Bush Regime Targets Iran After 9/11 by Larry Everest

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Everest
Global Research, October 31, 2007
RCP Publications

For over 100 years, the domination of Iran has been deeply woven into the fabric of global imperialism, enforced through covert intrigues, economic bullying, military assaults, and invasions. This history provides the backdrop for U.S. hostility toward Iran today–including the real threat of war. Part 8 of this series examines why the Bush administration targeted Iran after 9/11, how the invasion of Iraq has backfired on them in many ways, and why this has increased their felt need to confront the Islamic Republic.

Iran, 9/11 and the “War on Terror”

George W. Bush’s capture of the U.S. presidency in 2000, followed by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, led to a radical shift in U.S. global strategy and the launching of Bush’s “war on terror.” Iran was a key target from the start.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the U.S. was suddenly the only global imperialist superpower. America’s rulers saw an opportunity to vastly extend their power, as well as the necessity to do so given the many contradictions–and potential contradictions–they faced worldwide. For a decade the “neo-cons” had been arguing for aggressively using U.S. military might to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable U.S. empire. They assumed key positions in Bush’s new administration.

After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush team felt compelled to forcefully lash back to preserve the U.S. empire’s global credibility. They also saw the opportunity–and the necessity–to push forward their broader agenda, which required crushing anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism and forcefully dealing with a host of impediments to their global power and ambitions–including states like Iran and Iraq.

During a secret November 2001 meeting, as reported by Bob Woodward in State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, leading strategists close to the Bush administration argued that the 9/11 attacks did not represent “an isolated action that called for policing and crime fighting.” Their solution: a “two-generation battle with radical Islam” to defeat this movement–as well as take down regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria that were contributing in one way or another to the spread of anti-U.S. sentiments and fundamentalism or that posed obstacles to U.S. plans. They thought this would open the door to transforming the entire region–“draining the swamp,” as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his assistant Paul Wolfowitz put it shortly after Sept. 11–to eliminate the conditions giving rise to forces which, while reactionary, posed a growing obstacle to U.S. imperialist interests.

The first phase of this global war was launched on October 7, 2001 with the bombing of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Islamist Taliban government. The Bush regime then decided that Iraq would be phase two. Saddam wasn’t an Islamist, nor was he allied with al Qaeda, but his continued rule was creating a variety of problems for the U.S. in the Middle East.

Even as they invaded Iraq, the Bush regime had Iran’s Islamic Republic squarely in their sights.

The Islamic Republic of Iran was not involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, and it aided the U.S. during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by backing the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, allowing U.S. search-and-rescue missions to operate from Iranian territory, and passing on intelligence from Afghanistan. But the imperialists still had a big problem with the Islamic Republic–not because it is a reactionary theocracy that brutally represses its people. The problem, from the imperialists’ standpoint, was that Iran has been a key font of anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism. It was the first place where current-day Islamists seized state power–and they have used that power to promote Islamic fundamentalism and support Islamist movements in the region. Tehran’s rulers have also sought to redefine Iran’s place in the regional order, including by negotiating economic and political deals with U.S. rivals like Russia and China. All this has made Iran a big obstacle to U.S. plans in the region, and so the Bush regime placed Iran high on its target list.

On January 30, 2002, Bush charged that Iran “aggressively pursues these [nuclear] weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom,” and he included Iran (along with Iraq and North Korea) in the so-called “axis-of-evil,” which he said posed “a grave and growing danger.”

After Iraq, Debating Iran

After the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, some within the Bush administration argued that the U.S. should continue to pressure Iran’s Islamic Republic to end its support for Islamist movements in the region and give up its nuclear program, while also keeping the diplomatic channel to Tehran open, if only to use Iran’s influence to first stabilize post-invasion Iraq before moving on to other targets in the “war on terror.”

But the neocons, and those around Vice President Cheney in particular, argued that such rapprochement with Iran would derail the U.S.’s momentum and mission. “Our fight against Iraq was only one battle in a long war,” Meyrav Wurmser, a fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and wife of leading neocon David Wurmser, stated. “It would be ill-conceived to think that we can deal with Iraq alone… We must move on, and faster.” (Jim Lobe, Asia Times, 5/28/03)

As further justification for their call for more aggressive action, Cheney and others pointed to new revelations about Iran’s nuclear program. In February 2003, Iran admitted that it was building two uranium enrichment plants, although it had not yet enriched uranium. By November 2003 Iran was in discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over verifying its compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and stated it had suspended its enrichment program.

But the U.S. imperialists were determined to prevent Iran from having the bomb–not because they feared a preemptive Iranian strike on the U.S. or Israel, but because of the concern about “the constraining effect” a nuclear-armed Iran threatened “to impose upon U.S. strategy for the Greater Middle East,” as neocon Tom Donnelly put it. (Gareth Porter, Huffingtonpost.com, 9/8/07)

Iran’s rulers may want to acquire nuclear weapons, and they may have taken steps to do so. IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei, however, has stated that he’s found no evidence of any undeclared “source or special nuclear materials” or that such materials had ever been “used in furtherance of a military purpose.” (Farhang Jahanpour, oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk, June 2006)

In May 2003 the U.S. government secretly received a wide-ranging proposal from Iran’s leadership, perhaps motivated partly by fear that the U.S. was going to quickly turn its guns on Tehran. In exchange for an end to U.S. hostility, lifting of U.S. sanctions, and removal of Iran from the State Department’s list of countries supporting “terrorism,” the Iranian regime said it would meet the main U.S. demands and basically accommodate itself to a U.S.-dominated Middle East. Iran would also freeze its nuclear program and open it up to inspections that would guarantee it wasn’t making nuclear weapons. Iran also offered to support a democratic, non-religious government in Iraq, to cooperate fully in fighting al Qaeda and other groups, and to end its support for Hamas in Palestine. (Peter Galbraith, The NY Review of Books, 10/11/07)

The Bush regime summarily rejected Iran’s offer. The high-level dialogue between the U.S. and Iran over Iraq, Afghanistan, and other regional issues was abruptly shut down, and the neocons continued to push for regime change in Tehran.

The Fateful Decisions of May 2003

Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, fervent advocates of the war had predicted that Hussein’s overthrow would trigger upheaval, even the fall of the regime in Iran. But, in fact, U.S. actions ended up strengthening Iranian influence in Iraq and across the region–intensifying some of the very contradictions the U.S. was trying to solve by invading Iraq in the first place.

The Bush regime attempted to quickly and radically reshape Iraqi politics, economics, and society in the interests of U.S. imperialism. In mid-May 2003, less than a month after Bush declared “victory” in Iraq from the deck of an aircraft carrier, occupation chief Paul Bremer issued decrees banning Iraq’s Baath Party, disbanding Iraq’s army and police force, closing unprofitable state-run industries, and beginning the privatization of Iraq’s economy. Bremer also scuttled the proposed interim government in favor of a “Coalition Provisional Authority” (CPA) which would gradually unfold the political process and form a new Iraqi government under Bremer’s tight control.

Bush officials also calculated that Iraq’s Shi’ites (some 60 percent of the population) would be hostile to Iran. Some even predicted that backing the Iraqi Shi’a religious factions would serve U.S. aims. Neocon war architect David Wurmser wrote that “liberating the Shi’ite centers in Najaf and Karbala, with their clerics who reject the wilayat al-faqih [clerical rule], could allow Iraqi Shi’ites to challenge and perhaps fatally derail the Iranian revolution.” (Larry Everest, Oil, Power, and Empire, Chapter 9)

These were profound miscalculations. The Bush regime underestimated how the shock of the invasion and the dismantling of the Iraqi state would lift the lid on the deep contradictions roiling Iraq, including hatred of the U.S. and its ally Israel, and the growing strength of Islamic fundamentalism among both Sunnis and Shi’as. And it underestimated how the CPA’s handling of the political process and elections would raise tensions with Shi’as and strengthen Iran’s hand.

