Workers Vanguard No. 869
28 April 2006
U.S. Hands Off Iran! Out of Iraq Now!
Imperialists Threaten Iran
All options are on the table. That was the response of George W. Bush, head of the most blood-drenched, massively armed imperialist power in history, on April 18 when asked whether his administration is considering nuclear strikes against Iran under the pretext that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The whistle was first blown by the New Yorkers Seymour Hersh, who argued in a thoroughly documented article, The Iran Plans (New Yorker Web site, 8 April), that even as the Bush administration goes through the motions of pursuing diplomacy to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, it has stepped up covert activities aimed at overthrowing the Iranian government and escalated plans for a major air attack. As Hersh revealed and as a series of Washington Post articles described in further chilling detail, such an attack may or may not involve deploying part of the U.S.s own massive stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons against Irans underground nuclear sites.
There is clear agreement across the U.S. bourgeois political spectrum, from the religious fanatics in the White House to the Democratic Party, that Iran has to be dealt with. If anything, the Democrats have been more belligerent over Iran, with a common criticism of Bush being that the occupation of Iraq has been a distraction from dealing more forcibly with Iran, as well as with the North Korean deformed workers state.
As the bipartisan threats demonstrate, the greatest menace to the workers and oppressed of the world is the U.S. imperialist rulers—who have not only acquired the means to destroy the world several times over, but who have actually carried out nuclear holocaust, incinerating some 200,000 Japanese people in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The Iranian regime says that its nuclear energy program does not include plans to develop the bomb. The fact of the matter is that in the context of threats by the nuclear-armed imperialists, Iran clearly needs nukes to defend itself and deter a U.S. attack. In todays world, possession of nuclear arms has become the only real measure of national sovereignty. As a Pentagon war on terror adviser quoted by Hersh observed, The Iranians realize that only by becoming a nuclear state can they defend themselves against the U.S. Recall that in 2003—notwithstanding the Bush administrations lies that Saddam Hussein had amassed weapons of mass destruction—it was precisely Iraqs obvious vulnerability, after more than a decade of U.S.-dictated United Nations sanctions and disarmament programs had stripped it of the means to defend itself, that paved the way for the second Persian Gulf War and Iraq occupation.
With its military currently overstretched, the U.S. cannot launch an all-out invasion and occupation of Iran without reinstating the draft, an option seen by most bourgeois politicians as likely political suicide. This underlines that the threats of military strikes against Iran, including a nuclear attack, are very real as they do not require the mass mobilization of troops.
With the exception of the U.S., all other members of the United Nations Security Council today formally oppose military action against Iran. At the same time, they have all ordered Iran, which announced on April 11 that it had succeeded in enriching uranium, to stop its atomic activities, hinting that the country will be subject to sanctions if it does not obey. The UN is historically little more than a fig leaf for the dominant imperialist power.
In U.S. Hands Off Iran! (WV No. 863, 3 February) we urged:
In the event of military attack against Iran by U.S. imperialism or by Israel, or by any other force operating on behalf of the imperialists, we Marxists declare: The international proletariat must stand for the military defense of Iran against imperialist attack. At the same time, we give not one iota of political support to the reactionary Tehran regime. Our defense of capitalist Iran is conditional: In military conflicts between an imperialist power and a dependent semicolonial country, our policy is revolutionary defensism. We defend the oppressed country against the oppressor country and promote class struggle in the imperialist centers, as well as in the oppressed country. Every victory for the imperialists in their military adventures encourages more predatory wars; every setback serves to assist the struggles of working people and the oppressed.
In the lead-up to the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, we called for the military defense of both countries against attack without giving any political support to the reactionary Taliban or the bloody capitalist regime of Saddam Hussein. Today, we call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Central Asia.
