Smart Strategy at United Nations

Horace Cayton on Iran’s Use of the U.S. Press

The Mossadegh Project | July 5, 2023                   

Horace R. Cayton, Jr. (1903-1970)

A column by Horace R. Cayton, Jr. (1903-1970), African-American sociologist, activist, educator, and author. He was also a columnist and UN correspondent for the influential black newspaper The Courier.

Iran’s Diplomats Used Smart Strategy at UN In Presenting Their Case to the World


[October 27, 1951 — The Pittsburgh Courier]

TODAY the Security Council voted to adjourn after failing completely to come to a decision on the Iranian question.

In spite of the fact that Gladwyn Jebb came to the Council meetings with confidence that England would be able to obtain the support of the United States, France and perhaps a majority of the Security Council, that body was afraid to even ask for a vote to determine whether the Council had authority to hear the case.

The simple fact was that little Iran out-smarted, out maneuvered and out-did the West’s most skillful delegates. How they did it is a lesson for the dark people of this country and Africa.

*    *    *

WHEN THE Iranian delegation arrived in New York they called a press conference at the United Nations and stated the Iranian case. Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, their Prime Minister, did not come. Dr. Hossein Fatemi, one of the leading statesmen of the country, conducted the conferences.

He was worth his weight in gold to his country. Clever, smart, well-informed, he handled the correspondents with the skill of a diplomat. At first some of the correspondents, English and American, if not critical were at least a bit sharp. But at his last press conference—there was one every morning for a week—a very friendly attitude developed. At that time he thanked them for their cooperation and announced that the Iranian delegation was going to have a party for the press.

*    *    *

THESE DAILY press conferences were a clever move. It kept the United States and England from bark fence maneuvers. It brought every issue out in the open the morning before each meeting of the Security Council. They softened the attitude of the American press to a considerable extent.

Further the correspondent from the Arab League raised questions which brought out issues which in some cases the British would have liked to have left undiscussed. They were both a sounding board to get over the Iranians’ point of view and a method of checkmating Britain’s under-the-table-deals.

Then take the action of Dr Mossadegh. At the last meeting of the Security Council at which time the New York Times had said that the council should “face up to the Iranian issue today and take action”. Dr. Mossadegh nor any Iranian showed up.

*    *    *

THEY HAD declared their position, offered to negotiate with England about payment for the investments and on the amount of oil she would buy, but had nothing more to say to the Security Council.

Announcement had already been made by Dr. Fatemi that the Prime Minister would be in Philadelphia that day as a guest of the Mayor. Further he was going to address the American people from Independence Hall. For the Prime Minister of a country seeking its freedom and independence to speak to the American people from Independence Hall was a master stroke.

These are just a few of the ways in which Iran changed world opinion, brought England to her knees and softened the American policy. It shows how clever diplomats can use the press and the important pert the press plays in diplomatic negotiations. The question is why dark people can’t employ the same techniques.

*    *    *

BLACK AFRICA in her struggle for freedom is being inspired by the success of the Arab world. She would then learn the techniques which the Arabs are using. She should learn to employ the press as a powerful weapon for liberation.

So far there is no powerful African press. There is not a single African correspondent to the United Nations and, perhaps, no African paper has money enough to support one.

But the African papers can make great and important use of the American Negro press. If the West African countries would keep the American Negro press informed they could begin to put their story over to the American people just as did the Iranians.

Then the African people, just as the Iranians, could learn the use, function and power of public relations and how to manage and employ a press conference.

The “power of the press” is an old phrase but a true one.


More by Horace Cayton:

Issue of Iranian Oil Serves to Earmark Need for Respecting Dark Peoples | March 31, 1951

Great Britain’s ‘Loss of Face’ In Iran Could Inspire African Move | Oct. 13, 1951

Why Can’t the Black People of the World Play It Smart Like The Iranians Did? | Nov. 17, 1951

Interview: UN Ambassador Nasrollah Entezam on Race, Apartheid | Nov. 15, 1952

Related links:

Iran States Its Case | Oct. 17, 1951 editorial (Amsterdam, NY)

Handing It Over To The U.N. | Baltimore Sun, October 1, 1951

Dangerous Oil | The Daily Mercury (Queensland), Oct. 2, 1951"

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

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