The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilisation lies unveiled before our eyes, turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked. - Marx
The US, if the so-called independent media is to be believed, has just negotiated a precarious u-turn by agreeing to direct negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue. But nothing of the kind has occurred. What has actually happened is that America has realised it must signal its willingness to talk with the “mad mullahs”.
It is a brilliant tactical move on the part of Uncle Sam, for it can be cited, at some point in the bloody future, as evidence that it gave the mullahs numerous opportunities to withdraw from the brink. I have written earlier of the internal logic of America’s survival as an imperial entity in the 21st century as presupposing further conflict and consolidation of energy-rich spheres of influence and markets.
I also submitted that the US was on the verge of launching an attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that nothing the latter did or did not do - short of self-combustion, that is - will placate the imperialist beast. (It is trying to stave-off the dialectical inevitability of its imperial decline.)
Among the myriad reasons for this are: a powerful Iran would frustrate American and Zionist ambitions in the Middle East - because of its influence among the Shi’ites of Iraq and its support for Palestinian self-determination. An integral variable in this simple matrix is Middle Eastern oil. The dialectics of this historical process have been given renewed impetus by the almost-seismic shift in international relations from a bi- and uni-polar world to one that is increasingly becoming multi-polar in nature.
That, in a word - or two - is my thrust.
Now, gentle reader, cast your mind back to the lead-up to the 2003 Massacre in the Gulf. As we know, and some of us knew then, the “allied forces” were going to attack anyway, but nonetheless went along with the rigmarole of UN peacemaking and negotiations, a conjuror’s trick that was supposed to veil their concomitant military build-up in the region.
You negotiate when you believe there is something to be gained from the process - and that something may not necessarily mean a settlement. The Americans, like the rest of us, know that Iran is determined to stay the nuclear course. And the Iranian leadership know that the Great Satan is equally determined to wipe out by bloody means if necessary the threat they represent to its interests.
The ongoing horsetrading, brokered by the EU, Russia and China - is a canny piece of gamesmanship by both sides as they play for time. The Americans need it in order to regroup, especially after the massive resource expenditure and fallout from the Iraq adventure. The Iranians need time in which to attempt to unpick this precariously-poised united front being presented by the “international community” - and maybe to even put together a quick-fix, dirty bomb for deployment when the whistle goes.
However, there are those who believe that there will be no US strike, that the Americans were looking for - and have now been offered - a face-saving way out of the nuclear impasse - just as in the similar case of North Korea; and that this strategy of “constructive engagement” will neutralise the perceived threat from Tehran. This school holds that the active involvement of other powers will serve as a check on American bellicosity.
One recent advocate of this school is Iranian Reza Aslan, who says that a military strike would not be America’s “best option”.
A convincing argument
Here is Aslan, writing in the London Guardian: “Putting aside the fact that the US has neither the military resources nor the domestic support to fight a second pre-emptive war in the region (much less one directly on Iraq’s borders), and ignoring, for a moment, the almost unanimous conviction…that military strikes would delay Iran's nuclear programme by a few years at most, what the [American hawks] fail to address in their drumbeat for war, is Iran’s unprecedented ability to retaliate against US interests by using its proxies in the Middle East.”
A pretty convincing argument. But I must beg to differ. Let’s examine the claim - one which I held until a few weeks ago - that a second pre-emptive “war” would lack requisite military resources and domestic support. The military resources needed are either already in, or are now being deployed, in the Gulf as we speak. Only last week, after the emperor and his plenipotentiary in Britain were saying troop numbers in Iraq would be reduced, over one thousand US soldiers were deployed from bases in Kuwait and into Iraq. Moneywise, the neocons have got a blank cheque from Congress to prosecute their wars of conquest as they see fit. The neocons don’t care what “the American people” think; they, "the American people", don't know what's good for them; it’s as simple and Machiavellian as that.
Next, it is indeed the case that military strikes would put back Iran’s nuclear programme by only a few years at the most. That, nevertheless, does not preclude the very real possibility of something akin to imperial, Hussein-era no-fly zones, sanctions and other mechanisms of containment once nuclear sites had been “taken out”. What would be the point of going through all that mass-murderous struggle only to allow the mad mullahs to resume their nefarious activities all over again!
Now we come to Iran’s “unprecedented ability” to unleash retaliation against Western targets. That is exactly what was said about Iraq before the Second Gulf Slaughter: “Committed mujahedeen will bomb the hell out of them if they so much as think of invading,” it was said. But the invasion happened anyway. And what has happened since? Except for a few “lucky” and “atypical” episodes, all jihadist attacks in the West have been foiled.
It must be realised that all such potential incidents are factored into the calculus of imperialist aggression. Remember “collateral damage”? Nuff said. Most of the attacks have taken place in the theatre of massacre, against the foot soldiers of the invaders and the massacrees. All such attacks are invariably contained in the theatres of massacre. Can you compare the lives of a few ordinary people - yours truly included, towel heads and poor, thick soldier-boys to that of the survival of a whole empire and civilisation? Thought not!
I have in this piece, as in a previous one, attempted, devil’s-advocate-like, to set out the reasons why the Western imperialists would be planning to attack Iran - preparing, if you like, for another bloody orgy of dismembered bodies: shattered heads, breasts, toes, hands, arms, feet, finger nails, eyeballs, penises, kneecaps, and babies’ entrails. This time, in Iran. I genuinely hope that events will prove me alarmist and wrong. Nothing would please me more.
However, I believe it to be a forlorn hope. At best, all one can realistically hope for is that this inevitability is postponed. But even this depends on several improbable propositions: that the neocons suddenly get cold feet; mass desertions occur in the imperial army; and that the emperor and his UK plenipotentiary are deposed and their replacements change course. Both the Great Satan and the mad mullahs are trying to buck an objective, material, historical process.