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Is the U.S. preparing an attack?

Bush stokes crisis with Iran

Published Mar 16, 2006 2:13 AM

On the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, where U.S. forces have become bogged down in a hated occupation, the world is watching with alarm as the Bush administration relentlessly pursues a new crisis with Iran.

In a televised speech on March 13 to defend his conduct of the Iraq war, President George W. Bush injected an attack denouncing the Iranian government for allegedly sending explosives to the resistance in Iraq. He declared, “Such actions, along with Iran’s support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, are increasingly isolating Iran, and America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.”

Supporting “terrorism” is how Bush characterizes Iran’s support for the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance to Israeli occupation and aggression. The Bush administration has declared, without an ounce of proof and in spite of all denials, that any attempt by Iran to develop peaceful nuclear power is a step toward building nuclear weapons.

Bush’s attack on Iran was no isolated rhetorical flourish. The Washington Post reported, “As the dispute over its nuclear program arrives at the Security Council today, Iran has vaulted to the front of the U.S. national security agenda amid Bush administration plans for a sustained campaign against the ayatollahs of Teheran.” (March 13)

“They do not use the term ‘regime change’ in public,” said the Post, but that is the policy. The newspaper quotes Richard Haass, Bush’s former State Department policy planning director who now heads the Council on Foreign Relations, the powerful think-tank in New York, as saying that “the upper hand is with those who are pushing regime change rather than those who are pushing for more diplomacy.”

A chorus of threats

This explains the recent chorus of threats coming from high Bush officials. On March 7, Vice President Dick Cheney gave a speech to the deep-pocketed Zionist lobbying group, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), threatening Iran with “meaningful consequences” if it continues to insist on its sovereign right to develop nuclear energy. “For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table.… We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” warned Cheney. (www.TomPaine.com)

On the same day as Cheney’s speech, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld menaced Iran at a Pentagon news conference: “They are currently putting people in Iraq to do things that are harmful.… And it is something that they, I think, will look back on as having been an error in judgment.” And during the same week, UN Ambassador John Bolton said Iran would face “tangible and painful consequences.”(The Progressive, March 12)

Two days later, on March 9, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a Senate committee that the U.S. “faces no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran” and declared that Iran was the “central banker for terrorism” in the Middle East.(www.TomPaine.com)

In a coordinated move with his senior imperialist master, British Foreign Secre tary Jack Straw made a major speech saying that “Iran is going in the wrong direction” and “Iran and the people deserve better than this,” referring to the elected Iranian government.

Right to self-determination
and self-defense

Of course, Iran has the complete right to develop nuclear power, even under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The head of the International Atomic Ener gy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBa radei, has repeatedly said inspectors found nothing to support U.S. and Israeli claims of nuclear weapons development. Iran has allowed UN weapons inspectors to go anywhere and everywhere.

Furthermore, from a political point of view of the right to self-determination, the Iranians have a right to develop any means of self-defense against their former oppres sors. The British imperialists and British Petroleum ruled in Iran until they were thrown out by a nationalist revolution in 1951 led by Mohammed Mossa degh. Mos sa degh was overthrown in a CIA-MI6 coup in 1953, and the Shah, one of the most brutal rulers of the 20th century, was placed in power by the U.S. government. U.S. oil companies then seized the oil riches. It took the revolution of 1979 and great sacrifice by the Iranian people to oust the U.S. puppet Shah and establish national sovereignty.

These former oppressors of the Iranian people in Washington and London have an agenda that goes far beyond the nuclear issue. It is the same agenda they had in Iraq: reconquest and neocolonization to control the oil. They want to destroy the hard-won national independence of the Iranian people, by any means they can—by subversion if possible, by military attack if necessary.

They have bullied and maneuvered the French and German imperialists, the Putin regime in Russia and the Chinese government into taking part in the campaign to isolate Iran. They have used the so-called EU-3 negotiations, the IAEA, and now they are trying to use the UN Security Council to further their ends and set the diplomatic and legal stage for forcing Iran to capitulate or to face sanctions and eventual military action.

