A jug of wine, a loaf of bread — & politics

August 13, 1953 — Oswego Palladium-Times

The Mossadegh Project | September 6, 2012                  

This was the lead editorial in the Oswego Palladium-Times, a New York state newspaper, on Thursday, August 13, 1953. The piece opens and closes with excerpts from Omar Khayyam's poetry.


Happy [two illegible words] can continue to sip the “cup that clears today to past regrets and future fears” thanks, ironically, to a teetotaler. Premier Mohammed Mossadegh this week decreed a one year stay in the enforcement of a prohibition law passed by the Iranian Parliament last February.

The history of this noble experiment in the land of Omar Khayyam pits the forces of Mossadegh against those of another non-drinker named Ayatollah Sayed Abolghassem Kashani, the premier’s leading opponent. Mr. Kashani, who is also a prominent Moslem leader, had the premier on an embarrassing spot on the prohibition issue, because to oppose it would put the government in the position of flouting the Koran which expressly forbids the use of strong liquors. The government did what it could to forestall the desiccating legislation, but finally capitulated with the concession that the law would not be put into effect for six months. That grace period would have expired Tuesday had not Mr. Mossadegh come through with an eleventh hour reprieve.

The premier, as previously noted, doesn’t touch the stuff himself and undoubtedly believes in the Koran’s teachings on the subject of alcohol. But he is also a practical politician and can see the consequences of prohibition. For example, he knows that the economy of Iran is shaky enough as it is and wonders how $5,000,000 in lost liquor taxes would be recouped. The matter of reemploying 20,000 skilled brewery and distillery workers would also be something of a problem, to say nothing of taking care of the thousands of cafe owners and employers whose tents would be folded by the arid edict. There would be international repercussions, too, because big stocks of vodka are imported from the Soviet Union.

And so, for another year, Iranian progeny of the fabulous tentmaker-poet can loll with their loaves of bread and jugs of wine pondering Omar’s dilemma: “I wonder often what the vintners buy one half so precious as the stuff they sell”.

Ayatollah Kashani’s Threat to Mossadegh | CIA, Sept. 1952
The assassination of Iranian Premier Ali Razmara — March 1951

Search MohammadMossadegh.com

Related links:

Omar Wouldn’t Know Iran | Honolulu Advertiser, July 20, 1953

Returned — And With Thanks | Montreal Gazette, Oct. 25, 1952

Caviar and Oil | February 4, 1953 editorial on Iran

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

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