While the full scope of Iranian actions in U.S.-occupied Iraq is unclear, it appears that Iran has sought to prevent the re-emergence of a hostile Iraq on its western border, as well as extend its regional influence and strengthen the Islamist project. (And expanding its influence in Iraq as a means of increasing Tehran’s bargaining leverage with the U.S.) From 2003 to 2005, U.S. and Iranian actions in Iraq ran more or less parallel–even as the U.S. imperialists and Iran’s Islamic rulers had sharply antagonistic strategic objectives. During the invasion, Iraq’s Shi’a leadership (who have close ties to the Iranian regime) encouraged their followers to avoid confrontations with U.S. forces. Both the U.S. and the Iranians ended up supporting the same reactionary Kurdish and Shi’ite parties, neither wanted Sunni forces to return to power, and both wanted the establishment of a stable new Iraqi government.

But U.S.-Iranian tensions continued to develop. In June 2003, less than a month after coming to Iraq, Bremer complained that Iran was “meddling” in Iraq (this came from the mouth of an official representing a power that had just invaded this country!). Bremer singled out the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI, which was formed in Iran in the early 1980s) for threatening to boycott a Bremer-chosen interim Iraqi administration. (Financial Times, 6/10/03)

Tufts University Professor Vali Nasr, an expert on Iran, recently told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, “Iran’s policy since 2003 has been to provide funding, arms, and aid to several Shi’ite factions–including some in [current Prime Minister] Maliki’s coalition.” In the fall of 2004, during the run-up to the January 2005 Iraqi elections for a Transitional National Assembly engineered by the U.S., the CIA reported that Iran was spending $11 million a week to help the United Shi’a Platform, which ended up winning a majority of seats in the election. So while Iran wasn’t directly challenging the U.S. in Iraq, it was definitely increasing its leverage.

Larry Everest is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Global Research Articles by Larry Everest
The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Larry Everest, RCP Publications, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7227

Bush the Liar Escalates War Threats Against Iran by Larry Everest

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Everest
Global Research, October 24, 2007

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush clashed over Iran, highlighting just how extreme tensions are and the danger of a U.S. attack (as well as the sharpening imperialist rivalry between the U.S. and Russia overall).

Putin, on the first visit to Iran by a Russian head of state in over 60 years, denounced U.S. threats, declaring, “We should not even think of making use of force in this region…. Not only should we reject the use of force, but also the mention of force as a possibility.” Putin, who has so far resisted U.S. demands for more punitive sanctions against Iran, also stated there was no evidence that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons.

Two days later, President Bush hit back and took the war threats to a new level: “I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War 3, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” The White House tried to downplay Bush’s remark, claiming it was just “a rhetorical point.” But the threat of world war was out there (implicitly directed at Russia as well!). And Bush was clearly demanding that Russia go along with his insistence that Iran be prevented from having even a nuclear energy program (which is legal under current treaties), because the technology needed could be used for weapons.

The Bush-Putin clash comes as the Bush regime, with support of most of the U.S. ruling class, has increasingly targeted Iran as the main obstacle to its Middle East agenda, and may be preparing for war. The administration has orchestrated a propaganda campaign centered on accusations that Iran is building nuclear weapons and directing attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. The House and Senate have both passed resolutions labeling Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist organization”—potentially a war trigger. The Bush regime is waging a “financial war” on Iran and trying to get other big powers to tighten economic sanctions. Nearly half the U.S.’s warships have recently been stationed near Iran. The Pentagon has been drawing up military plans for striking Iran for over a year. Earlier this month, the New Yorker magazine’s Seymour Hersh reported that “There has been a significant increase in the tempo of attack planning.”

U.S. Allegations Against Iran: Lies, Hypocrisy, and a Cover For An Imperial Agenda

What of U.S. charges that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and attacking U.S. forces in Iraq?

First, there’s the enormity of U.S. hypocrisy. The U.S. already has thousands of nuclear warheads, and while the Bush regime condemns Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions, it refuses (in its negotiations with Russia) to accept any limits on the number of nukes the U.S. can build.

The U.S.—not Iran—illegally invaded and occupied Iraq. Yet Bush and company denounce Iran for “interference” in Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. is funding and organizing covert military and political operations inside Iran!

So the imperialist logic at work here is that only the U.S. has the right to threaten the world with nuclear weapons (and have more than anyone else), and to intervene and wage war against other countries.

Second, the U.S. has produced no conclusive evidence for its charges. Secretary of State Rice recently declared that Iran was “lying” about its nuclear program, but she offered no proof. People should remember that these are the same proven liars in the Bush regime who knowingly spread the lie that Saddam Hussein had WMD before the Iraq war.

After many inspections, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found no proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. If, however, it is the case that Iran’s reactionary Islamic Republic wants to build nuclear weapons, and they are concealing such a program, who is the U.S. to declare itself the global enforcer of nuclear restraint? The United States is the only country in the world to have used the atomic bomb—twice, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—to massacre civilians. And why does the U.S.’ massive current arsenal of nuclear weapons give it the right to threaten or carry out military aggression against Iran?

And what about Iran’s involvement in attacks on U.S. forces?

The U.S. military has held press conference after press conference displaying Iranian weapons allegedly found in Iraq. But none have provided any firm evidence that these weapons came from Iran, that they were used to attack U.S. forces, or that the Iranian government was directly involved. The captured weapons could have come from old Iraqi stockpiles or the region’s extensive arms black market. Former chief U.S. arms inspector David Kay told Hersh that his team had been astounded at “the huge amounts of arms” it found in Iraq right after the 2003 invasion, including “stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators” or “EFPs.” These are the weapons the U.S. has been claiming could only have come from Iran.

On the other hand, if it is the case that Iran is providing weapons to forces in Iraq, who is the United States, the country that has illegally occupied the whole country, to use Iranian interference in Iraq as a cause for war on Iran? It is as if someone carried out a home invasion robbery, ransacked a home, raped and brutalized the inhabitants, and continued to terrorize the people there. And then, because they suspected that someone else, in the house next door, was trying to steal from the house they were terrorizing, they threatened to go on and attack and carry out another home invasion of the house next door.

Nor is the U.S. being driven by its feigned concern for the very real suffering of the region’s people at the hands of Islamic fundamentalism, Iran’s Islamic Republic in particular. The U.S. sees Islamic fundamentalism as a major obstacle to their ambitions not because the U.S. imperialists have a problem with the repressive and obscurantist program of the Islamic fundamentalists. They work with and through such forces where they can do so in a way that fits their needs. But the problem the U.S. has with the Islamic fundamentalists is that they present a widespread counter-force and threat to what the U.S. is trying to impose on the world, and—to the U.S. imperialists—an intolerable threat to their interests.

Any U.S. Aggression Against Iran Is…
Aggression

Even if the Iranian regime is attempting to build nuclear weapons, or is behind some of the attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, or further intensifies its oppression of the Iranian people—none of this would justify any U.S. war on Iran. Such a war would make things much worse for the people in the region (and the world), including because it would further fuel Islamic fundamentalism and strengthen the current nightmarish framework in which imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism are held forth as humanity’s only choices. Any U.S. war would not be aimed at ending oppression or freeing the people; it would be aimed at perpetuating their enslavement—under a strengthened U.S. domination over the whole region.

This is not to say that the U.S. doesn’t have real—imperialist—concerns about Iran. Far too many people are downplaying the danger of a U.S. attack on Iran because they think Bush is too unpopular to launch another war, or too bogged down in Iraq, or not “crazy” enough to risk a regional conflagration. Or, that the stresses and strains on the U.S. “alliance” (including the withdrawal of British troops from Basra, and the increasing tension between the U.S. on the one hand, and Russia on the other) will deter the U.S. from launching an attack on Iran. Or they think the U.S. is simply making things up about Iran out of sheer arrogance or irrational belligerence.

