Revolution #78, February 11, 2007


Bush Regime “Surges”…Toward War With Iran

by Larry Everest

The Bush regime is “surging”—escalating—in Iraq. And it’s launched an even more ominous escalation toward Iran that may lead to military attacks—or all-out war. There are increasing reports in both the bourgeois and the alternative press that war preparations are underway and that the U.S. and/or Israel could attack Iran within the next several months. This follows last year’s revelations by journalist Seymour Hersh that the Bush administration was engaged in military planning for war on Iran, possibly including bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapons.

In the past several weeks, following Bush’s January 10 escalation speech (see “Bush's New Plan: More Troops, More Death, More—and Wider—War,”) and amplified in his January 23 State of the Union address, the U.S. has both increased its combat forces in Iraq and rapidly ramped up its military preparations, political and economic pressure, and propaganda offensive against Iran.

* The U.S. dispatched a second aircraft carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf, equaling the number in the Gulf during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Anti-missile Patriot missile batteries are also being deployed in the region to protect U.S. allies against possible Iranian retaliatory strikes.

* The U.S. has shaken up its military command and for the first time put an Admiral, William J. Fallon in charge of Centcom. Centcom commands all U.S. forces in the Europe-Middle East region. Coming at a time when the U.S. is fighting two ground wars—in Iraq and Afghanistan—this move is widely understood as signaling a naval and air assault on Iran.

* The U.S. imperialists tightened the economic vise on Iran by pressuring international banks and financial institutions to stop lending it money. Using its ally, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. has pushed down the price of oil from $77 to $50 a barrel, significantly cutting into the oil revenues Iran’s government and economy depend on.

* The Bush regime has launched a full-court propaganda offensive against Iran reminiscent of the deluge of lies which preceded the Iraq war. The U.S. and Israel continue to claim that Iran is actively pursuing and close to building nuclear weapons. The Bush crew has produced no proof to back up this claim, and most weapons experts insist it will be at least a decade before Iran could build a nuclear weapon—if it is indeed pursuing them. Britain’s Observer (1/28) reports that “Iran's efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs [and fuel nuclear reactors], are in chaos and the country is still years from mastering the required technology.”

In his State of the Union address, Bush stated: “It has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who…take direction from the regime in Iran. The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat.” This brings Iran back into the sights of Bush’s ideological “holy war.”

In his January 10 speech, Bush claimed, “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops,” and since then one official after another has repeated this charge—although none has provided a shred of evidence. Even bourgeois media outlets (L.A. Times, 1/23) report: “Scant evidence found of Iran-Iraq arms link.” The charge is exercise of naked lying and contorted logic: “some 99 percent of all attacks on U.S. troops occur in Sunni Arab areas and are carried out by Baathist or Sunni fundamentalist (Salafi) guerrilla groups,” Professor Juan Cole points out. “If Iran is providing materiel to anyone, it is to U.S. [Shi’ite] allies.”

* Hours before Bush’s January 10 speech, the U.S. staged a provocative raid and arrested a number of Iranians in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil. It turns out they were officials invited by the Iraqi government, yet some are still being held.

* Bush also issued shoot-to-kill orders against Iranians “trying to harm our troops, or stop us from achieving our goal, or killing innocent citizens in Iraq.” There are thousands of Iranians in Iraq at any given time—religious pilgrims, businessmen, diplomats, people with relatives in Iraq—and the rationale of shooting Iranians for stopping the U.S. “from achieving our goal” is so broad it could make any of them a target—and serve as a tripwire or pretext for an attack on Iran.

Deeper Difficulties, Growing Necessity

Overthrowing the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a U.S. strategic objective since Bush labeled Iran a member of the “axis of evil” in 2002. It’s considered a key component of the Bush post-9/11 global strategy of radically reshaping the world, beginning in the Middle East-Central Asian region, in order to solidify the U.S.’s position as the world’s sole imperialist superpower, an unchallenged and unchallengeable empire. In particular, regime change in Iran is viewed as crucial to striking a decisive blow against anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism, which has emerged as the main obstacle to U.S. designs.

