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U.S. heats up war moves against Iran

Jan 11, 2012

As 2012 began, Washington’s actions and threats gave substance to U.S. imperialism’s long-standing war plans against Iran. The actions included sanctions aimed at breaking Iran’s economy, warship deployments off Iran’s shores and plans for joint war exercises with Israel.

On Dec. 31, President Barack Obama signed a military funding bill that included imposing sanctions on any countries or companies that buy Iranian oil and pay for it through Iran’s central bank. Oil is Iran’s main revenue source. European imperialist countries are also preparing an Iranian oil embargo. Such serious economic sanctions amount to acts of war.

Despite its own nuclear overkill arsenal, the U.S. — and its European imperialist allies and the Israeli settler state — claim their conflict in the oil-rich region of Southwest Asia stems from Iran’s steps to enrich uranium. Without evidence, they accuse Iran of having a nuclear-weapons program.

The Israeli military announced on Jan. 5 that thousands of U.S. and Israeli troops would hold a major exercise sometime in January. “Both Israeli and U.S. officials said the exercise would be the largest-ever joint drill by the two countries.” (Washington Post, Jan. 5) The Israeli state, which is said to have as many as 200 nuclear weapons, often threatens to attack Iran’s nuclear power program.

U.S. hostile since 1979 revolution

But Washington has been hostile in word and deed to the Iranian government ever since a mass uprising overthrew the shah’s regime in February 1979. The CIA had put this monarch in power with a coup in 1953. He remained a U.S. client dictator until this revolution.

Israel is hostile to Iran also because Tehran has supported the liberation movements in the region: Hezbollah in Lebanon — which drove out the Israeli army in 2000 and stopped the Israeli invasion in 2006 — and Hamas in Palestine, and is an ally of Syria.

The massive 1979 revolution failed to overthrow capitalist property relations or end the exploitation of labor. It instead put into power a section of Iran’s capitalist class in the form of the Islamic Republic. Up to now that government has defended this class’s economic and political interests from imperialist aggression.

The Iranian armed forces, starting on Dec. 24, held 10 days of exercises in the Strait of Hormuz. This is a narrow body of water — about 40 miles wide — between Iran and Oman that connects the Persian/Arabian Gulf to the Sea of Oman and from there to the Indian Ocean.

About 20 percent of the world’s supply of petroleum sails through the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian government said they could be forced to block the strait in response to the sanctions aimed at strangling its people. Iranian Army Cmdr. Brig. Gen. Habibollah Sayyari said the country can block the Strait of Hormuz “easily.” (ISNA, Jan. 8)  

Conflict in the strait would immediately cut worldwide oil supplies and inflate oil prices.

The Iranians also announced that they were about to begin production of enriched uranium at a second site — this one at the Fordo plant near the city of Qum. The site is 300 feet underground and well-defended by anti-aircraft weapons.

The Iranian government has stated it has no plans to manufacture nuclear weapons. Iran insists, however, that it has the right to produce enriched uranium as an alternative energy source to its large but finite oil supply.

Despite the crisis, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began a tour Jan. 8 of four Latin American countries, starting with Venezuela.

Panetta, Gen. Dempsey on ‘Face the Nation’

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Jan. 8, where he said: “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is: do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”

Panetta had to reflect the results of two studies, in 2007 and 2010, by U.S. intelligence agencies, that concluded that “the Iranian leaders had made no political decision yet to build an actual weapon.” (New York Times, Jan. 8)

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on the same show that the Pentagon was evaluating the risks and difficulties of “taking out” Iran’s nuclear plants to “position assets, to provide these options in a timely fashion.” (New York Times, Jan. 8)

Among those assets is the Fifth Fleet, stationed in Bahrain only hundreds of miles from the Strait of Hormuz. This consists of aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, amphibious units of the Marines, destroyers, frigates and warplanes. The British are also sending an aircraft carrier to the Gulf.

Some analysts argue that the potential impact of battles around the Strait of Hormuz during the capitalist economic crisis, along with all the stresses on the U.S. military, make it unlikely Washington will launch another war. The history of imperialism, however, is that even the most risky adventures can occur at times of crisis, as the two world wars of the 20th century show.

Major anti-war coalitions treat the danger of war seriously. The United National Antiwar Coalition in the U.S. and the Stop the War Coalition in Britain, which include organizations with diverse evaluations of Tehran’s internal policies, actively oppose imperialist sanctions and all military provocations against Iran.

For more information and to join protests of U.S. policies, see the Iran section of the International Action ­Center at iacenter.org.

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UPDATED Jan 12, 2012 3:43 PM
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