The Lockport Union-Sun & Journal newspaper, serving Lockport, New York and eastern Niagara county. Editorial dated Monday, August 24, 1953.
Overturn in Iran May Be Good For U.S.
The dramatic overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, just when he seemed to have grasped unlimited power, is a blow to Russia, good news for the West, and a gain for the Iranians. However, the return of Shah Pahlevi will not automatically cure Iran's internal ills or restore healthy international relations.
The crafty scoundrel, Mossadegh, forgot his cunning in his headlong pursuit of personal power. He made two fatal mistakes: Driving the Shah into exile and accepting Communist help.
The Shah is popular with most Iranians, and moreover, under the constitution he is the army's commander. As in so many historic coups, the army proved the decisive force in this one.
The Russians are no more popular in Iran than elsewhere. The people share the ingrained suspicion of Moscow which is held by all of Russia's neighbors. Religious influence is strong in Iran as in all Moslem countries, as shown by the weight in public affairs of the Mohammedan leader Kashani—and of course all religionists detest Communism's godlessness.
With this background, it is not surprising after all that the army should rally to its commander, with the approval of at least a large section of the population.
The turnover dashes the hopes which the Russians had been cultivating energetically. Moscow had lent its famous trouble-shooter, Lavrentiev, as ambassador to Tehran. He had offered to return 11 tons of gold and $8,000,000 in U.S. currency which Russia had been holding since the war, and had made proposals for buying Iran's oil.
The British-Iranian breach, the loss of Iranian oil, and the weak spot created in Western defenses were bad enough. Russian control of Iran would be much worse, and this disaster is much more improbable this week than it was last week.
However, no solution of Iran's feud with the West is in sight as yet. The new strong man, General Zahedi, was seized by the British during the war on suspicion of plotting with the Nazis for an uprising against Allied occupation forces. This indicates that he is a strong nationalist, and indeed nobody can rule in Iran without recognizing the fanatical anti-foreign spirit which has poisoned international relations all over the world and is especially strong in Iran.
Yet the change of rulers may give America an opportunity to regain some influence in Iran and make friends there. President Eisenhower was forced recently to tell Mossadegh politely but firmly that he could expect no U.S. aid until a settlement was made with Britain. Perhaps this policy can now be moderated. On the other hand, Iranians are in no mood for a reasonable agreement on oil, and without oil revenue the country's economics and therefore its politics must remain chaotic.
A bad aspect of the whole affair is the growth of the mob spirit and of government by violence. However, Mossadegh's use of mob violence made it necessary to employ force against him, and certainly he has no right to complain at being "hoist with his own petar." [A phrase made famous in Shakespeare's "Hamlet", meaning to be exploded by your own bomb. The actual term is "petard".] His country and the world must hope that his downfall is final, and can well say good riddance to bad rubbish.