The Chargé in Iran (Merriam) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 13.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 1003 of February 26, 1937, with respect to the delivery of second-class mail matter in Iran.
The general prohibition against delivery lasted for about two weeks only. At the end of that time publications were again received from all countries but the United States. The situation thus reverted to the pre-French crisis status with the exception that while American publications which had been mailed out from various European and Near Eastern countries were delivered prior to the French trouble, after it they were no longer delivered. Apparently the Imperial Police had discovered this method of evading the restriction. As a consequence, the Legation has not been receiving Departmental and other [Page 730] second-class mail matter forwarded by our Despatch Agent in London since the early part of January.
In this treatment of French mail and British mail, as contrasted with the treatment accorded American mail, there is manifest discrimination. By any impartial standard it seems obvious that the American press during the past year has given no more cause for complaint than the French or the British press. The American press has produced nothing, for example, to compare, in general offensiveness, with Innocence and Design, a book which appeared under a London imprint, and with which the Department is acquainted.
Under the circumstances, it seemed that representations to the Foreign Office of some sort were clearly indicated at an early moment while the facts giving rise to the discrimination were still fresh. On the other hand, the Legation did not feel that the matter justified expenditure for a long telegram of explanation to the Department in order to obtain authorization to protest. Accordingly, the expedient was adopted of formulating the approach as an inquiry, a request for information which would necessarily be laid before the Department. The conversations which have been held on the subject are enclosed herewith in the form of memoranda. The reply of the Foreign Office, however, cannot be expected prior to the return of the Shah, which is expected on March 27th, from his journey in the south.
It may be added that it seemed best to take advantage of the favorable atmosphere now existing due to the recent consummation of the Hart concessions.17 It would have been unfair to Mr. Hart to inject a delicate element of this sort before his concessions were legally completed on the Iranian side, but now that they are complete this objection has lost its force.
Admittedly, the whole question is one to be handled with caution. But the French have now been tarred with the same brush as ourselves; they received a very thin coating, quickly removed, whereas we have been wearing a very thick one for a long time. To the Legation it has seemed justifiable at this time to ask the simple question: “Why?”