Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Iran has every reason to distrust the US government.

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The policies of the American government have, "Unfortunately been the source of instability in our region for many years".

These words could have come from any number of foreign leaders or ordinary persons overseas; Chile, Venezuela, the Korean Peninsula, the Congo, Indonesia etc.  In this instance they happen to be the words of Mohammad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister.

Benyamin Netenyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister spoke at the UN of the great friendship between what he referred to as "Jews and Persians", which lasted until the revolution of 1979 that ousted the US installed dictator we all know as the Shah.  Leaving aside whether the Jews are a nationality or a religion, there are after all Arab Jews, and Iranian Jews are there not, we have to understand a little bit of history here.

While this blog unconditionally opposes the rule of the Mullah's, their brutal treatment of women and their opposition to democratic rights, trade unions etc., Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani's phone conversation with Barack Obama comes after 36 years of non communication, not open communication anyway and is of some importance.

And, like him or not, Zarif's statement has merit; every worker in the Middle East knows it, workers throughout the world that have lived under US backed dictatorships know it; and since the overthrow of Iran's secular democratic government and ousting of it's head, Mohammad Mossadegh by a US orchestrated coup in 1953, has been more widely publicized, more Americans are coming to realize it.  Up until a few years ago, that the US overthrew Iran's democratically elected government replacing it with the violent repressive regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was unknown to most Americans and buried in the archives of the US state machine.

Mossadegh introduced many democratic reforms, you know, the sort of reforms Americans boast about us having. Renato Constantino wrote of Mossadegh in 2004 referring to him as a giant:

"The Iranian giant's commitment to social reform was unrivaled in his country's history, while his towering presence in the international arena as a voice of poor countries presaged the era of giants such as Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, Indonesia's Sukarno and the Congo's Patrice Lumumba.
During Mossadegh's time, Iranian peasants were freed from forced labor in their landlords' estates, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and unemployment compensation was established. The giant caused 20% of the money landlords received in rent to be placed in a fund to pay for development projects such as pest control, rural housing and public baths.

The giant supported women's rights and defended religious freedom and allowed courts and universities to function freely. In addition, the colossus was known even by his enemies as scrupulously honest and impervious to the corruption that pervaded Iranian politics

These are all American ideals, but Mossadegh also nationalized Iran's oil industry, the Anglo Iranian Oil Company which was owned by the British with financial terms very favorable to British Imperialism.  The British refused to even split profits 50/50 with the Iranians. Mossadegh explained publicly why he nationalized the AIOC:

"Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries...have yielded no results thus far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence. The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The nationalization law provide that 25% of the net profits on oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for compensation. It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter invention."

The British capitalist class, in the era of  British colonialism's dying empire would have none of it and appealed to their US colleagues to intervene which they did. So if you want to blame anyone for the rise of the Mullah's and the lack of secular democratic regimes in the region, blame the CIA's fateful 1953 coup----profits trump democracy.

The US has been destabilizing Iran not just with sanctions but by funding insurgent groups within the country.  The Persian Gulf, where most of Iran's oil is, is called the Persian Gulf for a reason; it's next to Persia.  The talk of democratic rights and freedom from the likes of John kerry, Obama, Hilary Clinton and other more openly extreme elements in the two Wall Street political parties that have a choke hold on US politics, is seen as the rantings of hypocrites by the vast majority of workers in the world. Did Americans get to vote on their government's overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953? Did we get to vote on the overthrow and assassination of Allende?

In Bahrain, Iran's neighbor, the ruling family there has just sentenced 50 protesters to 5 to 15 years for demanding democratic reforms including freedom of religion as the Shia are a majority ruled by a Sunni monarchy. Some forces have demanded a full republic. The regime has attacked and tortured human rights activists and even persecuted doctors that treated peaceful protesters maimed by the regimes' police.  This has been done within earshot of 30,000 US troops.  During the height of the protest movement, the US had it's flunkies, the Saudi's send in troops to suppress it. Once again, profit trumps all.  The US troops are not there to defend American workers from raging Iranian Muslims or the Mullahs as Washington would do a deal with them in a minute if the profits of US corporations were guaranteed on terms acceptable to them.

