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War and Peace in Iran

As the war propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the western bloc led by the United States and Israel increases in intensity, it only helps strengthen the reactionary regime ruling Iran which uses this to undermine the ongoing revolution of the Iranian people against the Islamic Republic. The peace-loving people of the world, who want to end this dangerous war-mongering, should not fall into the trap of supporting the reactionary Islamic Republic which has oppressed its own people for 33 years, but should side with the people of Iran in their struggle against both reactionary poles.

COMMENTARY

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War and Peace in Iran Abbas Goya terrorism and imperialist intimidation is obvious and irrefutable for all the world to see (Hekmat 2001). At the opposing pole, there stands the IRI, the stronghold of Islamic terrorism

As the war propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the western bloc led by the United States and Israel increases in intensity, it only helps strengthen the reactionary regime ruling Iran which uses this to undermine the ongoing revolution of the Iranian people against the Islamic Republic. The peace-loving people of the world, who want to end this dangerous war-mongering, should not fall into the trap of supporting the reactionary Islamic Republic which has oppressed its own people for 33 years, but should side with the people of Iran in their struggle against both reactionary poles.

Abbas Goya (abbasgoya@yahoo.com) is an Iranian activist who lives outside Iran and is involved with political movements for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Economic & Political Weekly

EPW
march 3, 2012

T
he conflict escalation between western governments and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is unprecedented. People in different parts of the world rightly want to do something about it. In order to take the right position, a short analysis of the situation is necessary.

Two Reactionary Poles

Let us first look at the track record of the two reactionary camps involved in this conflict.

At one pole, there stands the most enormous machinery of state terrorism and international intimidation and blackmail. This camp includes the American government and ruling elite, the only force, which has used nuclear bombs against people, reducing hundreds of thousands of innocent and unsuspecting people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into ashes within seconds. A state that slaughtered millions in Vietnam and razed and ruined their country for many years by chemical bombardments. It includes NATO and coalitions of Western governments who from Iraq to Yugoslavia have destroyed people’s homes, schools and hospitals and have taken ransom the bread and medicine of millions of children. It includes the Israeli bourgeoisie and state. They occupy, seize, slaughter and deprive. They bomb and shell refugee camps and shoot scared ten-yearold children taking shelter in their fathers’ arms and at school gates. From Hiroshima and Vietnam to Grenada and Iraq, from the killing fields in Indonesia and Chile to the slaughterhouses of Palestine, the track record of this international pole of state

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and the reactionary and vile political Islam. This force that was once created and nurtured by the United States (US) and the west themselves during the cold war as a means of organising indigenous reaction against the left in Iran have now become an active pole of international terrorism and one contender in the bourgeois power struggle in west Asia. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s resume includes a wide range of barbarity, from state and state-sponsored killings in Iran to a war waged against the whole population of Iran for 33 years, from the creation of a miserable life through extreme poverty and exploitation to genderapartheid, child abuse, and other racist and homophobic policies, from the bloody suppression of political and intellectual opponents, to imposing reactionary laws on people, particularly women, from mutilations and stoning, to public executions; all through the imposition of political Islam. These are the highlights in the track record of these reactionaries.

The recent threats of war, which has caused a growing concern among the people of Iran, the region and the world, are occurring in the context of the Israeli government’s backlash in domestic and regional policies, the political tendencies of some factions within the American and British administrations, and the circumstances and developments created by revolutions in west Asia. So far, the war threats and propaganda have

COMMENTARY

benefited the most reactionary forces in Israel, the west, west Asia and in Iran. One of the consequences has been the activation of religious-nationalist forces, guardians of the “Islamic system” in the opposition of the Islamic regime and the escalation of a nationalist defence of the regime from the right-wing opposition.

Thus, we should not only unequivocally condemn any military provocation and action from both reactionary poles of this confrontation, but should also stand firmly against any direct or indirect defence of the Islamic regime or any subduing of the struggle for overthrowing this regime on the pretext of war threats and war. Let us carefully consider the various aspects of the claimed disputes.

The Nuclear Programme

In March 2010, Zbigniew Brzezinski, an adviser to Obama’s administration, said “We Can ‘Live With’ a Nuclear Iran” (Weinstein 2010). It indicates that the US does not have a fundamental issue with a nuclear Iran. The nuclear programme is therefore not the underlying cause of the conflict. While there are strong indications that the IRI is making an atomic bomb, the people in Iran not only never approved any nuclear programme, be it for energy or bomb, but the workers explicitly expressed their opposition to any nuclear programme (Hoft 2007). The US administration is certainly no judge on this matter, as it is the only government that has ever used the atomic bomb and US governments have been opposed by the anti-nuclear movement for decades.

