A non-partisan journal of the left.

Is Iran a threat?

Fri 12th Oct 2012

Is Iran a threat?
 
To itself? Yes. The Iranian Government is working very hard to alienate anyone who disagrees with it – actually a bit like America has done for years.

To its people? Yes. It does not take a great historian to give us details of the way that the Iranian Government treated its citizens under the Shah’s regime imposed by the US and Britain after a democratic election that did not go their way. Familiar? See Vietnam, Indonesia, Palestine, Lebanon. It also does not take a great political commentator to tell us about the Iranian Government’s treatment of its citizens since the not so glorious Revolution of 1979.
To the rest of the world?

That is more difficult to answer. On the one hand "No".

At least no more dangerous than Saddam Hussein was before the unnecessary invasion of Iraq. He was vicious to those Iraqis who opposed him but he was no threat to the rest of the world since he had no WMD. And when had invaded Iran back in the 80s, we did not mind because he was our friend then. When he invaded Kuwait, he was under the impression that he had America’s blessing to do so. Big mistake and the Iraqi people paid for it.

The leadership of Iran is no more dangerous than that harmless fool Mubarak who ruled over an emasculated, homogenised and weakened Egypt. He harmed no one but Egyptians. In fact, considering Bush and Blair’s love of using force to establish 'democracy', Egypt should have been invaded a long time ago, together with Zimbabwe, Yemen, Oman, the UAE and half the countries of the world. But most of those do not have oil reserves. And those that do, usually eat Macdonalds, watch reality television and buy our products. So they are all right by us.

On the other hand, in certain perspectives, "Yes" Iran is a threat.
 
What perspectives?

The perspective of US foreign policy which states that, "anyone disagreeing with us, good or bad, is our enemy." There is a lot of historical evidence of this. Let us just take two examples; one from decades ago and one from recent history.

On 11 September in 1973, General Pinochet’s forces toppled the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende who fought to the very end rather than surrender to the forces of repression. Pinochet went on to kill several thousand Chileans and imprison many others with the support and blessing of President Reagan and UK Prime Minister Thatcher.
 
If they do not do our bidding, we hold them responsible. President Polk’s secretary told Congress that the US had “the command of the trade of the world”. Even God, who was British but is now a naturalised American, was invoked by Adams who claimed that the Oregon Territory belonged to the US because God willed it. Sounds familiar? Yes, God also promised the Jewish People a homeland in Palestine and He also promised many things in many different languages.
A more recent example is the decision by Turkey to do what 95% of its citizens wanted by not allowing US forces the use of its national territory from which they could invade Iraq. Colin Powell announced measures to punish Turkey. Paul Wolfowitz wanted the Turkish military to force its democratically elected Government to follow Washington’s orders.
 
So, let us articulate this vision. Democracy is wonderful. Everyone must live under it. At least, that is, when the democratic process produces results that the Western powers likes. If democracy goes against us, then in that case, democracy stinks. Especially, when the peoples’ democratic will decides to vote for Hamas, Hizbollah, the Wilson Government in Britain etc.
Can I make an important point very clear? I am a Palestinian. I do not wish to live under Hamas. I do not like their policies and I certainly do not like their oppressive religious nature. But if I moved back into Palestine tomorrow and the elections brought them to power, I would shut up and live within my country’s laws and its democratic structures. Just as, if Israel and Palestine were to create one bi-national state and the majority of the people voted for it, I would happily swear an oath of allegiance to my Jewish country whilst using every peaceful democratic means to get religion out of the state. In my view, God has no seat in my democracy, ever. Above God, democracy comes first and anyone uncomfortable with that can rest assured that I can find endless quotations from the Scriptures justifying this view – as I can to justify any view. The beauty of the Scriptures is that they are everything to every man and thus open to abuse by unscrupulous human beings whose faith is based on self rather than on love and compassion.
An expansionist Israel, adamant that it will not return an inch of Palestinian land to its rightful owners and therefore, would dearly like a good war to distract the world's attention from Palestine. So, Iran is a threat and needs a "pre-emptive" strike.
 
