The U.S. military capabilities, personnel and hardware
alike, having reached a stalemate in Iraq, are said to be increasingly more
likely to be sent on more insane and murderous missions in the region. There
have been a growing number of reports of intended attacks on Iranian military
forces carried out by the U.S. armed forces, up to and including 'imminently,'
based on two official accusations: the Iranian nuclear ambitions and the
Iranian regime's use of their influence in Iraq.
The number of US-trained Iraqi security forces available to
protect the government of Iraq are still lacking a fully beefed up body, but
they can suffice for a mediocre administration of a medium-intensity civil war,
dragged on for some time to come. Additionally, given the exhaustion of the
official military personnel required to maintain an occupation army, the larger
number of private mercenaries can be increased with no political cost, working
in conjunction with local paramilitary organizations. This will provide for an
option politically more acceptable to the U.S. citizens' representatives in the
Congress (but not necessarily acceptable to the U.S. citizens themselves).
Hence the talk of 'drawdown' of U.S. forces in Iraq.
In this context, an attack by the U.S. on Iranian military
forces, without sending in any troops (the way Cambodia was destroyed mostly),
is a likely scenario. This will naturally lead to increased intensification of
the ongoing nightmare, not only for the Iranian people but the inhabitants of
the whole region, for decades to come. The only winners will be the
imperialists and their corporations, whichever local bullies survive this hell,
and whatever local imperialist lackeys deem valuable as they do their business.
If, after a disastrous invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the
ruling elites in the Western countries are still talking openly about further
military aggression, this time against Iran, the Western leftists have clearly
had less than zero effect on the debates that matter most.
Too late for
Because of these increasing threats against Iran in
rhetorical and diplomatic forms, with the poised fist of the gunboats parked
off the Gulf coast directed at the livelihoods of millions of Iranians and
Arabs in the region, a sense of panic has beset a lot of us.
In the fog of justifiable panic, some good comrades, friends
and allies are prone to (and do) argue the following: Because the Iranian
regime is under fire by the imperialists, we must support whatever the mullahs
do, unconditionally. That regime is involved in a fundamental conflict with the
imperialists, and all other conflicts (those involving the civil and social
rights of the Iranian people vis-�-vis their state) must take a backseat
to this supreme conflict.
Instead of building real alliances and solidarities between
the peoples of the Middle East and the peoples of the U.S., the U.K., France,
Germany, Italy, etc., and instead of leading a spirited and effective
fight against these Western states' aggressions against the lives and resources
of the peoples of the Middle East, these comrades, feeling virtuous on our
behalf, ask the Iranian people to likewise push for no demands on their state,
either. Worse, our good friends warn, any serious attempt to build social
movements for such demands for more civil, human and workers rights is just not
a good idea right now. Why? Because, you idiot, it aids and abets the imperialists!
Refusing to do the hard work, some of us have consequently
fallen back on 'my enemy's enemy is my friend, god be dammed!' type of
thinking; a mentality that, when adopted previously by Western leftists, led to
their defeat in one battlefield after another during the Cold War;
failed to set a different tone for the direction of social change after
the Cold War; and will be ineffective in producing any realistic alternatives
for peace and justice during these hot war years.
In some permutations of this argument, the line proceeds to
discard the great abyss separating the overwhelming majority of the people of
Iran from the current government of Iran. Victors write the history, and lazy
leftists buy the story.
A fact these leftist friends refuse to see is that the
current Iranian regime is in fact the result of the victory of the counter-revolution
launched during the very process of the revolution by the traditional ruling
classes*: the bazaar merchants and the mullahs, both of whom have been two of the
three pillars of the traditional ruling classes (the third being the
monarchial dynasties), for at least a millennium. In the process of organizing
their counter-revolution, the mullahs stole two of the Iranian left's most
popular slogans: anti-imperialism and support for the Palestinian people. It is
the adoption of these two slogans that has since sent knee-jerk leftists off
the track and chasing their own tails (not excluding some Iranian leftists).