Where should humanity stand on this issue? If the US’ “Three Mile Accident” (1979), the Russian Chernobyl (1986), and Japanese Fukushima (2011) disasters were not enough, the current radioactive tritium leaks at 48 nuclear sites in the US is yet another proof that nuclear energy is harmful. A fundamental stand on this regard is to be against the production, storage, and use of any kind of nuclear weapons and energy by any state, including Iran. We need to be against all nuclear programmes everywhere. Period!

Who Benefits from a War?

Rephrasing Eugene Debs, in all history of the world, we, the 99%, have never declared war against another country. Wars have always been declared by the statesmen for the benefit of the 1% in the involved countries. That is why no government would ever hold a referendum on whether to wage a war or not against another country since people will surely reject it. People know that they will be sacrificed for the benefits of the 1%, disguised under the benefit of “nation” and “country”.

As claimed, bombing Iran is supposedly not a full-scale assault with the intention of toppling the ruling regime, as opposed to Iraq and Afghanistan cases. It is supposedly to be of the same scale that Israel committed against Syria in 2007 and against Iraq in 1981. However, neither the IRI is the same regime as that of Saddam Hussein or Bashar al-Assad nor

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march 3, 2012 vol xlviI no 9

COMMENTARY

in either of Iraq or Syria was a revolution against a regime present at the time of the bombings. The US and Israel claim that they contemplate bombing to stop the IRI from having access to nuclear weapons. However, as has often been pointed out, such a bombing will inevitably turn into a large-scale war. The question then is, who benefits from it?

It is obvious that any military action by the Israeli government against the Islamic Republic will benefit the most reactionary currents in Israel and the west, on the one hand, and the forces of political Islam such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Syrian government, and the IRI on the other. It would prolong the life time of all these declining currents. Undoubtedly, the only loser of such an action would be the people – whether in Israel, Palestine, Syria or in Iran. In addition to the tragic human costs and destruction of the environment, such a war will militarise the political climate, which in turn will harm the people’s struggle for overthrowing the Islamic regime in Iran, the regime of Bashar al-Asad in Syria, and the people’s movement for social justice in Israel.

Consequences of Bombing Iran

It will, first of all, cause a humanitarian catastrophe which, in turn, will weaken the focus of the anti-IRI movement in Iran. Second it will give the IRI a golden opportunity to blame a foreign enemy as the main threat to Iran and hence, it will allow the IRI to crack down on the opposition on a scale we have not seen since the 1980s. Further, starting a war against Iran will unite the regime, even if temporarily, while it will split the grass-roots opposition to the IRI by the poison of nationalism. The IRI will play the “victim” role in the eye of the international pro-Palestinian/general human right forces. Finally and most ironically, the IRI will definitely speed up its attempt for developing nuclear weapons even more aggressively.

In short, bombing Iran will strengthen the IRI to the point that nothing can stop it from deploying nuclear weapons in its arsenal. The only thing that such bombing will achieve is to eliminate the only real enemy of the IRI, that is, the revolution against the IRI.

Economic Political Weekly

EPW
march 3, 2012

With the decline of the power of political Islam, whose backbone is the Islamic regime, in the wake of the revolution of 2009 in Iran as well as the recent revolutions in west Asia, the west is now attempting to impose on the Islamic regime a new balance of power. Sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and on oil purchase from the country, cutting off its access to the global market and hitting the official economy along with diplomatic pressures, war of words, and war threats are ostensibly meant to bring the Islamic regime to the negotiation table from a weak position. However, the manner of the present stand-off between the west/Israel and Iran is beneficial for both sides of the conflict. By constantly yelling aloud the possibility of Israel bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities in Qom, Natanz, Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr this war propaganda allows the Islamic regime to use this as an excuse for clamping down on any internal opposition. It is pertinent to remember that regimes in both Israel and the IRI depend on having an external enemy and constant threat of war alive to sustain their own internal order and carry on with their domestic oppressions. Without the mentality of being threatened by foreign hostility both these regimes will have to face a great deal of vital opposition from their own people!

Economic Sanction

Well-known to most of us through the admission of then US secretary of state Madeleine Albright’s interview with CBS’ 60 minutes in 1996, hundreds of thousands of children were killed during the economic sanctions on Iraq, between the first and second “Gulf Wars”. The recent sanctions on Iran have intensified economic problems of the Islamic regime to a degree where the collapse of the entire economic system is possible. It is obvious that the vast masses of workers and people are the main victims of this situation who are contending with skyrocketing inflation, severe decrease of purchasing power, dramatic fall of living standards, non-payment of their low wages, massive unemployment and social consequences of this situation such as drug abuse and prostitution. The conflict between western governments and

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the Islamic regime and the sanctions that have endangered social life in Iran are a reactionary act of inhumanity. The economic sanction must stop.

