Revolution #94, July 1, 2007

The Danger of a U.S. Attack on Iran...And the Need to Resist

There is a growing danger of a U.S. war on Iran. This is true in spite of, and in many ways because of, the quagmire in Iraq, the growing strength of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and a whole range of destabilizing outbreaks in the region, including the routing of Fatah troops by Hamas in Gaza, and the fighting between Islamic forces and the Lebanese government.

In this context, powerful figures in the U.S. government are arguing that the only way to prevent further threats to U.S. interests, and to push forward on the Bush agenda of radically transforming the Middle East, is to knock down their most powerful adversary in the region.

In mid-May, Vice President Dick Cheney stood in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis, 150 miles off the Iranian coast, and declared he wanted to “send a clear message to our friends and adversaries alike” that the U.S. would “prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.”

On CBS News Face the Nation, June 10, Senator Joseph Lieberman said, I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran…”

Norman Podhoretz, a leading neo-conservative propagandist, wrote in a major article in the June issue of Commentary magazine titled “The Case for Bombing Iran”: “I hope and pray that President Bush will do it.” At the Republican Party debates, presidential candidates have competed over who is the most war-like towards Iran, and tactical nuclear strikes have been explicitly not ruled off the table.

And the Democrats? All the leading Democratic presidential candidates—Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards—have joined in the confront-Iran chorus, declaring that all options should remain on the table. Former Senator Mike Gravel pointed out at the Democratic candidates' April 26 debate, “that’s code for using nukes…”

U.S. Aggression Is… AggressionAnd Must Be Opposed

Much of the tension between the U.S. and Iran has been over Iran's nuclear program. The atmosphere is so heated that United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei told the BBC that in the current tense climate, “I wake every morning and see 100 Iraqis, innocent civilians, are dying,” and that, “You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say ‘let’s go and bomb Iran.’”

Meanwhile, the Bush regime and the mainstream media have run nonstop “briefings” by the U.S. military claiming that Iran is arming and training anti-U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is directly responsible for killing U.S. soldiers. Philip Giraldi, a former officer of the CIA, wrote, “One thing that all the stories about Iranian involvement have in common is their lack of substantiating detail. There are no names, dates, places, or corroborating information, and most rely on anonymous government sources or bald assertions that are presented as fact. Photos of alleged captured ordnance have been unconvincing. Further, the presence of the weapons, even if true, cannot be traced back to any official Iranian government body or policy through documentary or other evidence.” (

All of the charges by the U.S. are potential pretexts to justify attacking Iran, and the United States and its allies in the region are also involved in all kinds of potentially provocative actions, which could serve as a tripwire for an attack.

On the other side of the equation, Iran’s theocrats have worked to preserve their hold on power in Iran and to extend their influence in the region. And it is entirely possible that Iran is taking steps—including developing ties with a variety of anti-U.S. forces in the region—to be able to respond to any U.S. attack. But again, the same people who lied about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq are lying now about why they have Iran in their crosshairs. Even if some of what the U.S. is saying about Iran is true, this would still IN NO WAY justify any kind of aggressive action by the U.S. against Iran, especially a military nuclear strike which the U.S. has NOT ruled out as an option on the table.

Dangerous Scenarios

Powerful neocon strategists who are calling the shots on Bush's foreign policy had made an assessment that the Middle East was a breeding ground for anti-U.S. terrorists that had to be dried up. And that strengthening U.S. domination in the region was critical to their global agenda. But in invading Afghanistan and then Iraq, the U.S. created even more problems for themselves.

There has been much speculation that Bush officials grouped around Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice favor stepping up diplomatic, economic, political, and military pressure against Iran in concert with other world powers, while holding back from a military assault, at least for the time being. If that's true, it may reflect concerns that an attack on Iran might backfire and create an even worse situation for the United States. At the same time, those grouped around Vice President Cheney reportedly argue that negotiations with Iran’s leadership are bound to fail and that the U.S. will ultimately have to use military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and more fundamentally to crush the Islamic Republic’s influence and ambitions in the region and protect U.S. hegemony.

These reported differences in the ruling class should not be cause for passivity on the part of those opposed to a war against Iran. Just the opposite. Both sides in this debate in the ruling class are starting from U.S. imperialist interests in the region, and agree that U.S. domination of the region is not “optional.” And none of them are starting from what is in the interests of the people—in the Middle East or in the U.S.

This is why none of the top Democrats—whose party also represents imperialist interests—has publicly opposed war with Iran, and why language forbidding such a war without congressional consent was removed from the recent war appropriations bill.

And sanctions and diplomacy are hardly incompatible with preparation for war. The buildup to the invasion of Iraq was preceded by sanctions and intense diplomatic activity.

Playing the Israel Card

There is a possibility that the U.S. would use its Israeli enforcer in the region to attack Iran. Israel’s Channel 2 News reported that Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s former defense minister, told Rice “that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities by year’s end if diplomacy and sanctions fail to persuade Tehran to suspend its enrichment activities.” ( New York Times, 6/16)

Steve Clemmons' internet blog ("The Washington Note") of May 24 warned that Cheney’s office may be planning an end-run around opponents of military actions against Iran in the Bush administration by utilizing Israel: “The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran’s nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz [a major Iranian nuclear facility] using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

“This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against U.S. forces in the Gulf—which just became significantly larger—as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.” (

Such an attack by Israel would be an expression of U.S. imperialist interests and aggression.

The People Must Prevent Another U.S. War

We in the U.S.—the country that has launched an unbounded war of conquest in the Middle East—have a special responsibility to act with boldness and determination to prevent a war on Iran. It is urgent that disaffection, loss of allegiance, and anger be translated into action and resistance—not passivity and despair. This will take tenacious struggle—including among the people themselves—but such action could spread and greatly impact the rulers' freedom to carry out their savage and reactionary plans.

As Revolution pointed out in its editorial in issue 92: “The people can not impact the direction of things within the political confines and terms set by the imperialist ruling class; that is one lesson of the May 25 vote [by Congress to fund the Iraq war]. But this does NOT mean that the people can not have a profound impact on politics. In fact, it is only by acting outside those terms that real change can come about. Mass disaffection transformed into mass political action from below can become contagious. It would be criminal, at a time when the carnage continues and the plans for worse—including attacks on Iran—are in the works, to give up now. And it would be foolish as well, at a time when the rulers have no answer to the anger and disillusion of millions, to fail to seize what could be a moment, an opening, that—in a very real and positive way—could change everything.”

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