FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Target: Iran

by LEE SUSTAR

A U.S. military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be used to repackage the occupation of Iraq as part of Washington’s “long war” on “radical Islam,” give Israel a blank check to crush the Palestinians and justify further U.S. imperial aggression in the Middle East.

That’s the logic of the growing U.S. efforts to force Iran to abandon its plan to enrich uranium–a process that is allowed under international treaties, but portrayed by the U.S. and its European sidekicks as a pretext for a nuclear weapons program.

The pressure is rising as Iran vows to begin enriching nuclear fuel and the United Nations Security Council prepares to discuss sanctions and other action against Iran.

The U.S. mainstream media–having swallowed the White House’s fabricated evidence of weapons of mass destruction to invade Iraq–is playing along once more. But one major difference this time is that the U.S. has all three main European Union (EU) governments–France, Britain and Germany–on board in a multilateral process.

Like the U.S., the EU doesn’t want Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, which would alter the balance of power in the Middle East and provide a deterrent to outside (i.e., imperialist) intervention. Thus, the main West European powers and Russia backed U.S. efforts to have the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

The Europeans, taking stock of Iran’s factionalized ruling government, are banking that the pressure will force Iran to make a deal and safeguard considerable European investments there–mainly in the oil and gas industry, but including auto assembly plants and more.

For his part, Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is trying to use the showdown to enforce unity in Iran’s divided ruling class. Elected last year after a populist campaign that promised to assist the poor left behind by the free-market policies of his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, Ahmadinejad has lost the political initiative.

His election promises have given way to repression against a bus drivers’ strike in Tehran. State-imposed religious law has antagonized middle-class liberals and students. And the business establishment, determined to hold on to Khatami’s free-market reforms, maneuvered in parliament to block Ahmadinejad’s nominee to head the all-important oil ministry.

By defending Iran’s nuclear program–which has broad support across Iranian society on a nationalist basis–Ahmadinejad hopes to regain support domestically.

Yet even if Iran is out to develop nuclear weapons, the government is years away from achieving such a goal.

* * *

WASHINGTON’S near-term aim isn’t to pre-empt Iranian nukes, but something far more immediate: downgrade the occupation of Iraq to a low-intensity conflict by using troops from the Iraqi puppet regime, while at the same time preserving the core of the occupation force to consolidate U.S. control over Persian Gulf oil.

The White House would retool the occupation of Iraq (and, for that matter, Afghanistan) by providing a new justification for the presence of U.S. troops–preventing Ahmadinejad from acquiring nuclear weapons and curbing Iran’s influence on the Shiite Muslim parties that rule Iraq.

A full-scale invasion of Iran isn’t on the agenda for the overstretched U.S. military, and key players in Washington would rather have the Iranian government capitulate without having to use force. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has downplayed the possibility of a military strike, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is pushing $75 million to fund Iranian opposition groups to try to achieve “regime change” from within.

Nevertheless, Dick Cheney himself last year ordered a study of a plan for an attack on Iran–and leading politicians are beating the war drums, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).

Alternatively, the job could also be subcontracted to Israel, where an election campaign has seen politicians promising to take a hard line with both the new Hamas administration of the Palestinian Authority and Ahmadinejad, who has said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

The U.S. is already preparing to back Israel in a program of economic sanctions against Hamas, and Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric–including denial of the Holocaust–is being used by the Bush administration as a pretext for a tougher line. If Hamas makes good on its plan to get financial aid from Iran to bypass U.S.-Israeli sanctions, the two crises could quickly fuse.

What’s driving this confrontation isn’t Hamas or the Iranian government, however, but the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Israel’s attempts to strengthen its hold on Palestine. Both efforts are increasingly portrayed as a struggle against “radical Islam”–and the crisis over the anti-Muslim Danish cartoon has been used to further this agenda.

Confronting Islam, in fact, is precisely the perspective put forward in the new the Quadrennial Defense Review–the Pentagon’s strategic document that comes out for a “long war” against terrorism.

