Marching to war

By Jamshid Ahmadi

From Morning Star, 2 August 2012

“War or peace? Today there is no more important question in world politics.
     “Having more or less confined the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan within the borders of those two states, the United States and its allies, Israel and Britain, have now turned their attention to Iran.”
     That’s a quotation from Iran Today, journal of the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights, four years ago. It’s just as relevant now.
     Today the United States and its allies are attempting to convince the world that their “missions” in Iraq and Afghanistan have been successful and are turning their attention to Iran and Syria.
     Having manipulated genuine and popular-democratic demands raised in Syria, the United States is now stoking and arming sectarian violence to deeply and bloodily divide the country. A Lebanon-style civil war—and a Lebanon-style “solution”—is the aim.
     With this in place, Syria would effectually be neutralised in any conflict with Iran. The so-called “Arab Spring” would be transformed into an Arab paralysis, with Israel given a clear run in its aggression against Iran.
     As the US presidential circus gathers momentum, it has been reported that Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, has briefed the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the type of military assistance the United States could give in any strike on Iran.
     The White House and US embassies around the world are refusing to comment, but with the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rattling his would-be presidential sabre, the incumbent is keen not to fall behind. Or perhaps it’s actually Romney who’s struggling to keep up in the race to war?
     This is not new. The very first edition of Rupert Murdoch’s Sun on Sunday had a screaming headline buried behind pages of celebrity gossip: “Britain’s Plan for Iran War.”
     “It is a matter of when not if war breaks out,” the article declared.
     The Sun on Sunday, like its predecessor, the News of the World, is desperate to prove itself the country’s cheerleader for NATO warmongering. With its millions of readers, its pronouncements cannot be lightly dismissed.
     But Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan. It cannot be easily characterised as an underdeveloped distant land populated solely by Islamic-style terrorists, where “our boys” could light up the skies with shock and awe.
     Of course all this presents the United States with a dilemma. It is one thing destabilising countries and governments it dislikes, but it has found to its cost that military intervention and exodus in the Middle East or Asia is another matter.
     The United States knows that while the Ahmadinejad government is unpopular—as recent mass demonstrations against increases in food prices in Nishapur and elsewhere illustrate—Iran is not a weak, backward country. And the Iranian people have experience of US and British intervention.
     Iran is a complex society. It is militarily well organised and stronger than any force the United States or Britain has faced directly since the Second World War. And the majority of Iran’s population of 75 million are of fighting age.
     These factors, together with destructive campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, have divided US ruling circles.
     Following Israel into Iran, or defending Israel against an Iranian counter-attack, might be easy in the early stages, but Iran and its undemocratic leadership are unlikely to roll over.
     Mitt Romney may want to follow in the footsteps of his hero, George Bush, but others are more cautious.
     However, it is not because war with Iran would be costly in lives and money, here or in Iran, that it is wrong: as foreign policy it is criminally insane. It is entirely unnecessary, posing a serious threat to all working people everywhere.
     The Iranian government is a theocratic dictatorship facing widespread opposition and crisis with President Ahmadinejad increasingly desperate to protect his own position and interests.
     Growing numbers of Iranians, including trade unionists and members of youth, women’s and students’ organisations, are calling for democratic change, while Ahmadinejad pursues his reckless anti-people social and economic policies. Furthermore, having picked a president through a rigged and widely disputed election in 2009, which was followed by the suppression of popular protest demonstrations, the regime itself is deeply divided.
     Iran has massive military capability—but it does not have nuclear weapons or the means to deliver them. The International Atomic Energy Agency has found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, and, in spite of US attempts to interfere in the IAEA’s terms of reference, inspections continue, with Iranian consent. There are firm grounds for reaching a negotiated settlement on essential points.
     There is therefore no “WMD” pretext for intervention. Unfortunately this has not been a barrier to NATO aggression in the past.
     Creating the myth of a foreign threat and having it internationally exposed has become an essential first step in preparations for war and NATO propaganda.
     Throughout the twentieth century, Britain and the United States established a shabby record of military interference and economic exploitation in Iran. It is a history the Iranian people well understand.
     The Islamic Republic’s leadership also has a history and practice of anti-democratic and fundamentalist attacks on Iranian working people and families. So war for them, just as for NATO and Western leaders, could be a useful short-term distraction from their own failings and the crises gripping their society.
     This correlation of history and experience is likely to galvanise the Iranian people to oppose foreign military aggression.
     It also risks letting Ahmadinejad and his criminal and corrupt clique off the hook.
     The West will pull out all the stops to ensure that the tragedies and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan fade from popular memory, providing fertile ground for a new war, a 21st-century catastrophe of unprecedented inhumanity.
     And there’s another significant factor in this unfolding and fragile situation. The only country in the region that actually has nuclear weapons is Israel. With many Arab countries in disarray, the Israelis are becoming more bellicose—at home, in Gaza, and towards Iran. We should not allow our so-called Israeli allies to drag us into the Third World War.
     With solidarity and respect, the Iranian people will continue their struggle for democracy and end the theocratic dictatorship to forge a new secular society. With negotiation, war is not inevitable.

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