machinations of Premier Mossadegh.

Some of us used to ascribe our inability to persuade Dr. Mossadegh of the validity of our ideas to the impossibility of making him understand or see things our way. We thought of him as a sincere, well-meaning, patriotic Iranian, who had a different point of view and made different deductions from the same set of facts. We now know that he is a power-hungry, personally ambitious, ruthless demagogue who is trampling upon the liberties of his own people. We have seen this onetime champion of liberty maintain martial law, curb freedom of the press, radio, speech and assembly, resort to illegal arrests and torture, dismiss the Senate, destroy the power of the Shah, take over control of the army, and now he is about to destroy the Majlis, which is the lower house of Parliament.

His power would seem to be complete, but he has alienated the traditional ruling classes — the aristocrats, landlords, financiers and tribal leaders. These elements are anti-Communist. So is the Shah and so are the army leaders and the urban middle classes. There is a traditional, historic fear, suspicion and dislike of Russia and the Russians. The peasants, who make up the overwhelming mass of the population, are illiterate and nonpolitical. Finally, there is still no evidence that the Tudeh (Communist) party is strong enough or well enough organized, financed and led to take power.

All this simply means that there is no immediate danger of a Communist coup or Russian intervention. On the other hand, Dr. Mossadegh is encouraging the Tudeh and is following policies which will make the Communists more and more dangerous. He is a sorcerer’s apprentice, calling up forces he will not be able to control.

Iran is a weak, divided, poverty-stricken country which possesses an immense latent wealth in oil and a crucial strategic position. This is very different from neighboring Turkey, a strong, united, determined and advanced nation, which can afford to deal with the Russians because she has nothing to fear — and therefore the West has nothing to fear. Thanks largely to Dr. Mossadegh, there is much to fear in Iran.

What Went Wrong in Iran? | Amb. Henry Grady Tells All (1952)
What Went Wrong in Iran? | Saturday Evening Post, Jan. 5, 1952


Related links:

Taking The Wrinkles Out Of The Persian Carpet | Nov. 25, 1953

All the Sham’s Men: How the CIA Used ‘Anti-Communism’ To Destroy Iran’s Democracy

Robert Gulick, Jr.: In Defense of Iran | Washington Star, July 1951 Letter

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

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