Hands Off the People of Iran

The Iran Charade: So They Lied Again
By RON JACOBS

So they lied again. And again. Despite the fact that the Bush administration knew quite well that its very own intelligence estimate stated quite clearly that the Iranian government had halted its work on building nuclear weaponry, Mr. Bush told the world not more than two months ago that Iran was risking World War Three if it continued said work. On Monday, December 3, 2007, an report from Mr. Bush’s own government said quite clearly that its intelligence proved that Iran halted nuclear arms work four years ago. Despite this knowledge, the Bush administration and its enablers in Congress have continued to move the United States closer and closer to war with Iran.

Of course, the fact that the White House has been lying for at least four years about the dangers of Iranian nuclear weaponry comes as no surprise to many of the world’s citizens. After all, it was this very same administration that invaded Iraq on the basis of lies regarding Iraq’s nuclear ambitions and its long lost weapons of mass destruction. What is somewhat surprising is the response to Monday’s news from the White House. According to national security adviser Stephen Hadley, everything that the White House has said up to now about Iran’s nuclear intentions was not wrong. Indeed, according to Hadley, it only proves that gathering intelligence is “notoriously difficult.” Furthermore, in the White House’s estimation, this revelation proves that the White House was right and that the US is correct to continue threatening war and encouraging sanctions. You know, just to keep Iran in line. Now, I don’t know about you, but this argument sounds very similar to Bill Clinton’s line about what constituted having “sex with that woman.” In other words, they got caught in a lie and now the Bush White House and its allies in the government and media are using facetious arguments to justify those lies.

Will it fly? If US politicians like Joseph Lieberman and the government Israel have anything to say about it, it will. Israel has already essentially dismissed the report and continues to insist that Iran is very close to possessing a nuclear weapon. In addition, the recent appointment of Iraq war architect and propagandist Paul Wolfowitz to the State Department office that deals with other nation’s WMD may be an indication that some type of story creation a la the yellow cake lie of 2002 is already in progress. Even if this doesn’t occur, the ongoing spin by the White House to make Teheran’s cessation of nuclear arms activity a continuation is enough to convince me that Bush and Co. are still keeping an attack on Iran on its front burner, despite the hopeful and confused commentary by former CIA analyst Robert Baer that appeared at Time.com on December 4, 2007. In this odd little piece, Baer puts forth the supposition that George Bush himself was behind the release of the intelligence estimate. Why? To forestall and attack on Iran, of course. Essentially, Baer writes that Bush is against attacking Iran because of the situation in Iraq-where he repeats the latest Washington line that things are “looking up”-and because the White House is afraid Israel will be attacked if Iran is. I’m not sure where Mr. Baer has been or what prescriptions he may be on, but the possibility of Israel being attacked because of Bush’s bellicosity has never been a concern of Bush in the past and if, Tel Aviv’s statements since the release of the intelligence estimate are any indication, it doesn’t seem to be a concern of Tel Aviv now. In the New York Times, a different story is emerging-that the intelligence estimate “holds up to scrutiny, but they (various experts) acknowledge that some conclusions seem to have been thinly sourced.” This statement sounds like an open door to more spin. As for the situation in Iraq, Mr. Bush certainly wasn’t too concerned about destabilizing it in 2003 when he invaded.

Anti-Invasion and Anti-Tehran-HOPOI and Stop the War UK

Meanwhile, in the British segment of the movement against war with Iran there is a debate over whether or not those groups and individuals opposed both to a US/Israel attack on Iran and the theocracy that currently rules that country can be part of the national Stop the War UK Coalition. Some of those forces, now coalescing around the group Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPOI), recently had their petition to join that coalition rejected. The reasons for this decision are murky, with the Stop the war Coalition claiming that HOPOI is hostile to its aims and is seeking to set itself up as an alternative to Stop the War UK. HOPOI’s response to the rejection and explanation is that Stop the War UK includes dozens of groups with differing agendas on several issues but all of them are opposed to the occupation of Iraq and any attack on Iran. How, they wonder, is HOPOI any different? Furthermore, HOPOI claims the exclusion is political and revolves around some prominent members of Stop the War UK being apologists for the Iranian mullahs.

This argument is somewhat reminiscent of the debates that took place among leftists regarding the Soviet Union and China during the post Cold War era of the twentieth century. Like that argument, it has the potential to divide a movement that needs to remain united. After all, many of the groups in Stop the War UK are leftist, as are the groups currently making up HOPOI. Divisions precipitated by different tendencies on the left in antiwar movement around Vietnam occasionally caused confusion not only amongst the Left but also among the general population opposed to the war. Indeed, the support for the Soviet Union by some left formations probably caused some folks to not participate in the movement. Similarly, a perception by the general population opposed to war with Iran might not participate in a movement that appears to align itself with the government in Tehran-even if it doesn’t in actuality.

The groups in HOPOI are anti-imperialist first and foremost. This means that before everything else they are opposed to an attack on Iran and its people. They oppose US imperialism and Israeli aggression. As noted above, the group is composed of small communist organizations and also oppose the theocracy in Iran, considering it to be antidemocratic and a betrayal of the revolution against the Shah. At one time the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) might have been considered to be in an allied camp with HOPOI, but in recent years the PMOI’s work with some of the neocons in the United States and rumors that it works with various US intelligence agencies has insured HOPOI’s opposition to the group, despite the PMOI’s publicly stated opposition to a US invasion.

For those of us in the US and western Europe, our primary concern should be preventing war with Iran. This may mean making temporary alliances with groups with whom we disagree on several points, but to allow those differences to supersede opposition to an invasion would not only be foolish; it would be doing Washington’s work. Perhaps HOPOI’s conference in London this weekend will make progress toward alleviating some of the problems it is experiencing with Stop the War UK.

Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net.

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