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Sometimes the crisis through which Iran is passing depresses Mossadegh to the point of tears and fainting spells. Just as often, he seems to regard the state of affairs with a light heart. When he came to the U.S. to plead his cause, mercurial Mossadegh was so ready with quips, anecdotes and laughter that Secretary Acheson thought the visitor should be reminded of the gravity of the situation. At a Blair House luncheon where Mossadegh was guest of honor, Acheson told a story: a wagon train, crossing the American West, was attacked by Indians. A rescue party found the wagons burned, and the corpses of the pioneers lying around them. The only man still alive lay under a wagon, with an arrow through his back. "Does it hurt?" he was asked. The dying man whispered: "Only when I laugh." Acheson looked pointedly at Mossadeghwho just doubled up with appreciative laughter.
Before he left the U.S., emptyhanded, Mossadegh's name was thoroughly familiar to Americans. New York Daily News readers knew just what the News meant when it reported his return to the Iranian Majlis and his victory there, under the headline:
MOSSY WINS, 90 To 0, ON A WET FIELD.
Five Grim Conclusions. The fact that Iranians accept Mossadegh's suicidal policy is a measure of the hatred of the West and especially the hatred of Britainin the Near and Middle East. The Iranian crisis was still bubbling when Egypt exploded with the announcement that it was abrogating its 1936 treaty with Britain. The Egyptian government demanded that British troops get off the soil of Egypt. Since the British were guarding the Suez Canal, they refused. The Egyptians rioted, perhaps in the belief that the U.S., which had opposed any use of force in Iran, would take the same line in Egypt. The U.S., however, backed the British, and the troops stayed. But now they can only stay in Egypt as an armed occupation of enemy territory. Throughout the East, that kind of occupation may soon cost more than it is worth.
Since Mossadegh's rise, U.S. correspondents have been swarming over the Near and Middle East. Their general consensus is that:
1) The British position in the whole area is hopeless. They are hated and distrusted almost everywhere. The old colonial relationship is finished, and no other power can replace Britain.
2) If left to "work out their own destiny" without help, the countries of the Middle East will disintegrate. The living standard will drop and political life become even more chaotic. (Half a dozen important political leaders in the Near and Middle East were assassinated during 1951.)
3) Left to themselves, these countries will reach the point where they will welcome Communism.
4) The U.S., which will have to make the West's policy in the Middle East, whether it wants to or not, as yet has no policy there. The U.S. pants along behind each crisis, tossing a handful of money here, a political concession there. At the height of the Egyptian crisis (the worst possible moment), the U.S., Britain, France and Turkey invited Egypt to join a defense pact. The invitation was promptly rejected.
5) Americans and Britons in the Near and Middle East spend a large part of their energies "fighting each other. No effective Western policy is possible without Western unity.