The Minister in Iran ( Dreyfus ) to the Secretary of State

No. 671

Sir: With reference to my despatches Nos. 579 of June 10, 1943, 592 of June 26, 1943, and 627 of July 22, 1943, I have the honor to enclose translations of three notes from the Iranian Foreign Office, an editorial from the Tehran newspaper, Iran-E-Ma, and a letter from an Iranian citizen concerning the conduct of the American troops in Iran.81

I had hoped after bringing this matter forcibly to the attention of General Connolly (see Despatch No. 592 of June 26) that this situation would gradually show signs of improvement. Unfortunately this has not been the case. The incidents reported to the Legation both by the Foreign Office and by other organizations and individuals have not only shown no signs of a slackening but have as a matter of fact tended [Page 507] to increase. The American troops here have now thoroughly established a reputation for drunkenness, rowdyism and for a complete lack of respect for the sensibilities and customs of the local population. The cases of misconduct towards women are particularly offensive and it is reported that the streets of Tehran in the evening are at the moment places to be avoided by respectable women. I do not mean to imply that cases of assault are prevalent, which they are not, but instances of rude remarks, jostling and pinching are all too frequent.

I am convinced that this situation is unnecessary and that it could be easily corrected if the military authorities had any inclination in that direction. The crux of the matter would appear to be the fact that the troops being thoroughly unhappy in Iran are given a free rein by General Connolly in disciplinary matters …

We should not, in discussing this matter, however, lose sight of the fact that the presence of American troops on the streets of Iranian cities is not all for the bad. The lower classes particularly are impressed by the high spirits, cheerfulness, and especially by the friendliness of the soldiers they see on their streets. In certain instances the Iranians take an attitude the exact opposite of the one that would be expected. An Iranian friend of one of the officers of the Legation reported that one afternoon he saw a large crowd gathered near some property he owned, roaring with laughter and in great good humor. On investigation he found an American enlisted man in the center of the crowd going through the Mohammedan prayer ritual at the top of his lungs, repeating over and over again “Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar” and more words that he had picked up somewhere. One would expect the crowd to have been annoyed to say the least, but on the contrary they appeared to enjoy the performance as much as the soldier. The uninhibited behaviour of our men impresses the Iranians as the natural attributes of inhabitants of a free country as contrasted with their own where they would never dare behave in such a manner. Unfortunately any Iranians who may feel well disposed toward the loose conduct of the troops are not the ones in a position to affect our position in Iran. The country is still run by the wealthy upper classes and these classes bitterly resent the rowdyism they see all around them, and their opinion of Americans has dropped rapidly and is still dropping. The situation is bad and we must not close our eyes to the fact. It is time that measures were taken to improve this situation and the measures taken should not be half-hearted.

The War Department might be willing to instruct General Connolly to pay more attention to this important matter.

Respectfully yours,

Louis G. Dreyfus, Jr.
  1. Enclosures not printed.