MAN OF THE YEAR: Challenge of the East

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There were millions inside and outside of Iran whom Mossadegh symbolized and spoke for, and whose fanatical state of mind he had helped to create. They would rather see their own nations fall apart than continue their present relations with the West. Communism encouraged this state of mind, and stood to profit hugely from it. But Communism did not create it. The split between the West and the non-Communist East was a peril all its own to world order, quite apart from Communism. Through 1951 the Communist threat to the world continued; but nothing new was added—and little subtracted. The news of 1951 was this other danger in the Near and Middle East. In the center of that spreading web of news was Mohammed Mossadegh.

A Matter of Conscience. The West's military strength to resist Communism grew in 1951. But Mossadegh's challenge could not be met by force. For all its power, the West in 1951 failed to cope with a weeping, fainting leader of a helpless country; the West had not yet developed the moral muscle to define its own goals and responsibilities in the Middle East. Until the West did develop that moral muscle, it had no chance with the millions represented by Mossadegh. In Iran, in Egypt, in a dozen other countries, when people asked: "Who are you? What are you doing here?" the West's only answer was an unintelligible mutter. Charles Malik, Lebanon's great delegate to the U.N., put it tersely: "Do you know why there are problems in the Near East? Because the West is not sure of itself." The East would be in turmoil until the West achieved enough moral clarity to construct a just and fruitful policy toward the East.

In the U.S., the core of the West, the moral climate was foggy. Scandal chased scandal across the year's headlines. Senator Estes Kefauver revived the Middle Ages morality play, on television. Kefauver's reluctant mummers were followed by basketball players who rarely threw games—just points, and West Pointers who were taught a rigid code of honor which did not seem to apply when the football squad took academic examinations.

None of 1951's scandals indicated thoroughgoing moral depravity, or even idiocy —just an inability to tell right from wrong if the question was put (as it usually was) in fine print. This uneducated moral sense led congressional committees through a sordid trail of mink coats and other gifts to Government officials. Casuistry reached a high point with the official whose conscience told him that it was proper to accept a ham under twelve pounds, but not a bigger one. Democratic Chairman William Boyle resigned his job under a cumulus cloud of influence peddling, and his successor was hardly in office before clouds gathered over him too. The public worked up quite a head of indignant steam over scandals in the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which was taking more of its money than ever before. This indignation fell like a load of hay on Harry Truman. Perhaps it would be the understatement of the year to say that 1951 was not Truman's year.

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