Pride and Prejudice
Oct. 4, 1951 — Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate

The Mossadegh Project | May 14, 2021                           

Lead editorial on Iran in The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate newspaper of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Newcastle is the site of the world’s largest port for the export of coal.

Australian media archive

The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia)

Retreat From Persia

There is no point in denying that Great Britain has suffered a humiliating reverse in withdrawing her subjects from Persia, rather than have them bundled across the border by the Persian Government. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, of which the British Government is a major shareholder, has abandoned the largest and most modern refinery in the world, with an investment placed at £500 million. A weak nationalist government of a minor Power has confiscated British assets and defied Britain to do anything about it.

Mr. Churchill has already started to make political capital out of the “flight” from the oil fields. [Winston Churchill] In other days twisting of the lion’s tail would have aroused the whole British nation in retaliation. Painful to pride though the decision not to land troops to protect British subjects may be, the decision of the British Government is morally correct. And in international affairs moral right is still fundamentally important.

The British Government has acted with the greatest restraint in its handling of a most difficult issue. It went a long way towards inviting a compromise when it accepted the right of the Persian Government to nationalise the oil industry. When the Stokes mission and intervention by Mr. Harriman failed, Britain tried financial pressures and denied Persia certain scarce goods which had been made available because of recognition of the importance of Persian oil to the United Kingdom. [Lord Privy Seal Richard Stokes and U.S. envoy Averell Harriman] Britain tried to force Dr. Mossadeq out of office but failed. To have taken the final step and sent in British troops, ostensibly to protect British lives though not British property, would have involved the risk of making legitimate Russian intervention to protect Persia in terms of their treaty of 1921. Loss of the Abadan plant is to be preferred to a third world war. While it is possible that Russia might not have interfered, it is certain that in taking even limited military action Britain would have had to face the judgment of the world.

Persia, on the other hand, has refused to obey the interim injunction of the International Court and dishonoured an agreement with the Anglo Iranian Company. In the national frenzy into which the Persian people have been stirred, no room has been left for the achievement of a basis for settlement that would have permitted the maintenance of friendly relations between Britain and Persia that Dr. Mossadeq has repeatedly professed to desire. Britain has taken the right course in referring the issue to the Security Council of the United Nations, although there can be no guarantee that the Council will be able to enforce respect for the World Court and pave the way for a settlement acceptable to Great Britain. Although British subjects have been withdrawn, the final chapter has not been written. The Persian Government faces extreme financial troubles. Russia may offer to take her rice and wool, but she has not the fleet of tankers needed to lift the 30 millions tons [sic] of oil that come annually from Persian Gulf ports. Natural barriers make the pumping of oil over the mountains of Central Persia an unfeasible project.

Mr. Churchill will have to handle the issue carefully. If a Conservative Government is returned this month, it would be his responsibility to take over from where Mr. Attlee has failed. [Premier Clement Attlee] Irrespective of the political character of the Government, the United Kingdom needs Persian oil desperately, for use as well as to avoid paying one million dollars daily for non-sterling oil. It is not too late, however, to suggest that Persia will yet be anxious to have the help of British technicians and the use of the Anglo-Iranian system for the sale and distribution of her oil. Firmness may still succeed where a dramatic display of strength would do irreparable harm.

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


Related links:

Initiative Now With Persia | Newcastle Morning Herald, October 12, 1951

Britain Cannot Afford More Concessions | Northern Star, September 29, 1951

Eden’s Task In The Oil Deadlock | Sydney Morning Herald, October 31, 1951

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

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Tumblr   Instagram