Trump and the Fascists Greatly Heightened the Danger of War with Iran—but Biden and the Democrats Also Represent the Predatory Interests of Imperialism



With the defeat of Trump in the election, many progressive-minded people feel relieved that the period of sharp and rising U.S. threats and moves against Iran may be over. Under the Trump/Pence regime, the U.S. had unilaterally pulled out of the international agreement with Iran, negotiated under Obama, under which Iran agreed to limit nuclear development in return for easing of economic sanctions against Iran by the U.S. and other powers. Trump ratcheted up increasing sanctions against Iran, putting an intense squeeze on the Iranian economy, which has had devastating impact on the lives of the Iranian masses, including greatly intensifying the infections and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic. In what amounted to an act of war, in January 2020 Trump ordered the assassination of one of Iran’s top leaders—when he was in Iraq, another sovereign country. Even after the election loss, Trump and his regime have continued to pile more deadly sanctions on Iran and issue warlike threats.

Now, Biden says that once he gets into the White House, he will aim to put the U.S. back into the international nuclear agreement, which Iran and European imperialist powers had continued to maintain after Trump pulled the U.S. out. If Biden is able to do that, and this is by no means a sure thing, it will mark a significant change in U.S. policy—but NOT in the fundamental aims and driving forces underlying such a move. Biden and the Democrats, no less than Trump, are driven by the predatory interests of U.S. imperialism.

For decades, controlling the Middle East has been one of the key factors in U.S. imperialism’s domination of the planet. This region is where much of the world’s oil and natural gas are located. It’s a crossroads linking Africa, Europe, and Asia. Global trade routes run through it. Losing dominant control of the Middle East would be a body blow to the U.S. rulers, with profound repercussions. In recent decades, the U.S. has faced enormous new challenges to its position in this region, concentrated in the rise of virulent strains of reactionary and often anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism and sharpening conflicts with global rivals like Russia and China. In many ways these challenges have been concentrated around Iran. It is a powerful regional state with huge petroleum reserves, and a major pole of Islamic fundamentalism with its own agenda and ambitions, which have undercut U.S. control and threatened the interests of key U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Wars and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq starting in the early 2000s have failed and even backfired, not producing the results the U.S. desired. The U.S. has not been able to crush its enemies and establish stable client regimes. Instead, the clash between reactionary, outmoded imperialism and reactionary, outmoded Islamic fundamentalism has greatly escalated in very complex and intense ways, impacting other deep problems and contradictions across this volatile region, even as rival imperialist powers like China and Russia have made gains. This bubbling cauldron of contradictions threatens to tear the region apart—while being a horror show for the masses of people in the region.

For Obama, the nuclear agreement with Iran was an attempt to defuse the immediate danger of war, constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and even perhaps turn Iran’s theocratic regime from an enemy to a neutral force that could help stabilize the situation, and thus enable the U.S. to keep its grip on the region. This is the approach that Biden and the Democrats hope to return to. But this is denounced by the Republi-fascists, representing powerful sections of the ruling class, who fear that the agreement would make the Iranian regime stronger in the region, undercut key U.S. allies, and end up weakening U.S. regional—and global—dominance. Neither side in this fight represents the actual interests of the people of the world, including the masses of people in Iran and the U.S.

As for Biden’s specific position on Iran, will write more on this as things develop, but it is worth recalling that, earlier this year, when he was responding to questions posed by the New York Times to Democratic presidential candidates, Biden was quite emphatic about not ruling out military intervention in Iran (and other strategic areas)—including pre-emptive attacks—if U.S. interests are threatened. Asked if he would “consider military force to pre-empt an Iranian or North Korean nuclear or missile test,” Biden answered, “Yes. Force must be used judiciously to protect a vital interest of the United States.... The nuclear program of North Korea and the nuclear ambitions of Iran pose such a vital interest.”

The “vital interests” of the U.S., as the dominant capitalist-imperialist power in the world, have nothing to do with—and are fundamentally opposed to—the interests of humanity.

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

“You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics.”

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