Japanese and German Doubts on U.S. Iran War Drumbeat

Japan since 1945 has been the most abjectly deferential of U.S., even more so than the U.K. Tokyo rarely strays far from Washington’s line on any global issue. It notoriously supported the Iraq wars if 1991 and 2003-present, both based on lies. Japan’s loyalty, like Britain’s is strategic; while all alliances with the U.S. are promoted as based on “common values” they are mainly based on capital and global capitalists’ needs. Both the U.. and Japan are for the time being part of the U.S. imperialist camp, under strong pressure to side with it when it decides to provoke war.

When George W. Bush turned to Tony Blair’s Britain and asked for support for a war on Iraq, Blair became Bush’s poodle. The slavish cooperation with the U.S. in that disastrous, criminal war remains a matter of national shame. Germany and France avoided that by noting that the U.S.’s case was weak if not based on fabrications. They showed it is possible for major allies to defy the U.S., (although recall how enraged members of Congress were at France’s betrayal).

Last week two tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman and the U.S. immediately blamed Iran. Almost immediately
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt declared: “We are going to make our own independent assessment, we have our processes to do that, (but) we have no reason not to believe the American assessment and our instinct is to believe it because they are our closest ally.”

The German foreign minister Heiko Maas on the other hand, responding to U.S. “evidence,” stated blandly, “The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me.” Maas visited Tehran last week to try to mediate between the U.S. (which wants conflict with Iran) and Iran (which wants to avoid conflict).

Meanwhile Japan (the world’s third largest economic power, just ahead of Germany) also doubts the U.S. accusations against Iran, designed to justify war. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was in Iran holding talks with top leaders when a Japanese-owned tanker bound for Singapore was attacked by what the U.S. claims was an Iranian attack.

“The U.S. explanation has not helped us go beyond speculation,” says one senior government official, while an Abe aide says, “These are not definite proof that it’s Iran. Even if it’s the United States that makes the assertion, we cannot simply say we believe it.”

Apparently the Japanese around Abe lack the British instinct to swallow U.S. bullshit. Worse, they are asking uncomfortable questions. The anonymous Foreign Ministry source notes that while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims that “only Iran” had the capability to conduct the tanker attacks, this is simply not true. “That would apply to the United States and Israel as well,” says the rational skeptic.

Yes, people in the Japanese foreign Ministry are suggesting that the U.S. or Israel might have staged “false flag” attacks to justify a military attack on Iran. It’s good that they’re wondering.

Japan has every reason to seek cordial relations with a fellow Asian nation it has traded with since the eighth century. Japan has been one of Iran’s largest oil customers. The U.S. command that Japan end all trade with Iran offends national dignity. Worse, the U.S. effort to sabotage the Iran Deal and assert what the Chinese call “long arm jurisdiction” tramples on nations’ sovereignty. And the expectation that all nations accept U.S. conclusions about its foes’ actions (the Syrian government’s alleged use of sarin gas, the Libyan government’s supposed genocidal intentions) is insufferably arrogant.

The world is tired of U.S. lies. They did not start with Donald Trump, a pathological liar who may genuinely believe—in the moment—that his father was born in Germany, or that Obama was born in Kenya. The U.S. has been losing credibility for many years, while the crimes attending its wars-based-on-lies have spread fear and hatred of this country.

Awhile back National Security Advisor John Bolton had a plan to overthrow the democratically elected , internationally recognized government of Venzuela. He announced U.S. recognition of a pretender, and secured European support for him; this was routine procedure, whipping the allies into compliance. It was announced that “the international community” was backing the U.S. puppet. But this imagined “community” excluded China, Russia, India and most countries. There was some saber-rattling, but the crisis has apparently passed.

Perhaps annoyed at this failure, Bolton turned his attention to Iran, arranging for Trump to declare an “emergency” (ostensibly due to some Iranian moves, but really to allow for delivery of arms without Congressional oversight to Saudi Arabia). Having declared that bogus emergency, he has arranged a bogus crisis involving alleged, possibly staged attacks on tankers off Iran. Britain’s Conservatives are saying, fine, we’re on board. But the Germans and Japanese are balking.

Recall that Germany and Japan were the U.S.’s two main antagonists in the Second World War. Their defeat resulted in occupation and obligatory alliance with the occupying power. There are today 56,000 U.S. troops in Japan and 35,000 in Germany; these are the largest deployments outside the U.S. Pompeo and Bolton want these nations to fall in line with their policy of toppling the Iranian regime and transforming Iran into a bastion of U.S. and Israeli influence in a refashioned Middle East dominated by the Saudi-Israeli anti-Shiite alliance.

The neocons’ dreams of a U.S.-dominated Middle East are just that—fantasies. They fantasized in 2011 that they could pull together pro-U.S. forces in Syria to topple the corrupt regime. They were unable to recruit anyone. They fantasized that the vicious toppling of Gadhafy in Libya would bring pro-U.S. forces to power in Libya that same year. But Libya remains in chaos. There is no respect in the world for U.S. “leadership” in any issue pertaining to the Middle East.

Instead, the U.S. is associated with lies; calculated, dishonest manipulation of information to condition public opinion; massive, intrusive global surveillance and violation of billions of persons’ privacy; persecution of whistle-blowers who reveal its war crimes, record of prison torture, and systemic political corruption. So when these war mongers ask the world to join them in condemning Iranian attacks in the Gulf of Oman, and the world responds: “Wait…we don’t believe you any more… You’ve cried ‘wolf’ too many times…”

In Japanese, there’s no exact equivalent to saying “Fuck you!” This is due, I think, to the fact that in Japanese culture fucking is an unequivocal good, and so to wish it on somebody would be to pronounce a benediction (“may you be fucked!”). It doesn’t make sense as an insult. The closest equivalent is “Shine!” which means “Die!”

Thus for the Japanese to say “Fuck you” to Pompeo, Bolton, and Trump would be to say “Death to U.S. imperialism!” which is exactly what they and the Germans and we and everybody else should be saying.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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