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Vijay Prashad: Why the Iran nuclear deal is essential

Vijay Prashad

By Vijay Prashad. This article was first published on Gazette Net.

NORTHAMPTON — Why anyone would oppose the Iran deal bewilders the imagination. Short of this deal lies a war with Iran. If the West wants a war with Iran, then the deal is a terrible idea. If the West does not wish a war against Iran, the deal is necessary.

Iran’s nuclear program was built on the U.S. government’s Atoms for Peace project of the 1950s. A member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has followed most of the protocols for the creation of a nuclear energy sector.

Unlike Iran, India and Israel — both seen by the U.S. as allies — are not members of the NPT or the IAEA, have nuclear weapons not merely nuclear energy and are therefore international scofflaws. Yet, it is Iran that faced a sanctions regime and threats from the West and Israel.

Why was Iran treated differently than India and Israel? The only possible answer is Iran’s position in the map of Western interests. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 seriously threatened the Gulf Arab monarchies because it provided a non-monarchical Islamic form of government.

In 1980, the West and the Gulf Arabs egged on Iraq into its fratricidal war against Iran, pushing Iran into regional isolation. President Jimmy Carter’s doctrine suggested that the defense of the Gulf Arab monarchies is tantamount to the defense of the United States itself. The axis of Gulf Arabs and the West against Iran had been set before any Israeli intervention.

George W. Bush’s War on Terror unwittingly knocked out Iran’s two historic adversaries — Afghanistan’s Taliban (2001) and Iraq’s Ba’ath Party (2003). This enabled Iran to stretch its wings outward and seek regional influence. Several regional wars, including Israel’s attack on Lebanon in 2006, attempted to put the Iranians back into their straitjacket. None succeeded.

It was the bogey of the sanctions regime (2006 onwards) that was crafted to bring Iran to its knees. This was not about any nuclear threat. IAEA reports from the mid-2000s provided no evidence of any illegal Iranian nuclear program, as shown by journalist Gareth Porter in his “Manufactured Crisis” (Just World Books, 2014). The U.S. State Department nonetheless wanted to pressure IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei to remain silent about discrepancies between IAEA findings and those of the Central Intelligence Agency (tainted as it in the lead-up to the Iraq war).

The sanctions regime, the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s computer network and the killing of Iranian scientists provoked Tehran into non-negotiation with the IAEA. The standoff, which the neoconservatives wanted, emerged.

Was Iran ever on the road toward a nuclear weapon? In 2005, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei delivered a decree against nuclear weapons. This fatwa followed an important one from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in December 1987 against chemical weapons. This is a significant ruling, because it came after Iraq used chemical weapons (components of which were supplied by the West) against Iranian troops on several occasions. Joost Hiltermann’s “A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq and the Gassing of Halabja” (Cambridge, 2007) provides the riposte to those who suggest that it was Iran that used chemical weapons in that terrible war.

It is certainly true that Iran hid parts of its program in the late 2000s from the IAEA, but this is not unusual. Old ideas of Westphalian sovereignty drive modern states to be jealous of their territorial control (it is likely this that provoked Saddam Hussein to play cat and mouse with the UN inspectors, not the presence of any dangerous weapons — since there were none in 2002-03).

When the U.S. first attacked the Taliban in 2001, Iran provided crucial support in western Afghanistan. That collusion was valuable for the troops, but it stopped when George W. Bush — surprisingly — put Iran on his “Axis of Evil” list.

Iran is the most important ally for Iraq and has substantial influence in Kabul. It has close links to the Syrian government. Pipelines and train lines run through Iran toward China, financed by India, China and Turkey. China, Russia and other Asian states have substantial commercial interests in Iran, as do the Europeans. Iran is a major player in the anti-ISIS war. In Iraq and parts of Syria, it provides the logistical and strategic support for the war-weary Iraqi and Syrian troops. To lead, as the U.S. believes, a war against ISIS without Iran on board is farcical. Iran’s isolation as a result of the Western and UN sanctions is fated to end whether the U.S. ratifies the deal or not.

Neither Sens. Charles Charles Schumer nor Bob Menendez have provided a credible answer to the question — if the deal does not go through, is the United States willing to go to war against a country of 80 million people?

If you think West Asia is in the midst of dangerous chaos now, a Western and Israeli attack on Iran would let fly from Pandora’s box what evils remain yet in slumber.

Vijay Prashad, director of International Studies at Trinity College, is the editor of “Letters to Palestine” (Verso). He lives in Northampton.

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12 Questions for General Petraeus on His Support for Al Qaeda

David Swanson

By David Swanson. This article was first published on

Now that General David Petraeus wants to arm and train al Qaeda killers, a number of questions arise that might be raised with the great leader:

1. Should people who said that anyone was a traitor who called you David Betray-Us while you were fighting al Qaeda, now call you David Betray-Us or a traitor?

2. Do you imagine that just because you can share all sorts of secrets with your girlfriend and get off easy, there are no hardcore nut cases who believe in the "material support for terrorism" law more than they believe in you?

3. Have you looked into whether this West Point professor wants you shot?

4. The U.S. armed what would become al Qaeda against the Soviet Union. Al Qaeda in Iraq developed into ISIS following U.S. war-making there. Could arming one branch of Al Qaeda against another really be the way violence at long last, for the first time, produces something other than more violence?

5. Is this part of a revival of Ronald Reagan traditional conservatism?

6. Do you foresee arming ISIS against a different, greater evil, as a possible future policy? If so, is the Pentagon justified in having gotten a head start on that?

7. Did you know that the U.S. public revolt against a proposed war on Syria in 2013 was driven in part by opposition to aligning with al Qaeda?

8. Is the problem here overly successful propaganda? Should future wars be marketed without the same level of promotion of an enemy brand?

