The Immoral of the Story

The Wall Street Journal — August 21, 1953

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | March 1, 2011                       

The 1953 coup in Iran

In 1953, Iran’s government, neither Communist nor a Soviet satellite, was democratic, popular with its citizenry and oppressed no one. Yet the Wall Street Journal newspaper clearly didn’t want its readers to know that. Their August 21st post-coup editorial fabricates the tale of a fictitious “dictator” with Communist ties finally getting his comeuppance in a popular “counter-revolution” by a fed up populace—a vindication, they would have us believe, for Commie-haters everywhere.

It is well known now, of course, that Mohammad Mossadegh fell from power due to a military coup which had been conceived and implemented by the United States and Britain. Indeed, Mossadegh certainly had his fair share of opportunistic domestic adversaries—those that opposed him included royalists, army generals, Islamic terrorists, and, inconveniently...Communists.

A U.S. intelligence estimate 10 months prior to the coup found that the Communist Tudeh party believed its aims would be best met through Ayatollah Kashani, not Mossadegh. This editorial sharply contradicts the American government’s own assessment of Tudeh intentions.

The editorial is particularly chilling retrospectively, as the world witnesses the delusional, murderous behavior of actual Middle Eastern dictators in their final throes of power. In a matter of mere weeks, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya underwent genuine mass uprisings in their streets, in addition to major anti-government protests in Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and Iran. Had the true “lessons fro Iran” been understood, perhaps these trends would have progressed a lot sooner •

The Wall Street Journal - August 21, 1953


The counter-revolution in Iran may not last, or may not provide stable government. But whatever happens, the fact that it was possible to overthrow the dictator Mossadegh is a large lesson for our times.

It is a reminder to other dictators that they may be least secure when they feel most secure. It is a warning to would-be authoritarians that the price of absolute power is often death or disgrace. It is a challenge to oppressed people everywhere that oppressors can sometimes be removed.

Particularly it has a moral for Communists. The Communists in Iran thought they were playing it smart. Long outlawed, they had mostly kept in the background. On a couple of occasions they passed up opportunities to make a grab for control of the nation in their own name. Instead, they figured their more promising opportunity was to work through Mossadegh, with his tacit approval—and when Mossadegh saw his chance to become absolute ruler, they were supporting him.

The people, however, weren’t having any. The army proved largely loyal to the deposed Shah, which was not surprising. What must have surprised the Communists was that the people, from the streets of Teheran to the remote tribal villages, turned out in riotous mobs against Mossadegh; and not the least of their complaints against Mossadegh was his hook-up with the Communists.

The Communists might still be able, now or later, to take over Iran. But the ouster of Mossadegh demonstrates that they won’t have an easy time gaining or keeping control.

That, finally, is a lesson for U.S. policy-makers, who have predicated much of their foreign-aid effort against the spread of Communism on the theory that Communism thrives on poverty and illiteracy. Yet, whatever happens next week, impoverished and not very literate Iran this week rejected even a path to Communism. In a country where Communism should flourish almost spontaneously, according to the theorists, it will have to be imposed by force if it is imposed at all.

After 1953 Coup, Henderson Scorns Iranian Conspiracy Theorists
After 1953 Coup in Iran, Ambassador Loy Henderson Scorns Iranian Conspiracy Theorists


Related links:

AUDIO: 1953 U.S. Army Radio Drama Portrays Mossadegh As Chief Foe of Communists

Weakling ‘Strong Man’ | The Palm Beach Post editorial, August 19, 1953

Reds Shout Demands For Soviet RuleUPI, August 18, 1953

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

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