We fight for class struggle against the U.S. capitalist rulers at home. The same ruling class that is butchering the people of Iraq, that is threatening Iran, is also carrying out a war against the working people of the U.S.—shredding democratic rights through the reactionary war on terror, gutting pensions and health care, crushing unions. It is the same ruling class that abandoned the black and poor of the Gulf Coast to Hurricane Katrina. Its interests and the interests of the working people of the U.S. are polar opposites. Our perspective for class struggle demands a political fight against the pro-capitalist labor bureaucracy, which chains the U.S. proletariat to its class enemy, most often through the capitalist Democratic Party, under the rubric of the national interest.
The national interest is the class interest of the bourgeoisie. We fought for the military defense of Iraq and Afghanistan—and would stand for the military defense of Iran against U.S. attack—not least because these positions express the vital interests of the multiracial U.S. proletariat. We fight to build a multiracial revolutionary workers party in the U.S. to lead the American proletariat in struggle for socialist revolution and the establishment of working-class rule.
The International Communist Leagues struggle is to forge workers parties throughout the world to fight for international socialist revolution, including in backward countries such as Iran. While the bulk of the left internationally cheered on the victory of the mullahs against the CIA-backed Shah in Iran in 1979 as anti-imperialist, we said, Down with the Shah! No to the mullahs! Workers to power!
Iran is ruled by a reactionary mullah regime that has enslaved women under the veil, slaughtered thousands of leftists and trade unionists and intensified repression against Kurds and other minorities. A recent bus workers strike in Tehran, one of an increasing number of strikes in the country, has been met by fierce government repression, including the jailing of strikers and their leaders. It is the task of the working class in Iran, leading all the oppressed behind it, to overthrow the Persian-chauvinist Islamic regime. Key to this perspective is the forging of a Marxist workers party. The fight to forge Marxist workers parties in the Near East is essential to break the proletariat of the region from fundamentalism and all forms of nationalism in the struggle for a socialist federation of the Near East. This is the Trotskyist perspective of permanent revolution, which vitally includes the fight to extend working-class rule to the imperialist centers, not least through the struggle for socialist revolution in the U.S.
Down With U.S. Nuclear Blackmail!
Hershs article details that the Bush administrations quest for regime change in Iran is at least partly predicated on a growing acceptance within the Pentagon of using tactical nuclear weapons to achieve its aims. As Hersh puts it, The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Iran today has at least nine different nuclear facilities, mainly underground, including the main centrifuge plant at Natanz, nearly 200 miles south of Tehran. The military proposed this winter to use a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon like the B61-11 against such sites. Hersh quoted one former senior intelligence official:
Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap. Decisive is the key word of the Air Forces planning. Its a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.
Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—were talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit.
The U.S. stockpile of some 10,000 nuclear warheads reportedly includes about 50 such B61-11 nuclear weapons, known as earth-penetrating weapons or EPWs. A May 2005 report on EPWs, by Lisbeth Gronlund, David Wright and Robert Nelson of the Union of Concerned Scientists, gave the following as a possible scenario, using a 1.2 megaton thermonuclear warhead (which dwarfs what was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki): According to a simulation using software developed for the Pentagon, if one of these weapons were used against the underground nuclear facility in Esfahan, Iran, 3 million people would be killed by radiation within 2 weeks of the explosion, and 35 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India would be exposed to increased levels of cancer-causing radiation.
But its not only Iran that the Dr. Strangelove military planners view as a feasible potential nuclear target. The Bush administrations January 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) ordered the Pentagon to draft plans for the use of nuclear weapons against at least seven countries—Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China, Libya, Syria and Russia (which was later struck from the list)—because all have long-standing hostility towards the United States and its security partners. All sponsor or harbor terrorists, and have active WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and missile programs. The supposed existence of Iraqi WMDs, of course, has since been proven a lie.
The NPR also called to develop improved bunker-busting mini-nukes, as they were termed in the Los Angeles Times (9 March 2002) article that first revealed the NPR. In fact, following the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, calls were made to use tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan for the demented purpose of destroying, not even deep underground bunkers, but the caves said to be harboring Al Qaeda operatives.
