In his State of the Union address Mr Bush, in the presence of both houses of Congress, while setting out his government’s domestic and foreign polices accused the government of Iran of supporting terrorism and denying the people of this country their freedom.
In the part of the speech that specifically dealt with the advance of democracy and political stability in the Middle East, the President of the United States said: “Today, Iran remains the world’s primary state sponsor of terror – pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve.”
Mr Bush said: “We are working with our European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium reprocessing, and end its support for terror.”
The president of the United States said to the Iranian people: “And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.”
There is nothing new about Bush’s speech. Around three years ago in his famous State of Union address he called Iran, Iraq and North Korea an ‘axis of evil’ and declared that the governments of these countries are endangering world peace by supporting terrorism. After that he attacked Iraq and put in place another hand-picked regime instead of Saddam’s. Last month the President of the United States also said that he does not think that military action to stop the nuclear activities of Iran, which America claims is aimed at the secret production of nuclear weapons, is off the agenda.
Before assessing whether the Bush government will prepare an attack on Iran (just as with Iraq), we must pay attention to the current motives and bullying tactics of the American government.
The real motives for the Bush government’s warmongering
Despite the rhetoric of Bush, the main motive for the military offensive against Iraq (and possibly Iran) is not to bring about ‘democracy’ or freedom! We have seen the democracy that has been imposed on Iraq! One of the main motives for America’s military attack on Iraqi soil (and possibly on Iran) is access to the oil resources in these countries. Companies like Esso, Texaco, Halliburton (from which Vice President Dick Cheney annually receives $600,000) and other oil companies have benefited from this military attack and will be increasing their oil revenue for many years. But oil is not the only reason for the military attacks. The real motive must be sought in the deep economic crisis of the American imperialist system.
The American economy since the spring of 2000 (18 months before the September 11 events), after a decade-long boom, has succumbed to a deep crisis. This economic crisis was demonstrated by the gradual fall of the NASDAQ market that includes the stocks of many production companies, particularly of computers. Also the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave in to the crisis. By 2001 the NASDAQ market had fallen by $3 trillion in value. Today this figure has reached $4 trillion. Many of the stock holders lost their vast capital. The production of large industries began their downward course and unprecedented unemployment enveloped the workers of factories and companies. The unemployment rate, a few months before September 2001, increased from 3 to 5 percent. In just two years of Bush’s presidency two million people became unemployed. These figures were unprecedented in at least the past two decades.
The last period shows the end of the ‘golden’ era of ‘neo-liberal’ policies of the conservative wing that were begun by Reagan and were continued during the term of George Bush Sr., and were consolidated after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the beginning of the period of economic crisis, all the long-term plans of the US government reached a dead-end. Therefore, during the period before September 11, the policy advisers of the ruling elite of America began work on ‘new’ policies for solving this deep economic crisis. But the policies presented were not so new. These were policies that during the past two decades, and particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, were in circulation among the US ruling elite. What is today called ‘the Bush Doctrine’ has its roots in these views.
The ‘neoconservative’ wing, or the ‘hawks’ that today hold all the executive positions of the ruling group in the Bush cabinet, have since the last decade believed that in the post-Cold War period and after the fall of the Soviet Union, that in order to prevent economic crises like the Great Depression in the United States, the US must deal with world affairs in a unilateral way. The key figures of this viewpoint are people like Paul Wolfowitz (the main policy developer), Donald Rumsfeld’s deputy; Richard Cheney, the Vice President; Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense; Richard Perle, the President’s advisor; Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State. This political clique stands against the ‘doves’ that defend a moderate and multilateral approach to world affairs.
These views have been openly expressed by this clique since 1991. For example, Richard Cheney, the Secretary of Defense in George Bush Sr’s cabinet, on February 21, 1991 at the start of the military operations against Iraq, said to the Senate Defense Committee that: “This war is an example of the type of clashes that we will possibly be involved in during the new era ... Other than South East Asia, we have main interests in Europe, Asia, the pacific Ocean and Latin and Central America. We must organise our policies and forces in such a way that we can in the future prevent the occurrence of such regional dangers or to crush them quickly.” (Re-translated from a Persian translation.)
Even though these views were expressed at the start of the February 1991 war, at the time when the economic indicators of American growth were not decisive, they were strengthened, however, with the beginning of the economic crisis by the late 1990s. In 2000 George W. Bush, through open electoral fraud, was elected as President to implement the policies of this wing. The events of September 11, 2001 were in fact a gift to the administration allowing them to put into practice policies that had been prepared for over a decade. If it turns out that bin Laden did organise the September 11 attacks, then he will have been of great service in putting these policies of the clique into practice.
After September 11 the same position, now the official view of the US government, was formulated in a document entitled The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. It outlined the following points and tasks of the US:
1- Maintain and secure the unchallenged military superiority of the United States in the world as the only military superpower.
2- Maintain the absolute readiness of the US government for ‘pre-emptive’ military attack against any country or force in the world that endangers the national security or interests of the United States.
3- US citizens abroad to be exempt from any sort of international criminal proceedings. (Re-translated from a Persian translation.)
