On Sunday in Iran, mass protests were drowned in blood by government authorities; at least ten reportedly have been killed with hundreds injured. The events have been given ample coverage in the U.S. media, with the intention of further demonizing Iran’s repressive government. Absent in the American media are the deeper implications of the protests, which, to anyone paying close attention, constitute a powerful revolutionary movement.
This movement has grown exponentially in a very short period of time. Although only beginning in June over allegations of voter fraud, the movement is now endorsed by millions of combative Iranians, demanding “death to the dictator,” while they waive an Iranian flag that’s missing the Muslim insignia. Massive demonstrations in the streets and university campuses have directly confronted police repression and in some cases have overcome it. The New York Times describes a scene found only in instances of revolution:
“There were scattered reports of police officers surrendering, or refusing to fight. Several videos posted on the Internet show officers holding up their helmets and walking away from the melee, as protesters pat them on the back in appreciation. In one photograph, several police officers can be seen holding their arms up, and one of them wears a bright green headband, the signature color of the opposition movement.” (December 27, 2009).
The recent killing of protestors is likely to have the opposite of its intended effect: protestors are likely to become even more demanding and radicalized. After the shots were fired, thousands of demonstrators were heard yelling: “I’ll kill, I’ll kill those who killed my brothers.” If the current Iranian government survives the revolutionary movement, it will do so only after a prolonged period of extreme domestic crisis and repression.
The reaction of the U.S. government to the month’s long events in Iran has been largely to ignore it. After some initial comments in June, the White House has talked only about Iran’s “nuclear ambitions,” minus one sentence in Obama’s Orwellian Nobel Peace Prize speech, where he said: “We will bear witness to the hundreds of thousands marching in the streets of Iran.”
Not only has the U.S. government not “born witness” to the people’s struggle in Iran, the Democrats are working to undermine it. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced his intention to push forward potentially crippling U.S. sanctions against Iran’s oil imports (Iran cannot refine all of the oil it needs, and must import 40 percent). If realized, this action would amount to an act of war.
The AFP reports: “The legislation, which includes sanctions that can be slapped on foreign companies with more than 20 million dollars of investments in Iran’s energy sector, was approved by the Banking Committee at end of October.” (December 25, 2009).
The effect of such an economic attack will be to assist Iran’s current rulers, who will use the provocation to distract the public away from domestic issues, and focus instead on a powerful foreign enemy.
But “liberals” in Washington are not only advocating economic acts of war, but also the direct military type. A recent Op-Ed article in the New York Times was titled “There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran.” The author was more than blunt:
“We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.” (December 24, 2009).
This essay is from the U.S.’ most powerful “liberal” mainstream newspaper.
In the same article, the author writes about the consequences of a U.S. attack on the Iranian “opposition,” i.e., revolutionary movement. He admits that such an attack would have dire consequences for the Iranian social movement, but says it would be “temporary.”
It should be no surprise that Washington’s “liberal” wing of the corporate establishment is getting in line behind a more aggressive approach to Iran, since the exact same thing happened on the war path to Iraq.
Like Iraq, politicians are conjuring up nightmare scenarios to scare the American public into accepting an attack on Iran. In fact, the exact same bogeymen are being used which justified the invasion of Iraq. Iran, we are told, will give nuclear weapons to terrorists, just like Saddam was supposedly about to do.
Also like Iraq, there is zero evidence of nuclear weapons in Iran. Contrary to the accusations of Democrats and Republicans, the U.S. government’s own National Intelligence Estimate of late 2007 stated that Iran had halted its entire nuclear weapons program in 2003 and had not re-started it as of 2007.
U.N. inspectors inside of Iran have also reported zero evidence of nuclear weaponry. Likely, however, as in Iraq, false “intelligence” may be “uncovered” that could be used to justify an attack.
Regardless of the many media-invented lies surrounding the situation in Iran, the real cause for intervention would be the same as Iraq: oil and corporate profits in general.
Like Iraq, Iran has lots of oil. Also like Iraq, Iran has a large state sector that could be privatized as gifts for U.S. corporations. Like Iraq, Iran is not a puppet of the United States, one of the few countries in the oil-rich Middle East hanging on to their independence.
This Iranian revolution, if successful, has profound implications for the Middle East and beyond. The last Iranian revolution, in 1979, shook off the U.S.-installed puppet dictator and made Iran an independent country. Unfortunately, the aspirations of the people were choked off by the Ayatollahs, who stopped the revolutionary movement in its tracks by murdering progressives by the thousands.
Because the Middle East continues to be dominated by U.S. puppets or directly by the U.S. military, Iran’s independence continues to be a source of inspiration for millions in the region. Regrettably, the stunted outcome of the 1979 revolution is also viewed as a goal for many of these same people, who wrongly see a religious government as more just and equitable than what they currently experience under U.S. domination.
The popular revolution in Iran is likely to come into conflict with not only Mullahs, but in addition, powerful corporations. The people will not be satisfied submitting to either, making this revolution inherently more radical than the “pro-democracy” label given by the U.S. government. If Iran were to complete a revolution that made its goal to spend its oil wealth and other riches on the people, it would send an example that would rock the Middle East. Any U.S. or Israeli intervention would be useless, which is precisely why they may try to abort the baby before it is born.
Those in the United States involved in the anti-war movement must be aware of the unfolding events in Iran. The people of Iran must be allowed to complete their revolution without U.S. intervention. HANDS OFF IRAN!
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]