Amid all the advertisements for gas-guzzling cars, there is an interesting editorial from LIFE magazine, dated May 21, 1951. "How to Lose a World: Our Government's Deplorable Performance in Iran Has Contributed To a Great Disaster."
At that time, Iran was caught between two great millstones of conflicting ideologies, Capitalism and Communism. Britain, heavily reliant on Iranian oil, had directly controlled the oil monopoly through the British Anglo-Iranian Oil company but now, suddenly the rules of the game has changed.
"Iran's politicians, in general, more blessed with passion than foresight, were ready to assert their pride of self and country. And ancient people, also proud, were ready in their misery to welcome any change."
In 1951 Dr. Mohammed Mosaddeq came to office as Prime Minister, committed to re-establishing democracy and constitutional monarchy, and to nationalizing the Iranian petroleum industry, which was controlled by the British. It was this last point which sealed his fate.
"And the Americans? The Americans were there, in considerable strength. They saw what was happening; the revulsion against the British; the stupidity of an oil policy which took as much as possible out of an awakening country and put as little as possible back into the country; the calculated cleverness of the Soviet Communists who had the sense to work on, through and ostensibly for the Iranian people, with a native Tudeh party which was actually Communist but officially nationalist in sentiment and purpose.
And yet, openly America did nothing.
"The truth is that the State Department has no policy for Iran and no policy for the Middle East. What it styles a policy is a mess of generalities (resist Communism, help anti-Communists, be for reform, etc. etc.) A State Department with a policy would, among other things, have got behind a plan for economic salvage of Iran, supported it with vigor and taken any measures necessary to see that the British government support it too."
This prudent policy was unfortunately not undertaken. Instead, shortly before the 1952 presidential election in the US, the British government invited Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., of the CIA to London and proposed they cooperate under the code name Operation Ajax to bring down Mosaddeq from office. With the help of a military loyal to the monarchy, The Prime Minister was placed under house arrest and The Shah of Iran was installed as the leader of the nation. It was to become a monarchy whose mission statement included an ruthless anti-Communist stance, a program of Westernization and a Western monopoly- by proxy- on the petroleum industry in Iran. This flawed decision based on deceit - which on the surface must have seemed like sheer brilliance- was to have grave consequences.