Make Them Think Twice
July 19, 1951 — The Cairns Post

The Mossadegh Project | November 18, 2020                    

An earnest call for Anglo-American unity in the face of Iranian nationalism in this lead and sole editorial from The Cairns Post, an Australian newspaper in Cairns, Queensland.

Australian media archive


Only the gravity of the nation and its possible effect on the rest of the democratic world could have caused President Truman to take active steps to intervene in the Persian oil dispute. He has sent his special envoy (Mr. Averell Harriman) to Teheran and it is probable that he will try to induce the Persians to reopen negotiations.

Britain’s prestige as a Great Power would suffer considerably if she is not able to count on Persian oil supplies and such a disaster would affect the rest of the free world.

If the Persians cannot get revenue from their oil it would not be long before complete chaos would occur and almost simultaneously another satellite would be added to the already bulging Russian bag.

Although the Tudeh, the Communist party in Persia, had not figured prominently in the dispute up to now, no one has any doubt that its prodding fingers have been busy and latest reports indicate growing arrogance on the part of members, making it quite clear that although Persian nationalism may have been the primary inspiration for the decision to take over all the installations, the Communists have not been far off in the wings of the stage.

Reports of a lowering of discipline in the Persian army and police force show how narrow is the margin between the present restless position and the end of constitutional Government. The effect of an empty Treasury due to loss of income from the oil needs no emphasis.

The economic reverse that the entry of the Soviet to the Persian Gulf would constitute would be only slightly less disadvantageous to the democracies than the strategic set-back such a situation would entail. The whole Middle East position of the democracies would be endangered.

So far Dr. Mossadeq has given us no proof that Persia’s real interests are likely to benefit from his fanaticism. Earlier he had flatly rejected the American offer for mediation. The fact that his decision has been reversed and that Mr. Harriman was welcomed, showed that there are some of his advisers with a realisation of the realities of the position.

This may come from the understanding that Persia, rather than improving her lot, stands to lose a great deal should Mossadeq secure a victory over the Anglo-Iranian Oil company. It is to be hoped that these beneficial influences can grow in strength and restore some wisdom to Persian thinking before it is too late.

It might be considered the correct and profitable thing to twist the lion’s tail, particularly when the reaction has not been at all frightening. Now it would appear that the process also represents a flouting of the United States influence. The combination can muster such strong political weapons that second thoughts must occur to the Persians. Persia has nothing to gain by the breaking of relations with the West which must follow a continuation of her present policy.

Britain, by making it quite clear that she has no intention to cede her rights, could make Mr. Harriman’s bargaining power so much greater. She must prove that she has no intention of permitting bluff to succeed, and there can be no more retreating. The situation is becoming worse and the time for further concessions has passed. Persia may be able to understand this after she has listened to Mr. Harriman.


Related links:

A Confused Leader: Persia’s Future at the Cross Roads | The Age, June 23, 1951

Iranian Communists Expected To Make Harriman Task Difficult | July 16, 1951

Inconsistency of Britain | The Mudgee Guardian, June 28, 1951

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

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