Know When To Fold Them
October 9, 1951 — Daily Telegraph and Daily News

The Mossadegh Project | April 25, 2022                      

Lead editorial on Iran in The Daily Telegraph and Daily News of Sydney, Australia.

Australian media archive

The Daily Telegraph and Daily News (Sydney, Australia)

Britain played her trump cards very badly

NEW YORK messages say that the United States is trying to soften Britain’s Security Council stand on the Anglo-Persian oil dispute.

Certainly, there doesn’t seem much point in roaring in New York because the Persians have twisted the lion’s tail at Abadan.

If the British Foreign Secretary (Mr. Morrison) wanted to be tough about oil, Persia was the place to start. [Herbert Morrison]

That doesn’t mean war was the alternative to walking out of Abadan.

“I can’t believe there would have been any need for war with Persia,” said Mr. Churchill when Mr. Morrison taunted him about strong-arm methods. [Campaign speech by Winston Churchill on Oct. 6, 1951]

Mr. Anthony Eden, who may be Britain’s new Foreign Minister, put the real issue when he said:

“British Ministers tried everything and ‘followed through’ in nothing.”

The fact is, the Persian Prime Minister (Dr. Mossadeq) has bluffed Mr. Morrison and Mr. Attlee. [Premier Clement Attlee]

Britain held all the trump cards and Mr. Morrison played them badly.

The International Court had heard Britain’s case and made an interim ruling in Britain’s favor. This interim ruling was an injunction which ordered Britain and Persia not to interfere with the operations of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Persia — until the Court had given its final judgment.

But Dr. Mossadeq spurned the authority of the Court and set a dateline for British evacuation.

Despite repeated assertions to the contrary the British Government meekly accepted Dr. Mossadeq’s ultimatum and saved him from an awkward predicament.

Had the Abadan staff sat tight Dr. Mossadeq would have been forced to retract or to risk the use of force.

And force had much more serious implications for Persia than for Britain.

By ordering force Dr. Mossadeq would have turned himself into an open aggressor before the Security Council and exposed himself to the risk of Russian friendship.

And non-Communist Dr. Mossadeq is well aware that Russian friendship is in the long run much more dangerous to Persian independence than the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

But Mr. Morrison’s weakness saved Dr. Mossadeq from the consequences of his own rashness.

The Persians now have the initiative, the Egyptians are standing by waiting their turn, and the Russians are grinning up their sleeves.

No wonder Mr. Churchill called Mr. Morrison’s Persian policy “a melancholy story of inadvertence, incompetence, indecision, and final collapse.” [Oct. 2 campaign speech]

Truman and Mossadegh’s First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)
President Truman and Premier Mossadegh's First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)


Related links:

U.K. Entitled to Pay-off For Persia’s Grab | Dec. 12, 1951

Unsolved Dispute With Persia | Newcastle Morning Herald, Jan. 7, 1953

Bad Poker In Iran | August 25, 1951 editorial + letter

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

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