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Iran and the Axis of Hypocrisy

Paul Kellogg

May 19, 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a new coalition of national unity, and elections in the country have been pushed back by months. Suddenly the danger of an armed strike against Iran, by Israel, has become more acute.

It is now ten years since then US President George W. Bush announced to the world that the US was up against an “Axis of Evil”, comprised of Iraq, North Korea and Iran. But the real enemy is an Axis of Hypocrisy.

Don’t forget Iraq

In Iraq, the evidence for its “evil” status proved to be entirely false—there simply never were any Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in the country. Yet the US attacked anyway, using sanctions and then war to devastate the country. The Lancet estimated that 650,000 had died by 2006, only first three years into the war. By 2007, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees estimated that 4.2 million Iraqis had been driven from their homes by the war, half right out of the country.

North Korea, by contrast, openly admits having WMDs. The issue in Iraq was not the presence of WMDs (which it didn’t have), but the presence of oil (which it has in huge quantities). North Korea has WMDs, but no oil whatsoever. So Iraq gets a war, but North Korea does not.

The US has attempted to sew up control of Iraqi oil. But this has not gone entirely according to plan. In the wake of the collapse of the former Iraqi state, and years of destructive warfare, the most influential country in the region in the wake of the US pull-out, has become Iran (which like Iraq is one of the world’s great sources of inexpensive, easy-to-access oil). An attack on Iran by either Israel or the US would be part of the “chess game” of pushing back Iranian influence in this oil-rich region.

Like Iraq, we are not told that Iran will be bombed for oil profits. Rather, Israel and the US, if they bomb Iran, will do so ostensibly to stop it from becoming a nuclear power. Since 2002, the CIA has been flooding the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with “evidence” of Iran’s attempt to build an atomic bomb, just like the mythical claims about Iraq. But according to one senior diplomat at the IAEA, quoted anonymously in the Los Angeles Times, “since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that’s come to us has proved to be wrong”.

The real WMDs: sanctions, the US and Israel

There are WMDs in the Middle East. The US has used vast quantities of depleted uranium and hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs in its two wars against Iraq, and sanctions that killed half a million children. Its main ally, Israel, as early as 2002, had between 75 and 200 nuclear weapons in its clandestine WMD program, and is a far bigger threat for the region—with a history of bombing Lebanon, attacking humanitarian activists in international waters, and the daily oppression and periodic attacks on Palestinians.

Most people support the removal of WMDs from the Middle East, including the people of the region itself. But to accomplish that would mean a withdrawal of all US military forces, and an international campaign against Israeli militarism, including against Israel’s secret stockpiles of nuclear bombs and missiles.

A military strike against Iran, should it come, would provoke devastation for the people of the region, and would also be very risky for both the US and Israel. Israel used to be able to count Egypt and Turkey as allies. But the Arab Spring broke its ties with the Egyptian state, and the barbaric assault on the Mavi Marmara soured relations with Turkey. Israel is now as isolated as it has ever been in the region. And Iran is a regional power in its own right, not without resources and influence.

But the fact that there are risks does not mean an attack will not come. Twice before, Israel has launched strikes against nuclear reactors under construction in the region—June 7, 1981 against one southeast of Baghdad in Iraq, and September 6, 2007 against one in Syria.

One unnamed Israeli figure “with close ties to the leadership” told a Reuters’ reporter: “I think they have made a decision to attack. It is going to happen. The window of opportunity is before the US presidential election in November. This way they will bounce the Americans into supporting them”. Such a strike would be an irresponsible and extremely dangerous action, posing the very real possibility of a wider, and very bloody war. It is in all our interests to oppose Israeli and US military threats against Iran—including sanctions, which undermine democracy movements in Iran and are used as a prelude to war.

Message to Harper: no sanctions, no war

That means stopping our own government from supporting sanctions and war. Harper is one of the staunchest allies of US imperialism—and by extension Israel. From his desire to join the Iraq War and campaign against US Iraq War resisters, his defense of Israel’s massacres in Lebanon as a “measured response”, his cutting of funding to Gaza and campaign against Palestine solidarity, his welcoming of Netanyahu during the massacre of the Mavi Marmara and support for Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, his demonization of “Islamicism” and claims that Iran is a “grave threat to peace and security”—it’s clear Harper would like to support any strike against Iran.

In 2002 the anti-war movement won the NDP to a principled position against war on Iraq, split the ruling Liberals and stopped Canada from joining the Iraq War. We now need to demand the NDP oppose both war and sanctions on Iran (NDP leader Thomas Mulcair does not support war but does support sanctions), and through Parliament and the streets stop Harper from providing any military or political support for sanctions and war on Iran

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