What Do the People of Iran Want?

This situation has intensified the conflicts within the Islamic regime in such a way that a fear of people’s rise and a repetition of the recent revolutions in the region against the regime are daily expressed by its leader. On the other hand, the people of Iran, who drove the Islamic regime to the verge of downfall by their revolution in 2009 and who follow with enthusiasm the revolutions of the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria as well as the Occupy movement, are not going to be just passive onlookers and victims of this scene. How we, the people of the world, can play a role depends on how we approach the matter. There are various views on this conflict which in the end approach the political developments in Iran in two distinctive ways and hence end up with two clear stands.

The Pro 1%

In this approach events are looked at from the perspective of the interstate power struggle: which state(s) benefits from what actions. The questions raised are: Why/what do the IRI, the US, the Israeli, the Russian, the Chinese and other governments do and seek? This approach leads to either siding with the IRI or the US bloc or some form of pacifism because it talks about “Iran” as an equivalent to the IRI, and the IRI as Iran. All of a sudden, there is no distinction between the people of Iran and the government of Iran. “Iran” in this approach consists of a united category comprising opposing interests – the IRI, the 1%, and the deprived people of Iran, the 99%!

In addition to the Cuban, Venezuelan, and Syrian governments and possibly the North Korean (not to miss the “mafia” government of Russia and that state of sweatshops, China) the supporters of the IRI include that opposition which does not have anything against the Islamic Republic but only against particular individuals in power. This latter group, what one can call the pro-IRI opposition, is also known as “greens” or

COMMENTARY

the “2-Khordad”. There is also a portion of the “anti-imperialist” movement, which should more accurately be termed the anti-US movement, in the west. This includes various sections of the anti-war movements in the US and United Kingdom, various left-wing parties and groups as well as prominent individuals like the former British parliamentarian George Galloway. A large number of them have openly aligned with IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attending conferences in Tehran organised by him, meeting him in New York to express solidarity in 2008 and writing letters praising him.

This front appears to have no problem with the war waged by the IRI on the whole population of Iran for the past 33 years. It is only concerned about which state will be the “winner” of the current power struggle. This trend favours the IRI and does not seek the abolishment of nuclear weapons or programmes. Its only concerns, it appears, are the US monopoly over nukes. This strand did not even once condemn the terror act of the IRI against thousands upon thousands of the IRI opposition including workers’ leaders, intellectuals and political oppositions. Yet it shows inordinate concern over which state assassinates which figure of the other side. This approach is conditionally against terrorism: Terrorism is only bad if it occurs against IRI personnel.

The False Opposition

Apart from the western states led by the US, British and French governments, the supporters of the US bloc include the ultra right opposition of the IRI and the ultra right currents in the west. This trend cares nothing about the people; it favours economic sanctions no matter if it substantially adds to the misery of millions of Iranians. It favours war; it justifies the massacres that will occur as a result of the war under the pretext of its opposition to the IRI. The western governments, the US in particular, have tried to assemble a “government in exile” consisting of the pro-western faction of the “greens”, the traditional pro-west opposition, various “nationalists” (including nationalist left), and separatists.

In June 2010, this reactionary opposition met in Paris. This meeting was attended by Mohsen Sazegara (the founder of the notorious Iranian Revolutionary Guards – Qods Force and a leading figure of the “greens”), Mohsen Makhmalbaf (the film-maker who is also a “green” leader and a propagandist of the early

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    march 3, 2012 vol xlviI no 9

    COMMENTARY

    days of the IRI), Amir Hossein Jahanshahi (a billionaire who lives in Paris and London; the IRI accused him of being a collaborator of the Israeli government), Abdollah Mohtadi (a Kurdish, nationalist left), Ali Reza Nourizadeh (a pro-IRI “opposition” journalist) and Mehrangiz Kar (a pro-IRI “opposition” figure).

    The main figure of this group, Mohammad Reza Madhi, a supposedly influential general of the IRI who defected and would supposedly arrange a coup d’état against the present IRI leaders, ended up being identified as an IRI infiltrator! The whole project was dumped once Madhi appeared on Iranian television exposing the entire US/Israeli governments’ attempt. In the latest effort in this direction, the Olof Palme International Center in Sweden arranged a meeting of all these figures in order to create an alternative for the IRI labelled as the “Unity for democracy in Iran”. This hidden meeting took place on 4 and 5 February 2012. Interestingly enough, most of the parti cipants at the Olof Palme Center were identical to that of the 2010 “government in exile” project. This ultra right trend would do whatever it takes, including acting as US puppets or sleeping in bed with the US/Israeli governments, in order to block a direct move from the bottom, direct political action by the masses in Iran.

