The Oriental Mind

October 11, 1951 — The Morning Herald

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | February 3, 2015                    

Dr. Hossein Fatemi This rare lead editorial from The Morning Herald of Gloversville, New York is one of the only ones we’ve found centering around Dr. Hossein Fatemi, the young Iranian journalist who would become Foreign Minister several months later.

The piece was published while Premier Mossadegh, Fatemi and colleagues were in the United States to defend Iran’s oil nationalization law before the United Nations Security Council. Fatemi had given an interview to United Press on Oct. 9th, from which a single remark was isolated and picked apart in this jaded commentary.

The paper chose not only to castigate Fatemi, but framed the entire British-Iranian dispute in racial terms — attributing the impasse to a clash of cultures; a showdown between rational (Western) and irrational (Asian) actors...


“East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” [The Ballad of East and West (1889)]

Rudyard Kipling knew the Oriental. He had lived in India so long that he not only knew the Oriental mind better than most Occidentals ever have, but he could foresee which way that mind would work under given circumstances.

And that one thing Kipling understood quite well—that the Oriental will never be able to fully understand the Occidental and vice versa.

It is more than probable that most Americans never really gave the matter any serious thought; but it may be time that we did, for we are rapidly becoming closely identified with many Oriental races.

And what Hossein Fatemi, vice premier of Iran, has had to say after accompanying Premier Mossadegh to this country in connection with the Iranian oil dispute, probably will be enough to make many of us realize what W. Averell Harriman and retired ambassador to Iran Henry Grady apparently have realized—that any settlement of the controversy on anything but the adamant terms of Iran is virtually impossible.

Take this, for instance:

“Britain has sought to spread false propaganda that Iran will fail, or be pushed into the Soviet orbit if her needs are not satisfied.”

To us, it seemed that it was Iran that was making demands, demands so stern, indeed, that the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company now has abandoned a huge oil-producing installation—wells, pipelines, and refineries—that cost more than a billion dollars to establish.

And whether the British sought to spread “false propaganda” that Iran would eventually fall under Soviet influence is not known to us, but that has certainly been the general impression on this side of the Atlantic, for the simple reason that Russia is Iran’s next door neighbor and badly needs Iranian oil.

Mr. Fatemi has pledged that Iran’s oil will not fall into Soviet hands because of the dispute with Britain. Then who will operate the industry?

The Iranians cannot, and certainly we won’t. What do Mr. Fatemi and his countrymen propose to do? Just let the vast industry lie stagnant and unproductive?


Related links:

Intent on Evicting West, Iran Virtually Asks Russia In | Buffalo Courier-Express, July 1952

A Difficult Man | The Brooklyn Eagle, January 7, 1953

Iran Oil To Russia | U.S. editorial, September 26, 1951

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

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