The ground offensive against Afghanistan and then Iraq demonstrated the beginning of this plan on a world scale. The threats of a possible military attack on Iran are based on this policy.
The military budget of the US government has been planned on the basis of realising this policy. Since September 11 until now the military budget of the US has increased by $160 billion. From proposing a budget of $75 billion on March 25, 2003 this figure has now reached $359 billion, and will probably continue to rise in the next few months after the re-election of Bush. At the same time military-industrial complex has become heavily involved in this. Companies such as Northrop, Lockheed, General Dynamics and Boeing, have all increased their military production.
Is a military attack on Iran imminent?
Even though the instinctive tendency of the Bush government is based on warmongering and military offensives, contrary to the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois tendencies of the Iranian opposition, which from the beginning of the 1979 insurrection have been counting the days when America will send its troops to Iran and replace the mollahs with a pro-western regime, the US government has always preferred to come to an agreement with the capitalist-clerical regime of Iran.
The monarchists and devotees of Reza Pahlavi [the Shah’s son] do not have the necessary political credibility in Iran (no matter how much noise they make about becoming social democrats and wanting unity with other tendencies) to make a return. The seal and coat of arms of the royal regime and SAVAK (the Shah’s security police) and thugs (who were paid to take part in the 1953 CIA coup) have forever been stamped on their foreheads. The Mojahedin, which never became a bourgeois alternative, gambled on making themselves dependent on Saddam’s regime and lost. The reformers also turned out to be breathless and useless. Even though the US government is saving all these alternatives for the future, its main perspective is to make a deal with the Islamic Republic itself.
It is obvious that in order to balance the situation to its advantage, imperialism must deal with the regime through two methods or two tracks. The first is the moderate method that the European governments, especially the governments of Britain, France and Germany, have adopted. The other is that of bullying and the use of force that is expressed by Bush. In fact, there is no political difference between the US and the European governments on the situation in Iran. The differences are tactical and minor. The recent trip by Condoleezza Rice to Britain and Germany is indicative of this general consensus. These two methods are both designed to guide the Iranian regime on the straight and narrow. Mr Bush’s speech in Congress also expressed that while his government does not find the political structure and policies of the Islamic Republic acceptable, it nevertheless is not prepared to negate the diplomatic attempts of the European countries in regards to Iran’s nuclear programme and other issues such as human rights. The US does not want to cause further bitterness in its relationship with Europe and does not want to lose their support on various international issues, including Iran.
The reaction of the Islamic Republic to the Bush government, despite superficial ‘protests’ and ‘resistance’, has undergone a qualitative change from three years ago. For example, three years ago, at a time when Bush called Iran one of the countries in the ‘axis of evil’, the head of the Guardian Council, Ahmad Janati, called Bush’s words “astonishing” and compared him to a madman who “doesn’t know what is good for his own country”. Khameneii, the Supreme Leader, described Bush as someone “thirsty for human blood” and finally Khatami called Bush’s words “insulting”. But this time there was no hostile reaction from the regime. On the contrary, Hossein Mousavian, one of the members of the regime’s team negotiating with the Europeans, said in an interview with the Financial Times (February 3, 2005), while protesting about the slowness of contacts between the European and Iranian governments, that he does not have objections to the US government taking part in the discussions alongside the European governments! This time the leaders of the regime called Bush’s claims about the regime’s preparations for obtaining nuclear weapons as incorrect. This recent reaction shows the regime’s submissiveness towards imperialism. The only quarrel is about how to get more concessions from them.
On the other hand, when Ms Rice in her interview on February 4, 2005 was asked about the possible conditions required for an America military attack on Iran, she said that such an attack is not on the agenda of the United States government at the present time and she added that there are still many diplomatic avenues open in dealing with the nuclear programme of Iran. In other words, so long as the Iranian regime continues this submissive course to its logical conclusion, the US government has no issues with this regime, even if it is one of the most despotic regimes in the world and is repressing its people.
In addition, especially after the disastrous experience in Iraq, the balance of forces rules out another military attack being placed on the agenda of the American government. The US government will be forced to remain in Iraq for a long time and does not have the necessary ability for a military attack on Iran.
‘Terrorism’ and the Bush government
In his recent State of the Union address George Bush presented himself as a defender of freedom and democracy and declared his hostility towards terrorism. But he forgot to point out that the United States (and the CIA) lead all terrorist states. Using their own definition of terrorism and “rogue state”, then the US is in fact the greatest of them all. Were not Saddam and bin Laden trained by the same CIA? Were today’s ‘terrorists’ not the same people who were armed with heavy weaponry by the US government, so that its interests in the repression of the Kurdish people and a war against Russia could be pursued? Was Mr Khatami’s government not supported by the US government until a few years ago because it was a ‘moderate’ and reformist government? Did Jack Straw, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, in the past few months not travel to Iran and make behind the scenes deals with the regime? How was it that Saddam Hussein, as long as he did not disobey the US government, was thought of as one of America’s allies? Were not the crimes of Saddam’s regime against the Kurdish people many times more tragic than his military attack on Kuwait? How was it that the US government did not make the slightest protest about the use of chemical weapons and the massacring of people in Kurdistan? How was it that in the face of the ‘serial murders’ of the regime’s oppositionists, and the killing of Iran’s honourable students and workers in front of parliament, that Mr Bush did not call Khatami’s government ‘terrorist’? Is ‘terrorism’ defined according to the wishes and whims of Mr Bush? Why does the same Mr Bush not say that while he was the Governor of Texas he signed the death warrants of several people? Why does Mr Bush not utter a word about the role of the CIA in the coup d’état of August 19,1953 against Dr Mossadegh, the coup against Allende in Chile, and the recurring tragedies of the CIA killing the most honourable human beings in the world?