Bush is certainly unpopular and a proven liar, and the U.S. is definitely bogged down in Iraq. Even many in the ruling class worry that attacking Iran could end up greatly weakening the U.S. position in the Middle East and the world (and these divisions may be one reason war hasn’t yet taken place). And there are both strains in the U.S. “alliance,” and increasing contention with other powers in the region.

But there are actual imperialist necessities and concerns driving the U.S. rulers. And some of the reasons that people don’t believe there will be a war on Iran are actually reasons why the U.S. rulers do see a need to attack Iran. They cannot, for example, just let other powers perceive their alliance as crumbling, and let their rivals of any kind make a move on “their” global domination. They cannot be perceived as having their asses kicked by the Islamic fundamentalists, any more than a big time mobster can let people see a small time gangster get away with defying his authority.

The US “war on terror” is not about ending “terror” as they claim, or “bringing democracy to Iraq” or anywhere else. It is essentially a war for greater empire. This war is focused on defeating Islamic fundamentalism and those who support or fuel it. It’s a war with many targets, employing many means. The Bush regime feels that victory would enable the U.S. to transform the Middle East-Central Asian regions, cut the ground from under anti-U.S. jihadism, and solidify and deepen U.S. control.

For decades, control of the Middle East—for its strategic location at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe and its vast oil reserves—has been a key component of America’s imperialist superpower status. Today, the U.S. rulers view the control of these regions as even more critical to perpetuating their status as global overlords, and to the future of their empire and rule at home. So for them, the stakes really are enormous.

It is this agenda, not “stopping terrorism,” that was behind the decision to invade and occupy Iraq, as a springboard to further asserting U.S. domination of the Middle East and crushing, or subordinating, Islamic fundamentalist forces that they perceive to be in their way. But things aren’t going as the Bush regime planned. Iraq has become a potential debacle that is tying down thousands of U.S. troops. Pro-Iranian forces have considerable influence in the Iraqi government. Iranian influence in Iraq is growing (last week Iraq signed a contract with Iran and China to build power plants, much to the Bush administration’s dismay). Islamic fundamentalism has been fueled across the region. As a sharp expression of the point that U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism both oppose and reinforce each other, one product of the ongoing U.S. occupation of Afghanistan has been the re-emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pro-Iranian forces could become dominant in Lebanon. In sum, the geopolitical “playing field” in the Middle East seems to be tilting against the U.S., and Iran stands to be the beneficiary—whether it is directly behind any particular development or not. And a nuclear-armed Iran would be an even bigger obstacle to U.S. regional hegemony and military dominance.

So the U.S. establishment—including both the hardcore around Bush and Cheney as well as the Democrats and others—is largely united on the need to confront Iran and roll back its influence, one way or another. (In a forthcoming article in Foreign Affairs, Hillary Clinton writes, “If Iran does not comply with its own commitments and the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table.”)

For now, the U.S. is at the very least pursuing a full-court press of diplomatic, economic, political and military pressure against Iran designed to force the Islamic Republic to cave in to U.S. demands, and/or to trigger internal upheaval and the regime’s collapse. Britain’s Telegraph reported on September 16, “Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.” And many in and out of the Bush administration—particularly Vice President Dick Cheney and his allies—are aggressively pushing for strikes on Iran, which, according to Hersh, Bush is actively considering even as he claims to be striving for a diplomatic solution.

In any event, should the U.S. full-court press fail—and Putin’s visit to Iran apparently represented a blow to U.S. plans—the rulers may be forced to confront the choice “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” as the saying goes; a choice between seeing Iran emerge strengthened, seriously undercutting their entire “war on terror” and all its objectives, or “escaping forward” by rolling the dice of escalation.

A U.S. war on Iran might not even be a fully conscious, much less unanimous, decision of ruling class strategists. The huge U.S. buildup of warships in the Gulf, along with the presence of U.S. operatives inside Iran, has created a situation where war could break out by accident.

In early September, Israeli aircraft reportedly carried out an attack on Syria, which has a defense treaty with Iran. Commentators speculated on whether, and how, this attack might be connected to an Israeli attack on Iran, including whether Israel was testing new Russian anti-aircraft weapons recently acquired by Syria as part of assessing a possible air route for an Israeli strike on Iran. While Israel has its own distinct agenda, the larger framework for Israeli military aggression (and for the very existence of Israel) is the furtherance of U.S. interests. Israel is financially, politically, and militarily sponsored by the U.S. as its “trigger-happy cop” in the region, and it is highly unlikely that this raid on Syria took place outside overall U.S. strategic planning for a war on Iran. Shortly after the raid, Newsweek magazine reported that former Cheney Middle East adviser David Wurmser told a small group several months ago that Cheney was considering asking Israel to strike the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz. And Newsweek added that a military response by Iran could give Washington an excuse to then launch airstrikes of its own.

But regardless of the “trigger,” regardless of the particular role of Israel, and regardless of whether such a war was the result of an unplanned accident, or a conscious decision, a U.S. war on Iran would be an outgrowth of U.S. aggressive actions. It would still be an expression of U.S. imperial interests. And in the event of such an “accidental” war, even bitter opponents of the Bush regime within the ruling class like Zbigniew Brzezinski—who has said that he thinks such a war would be a disaster—have said that they would feel compelled to support it once begun.

The U.S. rulers have shown in Iraq that they are willing to destroy the lives of millions in pursuit of their reactionary ambitions. Those ambitious are unjust, oppressive, and in the service of a world of exploitation and oppression. They are not the interests of the people of the world, including people in this country, and it is the special responsibility of people in the United States to build a movement to oppose any attempt by the U.S. to attack Iran, under any pretense. The development of such a movement will inspire people all over the world, including in the Middle East, to see beyond the so-called “alternatives” of Islamic fundamentalism and U.S. imperialism.

Larry Everest is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Larry Everest
 The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Larry Everest, Global Research, 2007

 The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7177

see

US militarism threatens to unleash regional conflagration by Bill Van Auken

“Tempo of Attack Planning” Increases for U.S. Military Strikes on Iran by Larry Everest

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Everest
Global Research, October 10, 2007
rwor.org

Based on high-level sources inside the U.S. government and military, journalist Seymour Hersh reports: “This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, request

ed that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran.” (“Shifting Targets—The Administration’s plan for Iran,” New Yorker, October 8, 2007.) Hersh writes that the focus of U.S. attack plans has shifted from “a broad bombing attack” to “surgical” strikes on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Hersh says Bush recently told U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, “he was thinking of hitting Iranian targets across the border and that the British ‘were on board.’”

Hersh details the military plans being put in place: “The strategy calls for the use of sea-launched cruise missiles and more precisely targeted ground attacks and bombing strikes, including plans to destroy the most important Revolutionary Guard training camps, supply depots, and command and control facilities.” One former intelligence official called it “fast in and out” and told Hersh the necessary forces are already within striking distance. “The Navy’s planes, ships, and cruise missiles are in place in the Gulf and operating daily. They’ve got everything they need—even AWACS are in place and the targets in Iran have been programmed. The Navy is flying FA-18 missions every day in the Gulf.” A Pentagon consultant told Hersh that the air assault “would be accompanied by a series of what he called ‘short, sharp incursions’ by American Special Forces units into suspected Iranian training sites.”

Hersh’s revelations are the latest (and most comprehensive) in a growing wave of reports on a gathering momentum toward a U.S. military confrontation—and very possibly war—with Iran. (Go to revcom.us for previous Revolution alerts and coverage.) “There has been a significant increase in the tempo of attack planning,” Hersh sums up. One recently retired CIA official told him, “They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk… It’s just like the fall of 2002” (before the U.S. launched war on Iraq).