“The enemies in this war are not traditional conventional military forces, but rather dispersed, global terrorist networks that exploit Islam to advance radical political aims,” the document declares. “These enemies have the avowed aim of acquiring and using nuclear and biological weapons to murder hundreds of thousands of Americans and others around the world…Currently, Iraq and Afghanistan are crucial battlegrounds, but the struggle extends far beyond their borders. With its allies and partners, the United States must be prepared to wage this war in many locations simultaneously, and for some years to come.”

* * *

SOME YEARS to come. That phrase should dispel any illusion that the U.S. occupation of Iraq will come to an end without much more pressure from the antiwar movement in the U.S., as well as the Iraqi resistance.

The drawdown of U.S. troops and plans for the “Iraqification” of the occupation is aimed at keeping Iraq under Washington’s control–at a more acceptable military, political and economic cost.

That’s the argument of Edward Luttwak, a veteran player in the U.S. foreign policy establishment and a cheerleader for the U.S.-NATO war over Kosovo in 1999. Luttwak caused a stir among his peers with his article last autumn in Foreign Affairs, entitled, “Iraq: The Logic of Disengagement”–a play on Howard Zinn’s famous book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal.

“U.S. military operations in Iraq could…be reduced without adverse consequence,” Luttwak wrote. “The most prudent option would be an orderly disengagement of U.S. troops carefully coordinated with all forces, both official and militia. Some U.S. forces might remain indefinitely, as long as both the United States and the Iraqi government desired, to stabilize the country and dissuade foreign intrusions.”

To Luttwak, reducing troop levels in Iraq doesn’t mean a U.S. retreat from the Middle East, but a consolidation of Washington’s domination of the region as a whole. That’s why he argued in a recent opinion piece that in the event of a U.S. attack on Iran, ethnic minorities in that country “might welcome the humiliation of their oppressors” in the Persian ruling class.

This is a replay of the prediction that U.S. troops would be greeted as “liberators” in Iraq, updated for Iran–and is just as nonsensical.

If the same lies used to justify the Iraq war are being recycled to prepare for military strikes on Iran, it’s because the entire aim of U.S. imperialism since the September 11, 2001 attacks has been to lock in Washington’s dominance of the Middle East, Central Asia and the oil resources to be found there.

The U.S. simply can’t admit defeat and pull out of Iraq. If it is losing its grip, it must try to get a better hold–and widening the war under the banner of stopping “radical Islam” is as good excuse as any.

There is a precedent for the U.S. widening a losing war: the “secret” U.S. invasion and bombings of Cambodia and Laos in 1970 to try to turn the tide in Vietnam.

As Noam Chomsky wrote then, “[T]he American policy of ‘anti-Communism’–to be more precise, the effort to prevent the development of indigenous movements that might extricate their societies from the integrated world system dominated by American capital–draws the American government, step by fateful step, into an endless war against the people of Asia, and, as an inevitable concomitant, toward harsh repression and defiance of law at home.”

Substitute “radical Islam” for “communism” and “Middle East” for “Asia,” and the analysis applies just as well today.

Washington’s war drums over Iran aren’t merely an election-year distraction or diplomatic maneuver. They’re an urgent warning that the antiwar movement in the U.S. needs to broaden its perspective to include opposition to the entire U.S. imperialist project in the Middle East.

LEE SUSTAR is a regular contributor to CounterPunch and the Socialist Worker. He can be reached at: lsustar@ameritech.net

 

 

 

LEE SUSTAR is the labor editor of Socialist Worker

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Honduras Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sandes Must Demand Answers
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Gilbert Mercier
Donald Trump: Caligula of the Lowest Common Denominator Empire?
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Robert Dodge
On President Obama’s Hiroshima Visit
Andrew Moss
Bridge to Wellbeing?
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
May 26, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
Pepe Escobar
Hillary Clinton: A Major Gold-Digging Liability
Sam Pizzigati
America’s Cosmic Tax Gap
Ramzy Baroud
Time to End the ‘Hasbara’: Palestinian Media and the Search for a Common Story
José L. Flores
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
Patrick Cockburn
The Battle of Fallujah: ISIS Unleashes Its Death Squads
John Feffer
The Coming Drone Blowback
Alex Ray
The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail