1946 signified one year since the end of World War 2. In that year, the world went from a sigh of relief to an uneasy holding of breath, to glimpses of an uncertain future.
In this news and commentary by noted broadcast journalist Cedric Foster, the question of aid and relief to the millions of displaced people in Europe was countered with grumblings of disputes and threats of another war, albeit a Cold one, in the near future. The questions of aid and relief were being addressed and argued over by the newly UN Affiliated Relief And Rehabilitation Administration, with former New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia heading up the agency. La Guardia, never one to mince words, said flatly that he was going to buy food wherever it was available, if it meant saving lives. The inference was over the question of a sale of wheat by Argentina; at the time, a government on shaky political ground as far as the U.S. was concerned and under threat of economic sanctions by the U.S.
Domestic issues were also causing concern; food prices, price ceilings, threatened Coal Strikes – while Europe was dealing with the devastation of war, we were dealing with the adjustments of peace.
Also at issue was the growing concern over the influence of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, extending to parts of the Middle East. Most notably, Iran. Since the war, when the Allies, including Russia had set up an occupation of the country for the duration, getting the Soviet Union to withdraw once the war was over proved to be problematic.
In the aftermath of the occupation of Iran, those Allied forces agreed to withdraw from Iran within six months after the cessation of hostilities. However, when this deadline came in early 1946, the Soviets, under Joseph Stalin, remained in Iran and local pro-Soviet Iranians proclaimed a separatist People’s Republic of Azerbaijan. In late 1945, in addition to the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Mahabad also came into existence, fueled by Kurdish separatists. Soon, the alliance of the Kurdish and People’s Azerbaijani forces, supported in arms and training by the Soviet Union, engaged in fighting with Iranian forces, resulting in a total of 2,000 casualties. Negotiation by Iranian premier Ahmad Qavam and diplomatic pressure on the Soviets by the United States eventually led to Soviet withdrawal and dissolution of the separatist Azeri and Kurdish states. The crisis is seen as one of the early conflicts in the growing Cold War at the time.
So you thought 1946 was a dull year? Look closely – it was just heating up for round 2.
Here is that commentary by Cedric Foster for Mutual Broadcasting from approximately April 1946.