Target Iran? | by Aref Nazari

by Nov 20, 2011Middle East

target_iranRecent reports suggest plans are being laid in Washington and Whitehall for an attack on Iran. The anti-war movement has never been more important.

Nothing to do with Iran. That’s how the Israeli Defence Force responded after their five-day large-scale military exercise in Sardinia and test-firing of a ballistic missile (capable of carrying a 1,300-kilogram nuclear warhead) coincided with news of US plans for a military build-up in the Persian gulf and reports of British government contingency preparations in support of any US military intervention in Iran.

By chance it also happened in advance of the latest IAEA report which raised ‘serious concerns’ over Iran’s nuclear programme. The logic being, of course, is that military strikes might be needed to avoid such an eventuality.
Of course no one is under any illusions where the real threat lies. As a non-signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel knows its nuclear arsenal is safe from the prying eyes of any inspectors. Britain is spending billions of tax payers money to replace its Trident nuclear submarine-system and the US – stationed on Iran’s borders in Afghanstan and Iraq – holds thousands of nuclear warheads and is the only country to have ever used them.

IAEA report
Putting the hypocrisy to one side, however, anyone actually bothering to read the report would be alarmed, even by their own standards, by the lack of any conclusive evidence and by the extent of speculation in the report.

Astonishingly, completely missing from the report is any mention or evidence of Iran’s capability of achieving weapons grade uranium i.e. enriching uranium to 90% (HEU), a key requirement for a nuclear weapon. The Russians have rubbished the report and opposed any new sanctions. Even the ISIS, a US security agency, found Iran’s enriched uranium production rate has in fact fallen and what was ‘notably absent’ was ‘any assessment by the IAEA of Iran’s capability to make a nuclear explosive device’.

More significantly, as Seymour Hersh unveiled in another excellent piece for the New Yorker back in June, the latest report by the National Insurance Estimate (NIE), a collection of 16 US intelligence agencies, has remained ‘classified’ after it found no evidence whatsoever of Iranian nuclear-weaponisation despite concerted efforts by US spies, including replacing bricks in buildings with radioactivity sensors.

It’s pretty obvious then, that the IAEA report is part and parcel of a wider attempt to bully, coerce and threaten Iran. As Wikileaks revealed last year, the new head of the IAEA is a pro-US man keen to toe the line. This hasn’t stopped the mainstream Western media rolling out the sensationalist headlines about an Iranian nuclear bomb, with the blood spilt in Libya barely having a moment to dry.

Imperialist failures
The roots of these developments stem from imperialist failures new and old. Whilst NATO intervention in Libya was an attempt by Western imperialism to wrestle control over the course of the Arab revolutions, it’s the US government’s incapability of exerting any influence over Iran that lies at the heart of these latest accusations and threats.

US officials rarely admit to defeats or failures, but the Iranian revolution of 1979 was such a heavy blow for American imperialism that even neoconservatives talk about having ‘lost Iran’. The Shah – a huge US arms purchaser (including a nuclear energy programme involving plutonium extraction), who ruled Iran with an iron fist and a brutal secret police force, who welcomed CIA operatives into the country and policed the region for the US – was swept away overnight, replaced by a fiercely anti-American government that acted independently from US diktats.

Ever since, the US ruling class have made a series of botched attempts at dealing with this problem – from their support for Saddam Hussain in the Iran-Iraq war through to Clinton’s policy of ‘dual containment’. The most spectacular of these failures was the War on Terror which, far from rebalancing the region in the interests of the US as intended, has inadvertently resulted in an Iran with increased influence and power in the region – yet still independent from the US

Consequences of war
Domestically for Iranians these threats could not come at a worse time. Deep political fractures at the top between the Supreme Leader, the Revolutionary Guards and Ahmadinejad, born out of the election crisis uprisings in June 2009, will be glued together by external threats of war. Conservative elements will use it as an opportunity to crack down on a democracy movement already under huge pressure, with activists in prison facing long sentences and even the main reformist parties banned from standing in the next elections.

Any further sanctions will only continue to affect the poorest sections of society already suffering from huge levels of inflation, unemployment and inequality from a combination of existing Western sanctions and neoliberal economic policies begun by the reformists in the 1990s and accelerated under Ahmandinejad.

Some say a war is too risky, and hence these are just empty Western threats, pointing to Iran’s capability of retaliating against the US and Israel, and closing the Straits of Hormuz where 40 per cent of the world’s oil shipments pass. Indeed, an Iranian attack is a high-risk gamble even for the most hawkish imperialist. That’s why ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan says its ‘the most stupidest thing [he’s] ever heard’ (not out of any concern for the resulting death and destruction obviously).

We mustn’t be complacent however. With capitalism in its severest crisis since the 1930s, sparks that can ignite resistance and revolution can also fire up imperialist powers into devastating military adventures. These deliberately leaked threats of military action may well be designed mainly to pressure China and Russia in to coming on board the sanctions campaign. But they have raised the stakes in a way that may well be hard to control. They have certainly strengthened the position of Netanyahu and the war party in Israel, who were already in a very dark mood.

Rather than speculating on eventualities we have to ask ourselves this: what would have happened had the global anti-war movement and its political manifestations never existed before September 2008, when Israel asked for a green light from the Bush administration to bomb Iran? Would we now be dealing with the consequences of another horrific war? Would we have witnessed the explosion of the Green movement in 2009? The anti-war movement has stalled a war with Iran thus far. It’s crucial we continue to do so.

Source: Counterfire

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