Editorial from the Oswego Palladium-Times, a New York state newspaper, on Friday, October 17, 1952.
WHAT NEXT IN IRAN?
Iran's Premier Mossadegh has had the distinction of punching
a lion in the nose while kicking himself at the same time. When the emotional, unpredictable
leader of the Land of the Persians and the Medes in the Bible threw the British out and
nationalized the Iranian oil fields just about a year ago, he cut off his own country's main
supply of income.
But slugging the British lion like that was hot stuff in Iran where the
people had long suffered from a feeling of national inferiority.
That sense of inferiority is one of the bases for the extreme nationalism
that has seized the Middle Eastern countries, now that the old colonial
powers like Britain and France are on the wane.
The evidence of Iran's plight is the extreme ignorance and poverty of most
of the 18 million Iranians. In that sense they have nothing in common with
the well-educated Mossadegh, one of Iran's biggest landlords.
He became a national hero overnight, the Iranian strong man,
although for a strong man he was strangely given to fits of weeping
and fainting when the going got tough.
Still, with their emotions and attention fixed on the spectacle of Britain
humiliated at last, the mass of Iranians were diverted from the truly
reactionary nature of their own government which had been doing precious
little for the betterment of the people.
There was a bit of a gamble in what Mossadegh did. He knew the West badly
needed oil. So it must have seemed likely to him he could settle on his own
But the British were able to set up a boycott against Iranian oil, and
development of oil elsewhere was stepped up to offset the loss from Iran.
And, as time went on Iran began to suffer. The royalty paid by the British
for the oil taken from the country had made up at least one third of the
Iranian government's total revenue.
At the same time the British wanted compensation for losses and damages to
the industry they had developed in Iran. Mossadegh, for his part demanded
millions for royalties he said were owed Iran.
Meanwhile, because of the loss of British revenue, Iran's economic condition
grew steadily worse, although Mossadegh retained popular support. As if to
make sure he retained it, several months ago, at precisely the same time the
new army regime in Egypt was doing it, he began land reforms in Iran.
This week stories from Iran indicated he may have started to lose some of
his support. Yesterday he broke off relations with Britain. What now?