As the crisis of capitalism intensifies, the principal imperialist powers are manoeuvring to isolate and destroy those countries seeking to pursue the path of independence. Humiliated by the failure of its adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, Anglo-American imperialism is taking every opportunity it is afforded to undermine, conspire and plot against any and every nation outside of its total dominance.
A glance through any revolutionary newspaper at the moment is enough to demonstrate the seriousness of the times we are now entering. There is not a corner of the world that is free from some new scheme of the aggressive imperialist marauders.
In the case of Iran, the United States and Britain have been trying for decades to create a favourable opportunity to topple the country’s anti-imperialist government. Since 1979, Iran’s nationalised industries, subsidised consumer goods and state-supported farmers have taunted imperialist corporations with the spectres of the profits that could have been made if only a pliant regime could be brought back.
As Stephen Gowans put it on his What’s Left website:
“Washington doesn’t want to bring about a change of regime in Tehran to install a pliant government that will help expand US power [at least, not for power’s sake alone]. It wants to [use that power to] bring about a change of regime in Tehran that will cancel economic policies aimed at Iran’s self-development and replace them with policies that will open up the country’s resources, markets, labour and land to US banks, corporations and investors. It wants the holy trinity of free-trade, free-enterprise and free-markets at the centre of poor countries’ economic policies, not protected trade, not state-owned and subsidised enterprises, and not trade barriers. ”
Attempts to topple Iran’s government
To this end, in recent years alone, we’ve seen failed attempts at regime change through an imperialist-organised ‘colour revolution’ and we’ve been witness to failed attempts to collapse the regime through the collective blackmail of draconian economic sanctions.
Recently, in an effort to ratchet up the pressure, we’ve had half-hearted blustering accusations of possible development of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ forced from the mouths of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) despite a palpable lack of evidence to back them up.
At the time of the Iranian elections in 2007, the Telegraph carried a report by Toby Harnden in which notorious US imperialist hatchet man John Bolton spelt out in no uncertain terms the blatant warmongering attitude of ruling circles in Washington. He remarked that a US military attack upon Iran was to be a ‘last option’ once attempts to overthrow the regime by sanctions and ‘popular’ uprisings had failed. In the same article Bolton was reported as stating:
“We’ve got to go with regime change by bolstering opposition groups and the like … if all else fails, if the choice is between a nuclear-capable Iran and the use of force, then I think we need to look at the use of force.”
With imperialist plans for ‘regime change from within’ in tatters, and with the rising crisis biting hard, imperialism is clearly reverting to Plan B: the use of open, naked force.
In the first week of December last year Iranian forces were successful in obtaining a US RQ-170. Whilst it might sound like ticket numbers for the Euro millions lottery, the RQ-170 is a much bigger jackpot win. Built in secret by weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, the RQ-170 is the cutting edge in modern drone technology. It can operate at heights of 50,000ft and, unlike an orbiting surveillance satellite, the RQ-170 can stay in position and feed back to intelligence analysts for hours if not days. According to the New York Times:
“In addition to video cameras, independent experts say the drone almost certainly carries communications intercept equipment and sensors that can detect tiny amounts of radioactive isotopes and other chemicals that can give away nuclear research.
“News reports in south Korea in 2009 said the United States planned to base the RQ-170 drone there to fly surveillance missions over north Korea, whose nuclear and missile programmes are a top American intelligence target.”
What is really infuriating for the US is that this particular bird was caught by the Iranians 140 miles inside their territory and brought down using sophisticated electronic techniques. As a result, the RQ-170 didn’t crash land, and nor was it able to make it back to the border with Afghanistan from whence it came.
With a finesse that must have had Washington in a fit of rage, the Iranians safely landed the drone in perfect condition and put her on display for all the world to see. The same article in the New York Times commented:
“Two officials said that the United States briefly considered going in to retrieve the downed drone, or to destroy it, as first reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, but the operation was deemed too risky. There are questions about whether Iran could reverse-engineer the technology, though they certainly could sell the vehicle to China, Russia or other countries with a deep interest in it.
“ ‘The flights from Moscow and Beijing to Tehran were probably quite full the last few days,’ said P W Singer, who studies military robotics at the Brookings Institution.
“Mr Singer said that the most sought-after technology on the craft is probably its array of sensors, which may include sophisticated radar that is more advanced than anything Russia or China use currently. ”
Straits of Hormuz
In an escalation of imperialist aggression the United States and the European Union are attempting to increase the sanctions aimed at weakening and destabilising Iran. In a similar measure to that adopted by the EU to embargo Syrian oil, France, Germany and the UK pushed hard for an embargo on Iranian oil exports, achieving their goal on 23 January.
