Anti-war movement debates Iran, the Middle East and U.S. wars
Published Jul 20, 2009 9:30 PM
The conflict in Iran that opened up with the June presidential elections there
has had an impact on the progressive and anti-imperialist movement worldwide,
including in the United States. Misunderstanding the events has created some
confusion in anti-war ranks. This is especially dangerous after Vice President
Joe Biden on July 5 gave a virtual green light to an Israeli attack on Iran.
The anti-war movement must stay alert to protest any move in that
When very large crowds of people took to the streets in Tehran on June 15 to
protest the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it appeared that this
was an authentic popular movement, even if its strongest base was in the more
affluent parts of the city.
Young people and women apparently were playing a large role in the protests.
Some of the demands were for women’s rights and other democratic rights
that were constrained by the religious political leadership of Iran’s
revolution. It was easy for Western secular progressives to identify with the
But some big questions remained.
If the protests were progressive, why did all the imperialist politicians in
Europe and the United States and their corporate media take the sides of the
opposition? This is especially strange since the key players in the opposition,
the candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and former President Ali Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani, were themselves identified with the regime in the past. At the
time, U.S. sources even charged Mousavi with responsibility for overseeing the
1983 blast in Lebanon that killed over 200 U.S. Marines, since he was
Iran’s premier then.
Rafsanjani, who is one of the richest people in Iran, is associated with
increased privatization of industry and banking and with opening friendlier
relations with U.S. imperialism. This would necessarily include cutting back on
support for the Hamas and Hezbollah liberation movements and perhaps for Syria,
and increasing cooperation with the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. How would
privatization and cooperation with the U.S. increase democratic rights inside
A serious consideration of these questions must include an examination of U.S.
imperialism’s goals regarding the entire Middle East and Central Asia.
The George W. Bush administration used the 9/11 attack as a pretext to justify
U.S. military aggression in the entire region—although the real goal was
to conquer its world-important energy resources. A look at the news in the
second week of July shows that this basic strategy remains in place.
U.S. troops still in Iraq
Some deceptive headlines gave the false impression that U.S. troops essentially
withdrew from Iraq on June 30. Yet 134,000 troops remain in the country. They
pulled out of 142 posts that were inside Iraqi cities, turning these posts over
to Iraqi troops, but remain in 320 other posts around Iraq.
In some cases, rather than moving, the U.S. and Iraqi forces simply redefined
the city boundaries, leaving the troops where they were. Such was the case with
the U.S. Army’s Forward Operating Base Falcon, which used to be located
inside Baghdad. Now, with a new boundary drawn, the 3,000 U.S. troops there are
“outside” the city limits.
U.S. troops and higher paid mercenaries are expanding and improving their rural
bases and even building new ones. Even if the Obama administration sticks to
the announced timetable, at least 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq until
at least the end of 2011. A war-spending bill the Democrat-controlled Congress
just passed pours another $100 billion into the occupations of Iraq and
Afghanistan. (Information from the website of Iraq expert Dahr
Washington escalates war on Afghanistan and Pakistan
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, U.S. troop levels have already grown to 57,000 and
are set to rise to 68,000 during the year. According to McClatchy News Service,
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said July 13
“that when he gives his assessment to the Obama administration next month
of what is needed to defeat the Taliban, he won’t be deterred by
administration statements that he cannot have more U.S. troops.”
Britain, too, has escalated its presence in Afghanistan, with the result that
15 British troops died in the two weeks ending July 13. The Afghan occupation
is nominally under NATO command. European leaders have ignored popular anti-war
sentiment to send troops to the Afghan front, basing their appeal on President
Obama’s reviving U.S. popularity in Europe after Bush brought its ratings
to an all-time low.
Support for the war is waning quickly as the casualties mount, in Britain as
well as in the rest of Europe and Canada.
Even the New York Times has had to admit that the increased troop strength and
military activity in Afghanistan, with an increase in civilian casualties, is
helping recruiting by the Taliban and other resistance forces. (July 3)
Along with Afghanistan is increased U.S. intervention in Pakistan. Both drones
and planes are sent to bomb and rocket alleged “insurgent” targets,
while the Pentagon pushes the Pakistani regime to send its army into border
areas. Both activities have increased civilian deaths and created millions of
refugees inside Pakistan. They have also increased recruiting by opposition
forces, some allied with the Afghan resistance.
U.S. policies in Palestine
Washington’s policy toward Palestine has been to continue support for the
Israeli state, despite Israel’s refusal to even stop new settlements in
the occupied West Bank and its brutal blockade of the Gaza territory. It is
based on U.S. strategic interests in the region, which involve relying on the
Israeli state as a weapon against any liberation movement or sovereign
government in the region.
The U.S.-based media attacked the Iranian elections as fraudulent. But remember
that in Palestine, Washington and Israel refused to recognize what they knew
were honest elections that made Hamas the leading party in 2006. Since then the
U.S.-Israeli alliance has used force and withheld aid to try to drive Hamas
Washington hasn’t altered its basic policy of occupation and control
since the replacement of the neo-con regime fronted by Bush. So it’s
consistent with their past misdeeds that the corporate media and all
imperialist politicians—at least in North America and Europe—have
targeted the Iranian government over the elections and have praised the
Whatever the motive of the protesters themselves in Tehran, the
imperialists’ motive is to eliminate Iranian sovereignty and reverse the
N.E.D.-funded group calls anti-Iran protest
A group in the U.S. calling itself United 4 Iran has called for protests on
July 25 targeting the Iranian government. It says this is in sympathy with the
youth and women involved in opposition demonstrations there. The
anti-imperialist Stop War on Iran group, in response, issued a statement
exposing the connections of United 4 Iran with funding groups closely
associated with U.S. foreign policy—like the National Endowment for
Democracy—and argues against any support for these protests.
“U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s new public threat against Iran
underlines the dangers of a new war in the Middle East and the desperate need
for political clarity within the anti-war movement concerning Iran,” the
SWOI statement begins.
“With his July 5 comments on ABC’s This Week, Biden opened the door
to a military attack when he said that the U.S. would not stand in the way of
an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, calling such an attack
Israel’s ‘sovereign right.’”
SWOI notes that some anti-war organizations have endorsed the United 4 Iran
action, including United for Peace and Justice, and “urges them and other
honest anti-war forces to reconsider their endorsement of the anti-Iran
SWOI urges everyone instead to “come out AGAINST current U.S. wars and
the threats of a new war on the following week in a National Day of Coordinated
Actions on Saturday, Aug. 1.” To read the full statement and/or to
participate, see stopwaroniran.org.
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