The latest indication of this acceleration includes a New York Times report (9/30) that “Freedom Watch,” a new lobbying group with close ties to the White House, plans to raise $200 million to launch a campaign targeting Iran, among other things. And there are reports that Vice President Cheney’s office is directing an anti-Iran propaganda offensive by a constellation of government institutions, right-wing organizations, think tanks, political figures, and media. According to Britain’s Telegraph (9/30/07), “American diplomats have been ordered to compile a dossier detailing Iran’s violations of international law that some fear could be used to justify military strikes against the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme.”

The Telegraph also reports there was recently a conference aimed at the U.S. Air Force coordinating “with military leaders from the Gulf to train and prepare Arab air forces for a possible war with Iran.”

Notably, these reports have mainly appeared in British papers or the alternative U.S. press. Major U.S. media—ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post—have refused to seriously report on these heightened military preparations.

Shift in Pretext Building: From Counter-proliferation to Counter-terrorism

In recent months, the focus of the Bush regime’s propaganda campaign against Iran’s Islamic Republic has shifted somewhat from charges that Iran is building nuclear weapons to claims that Iran is waging a “proxy” military campaign against U.S. forces in Iraq. “What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism,” Hersh writes.

Maintaining a stranglehold on the Middle East is crucial to the U.S. global power and the functioning of its capitalist-imperialist system. Bush’s so-called “war on terror” was launched to solidify this U.S. stranglehold by defeating anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism and taking down states like Iraq and Iran that stood in the way of the goal of U.S.-controlled regional transformation. But today, six years after launching their war for greater empire, the Bush regime is finding that its plans have backfired in important ways. Instead of weakening Iran (and Islamic fundamentalism more broadly), the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have strengthened it. “There has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq,” Hersh concludes. The Guardian (9/30) quoted former UN Ambassador John Bolton saying, “If we were to strike Iran it should be accompanied by an effort at regime change.”

The reactionary state of Iran has its own ambitions in the region, and its role in Iraq and the scope of its nuclear program are not completely clear. But the Bush regime has yet to produce any substantial, concrete evidence for its charges that Iran is behind attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, or that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Hersh was told by one former high-level C.I.A. official that “the intelligence about who is doing what inside Iran ‘is so thin that nobody even wants his name on it.’” And according to Hersh, ongoing International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) inspections have found that “There’s no evidence that Iran is significantly into weapons fabrication or that Iran has done any of the kind of testing it needs to do to develop an actual warhead. And so, they are enriching, and they may have ambitions, but there’s no rush.”

The difficulty of trying to attack Iran in a way that will not end up backfiring on the U.S. has given rise to sharp debate within the U.S. ruling class, along with diplomatic, political, and military maneuvering. For instance, U.S. strategists have worried that even massive bombing might not destroy Iran’s nuclear and military infrastructure and might provoke an Iranian counterattack with the potential of uncorking an uncontrollable regional conflagration.

Bush, Cheney, and others may hope U.S. threats, coupled with diplomatic and economic sanctions, may trigger upheaval in Iran, and the collapse or capitulation of the regime. Smaller military strikes on the Revolutionary Guards, a pillar of Islamic rule, could be aimed at the same result—without the dangers of a full-scale bombing campaign. Cheney et al may hope limited strikes don’t remain limited, but provoke an Iranian response that the U.S. would then use to justify a massive U.S. counterstrike. Or Cheney could just do an “end run,” putting the rest of the ruling class in a position where they feel compelled to go along. In short, the U.S. imperialists are creating an extremely dangerous situation, including the potential for war to break loose as a result of miscalculations by either side, or an unanticipated incident.

Democrats Paving the Way for War

And what are the “anti-war” Democrats doing in the face of this growing drumbeat for attacking Iran? They’re paving the way for it. On September 26, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed an amendment 76-22 blaming Iran for U.S. deaths in Iraq and calling on the State Department to designate its Revolutionary Guard Corps “a foreign terrorist organization.” The day before, the House of Representatives, also controlled by the Democrats, approved a resolution (introduced by Democrat Tom Lantos) 397-16 calling for new energy sanctions against Iran and also labeling the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group.

At a debate between Democratic presidential candidates, former Sen. Mike Gravel lashed out at the leading candidates: “This is fantasy land. We’re talking about ending the war. My god, we’re just starting a war right today. There was a vote in the Senate today…and it is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran…. I’m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it…. And Obama was not even there to vote.” Clinton burst out laughing as if Gravel’s opposition to war was ludicrous. She then repeated Bush regime charges that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are “promoting terrorism” and demanded the U.S. “put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran.” Bush had “ignored” Iran, Clinton charged. “Now we’ve got to make up for lost time.”

Urgently Needed: Mass Resistance to a U.S. War on Iran

While war on Iran may not be inevitable (Hersh writes that he was told “the President has yet to issue the ‘executive order’ that would be required”), many signs show it’s a rapidly growing danger and a real possibility. A U.S. attack on Iran would in all likelihood have catastrophic consequences for the people of Iran, the peoples of the Middle East and the world. It would be an escalation of the U.S.’s global war of aggression for greater empire—no matter what pretext the Bush regime used to launch it—and it would be totally unjust.

Massive resistance in this country must put an end to the war in Iraq and prevent a U.S. war with Iran. Millions of ordinary people from all segments of society, acting now, could change the political terrain—and the calculations of those in power. Today, the Bush regime is planning to stay in Iraq indefinitely and preparing for a possible attack on Iran and it calculates that—and is counting on—people going along with all this. We need to change that calculus. Now.

Larry Everest is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Larry Everest

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Larry Everest , rwor.org, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7047

see

The Administration’s plan for Iran By Seymour M. Hersh

 

 

U.S. Ramps Up Threats Against Iran by Larry Everest

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Everest
Global Research, September 26, 2007
rwor.org

The air is thick with intensifying U.S. threats against Iran. New diplomatic and economic assaults by the U.S. are in the works, and there are reports that discussion within the Bush regime has “tilted” toward war with Iran. Since our last alert (“Alert: Bush Regime Escalates Iran War Preparations” in issue #101, online at revcom.us), the trajectory toward confrontation, possibly war, has accelerated.

Six years into the bloody conquests and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. is bogged down and facing major difficulties. Its global war was launched post-9/11 with the aim of crushing anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism and remaking the Middle East and Central Asian regions, as part of a sweeping plan to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable empire. But in many ways this has backfired. Anti-U.S. anger rages across the region; Islamist movements have been further unleashed and fueled; the U.S. has been unable to secure its imperial grip on Iraq and faces years, perhaps decades, of combat; and the U.S. military is strained.

The U.S. rulers have staked their global power on this war for greater empire, waged under the banner of a “war on terror.” So now they’re increasingly focusing on Iran, a prime target of this war from day one. The imperialists’ problem with Iran’s Islamic Republic is not that it’s a reactionary theocracy that has imprisoned or executed thousands of progressives and revolutionaries and enforces very oppressive social relations. Far from it: the U.S., in fact, has supported—or inflicted—bloody repression and oppressive relations across the region, including in Iran during the reign of the tyrant Shah. No, the U.S. rulers’ problem with the Islamic Republic is that it’s a growing obstacle to their predatory agenda of unfettered hegemony and regional transformation. Iran’s fundamentalist regime has been strengthened by the fall of Saddam Hussein to its west and Afghanistan’s Taliban to its east. In Iraq, Shi’a parties with close ties to Tehran are the predominant faction in the new government, and Iranian influence has greatly increased. It has a nuclear energy program, which has the potential to give it the ability to make nuclear weapons at some point in the future. It’s an ideological and material center of support for Islamist groups and trends throughout the region.

In recent speeches on the U.S. war in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, and Bush all targeted Iran. Winning in Iraq, Bush argued, was key to countering the “destructive ambitions of Iran” and not allowing it to “dominate the region.” Crocker declared that “Iran plays a harmful role in Iraq.” Petraeus denounced Iran’s “malign actions.”