From the perspective of the Arab states, Iran is a Shi'ite state and Arab Sunnis regard Shi'ism as "heresy". Wikileaks has proved Gulf Arab dictators' desire to see Iran humbled. Bahrain had told the US that allowing Iran to have nuclear capability is worse than stopping it. Never mind that Bahrain has a majority population of Shi’ites ruled by a minority of Sunnis. Never mind that the UAE had told the US that it believes that Iran “is taking us into war”. Saudi Arabia has urged the US to attack Iran. If War comes, in that event we Arabs would have the rare distinction of fighting against Iran together with our allies the Americans and the Israelis. Did I say “the rare distinction”? Drop the epithet “rare” since we Arabs have often fought on the side of Israel or on its behalf, witness the Lebanese Civil War when the fascist Lebanese Forces massacred thousands of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatilla, witness the Egyptians who have kindly kept a close eye on the Palestinian border to ensure a competent way of starving Palestinians in Gaza, the Jordanians who killed thousands of Palestinians in ‘Black September’, the Syrians who occupied whole swathes of Lebanon…again, the list is endless.
 
From the perspective of a Western World whose hatred of Islam has now taken on congenital dimensions, a destroyed Iran would put Muslims, yet again, on the back foot.
 
Finally, from the perspective of the "Military Industrial Complex", which requires an occasional good destructive war to demonstrate its new products, increase sales and show its lethal and destructive power, Iran is deemed to be a 'threat'.

So, in reality, Iran is not a threat to anyone but its own citizens.

In terms of points of view, Iran is a perceived threat to the exclusive power of the US, to expansionist Israel, to Western Islamophobes and to the Military Industrial Complex.

So, God have mercy on Iran. And welcome to this “brave new world” where reality matters little and points of view, perceptions and spin become reality. It would be laughable if it were not so tragic.
 
The sanctions against Iran have started the process. By threatening Iran with further sanctions, with possible attacks and with all out war, the West, with the support of Israel and many Arab dictatorships, has aided internal disaffection with the regime which daily becomes more and more repressive as often happens when there is an external threat. In fact, some believe that the way that Iran is being threatened by the United States and its allies is causing it to work very hard to make a nuclear bomb. Sad but true. The moment a country has nuclear weapons, the rest of the world begins to treat it with that pseudo respect one accords to the bully in the playground. Look at North Korea. Look at Israel. Look at Pakistan. Look at India. Of course, that way leads either to indifference or destruction. Indifference because so many countries will have the Bomb that we would no longer care or destruction because the sheer amassing of nuclear weapons must reach a tipping point where somebody somewhere might use one – intentionally or by mistake. That is not to mention the nightmare scenario of terrorists being able to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Anyway, the end justifies the means. When the Americans invaded Mexico and took half the country and invaded the Oregon Territory, they justified such activities as “the great mission of peopling such areas with a noble race”. Presumably, Hussein who invaded and looted Kuwait and murdered innocent citizens was more honest in never pretending to use any Jacksonian self-defence and God’s will. He was merely land grabbing.
America is a great master at creating little “doctrines”. The Truman Doctrine because of the “Soviet threat”. The “Eisenhower Doctrine” and its associated civil wars and revolutions. Thank you so much President Eisenhower. I still bear the scars that those opposed to your “Doctrine” decided to inflict on me as a little boy of barely ten when they placed a bomb in a milk churn outside a shop my father was taking me to in 1958. But then, presumably, it was the will of God. Even the invasion of Iraq came from the God. Both Bush and Blair invoked Him. And when no WMDs were found, a new reason was invented: we are bringing democracy to those unfortunate Iraqis. Never mind that a gallup poll (Walter Pincus, 2003) showed only 1 per cent of Iraqis believed that and only 5 per cent believed that the invasion was “to assist the Iraqi people”. The other 94 per cent believed that their country was invaded because of its oil reserves. Another conspiracy theory in an Arab World entirely built on such theories which are, as Noam Chomsky so aptly says, “derided by rational Westerners, who understand that Washington and London would have been just as dedicated to the “liberation of Iraq” if its chief exports happened to be lettuce and pickles rather than petroleum”.

The impact is likely to be wide ranging if Iran were to be attacked. Economically, it is already under attack. I also believe that, on balance, there is likely to be a military strike on Iran unless the Iranians suddenly do a North Korea and present the world with a little nuclear explosion test to show their prowess.
What would the impact be?

Another few decades of dislocation in the Middle East thus allowing the West to continue draining it of its oil resources.

Continued Arab dictatorships to control restless peoples.

Explosion of Shi'ite resistance and revolt especially in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and, of course, Iran.
Social dislocation in every Arab country.

Finally, an enhanced spread of Israeli hegemony over a weakened Arab World.
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