The Cornell Daily Sun — October 1, 1951
This editorial ran in The Cornell Daily Sun (Ithaca, New York) on Monday October 1, 1951. Cornell University produced this newspaper each weekday during the school year.
Impasse in Iran
With an almost inevitable relentlessness the Iranian and British governments have slowly, surely approached a point of no reasonable return in the dispute between them over the nationalization of oil properties in Iran. To the unstudied observer it is difficult to comprehend how a situation of this kind could be permitted to arrive where it is now.
Past history of the Iranian oil dispute marks both Britain and Iran equally guilty in bringing about the emotional impasse which, if handled with the bludgeon of high-strung politics rather than the needle-like gentleness of calm diplomacy, could erupt into a military conflict leading quickly to World War III.
From the very beginning of the dispute, Britain has played poorly and with unusual delay. Her refusal to recognize the principle of nationalization of the oil industry, her haggling over the proposed 50-50 split of oil profits, and her veiled but unsupported threats of using force in Iran—all these have contributed to making an already emotional Iranian people, led by an even more emotional leader, feel that no other course was open for them but complete severance of ties with Britain and expulsion of English technicians.
The Iranians themselves have not lagged far behind the British in acting the role of obvious fools in this tragic comedy of international errors. With little understanding of world politics and even less reasonable thought, Iran’s Premier Mohammed Mossadegh has maneuvered into a diplomatic situation from which even a political Houdini would not be able to extricate himself gracefully. In tear-filled, hand-waving speeches, the shaky Mossadegh has led his people to the point where they can think of nothing else than “Down with the British Imperialists!” and “Death to them!” The Premier has in fact lost control of his program of nationalization; his public pronouncements and speeches indicate that he realizes where the only sane, economically sound solution lies: in a graceful, diplomatic political compromise between Britain and Iran. But the mob and the exploiters of the mob rule Iran today, not Mossadegh.
Britain’s submission of the oil dispute to the United Nations Security Council and yesterday’s announcement by Premier Mossadegh that he would attend the meetings of the Council this week, when it undertakes the problem, are the only recent occurrences that give rise to the first bit of hopeful optimism.
Until now, only the United States has acted as a cautious third party in the conflict. The American government has sought to counsel and advise both countries impartially. But just as there has been a notable lack of pressure from the United States on either party, there has also been a notable lack of success. Entrance of the United Nations in the dispute should have a civilizing effect on both Iran and England. With continued American support, and to-be-hoped-for Russian neutrality, the world organization may be able to close the deep wound in the Middle East. The problem has passed the stage of consideration of merely who is right and who is wrong. Perhaps even more than in Korea, the issue in Iran now is world peace. Though their own diplomatic fingers have been made unusably slippery by the oil dispute, Iran and Britain must not be permitted by the United Nations to fumble the ball. The stakes are too high.
Reserve and Recourse? — The Cornell Daily Sun, October 18, 1951
Persian Oil Crisis A Serious Threat — The Age, June 22, 1951
Deadlock In Iran — U.S. Editorial, September 17, 1951
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”