9. When recruiting people to commit mass murder, are you seriously going to keep claiming that what you're looking for are the "moderates"?

10. While avoiding arms embargoes, disarmament, cease-fires, aid, diplomacy, or peace at all costs, and always arming new groups, you either have to continually invent new groups (like Khorasan) or eventually come around to arming some of the groups you previously armed others against. Which raises the question: which weapons maker loves you the very most?

11. Have you shifted strategy from bribing people not to fight to bribing people to fight because the success of the former turned out to be so fleeting? Why would the latter work better?

12. You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand this right? Have you ever considered exercising it?

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Trump's Medicine Show - An email to Autoworkers

Frank Hammer

By Frank Hammer.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Medicine shows were traveling truck, horse, and wagon teams which peddled "miracle cure" medications and other products between various entertainment acts. They developed from European mountebank shows and were common in the 19th century United States, especially in the Old West era (though they continued up to World War II).[1] They are most commonly associated with "miracle elixirs" (sometimes referred to as snake oil), which, it was claimed, had the ability to cure any disease, smooth wrinkles, remove stains, prolong life or cure any number of common ailments. Most shows had their own patent medicine (these medicines were for the most part unpatented but took the name to sound official). Entertainment often included a freak show, a flea circusmusical actsmagic tricks, jokes, or storytelling. Each show was run by a man posing as a doctor who drew the crowd with a monologue. The entertainers, such as acrobats, musclemen, magicians, dancers, ventriloquists, exotic performers, and trick shots, kept the crowd around until the salesman sold his medicine.
"Dear autoworkers"

In his interview with Chuck Todd, August 16, Trump said he would move auto manufacturing, not overseas, but to another location inside the US so as to shut down the midwest more than has already happened.
He said then those same Midwest workers would be happy to get the work back at a third of the wages. That's what the auto bosses have been doing to us for years, and they are doing it right before our eyes - ex: Ford, GM.

Trump's candidacy should become the capitalists' worst nightmare.  One of their kind is coming forward throwing disguised crap in our face; in the process the masses will learn, because of his big mouth, what the big capitalists have in store for us.  It is not pretty.  We are the ones who will have to talk to fellow workers and clarify: Trump, and the capitalists he represents, hate workers, and they sure hate unions.

Trump decries the US turning into a third world country, and thinks we are too blind to see that he and fellow capitalists are the ones who are turning us into a "third world country."  The reason those countries are "third world" is because that's where the capitalists want them - in zones without unions, no safety protections, no workers comp, and no regulations on protecting the environment.  And now that's where they want us.
His prescription for how to fix things is to accelerate the process that they've been doing to us for years.  More of the same!  They have their economy where they want it, where they get richer and richer at our expense, all the while keeping everybody in debt and hungry for jobs.
Working class whites (especially the men), need to see that Trump's medicine is poison.  It may taste sweet, but it will surely kill you.
It's up to you and me.
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Hedge Funds Attack Baltimore

Hedge Clippers



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Greece: "Popular Unity" is born!

Stathis Kouvelakis

By Stathis Kouvelakis, Athens. This article was first published on Verso Books.

Early this morning, 25 Syriza MPs left the parliamentary group of the party to create a new group under the name of “Popular Unity”. Most of these MPs are affiliated to the Left Platform, but some others also joined, like Vangelis Diamantopoulos and Rachel Makri, a close collaborator of Zoe Kostantopoulou.

This is a major development in Greek politics but also for the radical Left, in Greece and at an international level. 

Three elements need to be emphasised.

The first is that “Popular Unity” is the name of the new political front, which will regroup thirteen organizations of the radical Left, those who signed the text issued on August 13 calling for the constitution of the Front of the No. This front is therefore the first tangible result of a recomposition within the Greek radical Left: a recomposition that draws the lessons of the last five years and of course of the experience of Syriza in office and of the resulting catastrophe. But the goal of the front is even broader than this; it is to provide an expression to social forces that do not necessarily recognise themselves as part of the Left but want to fight austerity, the Memoranda and the "Troika rule reloaded" of the new Memorandum.

The second is that the goal of the front is to constitute the political expression of the No as was expressed both in the January elections and in the referendum of July 5. The main programmatic lines are the rupture with austerity and the memoranda, the rejection of all privatisations and the nationalisation under social control of strategic sectors of the economy, starting with the banking system, the cancellation of the major part of the Greek debt (starting with the immediate interruption of its repayment) and, more broadly, a set of radical measures that will shift the balance of forces in favour of labour and the popular classes and open up a path for the progressive reconstruction of the country, of its economy and of its institutions. 

These goals cannot be realised without exiting the Eurozone, as the recent disaster has abundantly demonstrated, and without breaking with the whole set of policies institutionalised by the EU. The front will also struggle for a unitary internationalist struggle around common objectives at the European and international level and will support exiting NATO, breaking the existing agreements between Greece and Israel and radically opposing imperialist wars and interventions. This transitional programme is situated in the perspective of a socialism of the 21st century.

The third is that this new parliamentary group is now the third in terms of its size in the Greek Parliament, ahead of Golden Dawn, the neonazi party. This means that in the next few days its leader, Panagiotis Lafazanis, will get a mandate to constitute a government that will last for three days, as the Greek constitution stipulates. After the resignation of the Tsipras government, this mandate is now in the hands of the second party in Parliament, New Democracy, the main rightwing opposition party. This span of time will be used by Popular Unity to trigger a broad debate and the mobilisation of all the social forces who wish to fight austerity and the Memoranda, the previous as well as the new one.

The programme of the party and the full range of its support among leading personalities of the Greek Left, which is expected to be quite impressive, will be released at the start of next week.

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