editorial - SchNEWS, 4 November 2005
"The push by the UK, France and Germany to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, while rooted in the language of diplomacy, is really nothing less than an act of war."
- Scott Ritter, former Chief UN Weapons-inspector in Iraq
Iran is the new Iraq. The reaction of the US and UK leaders to a comment made by the Iranian President couldn't have shown that more clearly. OK, so President Ahmadinejad's comments about wiping Israel off the map were never going to help them get a win-new-Western-friends award but they weren't supposed to be taken as a statement outlining foreign policy intentions. They were part of a speech to a student conference in Tehran where he went on to say that the Palestine issue would continue until "a democratic government elected by the people comes to power". And comments like this have been standard rhetoric for Iranian Presidents ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979. So why all the big fuss now?
Jackboot Straw has already shifted from saying that military action against Iran is "inconceivable" to saying that it is "inconceivable in relation to the nuclear issue". So is the 'War on Terror' about to spread democracy to Iran?
For some time UK plc and US Inc have been moaning about Iran's support for the Iraqi insurgency. Prime Sinister Blair recently declared, without any sense of irony, "There is no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq." Come again?! Hello Mr Kettle, meet Mr Pot.
And this isn't the first time that the UK and US have clubbed together to mould political events in Iran to their strategic needs. Back in 1933, the government of the Iranian King (Shah) guaranteed British control over Iranian oil for 60 years. Leading a movement against this, Mohammed Mossadegh was elected Prime Minister in 1951 and quickly started to enforce an Oil Nationalisation Act. Not best pleased at potentially losing their grip on the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the CIA and MI6 agreed to support the Shah and help him dismiss the Prime Minster and his nationalist cabinet. Shortly after, massive rioting erupted in support of the Prime Minister and the Shah legged it to Italy. But three days later the spooks weighed in and a tank attack on Mossadegh's home was organised. Within a few hours Mossadegh and his top cabinet leaders surrendered. The Shah promptly flew back to Iran and ruled the country with an iron fist for another 29 years, toeing the Western line and leaving the oil multinationals in charge of Iran's black gold.
Not that getting into bed with the West bought much loyalty of course - during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the West covertly supported and armed the aggressor, our old friend Saddam Hussein. Well, shucks, we never meant anything by it...
And the current posturing is about more than just making sure the oil flows in the right direction. Ensuring that the dollar remains the basis for transactions in the world economy guarantees US dominance over the process of economic globalisation. Now a mob of disrespectful countries, including Iran, is seriously threatening the US economy by moving to trade petrol in euros rather than dollars. Such a move has the potential to cause an economic crisis in the US and helps to explain why the Bush mob is so determined to wipe out the leaders of countries like Iran, Iraq and Venezuela ('Axis of Evil' anyone?).
pa$$ the buck
Iraq started to trade oil in euros in 1999. Four years later Iran did the same and may soon be joined by others. Such a move would mean consuming nations having to swap some of their dollars for euros to be able to buy or sell oil, leading to a freefall in the value of the dollar. The US economy is already knackered and is only propped up by rabid consumption. The US is the most debt-ridden nation on earth - owing $3,500,000,000,000 to various creditors (and we thought our bar tab was bad!). China, meanwhile, holds the second largest reserves of dollars in the world which means they could wreak havoc on the US economy by selling greenbacks. Similair tactics against currencies have been well used as an economic weapon by the US, not just against upstart third world countries but also against the UK during the Suez Crisis in 1956.
The comments about Israel by the conservative Ahmadinejad were part of local political shoring up manoeuvres in the face of the impending UN Security Council's condemnation of Iran's supposed intentions to build a nuclear bomb. In response, Ahmadinejad sacked his ambassador to London and announced a trade embargo of British goods, busily adopting the tactics of Saddam: when under threat, pose as the defender of Palestine and lambast the Israeli state. Ahmadinejad was a student of Khomeini and hopes to revitalise the decaying Islamic revolution. Despite the continued grip on power by Khomeini supporters, a large part of Iran's youthful population is far more hostile to fundamentalism than before. If the UK and US wait a while longer, there could be an Islamic democracy in the region. But that's the problem: any alternative to Westernised corporate democracy must be avoided and an excuse for war quickly found.
As the war drums grow louder, UK Defence Secretary John Reid recently commented that "some countries, for instance, Iran, have been trying to develop nuclear weapons by deceiving the world, not complying with their obligations under the non-proliferation treaty". But it's Reid who's deceiving: under Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran is a signatory, the country not only has the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but nuclear powers have an obligation to help it in furthering this aim.
oh, the Iran-y
Not that SchNEWS reckons anyone developing nuclear anything is a good idea, but the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, has said that Iran is fully compliant with its obligations under the treaty, confirming that "all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and, therefore, such material is not diverted to prohibited activities." Some countries that have nukes, whether they admit it or not, including Israel, Pakistan and India, won't even sign up to the NPT never mind allow IAEA inspections. And all the while the Bush administration is developing nuclear "bunker busters" that can strike deep underground, and Britain has ordered a new generation of Trident missiles, blowing away their own obligations under the NPT about reducing their nukes.
But when has a total absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction ever stopped an invasion? The doctrine of pre-emptive war adopted by the White House means that once again we face the manipulation of intelligence to justify an attack that has been planned for months. A recently leaked document from the CIA confirmed that, under orders from Dick 'Vice' Cheney, US Strategic Command had drawn up contingency plans for a "large scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and nuclear weapons."
Speaking at a recent conference, the former UN Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter, predicted that the US will attack from Azerbaijan and head straight for Tehran. By hitting Iran hard with air strikes, then applying pressure on the regime with the presence of ground troops on the country's borders and encircling the capital, the aim is to create the conditions for a civilian uprising to depose the regime. Iranians will then presumably embrace their US liberators and become nice little consumers of Western goods happy to be living in a country free of Islamic fundamentalism. Er, just like the roaring successes of Iraq and Afghanistan? Remember, the US and UK aren't really too concerned about peace in the Middle East, they want control. Take a look at the corporate involvement in Iraq and you might be able to gue$$ why.
- SchNEWS (4th November 2005)