This week both Bush and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are speaking at the UN, and New York has become a stage for whipping up anti-Iran hysteria and hatred. New York authorities refused Ahmadinejad’s request to visit “ground zero” where the World Trade Center stood. Controversy swirls over Columbia University’s decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak there. And right-wing tabloids are in an anti-Iranian frenzy—the NY Post ran a picture of Ahmadinejad with the caption “NO DOGS ALLOWED.” No doubt Bush will attempt to stoke this belligerent atmosphere in his September 25 UN speech.

This war of words is being accompanied by new diplomatic and economic assaults on Iran. Bush officials were furious when the UN International Atomic Energy Agency recently reported that Iran was being “unusually cooperative,” and the IAEA director, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that “This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issues. It’s a significant step.” U.S. officials dismissed the agreement between Iran and the IAEA and denounced ElBaradei for “irresponsible meddling.” This reveals that the U.S. imperialists have never just wanted to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons—they’re out for “regime change,” whether Iran’s ayatollahs want to make a deal or not.

Rather than lessen tensions, the U.S. is intent on further tightening the screws. The U.N. Security Council has so far has passed two punitive measures against Iran, and the U.S. and Europe are waging what some are calling a “financial war” against Iran, designed to cripple its imperialist-dominated economy. Now the U.S. wants yet more sanctions—“with teeth” in the words of Condoleezza Rice. U.S. officials are meeting with other major powers to try and push this through, although China and Russia remain opposed at this point.

On Sept. 20, U.S. forces seized and arrested another Iranian official in Iraq, claiming that he is part of an elite Iranian military unit. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the action and demanded that the official—who is part of a trade delegation—be released immediately. And the stream of U.S. military “briefings” charging Iran with arming and directing anti-U.S. militias continues.

“A CAREFULLY CALIBRATED PROGRAMME OF ESCALATION”?

Within the Bush administration, a sharp debate has reportedly been taking place between Secretary of State Rice and Vice President Cheney over whether to deal with Iran through continued diplomatic and economic pressure (at least for now), or to more immediately use military means. Rice and Defense Secretary Gates insist that the U.S. still wants to deal with Iran “through diplomatic and economic means,” but a number of recent news stories report that those advocating war are winning the debate. Senior officials believe that “Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran,” the Sunday Telegraph reported (9/16). “Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.” The Telegraph also states that Rice “is prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action.” The New York Times (9/16) says Bush’s recent speeches “indicated that the debate, at least for now, might have tilted toward Mr. Cheney.”

These stories come in the wake of French President Sarkozy’s statement (immediately after his “heart-to-heart” meeting with Bush this August) that war with Iran is a real possibility—and the ominous declaration by the French Foreign Minister, who said in mid-September that France must “prepare for the worst” and that “The worst, sir, is war.”

Meanwhile, two U.S. naval battle groups are positioned near Iran, including an aircraft carrier battle group headed by the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group, with some 10 warships, two submarines, and attack aircraft. The U.S. reportedly plans to build a military base on the Iraq-Iran border. And Adm. Fallon, the U.S. commander for the Middle East, is touring the region, “pressing Arab allies to form a more united front against Iran.” (AP 9/18)

While publicly discounting the possibility of a U.S. attack, Iran’s leaders are making counter-threats of their own. Iran has been shelling Iraqi bases of anti-Iranian Kurdish forces and warns that they will send troops into Iraq if the attacks in Iran by these Kurdish forces don’t stop. The new leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards publicly warned that Iran has identified U.S. “weak points” in Iraq and Afghanistan and would “launch a crushing response to any attack.” Iranian officials have declared that they will launch missile strikes at U.S. and Western targets across the region, including Israel, if Iran is attacked.

THE DANGER OF WAR & THE URGENCY OF RESISTANCE

The U.S.’s belligerent threats, “financial war,” demand for tougher sanctions, and its funding of covert operations and anti-regime groups inside Iran (as reported by Seymour Hersh last year) may be aimed at forcing the Islamic Republic to capitulate to U.S. demands or to trigger an internal collapse short of war. The Bush regime could also be waiting to see how these moves play out before deciding on war. But it’s also quite possible that the rulers have begun a “calibrated programme of escalation,” as the Telegraph puts it, in preparation for war.

In any case, Iran is increasingly the focus of U.S. imperialist bullying, and the current trajectory is clearly moving toward confrontation. Given these extreme and growing tensions, war could even start by accident or miscalculation by either side—perhaps as the result of a border clash, a naval incident in the Persian Gulf, or some other event. War could also be triggered by what Steve Clemons (Salon.com, Sept. 19) calls an “engineered provocation” by those close to Cheney (perhaps Israel), leading to an “end run” around the rest of the U.S. decision-making apparatus. A dry run for such a provocation may have already taken place on Sept. 6 when, under still mysterious circumstances, Israeli planes attacked targets in Syria. Bush’s former UN Ambassador John Bolton called this air strike “a clear message to Iran that its continued efforts to acquire nuclear weapons are not going to go unanswered.”

What are the Democrats doing as Bush pours gasoline on the flames in the Middle East? A few leading Democrats say they’re opposed to attacking Iran, but when Congressional Democrats have actually done anything, it’s been to pave the way for war—first, by removing legislative language early this year demanding that Bush consult Congress before any attack on Iran; and second, by voting overwhelmingly this summer for a war-like resolution blaming Iran for killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The top Democrats all agree, as Barack Obama recently put it, that Iran “poses a grave challenge.” Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have all said at one time that “all options” against Iran were on the table. As a ruling class party, the Democrats share with Bush and the Republicans the imperialist goal of defeating Islamic fundamentalism, giving full support to Israel, and maintaining the U.S. stranglehold on the region—even as they have various differences over just how to navigate all the roiling contradictions their empire faces.

Any U.S. attack on Iran—no matter the pretext—would be launched to further America’s imperialist aims, not to liberate anyone, save lives, or lessen the danger of nuclear war. It would be unjust and criminal, and could cause enormous suffering and death in Iran and spark bloodshed across the region. U.S. aggression and war threats are already fueling a very bad dynamic in which the reactionary poles of imperialism on one side and Islamic fundamentalism on the other reinforce each other, even as they clash.

All this makes it urgent for people to speak out and protest U.S. bullying and war preparations now. The organization World Can’t Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime has called for people broadly to take up the “Declare It Now! Wear Orange!” campaign. Anti-war protests are scheduled for September 29 and October 27. (See www.worldcantwait.org for details.) Read and distribute Revolution so that many, many more can get the truth and be inspired to politically resist the crimes that the U.S. imperialists are committing and further crimes that they are planning.

Larry Everest is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Larry Everest

 


www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Larry Everest, rwor.org, 2007
The url address of this article is:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6899

A Criminal War of Lies: Why the US is really in Iraq by Larry Everest

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Everest
Global Research, September 19, 2007
rwor.org

These past weeks have witnessed a new government propaganda offensive on Iraq. Bush has given a series of headline-grabbing speeches and this past week U.S. Commander Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s report to Congress on the state of Iraq dominated the news. The Democrats offered their meek objections and amendments. And the net result seems to be that the U.S. military occupation of Iraq will continue, with well over 100,000 troops, for the foreseeable future.

The official terms of the so-called “debate” have been whether or not the Bush administration’s “surge”–i.e., its escalation since January of this year–is “working.” But the limits of this “debate” have served to conceal a fundamental truth: this war, the occupation and the “surge” are thoroughly unjust–“working” or not.

An Unjust And Horrific War–Based on Lies

From the beginning, Bush has used one lie after another to sell this war. “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, even nuclear weapons.” Lie. “Iraq was connected to 9/11.” Lie. “Iraqis will welcome American soldiers as ‘liberators.'” Lie. Deliberate, conscious lies.

Not bad intelligence. Not good intentions gone wrong. Lies. In just one of many examples, Sidney Blumenthal recently revealed in Salon.com that, “On September 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers.” Bush went to war anyway.

