29 March 2006
If we want to secure our way of life, there is no alternative but to fight for it. That means standing up for our values not just in our own countries but the world over. We need to construct a global alliance for these global values and act through it. The immediate threat is from Islamist extremism.
We will not defeat this terror until we face up to the fact that its roots are deep and that it is not a passing spasm of anger but a global ideology at war with us and our way of life. Their case is that democracy is a Western concept we are forcing on an unwilling culture of Islam. The problem we have is that a part of opinion in our own countries agrees with them. – Tony Blair to the Australian parliament, 27 March, 2005.
Unlike many of my brethren (and not for the first time), I am seem to be out of step about the apocalyptic visions that are currently populating the Webosphere concerning an immanent invasion of Iran.
No doubt the US have plans for every country on the planet, that is after all, one of the roles of the ‘think tanks’, to do ‘what ifs?’ What if France goes really socialist? What if … But planning various scenarios is one thing, following through is something quite different.
I tend to view the release of documents that reveal the existence of plans to invade Iran as being a quite deliberate ploy on the part of the US ruling class (see the links at the end of this piece); on the one hand to put the frighteners on any country that dares oppose US objectives and on the other, they bolster just how ‘serious’ the USUK are about the alleged threat that Iran poses (or any other country that challenges the US).
In order to try and assess just what specifically the US is up to, it is necessary to separate wishes from the actuality. If we take Iraq as an example, prior to the actual invasion and occupation, there were twelve years of ‘softening up’ the target followed by an awful lot of work to firstly assess what the reaction of the various interested parties would be and what, if anything they could do to throw a spanner in the works. National interests largely determined how the various parties reacted.
The key here is to look at what the gains and losses are, thus Russia and a number of EU countries no doubt also did their own calculations as to the possible outcomes. Would they end up as winners or losers? And of course Israel, as the local outpost of US capital stood to gain an awful lot from the removal of opposition to its occupation as well access to oil a mere short range missile away.
As far as the US is concerned, it would be foolish to think that the ruling elite was under any illusions about the negative backlash that would result from the occupation of Iraq, but they calculated that their sheer military power would deter any country from intervening and in this they were correct. But as to the eventual outcome, it would be foolish to predict except to say that once ensconced, removing such an outsized and heavily armed beast would be a difficult task. Can we assume that the beast will also blast its way into Iran?
As far as Iran is concerned, just as with Venezuela the first line of attack is to try and foment an ‘indigenous’ revolt, it’s not only cheaper it’s also a safer option, although outcomes cannot necessarily be as easily controlled.
There are those who argue that the US simply doesn’t care how many countries ‘hate’ it, that those who rule the US are so desperate that they are prepared to risk everything. I am not so sure things are so cut and dried.
What would the outcomes be of either an invasion or perhaps selected strikes for example, on nuclear sites? US strategic planners have no doubt weighed all the options and various comments by high-ranking US and UK military indicate that there are serious divisions about the efficacy of an invasion or even the use of selective strikes that contradict all the public pronouncements made by Bush, Rice and co.
For example, let us assume that the US decides on selective strikes on nuclear targets, what would be the advantage? It would bring them no nearer to gaining access to the oil, or advance their strategic positioning in their march East.
There is no doubt that Iran is being used as one of the excuses to continue the occupation that is the quagmire of Iraq and that the current propaganda campaign around some kind of immanent ‘civil war’ involves the alleged role of Iran in supplying weapons to ‘insurgents’ and its alleged role in the alleged Sunni/Shi’ia ‘divide’.
And yes, the brief but intense propaganda campaign mounted by the USUK over Iran’s alleged nukes also forms part of a larger strategic plan, namely the creation of a false ‘history’ similar to the WMD mythology invented to justify the invasion of Iraq but remember that it took the better part of a dozen years (and 9/11) to work up to the point whereby the USUK could rationalise an invasion and even then it had to do it under the most unfavourable conditions, conditions that it is paying dearly for ignoring.
That it had to go to war when almost the entire planet was opposed to the invasion was proof not of strength but of weakness, not military but political and, weakness where it hurt most – at home. Nobody in the US had heard of Vietnam until the body bags started to pile up, so to some degree things have changed since the 1960s.
Hence the importance of creating an Iranian ‘demon’ is largely for domestic consumption and is another piece in the mosaic that is the justification for domestic repression, for make no mistake, the biggest obstacle to an invasion of Iran is not Iran itself but us!
Waging imperial wars is a messy and uncertain business, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ etc. We need only look at the final outcome of WWII for proof for although the West thought the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union solved the ‘problem’ of communism (at worst, they would wipe each other out), the final outcome was not one that could have been predicted in 1941.
None of the imperialist planners of the time thought the Soviet Union could actually defeat Nazi Germany, let alone end up the only real military power in Europe, with an invincible army that could, had it wanted to, reached the English Channel. The creation of the Cold War is surely proof of this, a tool that the ‘war on terror’ is directly modelled on.
Hence Iran is a useful diversion but in the current situation the US is a long way from creating the necessary conditions that could justify an invasion of Iran.
