Grim Fairy Tales

June 22, 1951 — The Morning News

The Mossadegh Project | May 3, 2019                    

In their lead editorial, this Wilmington, Delaware newspaper assumed that Iranians were Arabs and that Premier Mossadegh’s government was encouraging mob violence — two Pinocchio’s, at minimum.

Iran: The Genie of the Lamp

The Arabs of old had an imperishable story about Aladdin, the poor boy who found a magical oil lamp out of which, despite a few harrowing experiences, he conjured great fortune and happiness. Their descendants in Persia, or Iran, are today trying to act out the story in terms of modern power politics. If the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company were only theirs, they were led to believe, they had only to rub it to satisfy all their dreams of wealth and unparalleled ease.

The trouble with this parallel is that Aladdin was lucky enough to evoke a friendly genie. When he rubbed the lamp, the sky grew dark with smoke, terrifying him until the fearful apparition showed itself to be his willing slave. But the genie of the lamp in Iran today is beginning to look like the smoke and devastation of a third world war.

The Arabian Nights Entertainments do not tell us what would have happened if Aladdin, instead of saying “pretty please,” had begun to bluster and threaten as smoke filled the sky. Premier Mossadegh’s government is risking national extinction to find out. Like a weakling who cannot take a firm stand without first whipping himself into a frenzy, it is still refusing to talk things over reasonably. Mobs are again on the prowl, oil properties have been occupied by force, and Iran seems to hope that the towering genie of a world war will so frighten the great powers that everything will come out right in the end. Perhaps it will.

The United States has been exerting a friendly but admonitory influence whose effects may be considerable. Britain, the party immediately concerned, is showing great restraint in merely warning that she will act to protect the lives of her subjects in Iran if the government does not. This would mean British troops in Iran; if Russia followed suit, the fat might be in the fire.

And a government which has been encouraging mob action by its own coercive and violent acts may not be equal to controlling the disorder it has made capital of. There are a few hopeful signs that some Iranians of substance are beginning to be alarmed by the Mossadegh policies. We hope so. Matters have already gone dangerously far, however, and nobody quite seems to know how to get the genie back into the lamp.

“If I sit silently, I have sinned”: A guiding principle
The untold story behind Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's famous quote “If I sit silently, I have sinned”


Related links:

The Desperate Situation In Persia | As the Earth Turns, July 19, 1951

Persian Oil Blaze | Goulburn Evening Post, June 22, 1951

Hard Money Talks | The Morning News (letter), April 18, 1951

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

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