U.S. imperialist musings over nuclear weapons as a feasible military option have escalated since September 11, which can partly be attributed to the especially deranged nature of the Bush administration. As one House member commented to Hersh, The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision. Or as New York Times (19 April) columnist Thomas Friedman put it, faced with a choice of nuclear-armed Iran or an attack carried out by Bush & Co., Id rather live with a nuclear Iran. As war-crazed as the Bush administration is, sporadic calls by the U.S. ruling class to use its massive nuclear arsenal have occurred as long as these weapons have existed. Among the more recent calls, in 1996 during the Clinton administration, consideration was given to carrying out a tactical nuclear attack on a Libyan chemical weapons facility at Tarhuna.
The U.S. historically amassed its lethal stockpile of nuclear arms—and dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945—for the primary purpose of threatening and ultimately destroying the Soviet Union. The USSR, the worlds first workers state, was born through the only successful workers revolution, led by Lenin and Trotskys Bolshevik Party in October 1917. Although political counterrevolution led by Stalin in 1923-24 resulted in the Soviet Unions bureaucratic degeneration, the USSRs existence served to deny a sixth of the globe to capitalist exploitation and acted as an obstacle to the imperialist ambitions of the U.S. and other powers. The Soviets development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems in parity with the U.S. stayed the hand of U.S. imperialism. Democrats and Republicans were united in pursuing the Cold War drive against the Soviet Union and gloated over the supposed death of communism signaled by capitalist counterrevolution there in 1991-92.
To the end, we called for the unconditional military defense of the Soviet degenerated workers state against imperialism and capitalist counterrevolution, and recognized that its collapse was a world-historic defeat for the international proletariat and oppressed. We stand for the unconditional military defense of the remaining deformed workers states—China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba. China was cited in the 2002 NPR as a country that could be involved in an immediate or potential [nuclear] contingency. The report speculated that this could result from a military conflict such as over the status of capitalist Taiwan, while another possible scenario for using nukes would be against North Korea in response to an attack on South Korea.
Indeed, the U.S. saber rattling against Iran poses a threat to the Chinese deformed workers state, U.S. imperialisms strategic target in the post-Soviet world. China gets 14 percent of the oil for its growing economy from Iran, and in late 2004 signed a $70 billion deal with Iran for oil and natural gas for some 30 years. It is vital that China oppose the imperialist drive to disarm Iran. However, the Beijing Stalinists policy of peaceful coexistence with imperialism undermines Chinas own defense. While verbally opposing UN sanctions against Iran, Beijing has collaborated with the imperialists on Iran and recently condemned the Iranian government for successfully enriching uranium. As part of our defense of the Chinese workers state, we fight for workers political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy and replace it with a regime based on workers democracy and revolutionary internationalism.
Down With U.S. Imperialism!
The London Independent (2 April) quoted Professor Zoltàn Grossman stating: After every US military intervention since 1990 the Pentagon has left behind clusters of new bases in areas where it never before had a foothold. The new string of bases stretch from Kosovo and adjacent Balkan states, to Iraq and other Persian Gulf states, into Afghanistan and other central Asian states
The only two obstacles to a geographically contiguous US sphere of influence are Iran and Syria.
Even as the Bush administration insists that the U.S. occupation of Iraq will end some day, upon the establishment of what the U.S. deems a viable government there, it has been pouring money into military bases that are widely recognized, if not officially, to be permanent. The U.S. has set up 110 forward operating bases in Iraq, of which only 34 have reportedly been turned over to the puppet government there. According to the Independent, occupation forces are spending millions to establish at least six enduring bases, at least four of which would continue to be operated by the U.S. indefinitely.
Former Marine Anthony Zinni, head of the U.S. Central Command in the late 1990s, is among those who oppose the building of permanent bases in Iraq, arguing that they further damage the image of the U.S. abroad. He is also one of the half dozen retired generals—war criminals all, half of them with years experience in leading the Iraq occupation—who are now loudly calling for Donald Rumsfelds resignation. The military doesnt generally protest when it sees its war is going well. The context for the generals rebellion is the fact that Iraq, which was supposed to be a showpiece for American democracy in the region, has instead become an inferno. What the generals want is a more effective military.
