Isn’t It Ironic?

August 19, 1953 — The Progress-Index

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | October 4, 2016                   

The 1953 coup in Iran

It was perfectly understandable when, in August 1953, many in the media were thrown off by the sudden turn of events in Iran. After all, the ink was barely dry on their response to the first (failed) coup attempt when the tables turned.

So when a Petersburg, Virginia newspaper published their lead editorial on the assumed supremacy of Mossadegh on August 19, 1953 — the very day he was toppled — we might excuse them for their ill-timed reaction, already rendered obsolete.

Yet The Progress-Index doesn’t get a pass, because they contradicted themselves with their own front page layout. “Royalists Reported In Control of Iran” read their oversized headline, followed by three related articles below the masthead, including the tell-tale “Mossadegh Flees After Overthrow Of Government”.

Why the discrepancy? Perhaps they were just really pleased with their work and didn’t want to change a word, regardless of whether or not it still made any sense. Or maybe they deeply appreciated genuine irony, and wished to serve their readers a generous helping of the stuff.

Pure Tragedy Now

The long struggle between the Shah of Iran and Premier Mossadegh appears to have reached a conclusion, with the latter and extraordinary party the winner. If it is not the end of the story, certainly it is one of the high points. Now that the Shah is a refugee in Iraq, and Mossadegh is issuing warnings to the neighboring country, it is difficult to imagine circumstances under which the more or less rightful ruler will get back on his throne.

The wily if weeping Mossadegh himself may evolve into a Shah before long, or he may content himself with ruling behind the facade of some kind of regency. In either case, he is the center of political power in Iran for the present and for the foreseeable future. What he will do with his opportunity is the important thing. In that respect the record is anything but reassuring.

Mossadegh has used the Communists in his progress toward control of the country. [No] He may be as shrewd in handling them now as he has been in disposing of the opposition. If the all too familiar pattern of such events repeats itself, the Communists will be calling the tune for the premier, not the other way around. Gloomy predictions may be premature, but it is conceivable that ancient Persia will be converted into a Soviet satellite, or something close to it, in a very vital part of the world.

At stages the developing story has been funny. Even when it had the characteristics of opera bouffe, [French comic opera] the tragedy was visible. It is a tragedy for a backward country which cannot afford such doings and for the nations of the free world which need Iranian oil.

The baffling nature of the situation is suggested by the fact that nobody in this country is seriously accusing anybody else of having brought about the unwanted result. [With good reason] The United States has attempted to deal reasonably and fairly with Iran and has been rebuffed. Iran has rid itself of so-called foreign influences and has yet to demonstrate that it knows how to develop its resources intelligently. Under the circumstances the happiest outcome would be for Mossadegh to settle down and make sensible use of his power. The signs of anything like that are not in sight.


Related links:

Mossadegh Gets A New Setback | The Spokane Daily Chronicle, August 19, 1953

Another Dictatorship | The Jamestown Post-Journal, August 19, 1953

Dictatorship Replaces Monarchy in Little Iran | U.S. editorial, August 18, 1953

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

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