Problem Child For the U.N.

October 8, 1951 — The Philadelphia Inquirer

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | February 14, 2022                   

“The entire Moslem world has its eyes on Mossadegh and Iran.”

Ivan H. “Cy” Peterman of the Philadelphia Inquirer Ivan Hugh Peterman, aka “Cy” Peterman, (1899-1978) was an overseas World War II correspondent and sports writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, who featured both his on-site news journalism and opinion columns.

The Wisconsin-born reporter and author, who had a Welsh wife, was the Inquirer’s United Nations correspondent at the time this commentary on the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute was published in 1951. This post was short-lived, however, because not longer after, he left the news business for the insurance industry.

The following ignorant, highly opinionated column coincided with Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh’s arrival in New York to attend the United Nations Security Council hearings on the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute.

The Philadelphia Inquirer — October 8, 1951

Ivan H. Peterman
Iran Seeks To Drive a Hard Bargain

NEW YORK, Oct 8.

A FRAIL, political extrovert with illusions of transforming his backward country overnight into an oil-rich empire amid the dust of ancient history, has flown in to take refuge in a New York hospital. Premier Mohamad Mossadegh, a much-threatened leader, will be glad of the Western World’s temporary sanctuary.

Mossadegh of Iran is a strange fellow. A fanatic and a Moslem with no inhibitions on how or why, he seems to have qualified his hard-put nation for the “sick man” role formerly held by Turkey. This Iranian’s own illness, physical or mental, has not been helped by dreams conjured from the movies or tales he’s heard about American aborigines riding in Cadillacs as result of oil gushers on their reservations.

• • •

THE Iranian Nationalist feels that if Lo, the Indian, can bask to riches overnight, why not Ahmed, the camel driver?

For that reason the weeping, fainting, screaming orator will be a problem child for the U.N. Security Council. [“screaming”] If he gets before it. At the moment is is hoped by both British and American statesmen, that somehow he can be prevailed to settle for the rest cure in New York, and some new form of oil contract negotiations.

But there is much more to this problem than Iran, its oil, or who gets it and for what purpose. The entire Moslem world has its eyes on Mossadegh and Iran. As the Anglo-Americans huddle on what to do, Iran’s diplomats have the advice and support of an increasingly restless Middle-East and Near-East bloc. It extends from Calcutta to the Dardanelles.

• • •

THIS Arab mass, some of it more developed and enlightened, is universally proud, and likewise ambitious. Held back centuries ago by the arms of Western Europe, the people settled along the Asian-African rim of the Mediterranean, and down into both those Continents. When the great machine-age came, Western exploiters came and developed the oil fields, and the Arabs continued their nomadic, under-privileged struggle in the wind and dust.

Two wars came, and opened new windows, however. The first found Great Britain an ally of the camel-riding tribesmen of Arabia, Palestine, and those areas held by the old Ottoman empire. With such as T. E. Lawrence and Allenby providing leadership, the Arabs wrenched free of Turk control, and their princes began making their own oil deals.

• • •

IT WAS the world’s increasing need for oil, plus the drive up through the Persian Gulf to supply Russia, that awakened Iran to its possibilities. Don’t under-estimate the effect of truck convoys, jeeps, cars, and the plentiful equipment revealed in three days, on crouched figures along the Old World trails. Mossadegh, educated but not converted to the Empire way of thinking, saw a chance to stir his brothers from the hopelessness of long submission. He would shake Iran from being “Squattovia, the unkempt and backward.”

Unfortunately. Dr. Worth Howard, dean of the American University in Cairo, points out, there has been no parallel awakening among the Western thinkers and exploiters. Not many have realized that some day, someway, these people would object to being taken over. That somebody should have made oil a beneficial proposition to those who had nothing else to sell.

“IN CAIRO it is difficult to tell who they dislike most, the British or us Americans,” he says. “We have lost a tremendous number of friends, in a quarter of the globe we most need them. It is not helping our position whether in Iran, or Egypt, or any country of the region, that nearly 800,000 displaced Arabs still await alleviation of their plight, brought about since U.N.’s Palestine action of 1947.”

It was noticeable, during the British arraignment of Iran in Security Council Oct. 2, that Egypt’s Mahmoud Fawzi Bey was in constant attendance of the Iranian delegate. Egypt is also in Security Council for its behavior along the Suez Canal, where increasing inspections and seizures have irked other nationals. Its no secret that King Farouk’s Government would like to regain a prize waterway, lost by a previous Khedive when Disraeli bought up Egypt’s shares.

• • •

THESE elements all bear on the Iranian-British oil dispute. Yet none should be so insoluble as to push Iran, its oil, and maybe the Moslem world, closer to Soviet Russia’s embrace. Six Autumns ago, this same Iran was being rescued from Russia’s Red Army — which had moved down from the Caucasus to help escort those war supplies and prevent Germany from moving in — and it was the U.N. Security Council that finally accomplished this bloodless release. Andrei Gromyko walked out at the height of the debate, but in the end the Soviet soldiers also marched out of Iran.

Now, because Mossadegh and his ambitious backers see a chance to drive a tough bargain, they are thanking Russia for its opposition to the British complaint on oil, and pretending their only friend is Moscow. How much of this act is real, how much is terror, and how much rationalism can be coaxed from the panting Premier of Tehran, this week may tell.

Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954
Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954


Related links:

‘Why Asia Hates Us’ | Hamilton Butler, September 30, 1951

Nationalization At Home Haunts Britain In Iran | Ivan Peterman, Oct. 3, 1951

The Oil And The Marsh | Max Lerner, New York Post, May 21, 1951

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

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