It is obvious that these contradictions are rooted in the terrorist nature of the US government itself. If terrorism is supposed to be uprooted from the world then the ‘devil’ himself must first of all be destroyed. So long as real democracy does not exist throughout the world and the main ‘devil’ is present, then such ‘axes of evil’ will be reproduced – even if some of them are dealt with.
The turn of the Iranian regime and the situation of the labour movement
Immediately after Iraq was occupied by the US government the authoritarian wing of the Iranian regime made a turn in their policy towards America. This turn is headed by former president Rafsanjani. In its first issue after the occupation of Iraq, Rahbord, a periodical which is published by the Strategic Studies Centre, a body which is tied to the Iranian regime’s Expediency Council, published a 24 page interview with Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of this Council. In the interview Rafsanjani deals with the role of the Expediency Council in resolving difficulties between Iran and America. He said that “as Muslims we have no problem with resolving any of the foreign issues facing us... We have a tenet in Islam which is the precedence of the expediency of power over the expediency of weakness... In principle, the Expediency Council has been created on the basis of this need.” He referred to Khomeini’s view which specified that one can even stop prayers and fasting if it is for the expediency of the system, and added that: “To endanger our country and imagine that we are acting in an Islamic way is not Islamic.” In this interview he claimed that the foreign policy apparatus of Iran, because of the inexperience of its officials, had in many cases missed opportunities, but now it has reached a state under which it appreciates the world’s political issues and can assess and analyse them!
Following on from these claims, the new course of the right-wing clique took place, and it is aimed at attracting the trust of western governments. It is obvious that for the imperialist governments to invest in Iran, to loot the oil resources, and to use the labour power of Iran, it makes no difference which of the ruling cliques is in power – so long as their interests are guaranteed. And now the right-wing clique is playing this role.
Under these conditions the workers’ movement of Iran is entering a new stage in its political life. Creating a ‘modern’ capitalist system that is tied to the policies of the world banks and the world capitalist system is on the agenda in Iran. This process will mean the continuation of the flow of foreign capital into Iran. In the next period international capitalism, by importing spare parts, technicians, technocrats, and professional managers, will enter Iran’s ‘virgin’ economic scene.
Getting the wheels of industry into motion goes together with employing workers on a higher and more regular basis. Together with employment, the uncertainty and insecurity that workers have about jobs (the fear of losing their job) will gradually diminish and this process will in turn boost the workers’ self-confidence. But this process will not end here. The newly established and modern capitalism, which for many years has remained backwards due to reasons such as the Iran-Iraq war, repression, wrong economic policies and the incompetence of the regime’s leaders, will be forced to increase the intensity of labour to make up for lost time. New and advanced machinery, educated managers who are knowledgeable about management issues, rational economic planning, will increase the intensity of labour among workers and, as a result, the workers will be condemned to endure super-exploitation. Super-exploitation together with self-confidence among the workers will mark a new stage in workers’ struggles.
For the first time in over two decades of capitalist rule, the contradictions between labour and capital are more noticeable and precise than before. Also, the modus operandi, both of the capitalists and workers will change. If in the past the imposition of a mediaeval Labour Code, together with the naked repression of workers, was part of the regime’s policy; in the next period a new Labour Code that, on the face of it is written in accord with international laws and regulations, will be in force. The modus operandi of the capitalists for super-exploitation is to create organisations and laws that are acceptable to the international banks and capitalist governments throughout the world.
It is obvious that in order to organise their anti-capitalist struggles the workers of Iran will enter a new stage. Workers’ struggles after May Day 2004 demonstrate the change in the balance of forces in favour of the workers. The central demand of workers is the setting up of independent workers’ organisations. But independent workers’ organisations do not drop from the sky and are not formed by the International Labour Organisation. And even in the event that they are formed in that way, they will stand opposed to the central demands of the workers (the right to strike, workers’ control, and a sliding scale of wages rising in line with inflation and so on). Independent workers’ organisations can only be set up by the workers themselves. To prepare for such organisations self-confidence and finding the means for self-organisation are the main issue. This cannot be achieved unless there is active participation by workers in the political scene.
For an effective intervention within the workers’ movement the drafting of a workers’ action programme based on the democratic, trade union and transitional demands of the workers is on the order of the day. The workers and the youth must at the same time introduce their own representatives to society, and, around these individuals, present the workers’ action programme to society.