A non-partisan journal of the left.

It’s like Déjà-Vu All Over Again

Thu 13th Dec 2012

Ten years ago this November, the United Nations approved Resolution 1441, put forward by the US and UK, forcing Iraq to reinstate weapons inspectors and account for its full arsenal. Iraq reluctantly agreed but after months of searching, the inspectors could only conclude that, while Iraq might be acting a little shady, no “smoking gun” could be found that could justify international intervention.

It didn’t matter. The huge military machine had already been set in motion many months before Resolution 1441 had even been submitted by the Western powers. The United States simply wanted to invade Iraq and would find a reason, no matter how vague or fabricated, to do so.

Overwhelmed by sectarian violence following the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq was left in ruins. Around 120,000 (and counting) Iraqi civilians have died due to violence as a result of the invasion and the instability it brought.

That’s one hundred and twenty thousand people, including children. Say it out loud and imagine.

Now imagine that, ten years later, this same nonsense is repeating itself once again. The same drip, drip, drip of rhetoric coming this time out of Israel, about weapons of mass destruction this time in Iran.

Throughout 2012 Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, has continuously referred to Iran’s uranium enrichment programme as a direct threat to the Israeli people, accused Iran of playing for time by faltering on diplomacy, and urged the US to act pre-emptively before Iran develops weapons-grade enriched uranium that could be put in a warhead.

By September the heat had really been turned up, with Netanyahu hinting that Israel may strike Iranian nuclear facilities before the year was out. Since 2010, let’s not forget, 5 Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated too. Israel has never denied being behind it.

Things have recently cooled. Netanyahu has since stated that Iran will become a real danger by spring or summer next year, while in the US President Obama needed less talk of war leading up to the election. On this subject Obama has seemed to be weary of Israeli chest-beating, but when pressed has repeatedly stated his unwavering loyalty towards the country.

But wait a minute. Have we all forgotten that Israel itself has the bomb? And that it consistently breaks international laws, with its targeting of civilian services in Gaza, attacking aid flotillas, and building huge settlements on land outside of its borders, to name but three of these infractions. Have we all forgotten so quickly their infamous Operation Cast Lead in 2008, resulting in the massacre of over 1300 Palestinian civilians, hundreds of them children?

Even if there was evidence of Iran seeking nuclear weapons as opposed to nuclear energy, what right does Israel, let alone the US, have to prevent it obtaining them? Because Iran is a pariah, a renegade? If good and bad are balanced on how well a nation abides by international laws and treaties then it is Israel that is the villain, not Iran.

But the US will never try to police Israel - just like it would not attack North Korea when they defied the ‘Axis of Evil’ label and tested a nuclear bomb in 2006, or would not invade Burma to 'free' the oppressed population like it did so with Iraq. No, it targets oil-rich Iran, which has the fourth largest reserves in the world.

The discussion here should not be about Obama's viewpoint or the pressure on him from the Israeli lobbyists. It shouldn't be about Netanyahu's agenda or even Israeli-US relations. It shouldn’t be on what Iran is doing or how long it may take for it to develop nuclear weapons. The discussion here should be about US hegemony in the Middle East, pax Americana and oil. This war, if it comes to it, will just be another conflict in a long line of American-led invasions, coups and puppet government installations that have been going on since the end of the Second World War. And it is always about control, money, and the spread of free-market capitalism.

Iran has already been the victim of US imperialism over the past sixty years. In 1953, the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh was overthrown by the CIA and MI6 because he wanted to nationalise the country’s oil industry. This displeased British interests (who until then had controlled most of Iran’s oil) and he was duly ousted. In his place, the US installed the Shah, an autocrat who was favourable to American interests and also a brutal monarch with a flair for wasting the country’s money while many of the people lived in poverty.

Following the Shah’s ousting by the Iranian people and the subsequent seizure of power by the Islamists in 1979, the Iran-Iraq war broke out and lasted for eight long years resulting in over one million deaths on both sides. During the war, the US made huge profits selling arms to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Things have not really changed much since. Whether it is the overt fist of war or the concealed hand of the CIA, American control on fossil fuels worldwide is ever tightening.

Iran is today the new number one enemy for the West.

But an attack – either by Israel backed by the US, or vice versa – is based on an unproven myth of monstrous proportions: that Iran poses a threat. And, as the drip, drip, drip of propaganda continues to flow out of Tel Aviv and Washington, it becomes harder to see how this war will be avoided. After all, no proof was needed prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, just like no proof was needed that Osama Bin Laden had masterminded the 9/11 attacks prior to the invasion of Afghanistan. These wars reduced both countries to rubble but yielded huge profits for the US corporatocracy.

In 2002, flogging his ‘War on Terror’ like a used-car salesman caught in a pitch of biblical proportions, President George W. Bush slung Iran into the ‘Axis of Evil’. This betrayed real long-term neo-con strategy in the Middle East.

Iraq especially suffered due to invasion, becoming engulfed in internal conflict and is now tied to the US for many years to come. With a larger population than the United Kingdom, Iran is destined to suffer the same fate as its neighbours if an attack by Israel leads to all out war, with the civilian death toll likely to be even higher than in Iraq.

Inevitable or not, if an attack on innocent-until-proven-guilty Iran does occur, it may have to be sold as an act of defence rather than aggression, so unpopular was the 2003 Iraq war with the public around the world. We may then be faced with another Gulf of Tonkin episode which manufactured a reason for the US to enter Vietnam - another sustained conflict leaving a death toll of four million civilians and making billions for the military industrial complex. Or, depending on your point of view, another 9/11 which, at the very least, gave the US an excuse to shore up a gas pipeline in Afghanistan.

Pre-emptive or provocation, Israel or the US, Obama or his successor, none of this matters. What we should conclude from this ongoing episode is that the United States is relentless in its march for control. With its sacred monetary system built on hollow foundations of debt, and with an eye on the next decade, the US needs to manoeuvre quickly to seize control of world fossil fuel supplies as prices rise and scarcity grows, and it needs war repeatedly to boost the short-term profits of the corporations pulling the political strings.

It may indeed be naive to think that Iran would not one day love to own a big bunch of nuclear weapons, but the real naivety is to believe that the the US and Israel are acting in the interest of peace.

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