This revelation makes clear, yet again, that the war wasn’t a “mistake”–it was a crime. The U.S. government knew full well that Iraq posed no direct military threat to the U.S. or its neighbors, so the invasion constituted a war of aggression, the “supreme” crime according to the Nuremburg war crimes tribunal that judged the Nazis.

Now Bush claims, in part, that the U.S. is staying in Iraq to prevent “mass killings on a horrific scale,” while condemning Iran for “the murder of innocent Iraqis.” But it is the U.S. invasion itself, and the continuing direct actions of the U.S. military, that have led to “mass killings on a horrific scale” and the “murder of innocent Iraqis.”

A study by Johns Hopkins University published in the British medical journal Lancet estimated that some 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. That was two years ago, and the death toll continues. About 4.4 million Iraqis–out of a prewar population of 26 million–have fled to escape violence, half fleeing Iraq totally, with another 60,000 fleeing each month.

And the U.S. escalation–aka “surge”–has made things even worse: The Associated Press reports the death toll for Iraqi civilians is double what it was a year ago. In August, civilian deaths rose to their second highest level this year–at least 1, 809.The number of prisoners in U.S.-run jails in Iraq has also increased by fifty-percent under the so-called surge. The U.S. military is now holding some 24,500 prisoners–up from 16,000 earlier this year.

Bush’s true colors came out when he bragged on a recent trip to Australia that “we’re kicking ass.” Bush and the other U.S. politicians could not care less about the hundreds of thousands of human beings who have already died on account of their actions, or of the millions made homeless and destitute.

The Real Causes of the War

Bush told the American Legion on August 28: “It’s a noble cause. It is a just cause. It is a necessary cause.” And he declared: “America has enduring and vital interests in the [Middle East] region…It remains a strategic crossroads for the world…”

What is this “noble cause”? And more to the point what are the “enduring and vital interests” Bush is talking about? For starters, the Middle East contains some 60 percent of world oil reserves. For the imperialists, oil is both a critical source of profit and a strategic weapon to control the global economy and other countries which depend on oil. Control of this region is essential to global domination. This is why the U.S. has 170,000 troops and an armada of ships and military bases in the region, why it spends so much to build up the settler-colonial state of Israel and reactionary Arab tyrannies like Saudi Arabia, and why it is today threatening war on Iran.

This U.S. control has meant decades of terrible oppression for hundreds of millions of people. But every major candidate of both parties subscribes to the basic assumption that the U.S. must and should dominate this region and its people. This is at the heart of why the Democrats’ opposition is so half-hearted and “around the edges.” They are imperialist politicians representing imperialist interests.

After claiming for years that oil had nothing to do with the Iraq war, Bush now argues that if the U.S. wasn’t in the Middle East, “Extremists would control a key part of the world’s energy supply, could blackmail and sabotage the global economy. They could use billions of dollars of oil revenues to buy weapons and pursue their deadly ambitions.”

Here Bush lets out a little bit of the truth–in the service of an even more profound lie. These “extremists” Bush attacks are the Islamic fundamentalists–those who claim that the key to liberation for these oppressed societies would be Islamic states under the control of religious law. Now this movement does NOT pose a real way out for the masses. Indeed it is itself reactionary. Where it has achieved power (e.g., Iran, or Afghanistan under the Taliban) it has enforced a suffocating control of political life, and the suppression of science and critical thinking, by religious authorities; the even deeper subjugation and oppression of women, and the feudal and capitalist economic and social relations in which peasants are subject to landowners and workers to capitalists. Its program represents the interests and position of outmoded class forces–feudal landowners, small-time capitalists dependent on but also strangled by imperialist penetration of the economy, etc. It has not led, and cannot lead, to liberation from imperialist domination of these economies but, at most, to a different form of rule and bigger cut of the plunder for a different group of exploiters.

Now these forces do at this point pose an obstacle to the needs of the U.S. to more deeply penetrate the region and to forcibly restructure the societies there to ensure U.S. domination. But that is the problem Bush and the rest of the U.S. ruling class have with them. The U.S. rulers do not care one bit about the oppression of women–the U.S. supports governments that engage in similar oppression and is itself on a “mission” to deny women the right to abortion and birth control! And who is Bush to complain about “spending oil money on weapons”? Who gave the rulers of the U.S. the right to control world energy, spend billions on a monstrous military machine, and then use it to violently pursue its global ambitions? The class forces represented by Bush–imperialist monopoly capital–are no less outmoded than these “extremists” and are responsible by far for the greatest part of the untold suffering on a daily scale, along with horrendous aggression like the war in Iraq, that mark our world.

Knocking down these Islamic fundamentalist forces was in fact a big part of why the U.S. invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime. To be clear, Saddam Hussein’s regime was not Islamic fundamentalist. But the thinking behind the invasion was to begin by overrunning and occupying Iraq (which seemed at the time like it would be easy), and then to use Iraq as both an example and a jumping off point to forcibly restructure the whole region in the interests of U.S. imperialism, and smash any opposition whatsoever.

They Lied About the War… They’re Lying About the Occupation

The U.S. put together a regime of reactionary forces and calls them the democratic government of Iraq. The U.S. occupation has unleashed factional death squads which have ravaged the country with ethnic cleansing. They’ve tried to rewrite Iraqi laws to open its economy and oil wealth to U.S. capital. The U.S. has built massive military bases, some of which could be permanent and used to attack other countries. This is the reality behind Bush’s declaration that a “central objective” of U.S. strategy is to turn Iraq into “an ally in this war on terror,” and that “the future course of the Middle East will turn heavily on the outcome of the fight in Iraq,” and why he promises to stay for a “long term relationship.”

None of this is to say things would be fine in Iraq–or the region–the day U.S. forces left. Many forces–mostly reactionary at this point–have been uncorked by the imperialists’ very actions in Iraq. But the alternative–a continued U.S. occupation of Iraq with all the death and destruction that that entails, and a continued “war on terror” against other countries–is much, much worse. It would mean that the most oppressive power on earth would be even more dominant and in a much better position to proceed with still greater horrors carried out against others.

As September comes to a close, the picture is as sharp as the autumn air. The U.S. will continue to carry out its crimes in Iraq. The groundwork for a possible attack on Iran will be further laid (and such an attack could happen at any time). The Democrats will continue to channel people’s outrage into the dead end of the 2008 elections (and in the event of war against Iran, they have already pledged their support).

The time for massive political resistance is long overdue.

Global Research Articles by Larry Everest

 


To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Larry Everest, rwor.org, 2007
The url address of this article is:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6819

The Soviet Collapse, the Growth of Islamic Fundamentalism, and The Intensification of U.S. Hostility Toward Iran by Larry Everest

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Everest
Global Research, September 12, 2007
rwor.org

For over 100 years, the domination of Iran has been deeply woven into the fabric of global imperialism, enforced through covert intrigues, economic bullying, military assaults, and invasions. This history provides the backdrop for U.S. hostility toward Iran today—including the real threat of war. Part 1 of this series explored the rivalry between European imperialists up through World War 1 over which one would control Iran and its oil. Part 2 exposed the U.S.’s 1953 overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh’s secular, nationalist government in order to restore a tyrannical client, the Shah. Parts 3 and 4 examined the impact of 25 years of U.S. domination via the Shah, and how it paved the way for the 1979 revolution. Part 5 explored the 1979 revolution and the U.S. response, including how both fueled the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Part 6 exposed the imperialist logic—and necessities—behind Ronald Reagan’s 1985-86 “arms-for-hostages” gambit to Iran. Part 7, traces the escalation of U.S. hostility toward Iran—from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991until 2001, when George W. Bush took office.