The Cold War leftist's arguments find clever (yet strange,
coming from the left) twists, when applied to the nuclear program adopted by
the Iranian regime for producing energy, a program that is declared by the
U.S., British, German, French and assorted lesser imperialists, to be
dangerously ambiguous and a cover for development of nuclear weapons, hence
their insistence on keeping open the military option for attacking Iran. These
leftists apply the inverse logical operation and say that if the imperialists
are opposed to the Iranian regime's nuclear program, then we must defend this
nuclear program as a principle.
The argument for an unconditional support of the Iranian
regime's nuclear program asserts that no matter how fundamentally opposed you
may be to the current regime, at this unique historical juncture, you must
support its legal nuclear program; implying, or stating categorically, that if
you are against Iranian state's nuclear plans, you are supporting the
Flies in their ointment
The argument for an unconditional defense of the Islamic
Republic's nuclear program, in our view, is fallacious on many levels.
First, and on a legalistic ground (with seriously flawed
implications for strategic moves by the left), their argument supports an
imperialist-dictated treaty, namely the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NNPT), which has two strategic goals: keeping the monopoly over nuclear weapons
by imperialist powers and their allies, as well as ensuring the proliferation
of the nuclear industry for �energy production.� The fact that this treaty is
the biggest international lobby on behalf of the operators of nuclear power
plants and military contractors seems to have completely gone over the heads of
those among the Western left who, through their positioning vis-�-vis Iran�s
regime, support and venerate the NNPT, and, therefore, see no need to seriously
fight against the nuclear industry in the Western countries (particularly, in
Second, this argument has an undertone of wishful thinking,
imagining that a nuclear weapon-capable Iran is the only guarantee of a
�d�tente� that leaves the Iranian people free from imperialist harassment. In
effect, this argument wishes for and indirectly advocates for a new nuclear
arms race, as this is presented to be the only deterrent capable of stopping an
imperialist invasion; consequently, this argument calls for an increasing
amount of the social resources of Third World nations to be sucked up by a mad
This logic also cannot explain the case of Pakistan, a
nuclear weapons-capable nation, which is a virtual slave to the designs of the
imperialists. Pakistan, currently run by a sycophantic regime inseparable from
imperialists, is not safe from the insults thrown it by the U.S. ruling elites
and their representatives, every so often reminding the Pakistani regime of how
much of a slave they are in the eyes of the U.S. ruling classes (I am referring
to Barak Obama�s prescription for invading Pakistan should the need arise to
�fight terrorism� there).
Third, this argument is anti-environmentalist, and goes
against the stance normally taken by the Western left with regards to the need
for a ban on the nuclear industry as a whole, on environmental grounds. The
fact that Iran's nuclear energy is to be provided by a nuclear plant constructed
over a period of thirty-some-years, in haphazard fashion, by different
companies and countries at different points, in Bushehr, which is located on
tectonically active plates, should alarm all anti-nuclear writers and activists
wherever they may be. Any leftist, who, in standing with people's health and
well-being, must by tradition strive to present a materialist outlook and
analysis, yet fails to take this geological fact into account, is not only an
ignorant leftist but is an irresponsible advocate.
Fourth, given that most Western leftists have little problem
foreseeing the very probable harms of the nuclear industry in their own
backyard, one can only conclude that racism may have something to do with their
line of thinking when they ask us to tolerate all the ills of an industry that
has hardly been an accident-free, healthy and safe alternative for providing
energy in the West. This thinking must presuppose either that our environment
is not worth keeping clean or that Iranians have not 'developed' enough to be
worried about a clean environment. Like all good, obedient subjects, we are
merely pawns in the mental schemes of what these leftists (much like their
rightist counterparts) wish to
happen in our world.
