While violent terrorist attacks continue to cost dozens of lives daily in Bagdad and the civil war shows no signs of letting up, and has rather worsened after president Bush’s announced troop surge in Iraq, the growing tension between the U.S. and Iran takes on greater importance by the day for the imperialist occupation. The recent escalation of provocations against Iran first came from Bush himself in his January 10 speech, when he announced his new strategy for Iraq. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”
The first step taken under the new strategy was the arrest a few days ago of five Iranian functionaries, supposedly linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the consulate of the Iraqi city of Irbil at the hands of the U.S. Army. This raid was accompanied by hawkish declarations by Vice-president Dick Cheney, the head of the anti-Iran faction within the administration. The confrontations continued. On January 20, insurgents kidnapped and later killed four U.S. soldiers in Karbala. A fifth American soldier was killed in the battle. Initially, there was an attempt to cover up this humiliation but later the discourse changed. The attack was so well planned and executed that American authorities suspected Iran had aided the Shiite insurgents that had carried out the mission, perhaps in retaliation for the arrest of five Iranians arrested by American Soldiers in the North of Iraq. In response, on January 27, Bush defended a Pentagon program for the killing or capturing of Iranians acting inside Iraq. “If Iran escalates its military actions in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly” he stated.
More recently, an Iranian diplomat was kidnapped in Bagdad, supposedly by members of an Iraqi military unit under the auspices of the United States. And last Monday for the first time, the U.S. openly accused Tehran of being involved in the sale of arms used to kill Americans in Iraq. Specifically, it accused the highest levels of the Iranian government of providing sophisticated bombs which have now killed 170 American soldiers and injured 620 others in Iraq. Speaking anonymously, a high-level U.S. official was quoted as stating “We assess that these activities are coming from senior levels of the Iranian government” and that the explosives are coming from the al Quds Brigades which answer to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. The accusations against Tehran have a similar tone to those directed against Iraq and its supposed weapons of mass destruction four years ago. Barely 48 hours after revealing this “proof”, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff admitted that the military had no knowledge of the Iranian government’s participation in the supply of arms to Shiite militias. Nevertheless we must not forget baseless accusations like these were the principal justification for the invasion of 2003.
The continuing military and political provocations, in addition to the increase in troops in Iraq (as well as the presence of two aircraft carriers in the region as of the end of February) intend to change the Iranian regime’s current perceptions of the United States. At the end of 2006, Iran saw America defeated and was ready to capitalize on its newly acquired regional strength. The present offensive and escalation of rhetoric against Iran seek to create doubts in Tehran[[Apparently, president Ahmadinejad has been displaced in the management of foreign policy issues in a move approved by the supreme leader Khamenei. For his part, Rafsanjani, a more pragmatic conservative, seems to have been positioned to succeed the ailing Khamenei in the highest post of the Islamic Republic.]] about its regional political boldness, hoping that it believe the current weakness of the United States can be reversed and that it accept negotiations with a balance of forces quite different from the present situation, in which America finds itself in no position to impose any important concessions on Iran. In the worst case scenario, the American escalation would attempt to create the justification for a possible military attack against the country.
The political bomb dropped by Brzezinski
A recent contribution was put forward by no one less than the former National Security Advisor in the Carter administration, Zbigniew Brzezinski in a speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is no coincidence that this went almost unmentioned by the press, illustrating the continuing complicity of the media with the aggressive policies of Bush, despite a slight distancing recently due to the weakness of the American president. In his testimony, Brzezinski maintains “The war in Iraq is a historic, strategic, and moral calamity. Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America’s global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America’s moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability.” But more telling was his assessment with respect to Iran “If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.”
What Brzezinski suggests is that if the Iraqi quagmire continues, the U.S. will look for an excuse, whether it be in Iraq or even a possible attack on American soil which would be blamed on Iran (yes, you read correctly) as casus belli for a confrontation with the Gulf nation. These statements have a special seriousness. They do not come from just any minor figure, but rather from someone with extensive experience in the highest levels of foreign policy leadership of the country and who maintains regular contact with American military leaders and intelligence agents . Besides this, as he later admitted, he was himself the architect of a secret plot in the late 1970’s for the mobilization of Islamic fundamentalist guerillas in order to topple the pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan. That is to say, we are speaking of someone who knows quite a bit about secret operations and maneuvers by American imperialism.
Yankee Imperialists out of Iraq! No attack on Iran!
Despite these revelations, a probable attack against Iran cannot be discounted given the implication of recent events. The US cannot permit a humiliation in Iraq as it experienced with its first military defeat in Vietnam in the 1970’s. In contrast to the conflict in Southeast Asia, the strength of the American economy and the international context are very different today. The former finds itself much weaker now than thirty years ago and above all, a stable world order does not exist. On the contrary, there have appeared first signs of disorder in the sphere of international relations. Furthermore, the absence of the Soviet Union leaves American imperialism without the great container of revolutionary convulsions which it had counted on from the end of the World War II until the disaster of the Stalinist bureaucracy in 1991. All of these elements today make all the more ominous and remote the prospect of an American recovery, as was the case after the traumas of the 1970’s. Today, a military disaster like Iraq could accelerate (and is accelerating) the decline of American hegemony. These factors would lead Bush, before accepting this option, to embark on an even riskier and more dangerous military adventure than the now calamitous invasion of Iraq of 2003.
The more lucid sectors of the imperialist bourgeoisie shudder at this possibility. The cover and editorial of the latest issue of the English weekly The Economist, which is no dove and in fact, supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and even the recent increase in troops is quite eloquent; “Next stop Iran? Why George Bush should resist a Wagnerian exit from the White House”[[By “Wagnerian exit” the imperialist journal makes allusion to one of the most famous operas by the German composer “The Twilight of the Gods”.]].
What is clear is that we must not let down our guard but rather redouble our efforts to establish a true antiwar movement which advances the defeat of the imperialist occupation of Iraq and the halting of any attack on Iran. The revitalization of the antiwar movement in the United States (see LVO 221) as well as the coming demonstrations in London should inspire us to do the same in our country. Let’s get to work.
Translation by Robert Kaplan