The Iran Connection
In October 1952, U.S. policy toward Iran was in shambles. The moderate, pro-Western prime minister, Ali Razmara, had recently been assassinated by an Iranian nationalist, and his radical, unpredictable successor, Mohammed Mossadeq, had severed diplomatic relations with Britain and nationalized the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). This series of catastrophes came on the heels of a long effort by Secy. of State Dean Acheson to shore up the long-tottering position of Britain in Iran, and keep Iran, which shared a border with the Soviet Union, under the umbrella of the Western alliance. “I think this tragedy can be laid at the feet of Mr. Acheson, ” exclaimed an exasperated Henry F. Grady, who had recently resigned as ambassador to Iran. Grady's resignation expressed his frustration over the shortsightedness of Acheson's policy of deferring to British concerns in Iran and the failure of President Harry S. Truman to heed Grady's warnings about that policy. “If Acheson tells Truman the moon is made of green cheese, ” Grady exclaimed, “Truman believes it.” For fourteen months Grady had struggled with Washington and London alike over the terms of a new agreement on the division of AIOC revenues between Britain and Iran. He had likewise fought for Anglo-American support for Razmara, and warned Washington of the perils of allowing the British to set the terms of its dealings with Iran. “Had Britain and the United States backed Razmara, the former Iranian Prime Minister who was a friend of the West and who was fighting the nationalization movement, this present situation would not have developed. Nor would Razmara have been assassinated, ” Grady said. “During my tenure as ambassador to Iran I made at least half a dozen recommendations, all of which were ignored or flatly turned down by our government, under British influence and insistence.” Throughout that time, the United States had leverage with the British because of greater financial and other resources, but “we just yielded” to British intransigence, Grady complained.