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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
US workers must oppose an attack on Iran.
The Iranian regime is a theocratic dictatorship that has a brutal record towards workers and especially women. But this wouldn't bother the folks in Washington if Iran was willing to be a trusted servant of the energy corporations in the area.
Iran of course is part of the original axis of evil that included Iraq and North Korea. Now I guess there are two members as Iraq has been saved. Matthew Kroenig writing in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs* says the US must seize the time and attack Iran. It's is madness but the capitalist class is not driven by personal likes or dislikes as witnessed by the US government's parleying with the hated Taliban in Doha. It's almost like a return to the old pre-1999 relationship when every Taliban official was on the payroll of the US government. Politics makes strange bedfellow as they say.
The US or any other country has no real credibility telling Iran it can't have nuclear power, or nuclear weapons. The Israeli's are armed to the teeth and refuse not only to allow inspections but to even discuss the issue. The Iranians are not stupid. Apart from the historical meddling in Iran's political and economic life on the part of British and US imperialism, including orchestrating the coup that overthrew the secular democratic regime of Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 and installing the murderous Shah, the Iranians see the devastation and horror US capitalism has inflicted on the Iraqi people and their country and don't feel like going through the same experience. The Mullahs happened to notice that the US never invaded North Korea. No matter what we think of the religious nuts that run Iran, they owe their overblown presence to outside interference on the part of western capital.
Those opposing attacking Iran for no reason "fail to appreciate the true danger" writes Kroenig, a former adviser to the US Secretary of Defense. The "danger" Kroenig is referring to is not that Iran will launch an attack on the infidels, meaning you and me or that it will invade its neighbors simply for the pleasure of it; the danger as Kroenig so rightly puts it is that "A nuclear armed Iran would immediately limit US freedom of action in the Middle East." The danger is that with atomic power meaning possibly nuclear weapons it would force "Washington to think twice before acting in the region". It would hurt western oil companies ability to plunder the wealth of the region.
It is not an accident that US imperialism didn't lay waste to North Korea, a pathetically poor country that was devastated in the war we call the Korean War but that possesses nuclear weapons. When the US invaded Iraq without provocation it invaded a country already devastated by years of war and sanctions. An unarmed opponent is the most preferable as you lose the least possible number of your own cannon fodder.
Kroenig admits that the Iranians are not so stupid as to "...intentionally launch a suicidal nuclear war." But he is concerned that the "volatile nuclear balance between Iran and Israel could easily spiral out of control as a crisis unfolds.". There is absolutely no reason for Iran to launch a nuclear war. It is the predatory actions of US capitalism and its proxy Israel that is driving the crisis in the Middle East along with the Saudi's who also fear losing their share of the plunder of the region's natural resource. At the behest of Washington, the Saudi's (among the most barbaric of US capitalism's allies that recently beheaded a woman for sorcery) sent troops in to Bahrain to suppress a movement for democratic reforms and religious freedom in that absolute monarchy. Tell me, is that what the American revolution was about, defending monarchists?
Kroenig says that containing Iran, whether combined with a direct attack on its facilities or simply through sanctions and other means would be a costly and long-term venture. It would mean the US taxpayer would have to "devote perhaps billions of dollars to improving its allies' capability to defend themselves." and that these costs would need to remain in place "as long as Iran remained hostile to U.S. interests, which could mean decades or longer." As workers we should consider who we are arming here with our tax dollars; the Saudi beheaders who also have religious police that come round to your home to make sure you are practicing the right brand of religion. The kings of Jordan and Bahrain, the new dictator of Yemen if Washington can install a new one over the objections of the mass of the population and so on. Kroenig does have his preference and has faith in our weaponry that Iran's air defenses would not "survive an attack from from the US military's new bunker-busting bomb, the 30,000 pound Massive Ordinance Penetrator..." Thirty thousand pounds; what sort of damage does an object of that size do to a community? And if we support this foreign policy, we can't complain about the loss of social services, jobs, living standards and the collapse of our social infrastructure here at home.
Kroenig is a product of the system of which he is a dominant theoretician. He is driven to such conclusions by the laws of the system. There are differences between sections of the capitalist class on how to proceed, just as there are differences between them on how to win the war against US workers at home, but in the last analysis, the military might and power of a nation state will be used to protect the economic interests of the class that governs. It's hard to imagine how Kroenig, no doubt a well educated fellow, can even argue that the Iraq war is "winding down.". The mess the US has created in Iraq is beginning to mature further in to a struggle between three major factions threatening to split the nation.
Iran undoubtedly has imperialist and expansionist intentions, all capitalist nations do. But it is not Iran we need fear in the Middle East. It is US foreign policy, a foreign policy that is driving not only the growth of what are referred to as terrorist groups but also the arms race internationally. The US has some 70 bases surrounding various countries throughout the world, including Russia and China. Is this in our interest as workers? Does it endear the workers of other nations to us? I don't think so, just the opposite, it makes it easier for the governments of those nations to win their workers to their side---the Team Concept at the national level.
For most workers we understand in our gut that there are two sides in society. When we see picket lines we know which side is ours even when people cross them. I remember when I was getting a fair bit of flack at work for refusing (and ripping off) "United We Stand" flags from my backhoe asking a guy if he would use such a slogan in the event of strike, that the workers and bosses should stand united. He agreed not of course---he would choose his side, the side of his class.
Well this is what we have to do when we consider the actions of US capitalism in Iran or throughout the world. We have to stand with the Iranian workers, not the Mullahs and not the thugs in Washington who are far more dangerous and have caused much more death and destruction than the Mullahs, only for the reason that they have a bigger stick.
The difficulty for us is that we have no independent political voice. We have no party of our own and there is no significant social force that can provide a real alternative, a working class alternative based on class solidarity domestically and internationally. The Iranian workers want to live a decent life as do the Saudi's and all workers throughout the Middle East including Israel. The Union leadership does this in a limited way but in the last analysis they support capitalism and the market and defend the interests of the capitalist class of our own nation states in their rapacious and murderous struggle with their global rivals for world dominance and control of global resources---- just like they support the bosses at home. They make protectionist arguments that we should "buy American" in other words, side with our bosses rather than unite with workers internationally against all bosses, theirs and ours. They have the same view of the world as the bosses'; this is the basis for their disastrous policies.
The Occupy Wall Street Movement has threatened this world view. With whatever faults this movement may have (aversion to political struggle for example) it has challenged the dominant bourgeois ideology in society. It has shifted the focus away from the poor, the immigrants, workers like myself (Heavens forbid that I should have a retirement I can live on) and the costs of public services etc. The Occupy Movement has raised a clear class slogan on its banner, the 99% versus the 1%. Some have criticized this as people they don't feel should be in the 99% are claiming to be in it. But while it may not be the most clear expression of class difference it is a giant leap from what we have been experiencing for the last 40 years. The OWS movement has put our enemies on the defensive.
Building a mass movement on the ground based on direct action tactics and mass defiance of their laws as well as building a political alternative to the two Wall Street Parties that can throw back this offensive of capital is crucial if we are to win. Such a development would also allow us to speak to the workers of the world in our own voice, expressing our own class interests as opposed to having representatives of Wall Street like Obama, Cheney, Romney or anyone of them. The Arab and Iranian workers have oil under their feet; they can't eat it, but they justifiably want a say in how this resource is used and distributed. The inherent competitive nature of the capitalist system does not allow for the free and equal association of producers to determine how this is to be done. If we do not liberate the productive forces from the clique that control them we cannot survive.
* Time to Attack Iran: Foreign Affairs Jan/Feb 2012