    Pacifism, typically in form of “peace” seeking, desires restoration of the power balance between the conflicting states prior to moment of their heated war propaganda. This view legitimises the geopolitics of the states of the IRI and the west and it fails to address the 33 years long, IRI imposed economic and military war against a whole population.

    Ultimately, all sides of this approach care only about the winning side of the 1%; either the 1% of Iran (the IRI), or the 1% of the west (western states). At best it seeks the restoration of the balance of power between the various 1% powers.

    The Pro 99%

    The other approach is to view the events from the perspective of the 99% in Iran regardless of what the 1% want and do. This approach seeks freedom and

    Economic Political Weekly

    EPW
    march 3, 2012

    equality for all. This approach remains staunchly opposed to the Islamic Re public, seeks overthrow of the IRI via revolution no matter which state seeks what objective.

    The 99% firmly stand against all attempts to support the Islamic regime on the pretext of economic sanctions and war, or to legitimise the western governments’ scenarios of a change from above. Any military aggression, militarisation of society, plans of “regime change” from above or support of the Islamic regime on the pretext of war will be opposed by the 99% who consider the only way to confront any prospect of war and militarism to be the expansion of the popular struggle against the Islamic regime and its overthrow by the people of Iran.

    The focus of this perspective is on the poverty imposed upon workers via direct reign of the viciously capitalist Islamic Republic or via its implementation of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) austerity plans. It is noteworthy that after a set of recommendations by the IMF in 2010, the Islamic regime cut subsidies on basic needs, such as food and gas, and opened the economy further for capital. The Islamic Republic implemented all of the IMF’s recommendations to the point that the IMF economists praised the IRI as the first country in the world that could successfully implement all its recommendations (Guillaume et al 2011). The policies which were recommended by the IMF were imposed and enforced on the working class of Iran by means of killings and imprisonment of workers, intellectuals and political opponents. Whatever the chances of a war between the two poles of reaction, the real war of the Islamic Republic on the working class of Iran started 33 years ago and continues uninterrupted. It has only intensified with the implementation of the IMF austerity recommendations.

    In this context it is important to remember the demands of the Iranian people, its working class, which constitutes the 99%. These include demands for an end to the repressive political system of the Islamic republic which enforces an aggressive capitalist economy. The people demand women’s equality

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    and freedom of expression. They want an end to brutal and inhuman practices like public executions, stoning and mutilation and unconditional release of political prisoners. They want an end to the economic sanctions, to the war propaganda, to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme as well as the war that the IRI wages on its working class. The 99% want an end to their suppression by the 1%. This is true in Iran as much as anywhere else.

    Simply put the 99% is determined to end the reign of the IRI.

    What Can the World Do?

    If our politics has to side with the people of Iran then we have to defend them against both their oppressors. Thus the true anti-war, anti-sanction, peace seeking people who share the sentiments of freedom and equality for the people of Iran need to raise the slogan of “No War, No Economic Sanction; No Nukes, No Islamic Republic”. There is no room for pacifism, or abstract “peace” in conditions where the people of Iran suffer the oppression daily. We should work to strengthen the popular struggles against poverty and misery of the Iranian people, we should demand an immediate end to economic sanctions, an end to war pro paganda, abolition of Iran’s nuclear programme and the diplomatic and political isolation of the Islamic Republic.

    In conclusion, a true peace, freedom and equality in Iran is equivalent to the overthrow of the Islamic regime by a revolution.

    References

    Guillaume, Dominique, Roman Zytek and Mohammad Reza Farzin (2011): “Iran – The Chronicles of the Subsidy Reform”, IMF Working Paper (WP/11/167), July, http://www.imf.org/external/ pubs/ft/wp/2011/wp11167.pdf, accessed on 14 February 2012.

    Hekmat, Mansoor (2001): “The World after 11 September, Part One: The War of Terrorists”, http://hekmat.public-archive.net/en/1990en. html, accessed on 14 February 2012.

    Hoft, Jim (2007): “Iranian Workers: ‘Keep Your Stinking Nukes!’”, Gateway Pundit, 4 May, http:// www.thegatewaypundit.com/2007/05/iranianworkers-keep-your-stinking-nukes/, accessed on 14 February 2012.

    Weinstein, Adam (2010): “We Can ‘Live With’ a Nuclear Iran: Brzezinski”, Mother Jones, 30 March, http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/03/ brzezinski-we-can-live-nuclear-iran-g8-summitdeterrence-obama, accessed on 14 February 2012.

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