September 30, 2007


The Self-fulfilling Prophecy of a US War on Iran?

I think there has been a little too much talk lately about the possibility, nay “certainty,” of a US attack on Iran, and far too little analysis of exactly why (in the world!) would such an attack take place. I (obviously?) haven’t been to journalism school, but I have heard that budding journalists are taught to find out the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of a story. There has been far too much “information” about every element of the supposedly impending war, except for the “why” part of the story, even though the “why” part is obviously the most important part.

Let’s first look back at another one of America’s wars, that is, the war against Serbia. As Chomsky and many other progressive analysts have pointed out over the years, Clinton's war against Serbia was not about the slaughter of Kosovars by Serbs. The slaughter of Kosovars began after the start of the US attack on Serbia. The war was rather about Serbia's adamant refusal to abide by commercial and trade rules that Europe and the US were trying to impose on it. At the time of the war, millions of other people were fooled by the Clinton Administration's rhetoric of "Just War." I think we should avoid making similar mistakes in the current situation.

Therefore, the primary maxim to keep in mind is that every single war that the US has embarked upon has been about promoting the commercial and trade interests of its ruling class. America's official enemies, such as the late Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, have been comprised of groups and individuals who have seriously hindered those class interests. The leaderships of Republican and Democratic Parties share those class interests. That is why we see Barack Obama threatening war against Iran and Pakistan, and also why "Hil" Clinton is more of a Zionist than Olmert. In other words, if either of these individuals were to become president, US policy towards the Middle East would alter not a whit.

I have been extremely concerned about the possibility of a US attack against Iran. Applying the above analysis to the situation, however, I would say that an attack is not likely, as the US would, on balance, have little commercial or trade interest to gain from such an attack. Most of the rest, such as Barack Obama’s obscene threats, are pure rhetoric.

Some commentators have enumerated the deteriorating situation in Iraq, the possibility of an independent attack by Israel on Iran, and Iran’s nuclear energy program as incentives for US military involvement in Iran. However:

a) The US situation in Iraq is not deteriorating. The situation of the Iraqi people has been deteriorating, but that is to the advantage of the US. By the same token, the US does not need a scapegoat for Iraq.

b) The US does not work for Israel. Israel works for the US. Israel will do whatever the US wants it to do, and will refrain from doing whatever the US does not want it to do.

c) Iran's nuclear program is purely about energy production, and the Bush Administration knows it. There is no rational reason to go to war over the nuclear program.

Am I saying we should relax and stop worrying? By no means. What I am saying is that we should base our actions on real facts, rather than facts that the ruling class and its newsmedia want us to believe. What I have begun to realize over the last year or so is that the real problem is much bigger than a war against this or that country, as horrific as such wars may be. The real problem is that the existing political systems tend to give power to individuals who represent anti-human and and-environment interests. That system is the real enemy, and many governments and even supposedly progressive organizations are its components.

Meanwhile, all commentary about US vs Iran, whether from the Right, the “Left,” or the mainstream, has focused on the possibility of war. I think we should spend a little more time analyzing why all these groups are so focused on war. What are they trying to hide. Could it possibly be the fact that none of them have any “clothes”?

But a little more about Iran’s nuclear program, which is supposed to be the “why” of a US attack. Here is a list of some of the proffered reasons for war, along with their rebuttal:

a) “The non-military options have reached a dead-end. Diplomacy is not working.” A dead-end on the path to achieve what? To stop Iran from legally achieving nuclear enrichment and nuclear energy production?

b) “The US is going through the motions of diplomacy because it wants war.” Is this statement not self-contradictory? If the US wanted war, why would it persist so long in pursuing the diplomatic route?

c) “The US, through the UN Security Council, has tried to persuade Iran to abandon uranium enrichment, but Iran has stubbornly refused to comply.” Iran’s refusal has nothing to do with stubbornness, and the US (and the rest of the “Security Council”) are fully aware of that. The refusal has to do with the fact that (i) Iran’s petroleum resources will run out within a single generation, and therefore a replacement energy source is a vital national concern; and (ii) even in the short term, Iran must vigorously pursue nuclear energy, because it has to export as much of its petroleum production to earn foreign currency, rather than to make it available for domestic consumption. Petroleum exports are by far the primary source of revenue for the Iranian economy and government.

Even the progressive commentators tend to confuse Iran’s pursuit of nuclear energy with its presumed pursuit of nuclear weaponry. They begin by criticizing Western efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear energy work, but then attribute these efforts to a fear of nuclear proliferation. But you can’t have it both ways. The cause of Western concern has little to do with proliferation of nuclear weapons, and much to do with a fear of an independent Iran setting an example for the rest of the developing world.

the "why" of an attack on iran is identical with the "why" of the attack on iraq... war is the principal driver of the cash machine that feeds the elites' insatiable greed and need for power, and iran's hydrocarbon resources coupled with its refusal to bow to the power of the united states empire make it an ideal target... i agree with you... any other reasons are merely smokescreens...
"every single war that the US has embarked upon has been about promoting the commercial and trade interests of its ruling class."

To the extent that this is true, you can substitute "the US" with just about every other nation-state that ever existed. Although an argument can be made that in WWI the United States' commercial and trade interests would have been better served by allying itself with Germany or simply remaining neutral.
My aim in this post, Emptyman, was to counter the American discourse of exceptionalism, which has been used as a very effective propaganda tool for a very long time. According to this discourse, it may be true that every other country in the world is only out to promote the interests of its ruling class, the US is an exception, in that the US, supposedly, acts only in purusuit of peace and justice. So, for instance, the Iraq War was about "getting rid of WMDs," "promoting democracy," etc., and never about obtaining control over Iraqi oil.

By the way, in WWII, the US did ally itself with Germany, that is, with German capital. The US got involved in that war only when it became obvious that the Nazis were endangering the interests of German capital, and hence the interests of international capital. But that's another story. Or is it?
i agree that war will only happen to further class interests. what, then, is the reason for all the war talk in the media? it cannot be simply random. nor, i think, is it somehow intentionally planted. there must be some logical relation between the various class interests and this media war talk. you hint at such talk "hiding" something. hiding what? the new-found impotence of these classes in securing hegemony? possibly. i do agree that war against iran would be supremely irrational for the dominant classes. only iraq, because of unique circumstances, could have been concocted and sold to the establishment. no such illusions of hegemony can now appear so persuasive. while many companies have gotten rich in iraq, these ruling classes are still not quite to the level of avarice that they are willing to utterly sacrifice the country that "hosts" them for further gain. some may even harbor sentimental thoughts about "their" country, causing them to pause in their fantasies for a moment of cold reality: while iraq has helped their classes and their companies, it has hurt the US as a whole, as a cohesive and powerful political unit. and if the country suffers in various ways, it becomes less useful as a tool for their interests. so -- i too think this thought gives the war mongers pause.
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