In a pincer movement, the Obama administration is seeking to impose strict sanctions aimed at excluding Iran from global energy markets (Iran is currently the world’s third-largest energy exporter). The moves in the US are also tied into attempts to restrict the ability of those who deal with Iran’s central bank to trade in the USA, revealing quite clearly that US imperialism is nothing but a racketeering gangster; or, in the words of RT’s global financial markets expert Max Keiser, a “financial terrorist”.
As justification for its provocative behaviour, the Council of the European Union cited in the vaguest terms the findings of the recent IAEA report, bellyaching that the “deeply buried underground facility in Fordow near Qom further aggravates concerns”. Undoubtedly, the council would much prefer that all nuclear enrichment should be done in the open air so as to assist the RQ-170 drones and US-Israeli bombers!
Regular readers of Proletarian will already be acquainted with the real findings of the IAEA’s report, but for the benefit of new readers we reproduce the following brief passage from our last issue:
“Uranium deemed ‘weapons-grade’ is that which has been enriched to a level of 85 percent or more. At present, Iran’s most highly-enriched samples only extend to between 20 and 25 percent, and even if the country decided to pursue further enrichment at break-neck speed it would take between three and seven years to develop between two and six useable nuclear weapons.
“These [u]two or six potential weapons [/u] contrast sharply with the actually existing, fully-developed arsenal of Israel, which is estimated to include around [u]two hundred fully-useable nuclear weapons.[/u] In addition, delivery capacity is also a crucial factor to be considered. Iran has, at present, very few ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel, and the shortest possible timeframe for sizeable improvement is estimated at around five years. Contrast this with Israel, which … already has the ‘[u]ability to conduct major attacks on Iranian [targets][/u]’ .
“The recent IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, despite being presented as a ‘bombshell’ by most western commentators and politicians, did almost nothing to alter the details provided above. The section of the IAEA’s report on ‘[u]Possible Military Dimensions[/u]’ spanned just over a page of the entire document and provided no new statistical data and very little new anecdotal evidence.
“This lack of evidence was somewhat masked, however, by overtly-political statements such as ‘the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organisations’ – a clear sign of the heavy pressure being placed on the IAEA by imperialism under its newly compliant director general Yukiya Amano, after its 2007 report found no credible evidence of nuclear weapons development. ”
In this context, the behaviour of the EU is quite clearly another step in the preparation for war. The foreign affairs committee meeting that took place on 23 January declared that “the Council has agreed additional restrictive measures in the energy sector, including a phased embargo of Iranian crude oil imports to the EU, in the financial sector, including against the Central Bank of Iran, in the transport sector as well as further export restrictions, notably on gold and on sensitive dual-use goods and technology … The Council stresses that the restrictive measures agreed today are aimed at affecting the funding of Iran’s nuclear programme by the Iranian regime and are not aimed at the Iranian people. ”
Under extreme pressure and provocation Iran has not buckled but rather stood up to imperialism. As a child must stand up to the playground bully, Iran knows full well and from bitter experiences how imperialism schemes for war and plunder. The Financial Times reported the warning of Mohammed Rahmiri, Iran’s first vice-president, on 27 December:
“If they [the West] impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then not even one drop of oil can flow through the Strait of Hormuz.”
The significance of Mr Rahmiri’s statement was not lost on the markets. The New York Times commented that “Merely uttering the threat appeared to be part of an Iranian effort to demonstrate its ability to cause a spike in oil prices,” whilst the Financial Times observed that:
“The Strait of Hormuz is ‘the world’s most important oil chokepoint’, according to the US Department of Energy. On average, at least 13-15 supertankers cross the strait every day, most of them heading towards Japan, South Korea, India and China. The US Navy patrols the waterway and analysts believe that Iran would not be able to shut it down.
“In late afternoon trading in London, ICE February Brent, the global benchmark, rose $1.21 to $109.17 a barrel. In New York, Nymex February West Texas Intermediate rose $1.47 to $101.15 a barrel. The price surge was amplified by thin trading due to the Christmas holiday. ”
No sooner had the markets spoken than their puppets (in this instance Philip Hammond, Tory ‘defence’ secretary) announced Britain’s readiness to engage in further aggression to protect the interests of finance capital:
“We are an integrated part of the naval task force in the Gulf, and one of the missions of that task force is to ensure that those shipping lanes remain open … any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz would be illegal and we need to send a very clear message to Iran that we are determined that the Strait remains open.”
In the words of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”!
