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126. Memorandum From the Chief of the Political Action Division, Directorate of Plans ([name not declassified]) to the Acting Chief of the Political and Psychological Warfare Division, Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency ([name not declassified])1


  • Attached Program to Support the Shah, from NE–4

1. If the briefing on Thornburg in our last meeting with NEA was inadequate, [name not declassified] will forward a brief biography at your request. As you will see from the attachments to the main paper, [Page 360] Thornburg is full of ideas if occasionally vague as to their implementation and not always aware of area problems.2

2. As for the program, I find it basically sound but “sensitive” and, with due regard for proper operational security, most difficult to phase.

3. The appearance of George Allen on a general Middle Eastern tour is bound to draw Soviet fire from the onset which, however, ought to dissipate to some extent by the time he gets to Iran. What Allen can do with the willy-nilly Shah is the moot question.

4. Other problems that you undoubtedly will be interested in are:

a. The question of the British. It seems to me that we cannot take unilateral action in Iran without, at least, their concurrence. It will certainly require considerable diplomacy in winning them over to this plan.

b. [1 paragraph (3½ lines) not declassified]

c. Timing will be a vital problem once the program is translated into a project.

5. Once you have reviewed this program, the obvious next step is to get Byroade or Jernegan in State to study it.3

[name not declassified]

[Page 361]


Memorandum From a Consultant to the Near East and Africa Division ([name not declassified]) to the Chief of the Near East and Africa Division, Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Roosevelt)

October 9, 1952.


  • Comments on Suggested NE–4 Program to Support the Shah

I agree with NE–4’s estimate of the Shah’s character, which is the key to the success or failure of such a program. [2½ lines not declassified] Accordingly, it would appear that a one-shot approach by Ambassador Allen would have at best an ephemeral effect on the Shah’s morale and determination. There seems to be some possibility, however, that Allen’s appointment as chief of mission, with the opportunity of renewing his close and influential friendship with the Shah, might provide a continuing stimulus and incentive to the latter. The State Department has in the past given some unenthusiastic thought to the reassignment of Allen to Tehran, but NEA thought there were strong disadvantages in returning an ambassador to a post which he had previously held. The implied disapproval of Amb. Henderson which such an appointment would entail would probably also be a serious deterrent from the Department’s point of view.

In any event, at the present time and for the foreseeable future, it seems doubtful in the extreme that any action by the Shah could go beyond the excellent suggestions on p. 3 (para. 6.c). Even the possibility of these limited actions gives rise to some doubt, in view of the Prime Minister’s attitude towards the Shah who, at least for a time, was virtually a prisoner who was discouraged from contacts with foreign chiefs of mission. Nevertheless, there would certainly be advantages in urging the Shah to undertake the tasks set forth in para. 6.c, both as a means of diluting the influence of the other contenders for power and as a means of gauging realistically the prospects for more positive action by him at some future time.

[2 lines not declassified] In particular, however, our efforts should be directed towards establishing contacts with Army elements, since the Army’s capabilities for taking positive action are wholly unclear and these require careful examination as a prerequisite to appraising the real prospects of the program. Such examination would necessarily be a time-consuming operation, but an essential one.

[Page 362]

It is felt that the formal presentation of the program in question should leave no doubts in the minds of higher authority that it should be und127dertaken solely as an exploratory operation offering little assurance of success, in view of the many intangibles and the absence of flexible instrumentalities which could be utilized in support of the program.

[name not declassified]
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Intelligence, Job 80B01676R, Box 41, Folder 20, Shah of Iran Operations. Secret; Security Information.
  2. See Documents 117 and 118. In the margin is a handwritten note by [name not declassified] to Kermit Roosevelt that reads: “Kim—will appreciate your keeping me informed of the progress of the proposal.”
  3. On October 24, [name not declassified], Special Assistant for Liaison with the Department of State, wrote a memorandum to NEA/CPP stating, “I discussed this matter in State with Mr. Berry, who said you would find one hundred per cent support in the Department of State for the premise that Mr. Thornburg’s program, based as it is on strong action by the Shah of Iran, is completely unrealistic. He said that he had discussed this problem with Mr. Joyce, who concurred. If the Shah were such a man as his father had been, Thornburg’s suggestions might prove of value. As it is, there is a universal acceptance in the Department of State of the view that the personality of the Shah is such that he would be incapable of carrying out the action suggested by Mr. Thornburg.” (Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Intelligence, Job 80B01676R, Box 41, Folder 20, Shah of Iran Operations)