American Ascendance and British Retreat in the Persian Gulf by W. Taylor Fain (auth.)

By W. Taylor Fain (auth.)

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Sample text

Officials feared that Mussadiq’s appropriation of AIOC would set a dangerous precedent in the region. S. officials worked throughout the Iran crisis––first, to prevent the British from driving Mussadiq into the arms of the Tudeh, Iran’s Communist party; second, to prevent a situation that would lead the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in Iran on Mussadiq’s behalf; and third, to keep Iranian oil accessible to the West. In order to do this, they counseled the British government to negotiate with the nationalist Mussadiq government and to compromise with it where necessary.

The demographic, social, and economic upheaval in Iran that led Mussadiq to power and the factionalized and personalized nature of the movement made Iranian nationalism a volatile phenomenon. Mussadiq’s ramshackle coalition of urban middle- and lower-middle-class organizations, clerics, and left-wing and anti-Soviet intellectuals was as much a product of Iranian economic modernization and disaffection with the imperial government as a reaction to British imperialism. Like other nationalist movements emerging in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, it frustrated Western efforts to comprehend or conciliate it.

Navy, American contingency plans for the defense of the Middle East in the late 1940s did not place a particularly high priority on safeguarding the oil “TOLL-GATES OF EMPIRE” 29 fields of the Persian Gulf. The Middle East was, indeed, a strategically vital region of the world in the eyes of American military planners, but its value consisted of more than just its considerable petroleum reserves. In late 1945 the JCS began planning for the possibility of war with the Soviet Union, and the following spring produced a series of studies, codenamed Pincher, that explored various issues relating to the defense of specific geographic areas.

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