Whilst imperialism has been attempting to monitor Iran closely from the skies, as well as engaging in financial terrorism in the market place and making outright threats in the political arena, its agents have been busy carrying out the other, less diplomatic line of work in which US imperialism is well experienced – assassination, nay murder.
Mostafa Roshan, a 32-year-old nuclear scientist with a wife and baby son was a university professor and commercial director at the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. Like many of the Iranian scientists who work there he was dedicated to helping to solve Iran’s energy needs, and for this he was blown to pieces by imperialist agents using a magnetic bomb, which they attached to his car door as they passed him on a motorcycle.
Professor Roshan is one of a growing number of Iranian scientists who have been gunned down or blown up. Guardian.co.uk carried a comment piece on 16 January which stated:
“Since 2010, three other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in similar circumstances, including Darioush Rezaeinejad, a 35-year-old electronics expert shot dead outside his daughter’s nursery in Tehran last July. But instead of outrage or condemnation, we have been treated to expressions of undisguised glee.
“ ‘On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear programme in Iran turn up dead,’ bragged the Republican nomination candidate Rick Santorum in October. ‘I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.’ On the day of Roshan’s death, Israel’s military spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, announced on Facebook: ‘I don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but I certainly am not shedding a tear’ – a sentiment echoed by the historian Michael Burleigh in the Daily Telegraph: ‘I shall not shed any tears whenever one of these scientists encounters the unforgiving men on motorbikes.’ ”
Despite the disgusting and cowardly attacks on Iran’s scientific community, Iran continues to hold its own in this dirty war. Mr Rahmiri again squarely confronted the aggressors and declared that “Iran’s enemies should know they cannot prevent Iran’s progress by carrying out such terrorist acts”.
In what is clearly a politically-motivated move, British media regulator Ofcom revoked the UK satellite broadcasting license of Iran’s English-language international news network Press TV. In addition to the revocation Ofcom fined the broadcaster £100,000 on 20 January claiming the news channel did not have ‘control’ over the broadcast (quite a cheek from an institution that is funded by the British government and which is meant to ‘regulate’ the myriad imperialist-funded propaganda channels, including the BBC, who refused to broadcast an important appeal for humanitarian aid because it was to save the lives of Palestinians).
Despite some weaknesses, Press TV has given extensive air time to anti-war and anti-imperialist activists and reporters, shown continued solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid and provided a glimmer of sanity amongst the imperialist-dominated 24-hour news channels. In a statement Press TV said:
“The British media regulator stepped up pressure on Press TV after the news channel covered British police crackdowns on anti-austerity protesters in London and other British cities …
“Many observers have also noted that the British government’s hostile campaign against Press TV has its roots in the channel’s extensive and transparent coverage of the role that the British government played in the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Press TV has extensively given coverage to Britain’s support for autocratic Persian Gulf monarchies and the legitimacy it gives to the dictatorial regimes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
“In January, Press TV’s CEO Mohammad Sarafraz sent a letter to Ofcom questioning the independence of the British regulatory body given that the British secretary of state has the power to appoint or remove from office Ofcom’s chairman and its members, and even to dissolve the entire organisation.
“Sarafraz also pointed out that Ofcom is funded by loans and grant-in-aid from the British government.
“He further pointed to Ofcom’s ‘glaring contradiction’ in its dealings with Press TV. ‘Ofcom wants to revoke the broadcast licence because it has determined that Press TV Ltd does not have control over the broadcast. Yet at the same time, Ofcom sentences Press TV Ltd to pay a financial penalty for the broadcast of something Ofcom says it has no control over! How can you possibly explain your paradoxical performance?’
“Sarafraz stressed that Ofcom’s bid to revoke Press TV’s license will not prevent the channel from broadcasting the truth …
“ ‘It is futile to attempt to conceal the truth from the people of Britain, and those that want to hear our alternative voice will find a way despite your efforts,’ he said. ”
A war for profits
When the media are filled with lies about the ‘threat’ posed by Iran to its neighbours (ie, Israel) and even to us here in ‘the West’, it is important for us to remember the truth about the real reasons for imperialist war, which are summed up at the end of Stephen Gowans’ article:
“Like all US [and British] wars, the war on Iran is a class war (and with sanctions, sabotage, assassinations and sabre-rattling it is a war in all but name.) It is a war of class in two respects. First, it is waged on behalf of a class of bankers, major investors, and corporate titans, to knock down walls in Iran that deny this elite access to markets and investment opportunities. Second, it is a war carried out on the back of a class of employees, pensioners, unemployed, and armed forces members – the bottom 99 percent – who bear the cost, through their taxes (and in the future possibly blood.)
