How Long Must This Go On?
Tankers Damaged in Persian Gulf—America Again Ratchets Up Threats, Danger of War Against Iran



The U.S. is—once again—ratcheting up tensions, escalating its aggression, and heightening the danger of a potentially devastating war against Iran.

On Thursday, June 13, two oil tankers—one Japanese, the other Norwegian—were damaged, apparently from an explosion, as they were in transit near the mouth of the Persian Gulf—a major route for world oil shipments, which lies off Iran’s southern coast.

Within hours, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran. “It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” he declared, but he didn’t provide definitive evidence to back up this “assessment.” The U.S. Central Command quickly produced a timeline of the attack and a grainy video, which supposedly showed Iranian Revolutionary Guards removing an unexploded mine from the hull of one of the damaged tankers. The next day Trump claimed there was no doubt—the attack had “Iran written all over it.”

The truth, however, is that it’s not yet known exactly what happened to these two tankers (or to the four ships that were damaged in the Gulf on May 12, an incident the U.S. also blamed Iran for).1 The fuzzy U.S. video is far from conclusive, and the owner of the tanker it ostensibly shows said the ship was damaged by a flying projectile, not a mine as the U.S. claimed, a statement consistent with initial reports of the incident. Iran denies any involvement in the incident, and then there’s America’s long history of lying and creating pretexts for aggression and war, including the fabricated 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident used to escalate the Vietnam War, and the fabricated weapons of mass destruction “intelligence ” the U.S. used to justify its invasion of Iraq in 2003.2

It’s also possible that Iran carried out the attack, perhaps as a warning to the U.S. and its allies that Iran has the ability to disrupt global energy shipments and the global economy if they don’t ease their escalating economic sanctions and military pressure. (Three days before the incident, Iran’s foreign minister warned that those who were waging “economic war” on Iran shouldn’t think they’d “remain safe.”)

The Biggest Lie of All—America as a Force for Good in the World

Whoever is behind this particular incident in the Gulf, it’s crucial to step back and look at the bigger picture and the bigger forces at work—and not be bum-rushed into supporting U.S. aggression or war by this system’s lying politicians and media. Because the biggest lie of all is the whole framework they peddle 24-7: that Iran (or whoever stands in the way of U.S. imperialism at any given moment) is the main aggressor and culprit here, while the U.S. is a force for good in the world that’s acting reasonably and merely trying to keep the peace.

Iran is an oppressed, Third World country run by a reactionary theocracy which is battling to maintain its rule and contend for influence in the region.

But that doesn’t make the U.S. the “lesser evil ” or a force for good in the world! The U.S. is the biggest, most dangerous aggressor here and around the world. It bears the main and overwhelming responsibility for ratcheting up the suffering of the Iranian people and heightening the danger of a devastating war:

  • Pompeo called Iran’s alleged action “unprovoked,” but it’s the U.S., not Iran, that in 2017 busted out of the nuclear deal they agreed to (with other world powers) in 2015, immediately escalating tensions.
  • It’s the U.S. that then went back on its promises to lift sanctions and viciously re-imposed them, openly declaring they were seeking to cripple if not collapse Iran’s entire economy and greatly increase the suffering of Iran’s 80 million people.
  • Pompeo blustered about Iran’s “nuclear blackmail,” but it’s the U.S. that’s deployed nuclear capable B-52 bombers, an aircraft carrier strike group, and thousands more troops to the region, and has threatened “the official end of Iran” if they don’t bow down. (Meanwhile, Iran has no nuclear weapons.)