Polls show that popular opposition to the occupation of Iraq is at an all-time high. That, combined with innumerable domestic scandals and embarrassing leaks, has led to an all-time low in the polls for the Bush administration, which has presumably contributed to the reshuffling of posts in the White House, including the departure of White House spokesman Scott McClellan and the reassignment of Karl Rove.
Break with the Democrats! For a Revolutionary Workers Party!
With the Bush administration in serious political trouble, the organizers of the antiwar protests are working to set the stage for a Democratic Party victory in this years Congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election by pushing the Democrats to really oppose the occupation of Iraq. That will be the message delivered at the April 29 New York City antiwar protest initiated by United for Peace and Justice. The call for the demonstration declares: Our message to the White House and to Congress is clear: Either stand with us or stand aside! We are coming together to march, to vote, to speak out and to turn our country around!
The April 29 demonstration is being built by several pseudo-socialist organizations, such as Workers World Party (WWP) and the International Socialist Organization (ISO). WWP, which initiated the International ANSWER coalition and currently leads the Troops Out Now Coalition, wrote in an editorial that antiwar activists must make the message Stop War on Iran! an inescapable element in this [April 29] and every major demonstration from now on (Workers World, 13 April). The reality is, however, that Workers World has from the beginning of the antiwar protests sought to appeal to Democratic Party liberals, who, if anything, have been even more hawkish on Iran than the Bush administration. A 13 April Workers World article complains that to this day the Democratic Party leadership wont take a clear anti-war stand.
The dividing line separating us from the reformist leftists like Workers World and the ISO is political program. As Marxists, we understand that war, racist oppression and exploitation are inherent to the capitalist system, a system that cannot be reformed to serve the interests of working people and the oppressed. Only socialist revolution, by ripping power from the hands of the capitalists and placing it in the hands of the working class, can end imperialist war.
The reformists, however, spread the illusion that capitalism can be reformed—that we can have an end to imperialist war, racism and exploitation under the present social order. Thus, a common slogan raised by WWP and the ISO is, Money for jobs and education, not for war, as though the problem were one of reordering the priorities of the capitalists. The bourgeoisies top priority is to maintain and defend its capitalist system of exploitation, which necessarily entails the waging of wars—against both neocolonial countries and their imperialist rivals (as took place in World Wars I and II).
To the reformists, the capitalist system is their system. Very revealing is the slogan commonly promoted by the various antiwar coalitions, Bring the Troops Home. This slogan is meant to evoke sympathy for the U.S. armed forces and serves to clean up the tarnished image of U.S. imperialism. Even more explicitly, the call for the April 29 demonstration declares, End the war in Iraq—Bring all our troops home now! Meanwhile, a model resolution for labor unions on the Web site of U.S. Labor Against the War, an outfit largely made up of left-talking union bureaucrats that has endorsed the April 29 demonstration, is titled: Support Our Troops & Veterans—End the War and Bring Them Home Now! These are not our troops! U.S. troops in Iraq are the enforcers of a vicious occupation that by some estimates has cost the lives of 100,000 Iraqis. The photo of Lynndie England, dog leash in hand abusing a naked Iraqi prisoner, is a graphic reminder of the routine brutality meted out by imperialisms military enforcers.
The U.S. working class uniquely has the social power to bring down the U.S. imperialist beast. The key to unlocking this power is breaking the class collaborationism pushed by the labor tops and their fake-socialist backers. It is necessary to break the chains forged by the labor tops that bind the proletariat to the capitalist Democratic Party. If there is to be an end to imperialist war, racist oppression and poverty, the multiracial working class must be won, through Marxist education and its own experience in struggle, to the fight for a revolutionary workers party to defeat U.S. imperialism through socialist revolution.