The argument is indicative of a defeatist mentality that can
only wish for a better world in its own backyard yet at the same time,
ironically, cannot even imagine a different world possible for us lesser
peoples in the Third World.
Instead of leading a spirited tactical (yet strategically-oriented)
fight against the nuclear industry in the U.S. and against the use of depleted
uranium in munitions used in Iraq and Afghanistan -- an act by the U.S. armed
forces and weapons manufacturers that constitutes a crime against humanity, a
war crime, is actionable in an international tribunal, and which should be used
to call for legal mass mutinies by the armed forces serving in Iraq -- in
short, instead of strategically joining other international forces calling for
a Nuclear-Free World, these �leftists� would instead have us read the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty very carefully, wherein we can find the particular
clause pinpointing the right of signatory nations to master the enrichment
We are forced to ask in bewilderment: Since when have such
trivialities bothered the imperialists? Since when have imperialist invasions
been based on conscionable, altruistic reasons to do with legalities?
The left currently has little impact on the actually
existing political reality, so the only things we can bring to the political
table are ideas: questions, critiques, persuasive explanations, occasional
inspirations, maybe some good suggestions, and if we are spirited enough, some
fun and delight; and in all these, we most definitely must stick to our
Now, since we are in the realm of ideas, why be so
stingy? Where has your imagination gone? Why be so morose? Why not wish for
environmentally healthy, socially just, empowered Third World societies capable
of putting up a real fight against the imperialists, in full international
solidarity with each other and with the working peoples of the First World?
Fifth, and finally, those arguing in support of the Iranian
regime's nuclear program are not only capitulating to an imperialist-dictated
frame of debate, they aid and abet a theocratic regime so reactionary that it
stones human beings, while buried waist-deep, to death for the �crime� of
loving another human being.
If you want to defend the people of Iran (which is what we
have been doing), do so based on principles and not based on some realpolitik
knee-jerk, bankrupt Cold War mentality that ends you up in bed with
To push aside diversions, let me state that those of us
Iranian socialists, who oppose a nuclear energy program in Iran, speak from a
clear and unambiguous anti-imperialist stance. Wars, and very specifically
imperialist wars, are universally launched by the ruling classes, and are done
so only for the benefit of the ruling classes, while all the harm and injuries
to the flesh, mind and the spirit, and all the economic costs are borne by the
working peoples of the warring states. Wars are, therefore, to be universally
opposed and condemned. Further, we declare that the true reason for the current
threats of (or actual) military attacks on Iran by the U.S. forces have as
their political objective the subduing of an independently minded Iranian
government in pursuit of its own strategic goals, which do not necessarily
coincide with the strategic interests of the people of Iran.
Our opposition to imperialism and imperialist wars is based
on our standing with the health and well-being of the people, their interests,
their security and their freedom from harassment, and does not require us to
side with any regime, be it the Islamic Republic's regime, or Saddam's, the
Taliban or any other local bully. Further, we believe that Third
World/South/What-have-you people, whose political and civil rights have been
disappeared and been victimized and oppressed by their states, are in turn more
likely to be victimized by the imperialists.
A halt to all nuclear activities in Iran is a very
reasonable proposition, due to the dangerous confluence of the following three
factors, simultaneously and structurally (down to geologically) operative at
the location of the nuclear power plant-to-be:
energy production, per se, has inevitable harmful by-products, including
an extremely poisonous radioactive waste that cannot be got rid of. Ever.
A threat that, through leakage and its resulting contamination, can lead
to environmental contamination capable of lasting not just decades, but
thousands of years, accompanied by genetic mutations leading to fatal
which dictates that the location of Bushehr�s nuclear plant will be subject to numerous
earthquakes in its lifetime; earthquakes of varying magnitudes,
historically as strong as magnitude 7.6 (with the likelihood of even
stronger ones), and
Iranian government's incompetence and endemic corruption,
which dictates a
complete and total lack of transparency and lack of people�s right of
oversight over the government�s handling of all procedures involved in the
production of nuclear energy.
