History in the Making

Document Type



In 1953, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), together with the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), organized a coup to overthrow the democratically elected PrimeMinister Mohammad Mossadeq (1882-1967). While much has been written about the coup, little attention has been given to the U.S. propaganda that preceded the operation. From 1950 to 1953, the U.S. launched a series of propaganda campaigns in Iran. Drawing from U.S.-Iranian correspondences, memoirs, journal articles, and secondary sources, this paper seeks to shed light on the U.S. and CIA perceptions of Iranian receptivity to propaganda from 1950 to 1953. What did CIA officials like Kermit Roosevelt and Donald Wilber learn from this coup and why did they consider it a success? What were Henry F. Grady’s perceptions of the effects these propaganda tactics would create and why were they ignored or silenced? Going beyond our understanding of the coup and the reasons for why it was carried out, this research will deepen and enrich our knowledge of U.S. interventionist policies and the blowback that can come as a result of those policies.