Revolution#127, April 20, 2008


U.S. ratchets up fighting in Iraq, threats Against Iran

Regular readers of Revolution know the U.S. has been threatening the Islamic Republic of Iran and may be preparing a military attack. (See “Alert: U.S. Escalates Moves Against Iran”, issue #126, at Now, this past week, there have been further, and particularly sharp, expressions of how the U.S. is both escalating fighting in Iraq, and at the same time, ratcheting up public opinion in favor of attacking Iran. It’s very important that people continue to be alert to this dangerous situation.

The 2003 invasion and the occupation of Iraq was and continues to be a criminal war of imperialist aggression—aimed at securing Iraq as a U.S. neo-colony and deepening U.S. domination in the whole region. After five years this war has brought horrific destruction, death, torture, and devastation to the Iraqi people. (See Dahr Jamail interview, this issue)

Now, major ruling class figures are making clear that at this point the U.S. is not planning on withdrawing troops. And they are also arguing that Iran is the main obstacle to the U.S. agenda of defeating Islamic fundamentalist forces that pose obstacles to unfettered American dominance and the restructuring of the entire Middle East region more tightly under imperialist control.

U.S. ruling class threats against Iran this last week:

• April 8-9: When General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, testified before Congress, he painted Iran’s support for Shiite extremists as the biggest long-term risk to Iraq’s stability (CNN, 4-11-08). After the hearings, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters that Iran was one of the factors in U.S. plans to halt troop withdrawals at least until mid-September. Gates said, “I think that there is some sense of an increased level of supply of (Iranian) weapons and support to these groups” (referring to what the military has termed “special groups” of Shiite militants). Gates also claimed that Iranian support had a large role in attacks on U.S. forces by the Iraqi Shiite militia called the Mahdi Army during the recent fighting in Baghdad and Basra. Meanwhile, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker claimed that Iran continues to “undermine the efforts of the Iraqi government to establish a stable, secure state.”

• April 10: President Bush said, “Iraq is the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century: al Qaeda and Iran.” In the same speech, he endorsed the call from Petraeus for a halt in further withdrawals of U.S. troops from Iraq after July, when troop levels will reach 140,000, the number before the “surge” that began last year. And then, speaking like a Mafia godfather making “an offer you can’t refuse,” Bush said: “The regime in Tehran also has a choice to make: They can live in peace with its neighbor, enjoy strong economic and cultural and religious ties, or it can continue to arm and train and fund illegal militant groups which are terrorizing the Iraqi people and turning them against Iran. If Iran makes the right choice, America will encourage a peaceful relationship between Iran and Iraq. If Iran makes the wrong choice, America will act to protect our interests and our troops and our Iraqi partners.” Put this together with recent reports that three U.S. warships now sit off the coast of Lebanon.

• April 10: On the right-wing talk radio show hosted by Sean Hannity, Vice President Dick Cheney ratcheted up the level of fear-mongering against Iran. He did this by talking about how Ahmadinejad (the president of Iran) is “a man who believes in the return of the 12th Imam; and that the highest honor that can befall a man is that he should die a martyr in facilitating the return of the 12th Imam.” Cheney then said, quoting pro-imperialist Middle East “scholar” Bernard Lewis, “Mutual assured destruction in the Soviet-U.S. relationship in the Cold War meant deterrence, but mutual assured destruction with Ahmadinejad is an incentive.”

To be clear. Iran did not invade Iraq. The U.S. did. Iran didn’t run Abu Ghraib prison. The U.S. did. Iran didn’t start the recent fighting in Basra and Baghdad—the U.S. did. And the U.S. bears the overwhelming brunt of responsibility for the towering horrors inflicted on the Iraqi people, not Iran. So by what right does the U.S. complain that Iran is “interfering” in Iraq—this is gangster logic aimed at justifying furthering U.S. domination in Iraq and the whole Middle East.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a reactionary theocracy that has murdered thousands of communists and progressives and enforces medieval strictures on women—among other things. And we support the struggle of the Iranian people to throw off their oppressors. But the reactionary character of the Iranian regime is not what the U.S. rulers consider a problem. The U.S.’s problem with Iran is that it’s standing in their way of unfettered imperialist exploitation and political-military hegemony across the Middle East, including in the ways Iran represents and fuels Islamic fundamentalism and challenges Israel as the U.S.’s regional bully on the block.

These are very serious developments. War with Iran—no matter the pretext—would bring potentially staggering consequences to the people of the region and devastating reverberations across the planet. This raises once again the urgency of building mass resistance to the war and reversing the whole trajectory the Bush regime has set in motion.

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