Front Page Titles (by Subject) Iran, Oil, and the Cold War - Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4
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Iran, Oil, and the Cold War - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Iran, Oil, and the Cold War
“A Peripheral View of the Origins of the Cold War: The Crises in Iran, 1941–47.” Diplomatic History 4(Fall 1980):333–351.
The American-Russian confrontation in Iran at the close of World War II has been regarded as one of the early clashes in what became known as the Cold War. It did not occur in a historical vacuum, however, and the actions of the Iranians themselves were a factor.
Early in the war the Iranian leadership saw the United States as a possible buffer against the British and the Russians, both of which had posed the greatest threats to Iranian sovereignty. The Iranian rulers sought American intervention, asking them to take over the operation of the main railway, and later (often with considerable exaggeration) informed the United States of every Soviet action in the area.
Internal politics in Iran pitted the Shah and the army against the police and a Parliament made up of a hodgepodge of at least eight factions of left to right persuasions. The Shah proved most adept at utilizing the old strategy of movanzansh (equilibrium), playing one side against the other. He secured American support for the army and also other advice and help.
By the end of the War, however, this strategy began to backfire, for all three—Great Britain, Russia and the United States—asked for various oil concessions. When Iran refused, it was Russia which reacted most firmly and thus insured that the United States would back the Iranians.
Americans often found it difficult to gain information about Russian actions in northern Iran. What was obtained has usually been filtered and distorted to suit the purposes of the Iranians. The Soviet-American confrontation intensified in 1945–46 as separatist forces pressed for autonomy in the face of repression by the Iranian government, whereupon the Russians began to support the insurgents. The Iranians continued to feed the Americans exaggerated reports of large Russian troop movements.
In his struggle with Parliament led by Prime Minister Ahmad Qavam, the American support of the Shah's army was critical. Qavam also opposed the Russians, but he was increasingly seen by American leaders as less anticommunist than the Shah.
When the Russian oil concession was cancelled in 1947, it is interesting that the Soviet analysis of what had occurred did not so much criticize the United States for promoting a policy of confrontation, but recognized the Iranian initiative as an aspect of internal power politics.