This Is A Stick Up

September 27, 1952 — The Buffalo Evening News

The Mossadegh Project | November 22, 2022                   

An editorial on Iran in a Buffalo, New York newspaper. It was accompanied by a related political cartoon by Bruce Shanks (1908-1980), who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1958.

Pay Up, ‘or Else’

Premier Mossadegh of Iran has discarded wile and subterfuge in his desperate effort to get hold of enough money to shore up the staggering economy of the country. To all intent and purpose, he has pulled a gun on Great Britain. He has served an ultimatum on the British demanding acceptance of proposals for settlement of the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute within ten days or take the consequences.

The consequences, he made it plain, are that Iran may become prey to communism. He didn’t say it in so many words but the meaning was clear. Britain’s rejection of the demand for $137,000,000—the estimated amount Iran would have received in increased oil royalties if she had accepted agreement with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company at the outset of the controversy—may compel Iran to “surrender itself to probable future events which would be to the detriment of world peace.” That is, go Communist.

Mossadegh’s message was in the form of a counterproposal to a plan for settlement of the dispute contrived jointly by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Truman. He made some slight effort toward conciliation by accepting the suggestion to submit the issue of compensation for the nationalized oil industry to arbitration by the International Court of Justice (the World Court). If the international tribunal should set a figure which Iran should pay to the British company—generally accepted as being limited to the value of the properties and not including “damages”—Mossadegh proposes to pay the compensation in dribs and drabs over a long period and in oil products, not hard money. International law demands that such compensation shall be paid “promptly.” The Iranian premier has no intention, indeed he has no prospect, of doing anything of the sort.

As a matter of fact, unless the oil industry can be put back into production under competent management, there is no guarantee that Iran would ever be able to pay the obligation.

Officially, the British have been reticent since the note was received on Wednesday. However, Mr. Churchill has returned to London after a holiday and the government’s acceptance or rejection of the demands should be made before the ten-day deadline arrives. While making some slight concession to the co-operative U. S.-British proposals, Mossadegh reiterated that never again would his country consider giving a “purchase monopoly” to any foreign nation which could be used to renew interference with the management of Iran’s oil industry.

He had to say something like that to appease the violent forces of extremist nationalism which keep him in power. If his new strategy of attempted extortion is unsuccessful with Great Britain, he figures he still has the U.S. as an ace-in-the-hole. Otherwise, why invite an American oilman, a Cities Service executive, to inspect the plants as he did this past week? [W. Alton Jones] If that is what Mossadegh relies upon, should blackmail fail, this would be as good a time as any to disabuse him of the idea.

"Ready for the Jump" — Cartoon by Bruce M. Shanks

70th Anniversary of TIME’s Man of the Year Article


Related links:

Ultimatum From Iran | Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Sept. 27, 1952

Blackmail in Iran | The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 27, 1952

Iran Flirts With Reds Again | Independent Record, Oct. 11, 1952

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

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