Undoubtedly the push East is part of the long term Project for the New American Century that is largely concerned with ensuring resources to power the US economy and of course to fuel its military (currently the world’s single largest consumer of oil), without which ensuring its dominance would be impossible.
The US are actually in a real bind when it comes to the strategy they are attempting to apply to Iran, for on the one hand, Iran is no Iraq and secondly, attempting to starve Iran into submission through sanctions would be self-defeating. Unlike Iraq, the West has no pretext like Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait under which a concerted campaign can be waged hence the creation of the fictitious nuclear ‘threat’.
And, there is the question of Iraq’s oil, still underground three years after the invasion. To risk the same happening in Iran is simply unthinkable. Thus, the US’s room for manoeuvre is severely restricted and not only because of the disaster in Iraq but also because US reliance on technology with which to fight its wars has, as with Vietnam, come unstuck. The ace-in-hole, military power is proving to be an illusory advantage.
But there is also the issue of competition between the leading capitalist powers, the most important of which is undoubtedly China. And it’s here that we find that Iran is at the nexus of the race for resources. The US has a real problem here for either it does a deal with Iran (not as unlikely outcome as many think) or, it leaves all that oil for China to buy and already China has struck deals not only to buy oil but to finance oil exploration and exploitation.
At all times it is vitally important for us to make a clear distinction between what is designed for public consumption and what goes on in the boardrooms and ‘think tanks’, the military and diplomatic meetings as any number of leaks show.
We also should be under no illusions about the role of the Iranian ruling class in the need of an external enemy to justify its continued rule just as the mullahs’ relationship during the Carter/Reagan years reflected their jointly held fears about the possibility of a socialist revolution in Iran following the fall of the Shah (a revolution that nearly succeeded and, I might add, it’s a largely unexplored terrain from the perspective of the role of the USUK played in bringing the mullahs to power). Have we forgotten the role that Iran-contra played in the strategic game of the US with both Iran and Iraq as its pawns during that period?
Remember, the US never has friends, it only has ‘strategic relationships’ that come and go as situations change (in any case, with ‘friends’ like the US, who needs enemies?).
It’s also a big mistake to view the rest of the world, especially countries like Iran as innocent victims of an imperialist plot, not the least because of the crucial role of oil in the political equation but also because the economic interests of those who rule Iran are not so dissimilar from those who rule the US, namely holding onto power and their own role as a regional player.
The central issue here is the role of propaganda, it’s creating a context that enables the USUK, at some point in the future, if the necessity arises, to have an entire ‘inventory’ of reasons why it’s so important to ‘take out the mullahs’. These reasons have to have a complete ideological as well as false historical context in order to have an effect. They have to exploit the deeply-rooted racist ideology that has served the interests of imperialism down the centuries.
And it’s also important to take note of the attempts by the USUK to drag Venezuela into the ‘mix’ with the stories planted in the media about the alleged help that Venezuela is meant to be giving Iran in the development of nuclear weapons. A long piece on Channel 4 News on 27 March, anchored by Jon Snow is indicative of the way the construction of false history proceeds (see John Pilger’s letter to Jon Snow). Little ‘nuggets’ of false information are dropped in here and there, thus no doubt, at some point, we will see a reference to the alleged tie-up between Iran and Venezuela just as Judith Miller’s fake stories about Niger yellowcake, centrifuges, mobile CBW wagons et al, were cited as ‘proof’ of Saddam’s possession of WMD.
It should surely be obvious of the intimate and vitally important relationship between the MSM and imperialism without which such disinformation campaigns, constructed often over several years, would be impossible.
Blair’s speech in Australia which I quoted from at the beginning of this essay, pushes all the ‘right buttons’ and is indicative of the nature of the ideological struggle being waged and illustrates the key role Iran plays. Blair is essentially saying that it’s an ‘all or nothing’ game. The speech throws down the gauntlet and in less than shrouded terms it’s being presented as the Anglo-Saxon world versus the rest.
To win this struggle we have to win the battle of values as much as arms. We have to show that these are not Western, still less American or Anglo-Saxon, values, but values in the common ownership of humanity, universal values that should be the right of the global citizen.
The editorial in the Australian (Rupert Murdoch’s mouthpiece) sums it up as follows:
But what made the British Prime Minister’s speech historic was that he articulated these values as not only the property of the Anglo-Saxon world but also as ideals that should be common around the globe. “These are the values our two countries live by, and others would live by, if they had the chance,” Mr Blair said. “We need to construct a global alliance for these global values, and act through it.” [my emph. WB]
And there you have it, the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ call to arms with all the sly messages embedded in the Blair’s carefully chosen words such “act[ing] through … these global values.” In other words, although these are most definitely the values of the leading imperialist nations, it is necessary to present them ‘shared values’.
In summation, I would say that the timing is not yet right for either an invasion or attack on Iran, a good deal of groundwork and preparation has first to be done, some of which if successful might well remove the need for direct military action.
The ‘nuclear threat’, Iran’s alleged role in Iraq, Islamic extremism, ‘our shared values’, are all part of a carefully planned lexicon, built up over time that will be rolled out by the MSM as and when the necessity arises.