This is why Bush’s 2006 National Security Strategy refers to Iran 16 times and states: “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.”

The urgency of taking action against Iran has been heightened by the ways in which the U.S. war has backfired. The invasion of Iraq was designed—in part—to pave the way for weakening, and perhaps toppling, Iran’s government. Instead, it removed one of Iran’s main enemies in Saddam Hussein (after another of Iran’s adversaries, Afghanistan’s Taliban, was also driven from power by the U.S.). The U.S. has been forced to rely on Iraq’s pro-Iranian Shia parties to try to rule and stabilize the country. Overall, the U.S.’s gathering debacle in Iraq has weakened U.S. influence, fueled the spread of Islamist trends, and bolstered Iran’s regional influence. If Iran ever gained nuclear weapons the regional equation would shift further in its favor, whether it used them or not.

Over the summer of 2006, all this became more pronounced (especially after Israel’s war on Lebanon which failed to dislodge or weaken Hezbollah). U.S. officials reportedly decided, according to the Washington Post (1/26), that “a more confrontational approach was necessary, as Iran's regional influence grew and U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran appeared to be failing.” The U.S. began trying to forge an anti-Iran alliance with Israel and reactionary Sunni Arab states aimed at rolling back Iran’s influence in Iraq and the region, and taking aggressive action against Iran itself.

The need here to “escape forward” through the growing contradictions the U.S. is facing is also driven by the U.S.’s need to stay on the offensive, and maintain the momentum of its overall global agenda and the power of the Bush cabal, or risk having the whole high-stakes gamble unravel or derail—including possibly by growing divisions in the ruling class itself and/or growing resistance by the people.

Bush and other officials claim “we are not planning for war with Iran,” and that their military buildup is only aimed at giving them diplomatic leverage. But, as we saw with the invasion of Iraq, claiming to want peace and going through the motions of diplomacy are also needed to try and blame the other side for starting the battle. So they’re an essential part of imperialist war preparations.

The Paralysis of the Democrats and the Urgency of Mass Resistance

In the face of this rapid and threatening escalation, the Democrats approved Bush’s new war cabinet, while proposing a nonbinding resolution criticizing Bush’s troop surge (not the war as a whole). After a compromise with Republican Senator John Warner, the resolution now specifically opposes cutting off war funding, which is one of the few ways Congress could stop Bush. (And Bush will soon be asking for another $100 billion for the Iraq war, on top of the $380 billion Congress has previously approved.) Some Democrats have also introduced, again, nonbinding resolutions against war on Iran. Others demand that they be consulted. “We do not want to see precipitous actions that have not been thought through, have not been discussed, have not been authorized,” said Senator Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, leading Democratic Presidential candidates are amplifying the drumbeat of war against Iran. Hillary Clinton recently told a pro-Israel audience that Iran must not be allowed to have nukes and “no option can be taken off the table.” And listen to the “anti (Iraq) war” candidate John Edwards speaking to a similar audience: “At the top of these threats is Iran…To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep all options on the table. Let me reiterate — all options.”

(There is speculation that Bush may encourage Israel to attack Iran first to further undercut any Democratic opposition and to sell the war as the “defense” of a crucial ally.)

These aren’t the actions of a party with no “spine.” They’re the actions of an imperialist party just as concerned about maintaining U.S. global power and domestic political stability as Bush is, even as they worry that Bush is driving the whole system off a precipice. These interests defended by the Democrats are imperialist interests; they are not the interests of the vast majority of people in this country, let alone around the world, who have no stake in the U.S. war against Iraq and now its threatened invasion of Iran—but who do have a stake in fighting for a more equitable and just world.

All this speaks to the urgent need for a force of mass resistance to emerge, now, not beholden to the politics of global domination and empire, capable of resolutely opposing America’s ongoing—and escalating—criminal wars of aggression.

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