And draw the lens back further:

  • It’s the U.S. which directly dominated and exploited Iran for 25 years—from 1953 to 1979—after installing a torturing tyrant in a CIA-orchestrated coup overthrowing a legitimately elected nationalist government.3
  • It’s the U.S. which helped instigate the bloody eight-year war Iraq launched against Iran in 1988, a war which left hundreds of thousands of Iranians dead or wounded.
  • And it’s U.S. capitalism-imperialism which has ruthlessly dominated and plundered the entire Middle East region—and most of the globe—for the past 70 plus years. It’s the U.S. which has launched war after war after war, has over 700 military bases around the world, and is now carrying out military actions in at least six different countries. All this is to maintain a global empire of exploitation and oppression, NOT to serve humanity!

Sharp Differences, Grave Dangers

There are sharp differences, grave concerns, and a certain element of turmoil within the ruling class—including within the Trump/Pence regime—over the possibility that the U.S. may end up at war with Iran. They all agree that Iran’s regional influence, actions, and ambitions conflict with U.S. imperialist interests, posing a challenge to U.S. domination in one of the most strategically vital parts of the world.4 They fundamentally agree with America’s necessity and “right” to dominate the Middle East. For example, leading Democrats who oppose going to war with Iran now also call Iran “a major threat to our national security,” warn against its “malign activities,” and demand the U.S. “be more vigilant than ever in fighting Iranian aggression.”5

At the same time, there are serious differences on going to war, especially with a country with a relatively strong and developed military, what in the words of the New York Times could be a “cataclysm ” and ultimately hurt U.S. imperialist interests instead of furthering them.

It is not clear how all this will unfold from here, but it is clear that U.S. actions, including its response to this latest incident, have again increased tensions and potential “tripwires” that escalate the danger of a military clash or even war in the region.

These are not “our” actions, the rulers’ debates are not “our” debates, and the interests of these imperialists are not “our” interests. They reflect the predatory interests of the imperialist system and the class that rules it, and are diametrically opposed to our interests, the interests of humanity. All the moves and actions the U.S. is undertaking in the Middle East should be resolutely opposed by people in this country in particular. It’s intolerable for people here to sit passively by—which amounts to tacit support while people around the world are murdered, maimed, terrorized, or starved by the U.S. again, and again, and again. (See U.S. Imposes Crippling Sanctions on Iran: A Major, Dangerous and Utterly Illegitimate Escalation.)

How Long Must This Go On?

Many people across society are rightly alarmed that the U.S. is ratcheting up dangers of another war in the Middle East—one with the potential to be far more devastating than even the horror America has inflicted on Iraq, where some 1 million people have died because of its 2003 invasion. But the question they need to be asking—and digging into HERE—is why does this system wage war over and over and over...what will it take to end America’s unending wars...and what is their responsibility in the face of this—including to repudiate American patriotism and doing all they can to end this scourge on humanity?


1. See, "Iran: America Plays Imperialist Roulette in the Gulf—Putting Millions of Lives at Risk" [back]

2.In 1964, the U.S. claimed that North Vietnam had attacked the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, then used the “incident” to escalate its war on Vietnam. No such attack took place. In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. cherry-picked and outright fabricated “intelligence” that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had chemical, biological and perhaps nuclear weapons, and posed an imminent threat to the U.S. In fact, Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) years earlier under UN and U.S. supervision, and after the U.S. invaded its inspectors found no – zero - WMD. [back]

3. See, "American Crime--Case #98: 1953 CIA Coup in Iran: Torture and Repression – Made in the U.S.A." [back]

4. See, for example, article “U.S. Imposes Crippling Sanctions on Iran: A Major, Dangerous and Utterly Illegitimate Escalation.” [back]

5. “Even as he criticized Trump’s recent actions, Representative Seth Moulton last week called Iran ‘a major threat to our national security.’ In a statement emailed by her staff, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand condemned its ‘malign activities.’ Senator Cory Booker has in the past insisted that the United States ‘be more vigilant than ever in fighting Iranian aggression.’” Peter Beinart, “Even Democrats Keep Thinking Iran Is Worse Than Saudi Arabia—The 2020 candidates are resisting the latest brush with war, but they’re not going far enough,” The Atlantic, May 21, 2019. [back]



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