Some will point out that incompetence and lack of
transparency are regular currency in the U.S. and the European countries as
well. I agree and hasten to add: That is exactly why you had the Three Mile
Island and the Chernobyl nuclear accidents. We don�t want to have the same
disasters, having only hundredths of the socially available capabilities to
recover from such a monstrous eventuality.
Others may paint a picture of us espousing Orientalist
misgivings, pointing to our argument as an indication of our lack of faith in
the competence and intelligence of Iranians as a whole. We assure you that as
Iranians we believe in our own intellectual brilliance and are quite aware of
our capabilities. As a good friend likes to remind, U.S. and other western
engineering corporations are happily gobbling up the best of our minds,
enriching themselves greatly in the process; NASA enjoys the capabilities of
Iranian chief engineers and technicians daily; and our ancient know-how in
trade has given you e-Bay!
We are arguing that the current regime is
incompetent, therefore (or is it, because?) maximally secretive, and dangerous to our people. And there will
be no recourse to justice in Iran should any nuclear accidents happen, nor will
there be meaningful relief. But, this is not the entire point.
Besides being a very inefficient and capital-sucking way of
producing energy (see Wasserman's Nuclear Surge),
the nuclear industry is, again, a gigantic producer of a particular form of
waste that never goes away and is extremely toxic. There really is no
safe way of getting rid of this kind of garbage. At this moment in our history
we do not have this toxic madness besetting our environment with ravages
without cures. Such is not a 'cost' we consider 'worth it' (whatever 'it' is
supposed to be). We would like to keep our environment clean and our people as
healthy as our resources allow.
Iran has access to a vast and endless alternative source of
power: solar energy. The right engineers can do the rightful calculations, but
I am sure cultivating solar panel farms can easily match (if not surpass) the
energy needs that a horribly wasteful and waste-producing nuclear industry can
* * * * *
Mao Tse-tong's concept of 'primary v. secondary conflicts'
seems to have been oversimplified and misapplied by some friends, in the
process simplifying matters greatly, which must be practical for lazy thinkers,
especially in difficult times. But this oversimplification is erroneous since
the primary conflicts between the imperialist powers and the peoples of
the Third World, as well as the conflict between imperialists and their own
people, are fed and reinforced daily by the so-called secondary conflicts
between Third World peoples and their local bullies. Neither of these conflicts
can be dismissed by wishful thinking, 'resolved' one at the expense of the
other. As much as it is true that the freer we are from imperialist harassment
the better we can fight our local bullies, it is equally true that the freer we
are from local bullies the better we can defend ourselves against the
To emphasize a point that Cuba with all her troubles and
shortcomings has been proving, the only defense against imperialism, in the
first, second . . . and in the final analysis, is empowered people, both in the
belly of the beast (and subordinate associates) as well as all around the
A nuclear-free Iran not only removes a clear excuse for the
imperialist posturing against Iran, in the long run it guarantees a life there
free from toxic threats to the livelihoods of millions of people inhabiting the
area in the vicinity of Bushehr's larger region, which includes not only
Iranians, but people in all the Arab countries on the southern coast of the
Gulf, plus its entire ecosystem; a life free from the potentiality of millions
of cases of cancer, birth deformities, and the complete destruction of entire
ways of life among the local peoples inhabiting the shores of the
Persian-Arabian Gulf and the adjacent regions, and all points downstream.
*Especially, if you trace the trajectory of the 1977-78
revolution back to the preceding mass uprisings in the 1960s, and even further
back to the coup against Mosaadegh, in 1953, in which Ayatollah Khomeini's mentor,
Ayatollah Kashani, formed a strategic alliance with the organizers of the coup,
and against Mossadegh. During the uprisings in the 1960s the mullahs'
opposition to the Shah came from a reactionary stance they took against some
mild reforms, which included suffrage for women and limited land reforms.
Fiyouzat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.