Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



Using Jowett and O’Donnell’s system of propaganda analysis, the present case study concentrates on America’s dominant propaganda messages, techniques, and media channels used in Iran during the time period between 1951 and 1953. The chosen period is of historical significance since it entails the Iranian nationalization of oil crisis and the 1953 coup against the government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq. The coup was the first CIA-sponsored covert operation against a foreign government and served as a model for subsequent operations elsewhere. An examination of the official correspondence of the major U.S. actors involved, as documented in the tenth volume of the Foreign Relations of the United States series, reveals that the primary objective of U.S. policy in Iran was to maintain Western control of the country’s oil resources as a means to curb Soviet power in the region. American officials realized that nationalism was a real and potent force in the country and that Mosaddeq enjoyed overwhelming public support. Frustrated with the failure of a negotiated settlement, the Truman administration began to secretly plan for covert action. The coup was eventually implemented under the Eisenhower administration. The nationalistic nature of Iranian public opinion which equated Russian and British forms of imperialism ran counter to American policies in the region. To mitigate this counter-productive mentality, the United States planned its propaganda programs to raise the desire of the Iranian people to resist communism. Thus, in the three years before the coup, U.S. propaganda messages concentrated on spreading an anti-communist ideology. In the months preceding the coup, the United States spent more than $1,000,000 in part to buy the allegiance of influential Iranian figures, such as deputies of the parliament, and to purchase the services of the controllable Iranian press. The CIA relied on black propaganda to reduce Mosaddeq’s popularity and legitimacy by, among other things, alleging that his actions were in line with the Tudeh Party (the Iranian communist party) and that he was an anti-religious individual. As a whole, the thesis shows the centrality of propaganda to U.S. foreign policy.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Richard Alan Nelson