The Soviet Collapse—A Geopolitical Earthquake

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a geopolitical earthquake—opening both new opportunities for and new threats to U.S. imperialism. In one swift stroke, the main rival to U.S. global power had (at least temporarily) been removed. America’s theoreticians of empire sensed a historic opportunity to forcefully extend U.S. global dominance and deal decisively with a raft of impediments—to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable empire.

This new mix of opportunity and necessity reshaped Washington’s approach to Iran. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the U.S. not only drove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait but destroyed much of Iraq’s military and industrial infrastructure—while Iran remained neutral. Afterward, the Islamic Republic’s leaders took some tentative steps to normalize relations with the U.S., which had been broken when the U.S. Embassy was seized in 1979. The Ayatollah Khomeini had died two years earlier and a new, more pragmatic leadership under President Rafsanjani had come to power. And Iran was eager to attract new foreign investment and trade to prop up its economy.

The U.S. wasn’t interested. The Islamic Republic was still an obstacle to U.S. aims on a number of fronts. The Soviet collapse hadn’t resolved the knot of problems the U.S. faced in the Middle East (in fact it exacerbated some) and it opened up a Pandora’s box in Central Asia,. The U.S. was increasingly bumping up against Iran in both regions. And now with the Soviet Union gone, U.S. strategists no longer felt the need to balance Iran and Iraq. Instead they could move more directly against both.

“Dual Containment”—Preserving the U.S.-Dominated Status Quo

The Clinton administration adopted a policy of “Dual Containment,” with punitive economic sanctions against Iran and Iraq, aimed at weakening and isolating both. Clinton and company feared that Iran’s regional needs and ambitions and the growth of Islamic fundamentalist movements could jeopardize the U.S.-dominated Middle East order.

Iran’s 1979 revolution and its anti-U.S., Islamist message still reverberated with people living under brittle pro-U.S. tyrannies in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan, and Egypt. The Soviet Union’s demise had weakened (sometimes fatally) many pro-Soviet parties and movements. This further strengthened Islamic fundamentalist trends, which were becoming the main pole of opposition to the U.S. and its clients. The Iranian revolution and then the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan emboldened Islamists who could now argue that if they had helped bring down the Shah and then a superpower, why couldn’t they do the same to the United States?

As the region’s main Islamist state, Iran represented an ideological challenge to U.S.-led imperialist globalization and “modernization.” The Islamic Republic represented a pole of opposition to some of the U.S.’s political objectives in the region, as well as a source of inspiration (and sometimes direct support) for various Islamic trends.

The Clinton administration viewed the U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” which was aimed at ending the Palestinian struggle and strengthening Israel, as crucial to undercutting anti-U.S. sentiments and strengthening U.S. control of the region. But Iran was an obstacle here—both because of its political support for the Palestinians and its material support of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Islamic Palestinian forces.

The U.S. also worried about Iran’s potential to become a major force in the region due to its size, location, vast oil resources, and its efforts to reach out to global powers. The fact that the U.S. 1991 war on Iraq had weakened it as a regional bulwark against Iran added to these worries.

Iran, meanwhile, was eager to attract foreign investment precisely to expand oil production and build its industrial and military infrastructure. In the early 1990s, Iran offered the U.S. oil giant Conoco $1 billion to help develop its oil and gas industry. This sparked a furor in the U.S. and led to the imposition of sanctions in 1995, blocking any U.S. companies from investing in Iran’s oil and natural gas industries (later expanded to punish foreign firms who did so).

A New “Great Game” in Central Asia

The Soviet collapse also had enormous repercussions for the U.S.—and Iran—in Central Asia. Suddenly, states formerly part of the Soviet Union possessing vast energy resources—Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan (today the site of the world’s largest oil development project)—were independent and up for grabs. Fierce competition was quickly underway between the U.S., Russia, China, as well as European powers for access, influence and control. Former Carter official Zbigniew Brzezinski warned, “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

Iran sought to expand its historic, geographic, cultural, and linguistic ties with these new republics. It also sought inclusion in the new energy arrangements centering on the construction of oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia to outlets for the global market. Iran lies between the energy-rich Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf to the south, and already had a network of pipelines. So why not transport oil and gas through Iran?

As Revolution noted, “If the pipes go south through Iran to its refineries and harbors, then the U.S. containment of Iran is broken…. The U.S. vetoed any Iranian route and insisted the pipes run over Afghanistan—to Pakistan.” (See “Afghanistan: The Oil Behind the War,” Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution ) November 4, 2001)

In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. and its ally Saudi Arabia were also covertly organizing and bankrolling anti-Iranian Sunni fundamentalist groups (including the Taliban) in order to isolate Iran and counter Iranian-inspired Shia Islamists, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These covert intrigues further fueled reactionary religious fundamentalism and sectarianism across the region.

The Clash Over Grand Strategy in the 1990s

U.S. strategy toward Iran was shaped by sharp debate within the bourgeoisie that took place during the 1990s over post-Soviet global strategy. The neocon strategy was articulated in 1992 by top officials in the George H.W. Bush administration (who returned to power under Bush II). It called for wielding U.S. military power to preemptively knock down potential rivals and establish unilateral global hegemony.

During his eight years in office, Clinton championed Washington’s “right” to act unilaterally and shape the global environment by force if need be, while emphasizing acting in alliance with other imperialist powers, an overall posture the administration called “assertive multilateralism.”

Clinton was not hesitant to use military force, as in the NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia, the military preservation of the no-fly zone over Iraq, and the taking out of targets in Sudan. And he pushed for NATO expansion into the former Soviet Bloc. But this was still in the context of a more traditional “multi-lateral approach” (in which the U.S. always had the final say and veto power). Further, there was a considerable focus by the Clinton administration on strengthening the U.S. economic hand globally, and aggressively pushing forward with imperialist globalization and things like “free trade agreements” in the interest of U.S. finance capital.

Clinton never adopted a strategy of regime change toward the Islamic Republic, but while emphasizing the stick, also dangled the carrot of better relations. U.S. bullying was, in the words of Clinton’s “Report to Congress on National Security Strategy” (January 11, 2000), “aimed at changing the practices of the Iranian government in several key areas,” while “signs of change in Iranian policies” were viewed “with interest…”

The neocons felt the Clinton administration was squandering the victory of the Cold War, allowing events to drift and threats to build. They considered Clinton’s approach too multilateral (vs. unilateral) and his efforts to forge a new wave of globalization (in the interest of U.S. imperialism) too economically focused. What these neocons saw was an opportunity to radically reshape global relations through a hard line, unilateral and vast step-up in the application of military force and an aggressive program of “regime change.”

Their view was that even though Saddam Hussein was not a major threat to the U.S., the Middle East needed to be radically reshaped or else it would keep generating anti-U.S. forces, particularly Islamic fundamentalist forces, which would get in the way of U.S. domination in the whole region—an objective shared by the whole ruling class, even while there were (and are) differences over how to go about achieving this.

This battle was intertwined with a sharp debate over the significance of resurgent Islamic fundamentalism, which had been sparked by serious Islamist challenges to the ruling regimes in Egypt, Algeria, and Afghanistan. According to author Robert Dreyfuss, there were basically two camps within the U.S. establishment: those who “argued that the United States had nothing to fear from the Islamic right” versus “the clash-of-civilizations school [championed by right-wing academics like Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis], which believed that the Muslim world was unalterably and fundamentally hostile to the West.”

George Bush’s capture of the presidency in 2000 followed by the attacks of September 11, 2001 led to the consolidation of the neocon grand strategy and the launching of the “war on terror” to carry it out. The U.S. war machine would be unleashed to defeat Islamic fundamentalism and take down states impeding U.S. objectives. Global relations were to be radically transformed, and America’s sole superpower status locked in for decades to come. Iran would quickly become a prime target in this war for greater empire, as we will explore in the next and final installment of this series.

