How Can He Lose?

November 27, 1951 — Washington Evening Star

The Mossadegh Project | February 9, 2022                   

An editorial in the Washington, DC newspaper which would later become known as The Washington Star.

Iran’s Hero

These are great and heady days for Premier Mossadegh of Iran. Besides having won a resounding vote of confidence from Parliament, he has succeeded in arranging for immediate national elections—at a moment when most of his countrymen, not yet having felt the full effects of his policy in the oil dispute with Britain, still seem to regard him as a hero. How can he lose? Right now, in the atmosphere prevailing over there—the intense pleasure derived from seeing the lion’s tail twisted, the inflamed nationalistic temper, the mob spirit stirred up by the Communists and the religious fanatics—he is apparently unbeatable.

But “right now” is one thing and the future another. Unless the Mossadegh government modifies its past position and agrees to an equitable and realistic settlement of the Anglo-Iranian issue, a miracle of sorts will be required one of these days to save Iran from bankruptcy. In the past, almost half the country’s total national revenue has come from British oil royalties and concession fees. But that source of income no longer exists. The wells are not drilling. The refineries at Abadan are shut down. The storage tanks are filled to overflowing with petroleum that cannot be sold in the customary markets because shipping facilities are lacking. In short, the whole economy is moving steadily toward a complete breakdown—a breakdown threatening payless paydays for civil servants and growing unemployment and social and political crisis for the people at large.

In the teeth of this prospect, which must certainly please the Kremlin, what has Dr. Mossadegh proposed? He has proposed that the Iranian people—millions of whom are already living at a bare subsistence level—tighten their belts while he tries for American aid and launches a “plan” (he never says just what the “plan” is) to get the oil out of the ground and into foreign markets. Nevertheless, despite the cruelly impractical, by-guess-and-by-gosh nature of his program, he seems to have the majority of his countrymen on his side “right now.” The awakening has yet to come, and it is bound to come in due course—perhaps sooner than later—unless he switches meanwhile to a policy making a sound settlement possible.

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:

Iranian Oil Muddle | Washington Evening Star, March 17, 1951

Fruits Of Folly In Iran | Miami Daily News, December 7, 1951

Mossadegh Finds the Ice Thin | Los Angeles Times, Jan. 4, 1952

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

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