Of course, all the players in the imperialist game of attempted strangulation of Iran avow their love for the Iranian people, their desire to resolve the issue through peaceful means and negotiations. But this is just so much camouflage.

Whether or not the Pentagon will attack Iran if it refuses to surrender its sovereign ty cannot be known with certainty. U.S. imperialism has a host of contradictions to deal with. But the anti-war movement must take this danger as seriously as the Iranian people are undoubtedly taking it.

Downing Street memos

In this regard, the present maneuvers with the IAEA and the Security Council must be viewed in the light of the infamous Downing Street memos of July 23, 2002—eight months before the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq.

Workers World last summer (July 29, 2005) carried an article entitled “Lenin’s ‘Imperialism’ and the Downing Street memos.” Downing Street is the residence of the British prime minister. Documents had just been leaked to the media about a secret cabinet meeting that had been held there on July 23, 2002, regarding the U.S. plans to attack Iraq.

One memo said: “C, [head of the British foreign intelligence] reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around policy.”

This problem did not faze the Labor Party cabinet. In the memo, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was quoted as saying, “We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow backing UN weapons inspectors. This would help with the legal justification for the use of force.”

An earlier meeting of the Overseas Defense Secretariat Cabinet on March 8 had concluded that: “A legal justification for invasion would be needed … none currently exists. This makes moving quickly to invade legally very difficult. We should therefore consider a staged approach estab lishing international support, building up pressure on Saddam and developing military plans. There is a lead time of about six months to a ground offensive.”

Now fast-forward to the report by the Washington Post this March 13. It describes the shift to a new, aggressive “regime change” orientation in the Bush administration regarding Iran:

“Now that the nuclear issue is at the Security Council, the U.S. strategy is to escalate gradually rather than force an immediate climax. The first step would be a statement by the council president declar ing Iran in violation of nuclear treaty obligations and demanding that it suspend uranium enrichment. If that fails, the council could be asked to impose economic sanctions or pass a resolution allowing military force to enforce compliance. Russia and China, which have veto power, seem unlikely to support either move.”

Military planning in progress

Consider also a report in the London Telegraph of Feb. 12 that said, “Strategists in the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran’s nuclear sites. ... Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation. ...

“They are reporting to the office of Don ald Rumsfeld ... as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails.…

“‘This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment,’ said a senior Pentagon adviser. ‘This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months.’”

It must be remembered that Washing ton and London could not get Security Council authorization for the invasion of Iraq either, but it took place anyway.

World domination
and military madness

Numerous observers point out the vast differences between Iraq and Iran. First of all the U.S. military is already bogged down in Iraq. Secondly, Iran has three times more people. It has not been weakened, as Iraq was, by a prior imperialist attack in 1991 and 12 years of sanctions and bombings. An attack on Iran could completely undermine the U.S. occupation in Iraq because of the large Shiite population in both countries. The hatred for Washington would be so great that there is a strong potential for a regional uprising and a general conflagration.

So the question remains, how could the Bush administration actually contemplate something that is seemingly contrary to its own imperialist interests?

In this regard it must be understood that the third anniversary of the Iraq war is also the third anniversary of crisis for the Bush administration. Its attempt to establish U.S. world domination, its proclaimed aim in the wake of Sept. 11, stalled almost immediately after the invasion and the outbreak of determined resistance.

The premise for world domination by Washington is that the Pentagon represents an unstoppable force. If the Iraq occu pation has done anything, however, it has revealed the vulnerability of the U.S. military machine. The Pentagon superpower has been encircled and profoundly humbled by a poorly armed but dogged resistance for three years. Its situation shows no improvement, indeed a marked deterioration on display every day.

The goal of the Pentagon generals and the would-be architects of world domination is to restore the reputation of the U.S. military to its pre-Iraq war level. This is a long-range, strategic necessity for Wash ington. They may choose risking instability and social uprisings for the sake of reasserting their sole superpower dominance that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

This urge flows from the systemic needs of the U.S. oil companies, banks and trans national corporations to expand throughout the globe, to secure new markets, new resources, new workers to exploit, and to overcome the permanent crisis of imperialism and the profit system. These contradictions could lead to another insane military adventure.