“The aim is to install local politicians, most of whom will have been educated at US [or British] universities where they will have been instilled with imperialist values, who can, assisted by US [or British] advisors, make over Iran into an agricultural, natural resources, low-wage appendage of the US [and British] economy in the service of Wall Street [and the City] and the class of owners and high-level managers who occupy its commanding heights. In short, a war for profits. ”1
Organise for active non-cooperation
The escalated campaign that is being unleashed upon Iran brings forth the terrible spectre of all-out war once again. Whilst Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya lie in ruins, decimated by imperialist bombs, poisoned by nuclear and chemical weapons and ravaged by mercenaries and soldiers of fortune, imperialism clearly sees an opportunity maturing to attack another of its long-term opponents.
Rather than listening to the lies of the imperialist media, British workers need to understand that a war against Iran will be not only a brutal act of mass murder and destruction, not only an unjust, predatory and criminal war that breaks all international law, not only an act of wanton destruction of a proud and beautiful country far away, but will also have terrible repercussions for people all over the world, including for the people of Britain.
Iran currently stands as a beacon of independence in the Middle East, and as a support to freedom-loving countries all over the world. The fall of Iran’s anti-imperialist government would thus be a massive blow to the cause of progressive humankind, felt from Cuba and Venezuela to Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, from Congo and Zimbabwe to the DPRK and China, and it would therefore also be a massive blow to our own hopes of freedom from the downward spiral of capitalist crisis, poverty and war.
Moreover, the imperialists would be unlikely to have an easy win. It is quite possible that an attack on Iran, intended to give western imperialism control over oil supplies that could leave Russia and China, for instance, literally out in the cold, could spark a wider conflagration that could end up dragging in people from all over the world as cannon fodder while the various cliques of imperialists jostle desperately for position and throw everything into the inferno in the cause of protecting the right of their rotten system to abuse the world for another decade or three in the pursuit of profits.
But none of this is inevitable. Despite appearances, British workers have real power to stop their government going to war, but it will not be done through marches alone, or through lobbies of MPs and the signing of Early Day Motions in the House of Commons. It is not others we need to look to but ourselves.
The British working class’s power to stop war comes through the direct role that so many of us play in the war effort. If British soldiers refuse to fight in any war against Iran, if British munitions workers refuse to make bombs or other materiel that the army will use there, if British transport workers refuse to ship arms, supplies or soldiers to the war, if British media workers refuse to write or broadcast any propaganda that the government and other agencies create to support such a war … then the British ruling class will have no power to fight it.
It is [u]we[/u] , not they, who are ultimately going to get our hands dirty – and we must refuse en masse to be complicit any longer in such horrendous crimes against our fellow workers.
That means insisting that our trade unions remember and act on the principle established at the Nuremberg trials that every person in the world has a duty higher than that which might be contained in a law or instruction issued by employers and governments locally or nationally: the duty to refuse to cooperate with any kind of illegal war effort, which is described by international law as the supreme crime against humanity.
Those of us who really aspire to stop war, genocide and human misery have a duty to take this message to the workers of Britain and rouse in them the brave spirit of the London stevedores who refused to load armaments onto the Jolly George – that infamous ship that was bound for the war against Soviet Russia in 1918.
No to imperialist intervention!
No cooperation with war crimes!
Hands off Iran!
2. ‘ We must attack Iran before it gets the bomb’, 16 May 2007
3. ‘ Drone crash in Iran reveals secret US surveillance effort’, by Scott Shane and David E Sanger, 7 December 2011
4. ‘ Max Keiser: Goldman Sachs are “scum”, “financial terrorists”’, PrisonPlanet.com, 17 July 2009
5 ‘ Council conclusions on Iran’, eeas,earopa.eu, 23 January 2012
6 ‘ Imperialist warmongers set sights on Iran ’, December 2011
7 ‘ Oil price climbs amid Iranian threat’, by Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Javier Blas
8 ‘ Iran threatens to block oil shipments as US prepares sanctions’, by David E Sanger and Annie Lowrey, 27 December 2011
9 ‘ Britain threatens military action against Iran’, by Amy Willis, Telegraph, 6 January 2012
10 ‘ The Communist Manifesto’, 1948
11 ‘ Iran s nuclear scientists are not being assassinated. They are being murdered’, by Mehdi Hasan
12 ‘ Israel is accused of killing Iranian scientist ’, Irish Times, 12 January 2012
13 ‘ Ofcom revokes Press TV s UK license ’, presstv.ir, 20 January 2012
14 See irantracker.org for details of Iran’s foreign relations and trade deals
15 See ‘ US journalists and war-crime guilt ’ by Peter Dyer, consortiumnews.com, 15 October 2008