References

Ali M. Ansari, Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Conflict in the Middle East, Chapter 4—The United States and the Islamic Republic, pp. 132-146

Bob Avakian, “The New Situation and the Great Challenges,” Revolution #36, February 26, 2006

Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, p. 30

Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, p. 316

Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, Chapter 8—A Growing Clamor for Regime Change

Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, Chapter 5: The Battle of Islamic Fundamentalisms, pp. 160-168

Global Research Articles by Larry Everest

 


To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Larry Everest, rwor.org, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6759


The U.S. & Iran: A History of Imperialist Domination, Intrigue and Intervention by Larry Everest

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Everest
Global Research, August 22, 2007
rwor.org

Part 6: The 1980s—Double-Dealing, Double-Crossing, and Fueling the Gulf Slaughter

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan sent a personally inscribed Bible and a key-shaped chocolate cake—along with offers of millions in military hardware and a new strategic relationship—as a gesture of goodwill to Iran’s Islamic Republic, then led by Ayatollah Khomeini. Some 16 years later, in 2002, President George W. Bush condemned Iran as part of an “axis-of-evil,” and has since targeted Iran, openly threatened it with a military attack, and refuses to normalize relations.

This seemingly dramatic shift is the product of dramatic global changes and therefore different opportunities and necessities confronting U.S. imperialism in the years between Reagan’s offer and Bush’s threats.

But there is also continuity here. The shift from Reagan to Bush may seem stark, but both were attempting, in different circumstances and with different tactics, to advance U.S. imperialist interests—including strengthening U.S. domination over Iran and the whole region.

The U.S. offer of military aid to Iran was in the midst of the bloody 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. This war was launched by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, with a bright green light from the Carter administration. The Islamic Republic had just taken power in Iran following the 1979 revolution overthrowing a hated American puppet—the Shah. The White House calculated that Iraq’s attack would weaken the new Republic, prevent it from threatening U.S. clients in the Persian Gulf, and force it to release the 444 U.S. personnel that were being held at the U.S. embassy.

Reagan’s offer didn’t come about because the U.S. imperialists had come to like or accept Iran’s new rulers. Far from it. The U.S. was stung by the Shah’s fall and saw the new Khomeini regime as an impediment to U.S. political, military, and economic control of Iran. And the U.S. was increasingly concerned about Iran’s efforts to promote anti-U.S. Islamist currents and play a larger role in the Middle East—such as in 1982 dispatching 1,500 Revolutionary Guards to Lebanon during its war with Israel to help found the armed group Hezbollah. In 1984, the U.S. put Iran on its list of countries supporting “terrorism.”

Fears of Soviet Coup in a “Geopolitical Pivot”

However, by 1985, the U.S. had an even bigger worry: that the Soviet Union could score a major geopolitical coup in the struggle for power in Iran after Ayatollah Khomeini (then in his 80s), died.

After the end of World War 2—and especially since the 1960s—U.S. actions in the Middle East were primarily shaped by its global rivalry with the Soviet Union, an imperialist power with a “communist” cover. This contention, including in Iran, had placed major constraints on what the U.S. could and couldn’t do. For instance, one reason the U.S. hadn’t directly or massively intervened militarily in the region was the fear that the Soviets would come to the aid of the targeted country and gain a new beachhead. And there was also the possibility that such a confrontation could spiral toward nuclear war.

As a result, during the 1980s, while the U.S. stepped up its military presence in the Persian Gulf, it was still forced to work through regional states—like Iraq—that it often despised and distrusted. Sometimes the U.S. was reduced to trying to play one side off against the other or use unreliable regional states as proxies. The Iran-Iraq War was a case in point, illustrating both the cynical depravity of America’s ruling imperialists—but also their limited options.

Domination of the Middle East—for both its vast energy resources and its strategically central location—had been a pillar of U.S. global power and the functioning of U.S. capitalism since the end of World War 2. What made the prospect of Soviet gains so threatening was that Iran is what Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski called a “geopolitical pivot”—a country whose fate can shape global geopolitics. Iran is large—four times the size of Iraq. It is strategically located—dominating the Persian Gulf geographically with 1,000 miles of coastline, bordering the energy-rich Caspian Sea, standing between the Soviet Union and the oil fields of the Middle East, and linking the Middle East and Central Asia. And it has the world’s second or third greatest oil reserves.

A June 1985 draft National Security Directive worried: “Soviet success in taking advantage of the emerging power struggle to insinuate itself in Iran would change the strategic balance in the area.” A debate ensued in the Reagan administration, and ultimately those pushing for attempting to open a strategic dialogue with Iran’s leaders prevailed. National Security Advisor Adm. John Poindexter wrote, “We have an opportunity here that we should not miss…if it doesn’t work, all we’ve lost is a little intelligence and 1,000 TOW missiles. And if it does work, then maybe we change a lot of things in the Mideast.”

The U.S. sent several high-level missions to Iran to attempt to work out a deal. Beginning in the fall of 1985, the U.S. began secretly shipping TOW anti-tank missiles, Hawk missile parts, and Hawk radars to Iran, first via Israel and, beginning in early 1986, directly to Tehran. The immediate goal was the release of U.S. personnel held by Islamists in Lebanon. But the broader objective was building links and gaining leverage with Iran’s rulers and heading off any Soviet efforts to do likewise.

What U.S. Imperialists & Iranian Theocrats Have in Common

Reagan’s offer of “arms-for-hostages” also reflected an appreciation by the U.S. rulers of what the imperialists had in common with Iran’s theocrats. For all its anti-U.S. posturing, the Islamic Republic’s program was never about breaking free of the imperialist-dominated world order. Iran’s clerics explicitly upheld capitalism and private property. Iran’s economy was still geared to producing oil for the world market (80 percent of its government revenue still comes from oil sales), and it still relied on various technological and marketing agreements with global multinationals to do so. Iran welcomed foreign investment. Iran’s clerics preserved (and in many ways strengthened) the traditional class and social relations which were the internal basis of imperialism’s dominance. And they butchered those in Iran—communists, leftists, revolutionary intellectuals, and democrats—who were part of the struggle against U.S. domination of Iran.

Of course, for Reagan and his officials, cutting a deal never meant treating Iran with mutual respect and equality. The point was to incorporate and subordinate Iran in a U.S.-dominated order—through a mix of inducements, threats, and bloody double-dealing. The goal remained, as The New York Times put it in 1984, “that both [Iran and Iraq] should lose” and that their “mutual exhaustion” would further U.S. interests in the region. So in true Mafia godfather fashion, as Reagan was dispatching envoys, gifts, and arms to Iran, his team had also set up a secret intelligence link with Iraq, giving it near real-time battlefield intelligence to use against Iran. And Reagan himself sent Saddam a secret message urging him to step up the bombing of Iran.

In the fall of 1986, the U.S.’s Iran initiative collapsed (for a number of reasons, including deep distrust between the two governments and divisions among the U.S. rulers) after the arms-for-hostages arrangement was revealed by a Lebanese magazine. This, plus growing fears that Iran might defeat Iraq, led the U.S. to tilt decisively back to Iraq. It stepped up military and intelligence aid and increased its direct naval presence in the Gulf. On July 2, 1988, the U.S. warship Vincennes shot down an unarmed Iranian passenger jet—killing all 290 onboard. The U.S. claimed it was an accident, but the Iranian leadership apparently read it as a not-so-veiled threat: “halt the war or face further American attacks.” On July 18, just 16 days later, Khomeini accepted a UN cease-fire resolution.

By that time, thanks in large part to U.S. encouragement for and direct aid in the mutual slaughter, an estimated 367,000 to 262,000 Iranians and 105,000 Iraqis had been killed, and 700,000 were injured or wounded on both sides.

Next: Part 7: 1985-2007: From Containment to Confrontation—Possibly War

 


References

Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, Chapter 4–“Arming Iraq, Double-Dealing Death in the Gulf”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard—American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, p. 41

Global Research Articles by Larry Everest

 


To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Larry Everest, rwor.org, 2007
The url address of this article is:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6607