The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 24.]
Sir: I have the honor to enclose a list of incidents in which members of the American armed forces in Iran have been involved and which have called for rather voluminous exchange of notes between the Legation and the Foreign Office.
These incidents cover a period of more than a year. They have not been brought to the Department’s attention prior to this date because they have reached serious proportions only within the last few months. Many of these accidents and incidents are trivial and in a number investigation has shown that no blame could be attributed to the Americans involved. However, the growing volume of complaints from the Foreign Office about the conduct of the American troops and the frequency of automobile accidents have made it necessary to report the matter in detail. I would prefer, of course, to send the Department copies of all correspondence upon the subject but regret that it is much too bulky for my staff to cope with. The enclosure will give the Department a general picture of the nature and frequency of the incidents which have tended to make each successive note from the Foreign Office sharper in tone.[Page 491]
I realize that when a great body of troops are moved into a foreign country, there are bound to be a number of incidents offensive to the nation playing host no matter how sincerely the guests may endeavor to prevent them. However, their volume in Iran is alarming and I fear that if there is no improvement in this situation, our position in Iran may deteriorate. The incidents of drunkenness are particularly offensive to a Mohammedan people. The automobile accidents cannot be prevented entirely since fast driving is often necessary in the all-important job of moving war material to the Soviet Union. It must be remembered, too, that Iranian pedestrians are extremely careless and are often responsible for accident. Many of the accidents have been caused by Iranian chauffeurs rather than by American personnel.
There is no doubt that the numerous accidents and the rather frequent incidents of drunkenness and rowdyism have had an adverse effect on American prestige in Iran. However, as I pointed out before our forces came to this country and have remarked subsequently, this was to a certain extent unavoidable. I am not yet prepared to state that the conduct of our forces is much worse than the average of occupying forces. … I suggest that for the moment we keep an open mind on the subject, meanwhile making every endeavor to bring about an improvement. I will keep the Department fully informed of developments.