Flea-bitten Kingdom Called Iran

January 5, 1952 — U.S. Editorial

The Mossadegh Project | March 19, 2021                     

TIME's 1951 Man of the Year, Mohammad Mossadegh

A snarky take on the 1951 Man of the Year article in TIME magazine.

Time’s Man of the Year

Time’s selection of Mohammed Mossadegh as “Man of the Year” seems entirely justified in view of the far-reaching effects of his actions, attitudes and antics or what the Germans call Weltpolitik.

Never in history has a small-bore politician been able to accomplish more in the way of disturbing and upsetting world politics than this prime minister of a flea-bitten kingdom called Iran. Mossadegh with his convenient fainting spells, his readiness to weep, his refusal to compromise or listen to reason, and his blatant disregard of all the rules of diplomacy has certainly been an expensive luxury to the Western World and perhaps the signer of the death-warrant of his own country.

How the Iranian issue will finally be settled no man knows, least of all Mohammed Mossadegh. How much longer Iran will be able to avoid total economic collapse as a result of its premier’s excursion into shotgun diplomacy is anybody’s guess; by all rights it should have blown higher than a kite weeks ago.

But ridiculous as Mossadegh is in Western eyes, our worst mistake would be to assume that what he has done is distasteful to his fellow-countrymen. Far from it. Mossadegh is a hero to his people, and to many other peoples who have been smarting for generations under colonialism.

In the end, perhaps, some reasonable and pacific force within Iran will throw Mossadegh out and reorganize the government along more realistic lines. The Shah might do it if the Shah were not a mere figurehead.

As it stands now, the only country likely to profit by Mossadegh’s half-crazy activities is Soviet Russia. Intentionally or otherwise, the old man has served the best interests of Russia all the way through. He has hurt the Western powers in a vital way, but the most enduring hurt perhaps will be visited upon the heads of his own countrymen, a fact of which they appear to be blissfully unaware.

Newspapers who ran this editorial under their masthead included:

The Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas) — January 5, 1952 (title: Time’s Man of the Year)
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Corpus Christi, Texas) — January 5, 1952 (lead editorial, title: Man of the Year)

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Related links:

Man Of The Year Choice Reflects Leadership Need | Fresno Bee, Jan. 6, 1952

Underwriting Colonialism | Hamilton Butler on Iran (Jan. 6, 1952)

TIME Readers Irate Over Mossadegh’s “Man of the Year” Title (1952)

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

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