Memorandum of an Audience Given to the American Minister (Philip) by Reza Shah Pahlavi, April 14, 192720
Alluding to the object of the audience the Minister said to the Shah that before His Majesty’s departure from Teheran when the Minister had asked for an audience he had heard certain rumors to the effect that His Majesty was not satisfied with the services of the American Mission. He had therefore wished to go directly to His Majesty and try to find out whether they were true and if so what was wrong and whether he (Minister) could assist in solving a possible misunderstanding, etc. He had heard that conditions had since improved.
The Shah replied it was true that he had expressed dissatisfaction with the American Mission. This has not been caused by any personal matters, and his Majesty had no motives. He was thinking exclusively of the interests of the country. He had from the beginning been one of the strongest supporters of the American Mission for he realized the country was in need of the services of this Mission. He had praised and commended those members of the mission who had served satisfactorily, and he had criticized those whose services were not satisfactory. He believed those who had served well should be asked to continue their services and those whose services were not satisfactory should be replaced either by some of the present members of the Mission or by some new ones.
Dr. Millspaugh’s methods of action were not satisfactory to the government and if he failed to improve in this respect the government would be compelled to replace him either by one of the members of the present mission or by engaging a new man.
Upon the Minister expressing a desire to know what actions of Dr. Millspaugh were unsatisfactory the Shah said he violated the laws. He wrote provoking letters to the government. Instead of presenting a quarterly report of his activities, as had been provided in his contract, he published pamphlets in which he wrote things which were provoking to the government and which created bad impressions against the country in the eyes of foreigners as well as Persians.
The Minister said he would appreciate it if the Shah would confide in him the cases in which Dr. Millspaugh had violated the laws, for that was exactly what he wished very much to know. He said personally he had a great admiration for Dr. Millspaugh and that his government and the American people believed the American Mission had made much success and that it[s] success was chiefly due to the leadership of Dr. Millspaugh. The Minister had spoken to every member except, possibly, one of the Mission and he had been told by all of [Page 550]them that Dr. Millspaugh was the spirit of the Mission and without him it would have been unable to accomplish what already had been done. He believed that no member of the present Mission would be able to replace Dr. Millspaugh as successfully. The Minister could probably suggest several men in America who might be highly qualified to replace Dr. Millspaugh, but it is doubtful if any of them would be available and if so it is probable that their service would command as much as seventy five to one hundred thousand dollars annually.
Dr. Millspaugh might have his own weaknesses, but his value should be judged from a comparison of his defects with his good qualities. Somebody had said to the Minister Dr. Millspaugh might have twenty undesirable qualities, but he also had sixty (80) good qualities. He would therefore be better than another who might be found to have 50 good qualities and 50 bad qualities. He had good motives. He was sincerely devoted to his duty which was to serve Persia as well as he could, etc.
The Shah said he had written documents which proved that Dr. Millspaugh had violated the laws. According to his contract, which was a law, he was to do things with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance. He had failed to do this. He would say Dr. Millspaugh had 99 good qualities and but one undesirable: that was his disregard for the dignity of government. This was a very grave thing. It was enough to obliterate all his advantages. Unless he changed in this respect the government would be obliged to terminate his contract even if that might result in difficulties for the government. The government preferred to be in difficulties and be independent, rather than be comfortable and be deprived of that independence.
He could not see why it would be difficult to find a new man who could take the place of Dr. Millspaugh, or to replace him by one of the present members of the Mission.
The Minister said he had heard rumors of agitations against the Mission created by elements which were inspired from selfish motives. Of course he was not in a position to judge of the truth of these rumors, but he could see that if anybody had the desire to weaken the Mission the best method of going about it would be to attack the position of Dr. Millspaugh. He admitted Dr. Millspaugh was a student and a man of the desk rather than a courtier or a diplomat, and that in the cultivation of relations with men rather than facts he was at a certain disadvantage. It was a fact, however, that those who were in charge of finances and the control of expenditures throughout the world were not generally popular with those who were affected by their rulings. This is the same [Page 551]in the United States as elsewhere. But there it is generally accepted and appreciated as an effort to benefit the country as a whole.
He added that the members of the Mission were in a state of uncertainty in regard to whether or not their contracts would be renewed and it would be useful if a decision in regard to this subject could be taken at an early date.
The Shah said he was prepared to support the work of Dr. Millspaugh with his sword, even if he reduced his own salary or that of his son. He paid no attention to intrigues for he was convinced that the American Mission was very useful to Persia. The government would surely renew the contracts of the members of the Mission. He believed, and he said to Dr. Millspaugh, that in the future the government will benefit more from the services of the Mission than in the past. For in the past the members of the Mission had been acquiring experience and in the future they would be in a position to use that experience. If Dr. Millspaugh’s contract was to be renewed the government should be assured that he would improve his methods of dealing with it. If he did not undertake to improve those methods the government would have to amend his contract so that he would be in a position wherein he would not be able to exercise them. If none of these things could be done the government would have to replace him.
He agreed with the Minister that Dr. Millspaugh had much improved his methods during the past few months, and he expressed the hope that he would remain that way.
The Minister offered his services in case it was ever felt that he could assist in improving conditions. The United States Government was only interested in the successful accomplishment of the task which the American Financial Mission had undertaken. His government and the American people admired His Majesty for the great work that he had up to the present done for his country and they sincerely hoped that he would be able to do more in the future.
The Shah appreciated the cordial sentiments that the President of the United States had expressed in regard to him on various occasions, to Persians as well as to others who had visited the United States. America was young but her people were full of energy. They naturally liked energetic men.
- Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister as an enclosure to his despatch No. 319, Apr. 21; received May 21.↩