The problem with both the Iranians, and the Arabs from the standpoint of western capitalism is the revolutionary potential of the working classes in the region.  The workers of Iran, Egypt, Iraq, in particular have a rich and militant history of struggle against the British and foreign interference dating back to the first world war.  The Arab spring shocked them all. The billions of dollars of military hardware the US sells Saudi Arabia for example is not simply to defend the country against Iranian expansion therefore US corprate profits, it is to defend the regime against potential uprisings of its own population and the "Arab Spring" disease. The Zionist regime is the most reliable ally of US capitalism in the region and it is this alliance that is the most destabilizing factor in the Middle East.  When we read about how the "US and its allies" are concerned about Iran having nuclear weapons, read "allies"  to mean  Israel and the few US proxy regimes ruled by families like the Bahrainian monarchy.

As far as nuclear weapons go, Iran has consistently denied they are seeking to make nuclear weapons but the US and Israel says it is.  Israel and the US, two of the most heavily armed nuclear nations on earth are demanding that Iran has no right to become a nuclear nation.  Israel even refuses to admit one way or the other whether it has them or not although most sources say that the country has hundreds of nuclear warheads. Israel is not a signatory to the Non Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, Iran is.  Why should Iran not have the same right?  This unconditional support of the violent Zionist regime, exempting it from rules everyone else in the region is expected to comply with is another major cause of anti-American sentiment and anger among the Arab and Muslim masses. The brutal treatment of Palestinians is another.

Many workers I have discussed this with say that if the Iranians controlled their own oil industry fully, they would gouge the consumer here.  The issue is though, which Iranians are we talking about? Firstly, they have a right, as they did in 1953 under Mossadegh, to control the resources of their own nation and reap the benefits of this.  This is what Lumumba, and other nationalists fought for, he too was blocked from his goals and eventually assassinated by the Belgians and the CIA for his efforts.

While all workers should defend the right of former colonial countries to own and benefit from their natural resources, even under the rule of the Mullahs as in Iran, the only way these never ending crises will be resolved is through workers'  control of social production, trade, and the interconnectedness of the world's people's and nations. Here in the US working people (wage earners) have almost no say in how the productive forces of this country are managed and how capital, that necessary aspect along with Labor power of all production, is allocated. As I wrote above, we had no say in whether or not we should overthrow Mossadegh or Allende or Lumumba or scores of others.

The Iranian and Arab workers in the oil producing countries of the Middle East can't eat oil. But they have their Mullahs and we have our Waltons, and financial oligarchy.  Our interests lie in the building of links, through our unions and our own independent political parties (something we lack here in the US)  with workers of Iran and all countries.  This we are told is utopian. But it is no more utopian than the capitalist class being told by the feudal aristocracy that they were the legitimate rulers of society chosen by god and that the capitalists cannot rule.

In this age of global capitalism there are increased efforts to build links between the workers of different countries on the part of the established union hierarchies.  Jack Henning, the former Executive Secretary of the California Labor Federation that represents two million workers, talked of the need for "Global unionism to fight global capitalism".  That he refused to use his position as head of the federation to bring it to fruition doesn't make the statement any less legitimate. But the moves in this direction are restricted by their loyalty to the nation state,  and therefore with their own capitalists and the market.  We are experiencing a war at home that is far more damaging and destructive, that has killed more Americans than any terrorist group.

We are taught to consider workers that speak a different language, belong to a different religion, that wear different clothes and eat different food, cannot be our ally and that a hedge fund manager or factory owner claiming the same national identity is, that we have the same national interests.  But we have so much more in common economically with workers of all nationalities and what for us is a meaningful and decent life than we do with Donald Trump or Bill Gates who are called Americans.  We know this but we are told we all have to stick together as Americans, Iranians, Germans, whatever. This unites us with wall Street bankers rather than workers who want the same things as we do and who earn a living doing productive useful social labor. The Mullahs of Iran, and the folks that meet in Jackson Hole Wyoming and other hangouts of the 1% where they plan how best to govern society and keep profits flowing would join forces against us in a minute; the capitalists know the importance of class solidarity. 

Every ruling class teaches that its rule is the end of civilization, that its economic system is the best and most efficient way to organize production.  But history teaches us that society changes with the intervention of the masses.  The history of the US working class and of the specially oppressed people's, Native Americans. blacks, women, the LGBT community, is one of heroic and militant struggle against a brutal and violent ruling class.

We have come a long way.  But we do not have true democracy, workers do not rule anywhere. There is no such thing at present as a workers' democracy or workers' state. Only capitalist states and capitalist democracy.

An aspect of the struggle for our own immediate needs is also the struggle for state power and the right to talk to other workers as workers, as producers and the collective owners of social production and the wealth it produces. In this way, through a global federation of democratic socialist states, the production of our needs can be determined on a global scale in harmony with the natural world in which we live.

No to global capitalism, yes to global democratic socialism.

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