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Rumors of war and echoes of 2003 are once again proliferating in the press. From left organs like CounterPunch to the Jerusalem Post and the New York Times, stories about Israeli intentions against Tehran and US/Europe plans for Syria continue to pepper newspaper pages.
I hope I’m wrong, but it might be prudent to begin mobilizing against a potential war in the Middle East again. The ongoing civil war in Syria (which Washington and other capitols are just itching to get into) and the upswing in threats against Iran from Tel Aviv makes this time crucial. Furthermore, the upcoming US election means that military action could be as close as November no matter who wins the White House.
In recent months there has been a flurry of bills, all of them designed to isolate Iran (and the current Syrian regime) in the name of regional security and democracy. When Washington addresses regional security in the Middle East, what is really meant is Israel’s security. When Washington says it wants democracy in the Middle East, it means that Washington wants easy access to the Middle East’s energy resources and its markets. Since the inception of Israel, Washington has been convinced that the best way to achieve this is by supporting Israel and its expansionist blueprint. Indeed, one of the aforementioned bills currently in committee in the Congress is known as the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012. One more tie that binds the Washington and Tel Aviv together in their unholy arrangement, this bill would expand the role for Israel within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises.
Like Ron Paul (who occasionally has some useful insights about the US Empire) said on May 10, 2012 to the members of the House of Representatives, “This bill’s real intent seems to be more saber-rattling against Iran and Syria, and it undermines U.S. diplomatic efforts by making clear that the U.S. is not an honest broker seeking peace for the Middle East. The bill calls for the United States to significantly increase our provision of sophisticated weaponry to Israel, and states that it is to be U.S. policy to “help Israel preserve its qualitative military edge” in the region. While I absolutely believe that Israel–and any other nation–should be free to determine for itself what is necessary for its national security, I do not believe that those decisions should be underwritten by U.S. taxpayers and backed up by the U.S. military.”
Unlike the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the almost complete opposition to that war on the left side of the political spectrum, there are some left leaning individuals willing to support NATO intervention in Syria and even in Iran. This shortsighted and ultimately naive stance accepts the humanitarian interventionist lingo of the warmongers at face value and believes that the capitols of the interventionists have no ulterior motives. In short, they seem to believe that the only reason why the US and its allies are arming some Syrian rebels, providing them with intelligence, and have placed an armada in the seas surrounding Iran and Syria, is because they believe in the right of the Syrian people to self-determination. The current desire of NATO to intervene in Syria has only so much to do with the Assad regime’s brutality. After all, the US rendition program took advantage of that brutality for years in its efforts to extract information from suspects it had captured. The underlying (and actual) reason Washington wants to intervene is because Syria is in the way of Washington (and Tel Aviv’s) plans for the region. This has been the case for decades. The current civil war provides those interested in intervention for imperial reasons a humanitarian cover. Given the history of Europe and the US in the region, especially in regards to these two nations, believing this lie goes beyond naiveté. Indeed, it requires an almost complete denial of historical fact. For supposed anti-imperialists to support any intervention by imperialist forces automatically renders their anti-imperialism moot.
For those of us who have not given up our anti-imperialism, it is at least time to refresh our email lists and bookmarks in regards to the ongoing threat of war in the Middle East. It would be even better if a movement developed similar to the 2002-2003 movement against war in Iraq. Learning from that movement requires that antiwar organizers organize those who might vote for Obama, but should not allow his political party to become involved. Doing so risks once again rendering the movement ineffective should Obama win re-election since the Democratic establishment would divert the movement like it has in the past. In addition, it would do little to enhance the understanding that Washington’s wars are not specific to a political party, but to the economic system that drives the nation. A recent bit of news regarding Iraq provides a bit of insight regarding that economy: “Oil production in the country has been slowly but steadily climbing since the end of the war as the Iraqi government and partners such as Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron and Total work to repair existing fields and hunt for new sources.” In other words, the US invasion and occupation of Iraq may have destroyed a generation of Iraqis, but the oil profits are starting to come in, so all is well. If one knows the history of Iran, they will understand that this is one of Washington’s hopes for that nation, too.
So, what can be done? There are a few organizations opposed to war against Iran with an infrastructure in place. These include the Iran Pledge of Resistance, the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran, and Stop War on Iran. In addition, groups that were instrumental in organizing national protests against the war in Iraq are also running campaigns opposed to an attack on Iran. These two groups, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and the International Action Center (IAC), have been at odds in the past because of their political differences, but will hopefully work together should Iran be attacked. As far as the threat of direct NATO intervention (including “no-fly” zones) in Syria is concerned, only the International Action Center and the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) have issued clear statements opposing such action. In addition, the UNAC has also issued a call for local groups and individuals to take to the streets should there be a military intervention in either Iran or Syria.
The time to act is nigh.
Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. He can be reached at: email@example.com.