Damned With Faint Praise
August 24, 1953 — The Recorder

The Mossadegh Project | May 30, 2021                    

Five days after the 1953 coup in Iran, this was the lead and sole editorial in The Recorder, a newspaper serving “Port Pirie: South Australia’s Largest Town”.

Australian media archive


WHILE events had been moving toward an armistice in Korea, East and West Berlin engaged in a supreme battle of tactics without bloodshed, and the world waiting to see the destination of the cricket Ashes, most thoughts were turned away from Persia, that country which has witnessed one of the most bitter feuds of modern times over dispensation of its oil leases.

Two years ago Dr. Mossadeq, its Prime Minister, was sitting on top of the world in the minds of the people, for was it not he who upset every arrangement with Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, composed mainly of British interests, and finally, in defiance of signed and sealed leases, nationalised the industry? Those “in the know” were sanguine that it would be only a matter of time before Mossadeq and his country would be brought to heel. But nothing like that happened.

Then the little doctor, described by some as the Gandhi of Persia, went one farther and set his face directly against the monarchy, with which he had been far from popular, and he made things so awkward that, the Shah, who only recently was about to admit that Mossadeq carried too much power for him, was quite prepared to get out and leave the country to the determined and ambitious little firebrand.

FINALLY, Mossadeq told the people bluntly that the time had come for them to make their choice—either his dictatorship or the monarchy. But strangely enough for these days of “emancipation” and in direct contrast with what might have been expected from the proletariat, the crowds turned him down with a thump that could be heard afar, and the man who was the people’s idol, while he was twisting the tail of the British Lion is now in the hands of Royalist military authorities and is in direct danger of being liquidated. Thus once again is the uncertain state of dictatorship exemplified.

Strangely enough, it has been often repeated that Mossadeq has no Communistic leanings as the world knows them; in fact, he displayed not the slightest interest in Russia’s concern and sympathy when he was pushing round Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. And just as strangely there is none in Persia—or the outer world, for that matter—who would aver that he is not a patriot.

His is a case of misguided judgment and too lofty ambition, Mossadeq forfeited early all British friendliness, and his consequence rubbed Uncle Sam of America the wrong way and caused the latter to remark that financial aid which had in the past been given readily would no longer be forthcoming. [Refers to Pres. Eisenhower’s rebuff on June 29th]

So another dramatic actor passes from the stage. Dr. Mossadeq could have remained a big figure in Persia had he curbed his passion to be both player and referee.

Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954
Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954

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Related links:

Persia Awaits Reform | The Mercury, August 24, 1953

Chance For West in Persian Upheaval | Northern Star, August 24, 1953

Iran Will Take Aid From Anyone, Including Soviet | Aug. 24, 1953 (AP)

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

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