The United States and Iran: In the Shadow of Musaddiq

By Miglietta, John P. | The Middle East Journal, Summer 1998 | Go to article overview

The United States and Iran: In the Shadow of Musaddiq


Miglietta, John P., The Middle East Journal


The United States and Iran: In the Shadow of Musaddiq, by James F. Goode. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. xiii + 190 pages. Appends. to p. 192. Notes to p. 220. Bibl. to p. 230. Index to p. 235. $39.95. Reviewed by John P. Miglietta

James F. Goode's book, The United States and Iran: In the Shadow of Musaddiq, is a timely book dealing with American-Iranian relations. This work covers the period in which the United States began to develop significant interests in Iran, during and in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The author relies on an extensive array of both primary and secondary sources, including many in Persian. In addition, the author has interviewed a number of officials who participated in the events discussed.

A major focus of this work is the oil nationalization question of the early 1950s, which resulted in a great deal of Anglo-Iranian hostility. Goode details the origins of the National Front in 1949 and its emphasis on oil nationalization beginning in 1950. The National Front was a moderate, largely secular, nationalist opposition group opposed to the growth of the power of the monarchy.

Goode provides important background analysis on the internal politics of Iran as well as on Britain's role in Iranian domestic politics. He discusses the importance of nationalism in Iran and its influence on various political forces in that country. The author focuses especially on the conflict that developed between Prime Minister Muhammad Musaddiq and Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi.

Goode discusses the policies of the Truman administration (1945-53) and its initial recognition of the Iranian point of view. He examines the US administration's attempt to mediate between Iran and Britain over the issue of the nationalization of the oil industry. He also illustrates the shifts that took place in American policy. By early 1952, American support for Iran had lessened and the Truman administration began to have doubts about Musaddiq's long-term goals. This change in attitude was in part related to the activities of the leftist Tudeh party in Iran, and would eventually set the stage for the Eisenhower administration's (1953-61) policy of cooperating with the British to overthrow Musaddiq. American participation in the 1953 coup is often justified by decision makers as having been necessary to prevent a pro-Soviet communist takeover of Iran, which would have been carried out by the Tudeh party. However, as Goode points out, the Tudeh party was torn by factions and did not have much of a base of support, especially outside of the urban areas. In addition, it did not have the support of significant elements of the military. …

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