With a new round of sanctions against Iran, it’s important to look at a number of things: what are the repercussions of the sanctions and what is really motivating the US to pursue Iran’s further economic deterioration. Is the US further destablizing the region? What it is most certainly doing is ramping up the anti-US sentiment among the countries in the Middle East.
What are the reasons for this round of sanctions? Condi Rice’s press statement offers a litany of complaints about Iran. Most of them we’ve heard already:
1) Iran is purusing the development of nuclear weapons. This assertion is still speculation.
2) Iran is supporting Shia militants in Iraq and terrorists in Iraq. How so? The Iranian-made weapons argument is weak. Is Iran donating these weapons or selling them the way the US sells its massive supply of weapons all over the world?
3) Denying the existance of Israel.
4) Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, which by now many know to be utterly false.
According to Condi Rice, these new sanctions are “designed, among other things, to punish Tehran for its support of terrorist organizations in Iraq and the Middle East.”
Rice and other Bush Administration officials continue to harp on the “threatening behavior of the Iranians.” Once again notice the choice of words in Rice’s propagandizing speech. “Iranians” [plural] might lead you to believe she means the entire people of Iran. Not so. Far from it. Governments in many ways fail to represent their people, so put the breaks on the invasion equation.
She also said that Washington remains open to “a diplomatic solution.” This should set off alarms right away. If it doesn’t, please let me point out the utter hypocrisy of Rice, the Bush Administration, and US government in regards to our relationship with Iran.
You’ll have to consider first why Iran developed into the way it is today. I use the term “developed” loosely, since it may suggest lack of interference, which is certainly not the case. A recent Adbusters magazine article charted this bit of history well, stating that “the story of how Iran-US relations arrived at such a critical juncture has been all but expunged from historical memory.” Quite so. For the average American impressions of Iran begin with images of American hostages during the 1979 revolution. What the average American does NOT know is that the 1979 revolution was preceeded by a constitutional democracy in Iran. In 1953 the United States elminated this democracy by means of a CIA coup, overthrowing the democratically elected Prime Minister Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, who was Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” one year earlier in 1952. Why overthrow a democratically elected leader? Dr. Mossadegh believed fervently in national independence and very quickly nationalized Iran’s oil industry. Ah, the oil. Look back in time and you’ll find that England had a monopoly on Iran’s oil. During World War 2 Britain and the Soviet Union (who by then had a finger in the pie) invaded Iran to secure their oil fields and supply lines. Just before Mossadegh’s ascent to power of Premier, Britain owned most of the stock in the Anglo-Iranian (later British Petroleum) Oil Company, gave Iran a raw deal for the oil coming out of their own ground, and taxed them more than they profited! Raping of the Iran, raping of the Middle-East, a theme for decades.
After years of outside control, Iranians elect Mossadegh in 1951, a man who believed that Iran and its oil belong to Iran (not to the West). How did the West respond? First with British warships in the Persian Gulf and an economic blockade. When this failed to convince Mossadegh, the British government persuaded the incoming Eisenhower administration to send in the CIA. Within a month Iran’s secular and democratic future was under permanent house arrest courtesy of the good ol’ well-meanin’ USA. The official CIA report included a cautionary note: “Possibilities of blowback against the United States should always be in the back of the minds of all CIA officers involved in this type of operation.” Wise words from the spook department, never heeded. Moving on, how does the US replace Mossadegh’s democratic government? With a monarchy! Why would the US commit an act that it would later apologize for? Well, for the same reason it has always futzed in the affairs with the Middle-East and other parts of the world, not to spread democracy but for full economic advantage, because of power and greed.
Let’s keep going with the history lesson. Iran’s new US-backed ruler Mohammed Reza Shah enjoys his throne, his American-trained secret police, the SAVAK, which kidnapped and tortured its dissidents, and unbridled corruption from start to finish. The Shah plunders Iran’s fortunes over the next quarter of a century, but that is okay for the West. Economic revival at the expense of democracy and personal freedom. What about his character? If the US supported him, he must’ve been a good guy. Right? Wrong. The Shah said once to a female journalist: “Women are important in a man’s life only if they’re beautiful and keep their femininity. You’re equal in the eyes of the law but not, excuse my saying so, in ability.” Doesn’t matter. The Shah’s rule meant economic gain for the US. Priorities, people. In Iran, however, the Shah’s corruption inspires vast widespread revolutionary fervor. Understandably so! Their symbolic leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, returns from exile in Paris and dethrones the Shah.
And the rest is more recent history, which most people know of but without the above context.
Was deposing Mossadegh a “diplomatic solution”? Absolutely not.
If the Bush administration wants diplomacy with Iran, Iran has welcomed it for quite some time. Iran sent a letter to Washington in 2003 shortly after we invaded Iraq. It was an offer from Iran to help stabilize Iraq and end its military support for Hezbollah and Hamas! The U.S. State Department was open to the offer. What happened? As this Washington Post article goes on to say, as soon as the letter got to the White House, as soon as it got to the vice president’s office, the old mantra of ‘We don’t talk to evil’ reasserted itself. Dick Cheney flatly rejected the proposition. Again, we turned our backs on Iran.
By that, should we believe Condi Rice when she says the US wants a diplomatic relationship with Iran?
No. The government lies.
What does the US really want? Why impose these sanctions and isolate Iran even more from the rest of the world? Because Iran sponsors terror? Maybe, maybe not. According to our own definition of state-sponsored terrorism, the US is positively guilty of many acts of state-sponsored terror of its own. I will support that argument when the US stops toppling other governments and installing monarchs and dictators.
What are the sanctions really about? The nuke issue? Somewhat. Iran is more than 10 years away from ever building a nuke. There’s time to talk. And by the way, who would their possessing a nuke affect? The US? No. Israel? Yes. Who is lobbying for the invasion and destabilization of Iran? Answer: The very powerful Israeli lobby. Why else undermine Iran’s nuclear development? Iran’s nuclear powerplant built 30 years ago but still unopened is lucrative for the Russians for many years to come, if it’s ever to get up and running, and will set the stage for future Iranian-Russian cooperation. Imposing sanctions, however, will slow down that process, which might explain why Mr. Putin has not supported the sanctions.
What other unspoken motivation is there for the US to impose sanctions? Oil. Ah, the oil. According to this article: “Iran houses the second-largest pool of untapped petroleum in the world, an estimated 125.8 billion barrels. Only Saudi Arabia, with an estimated 260 billion barrels, possesses more; Iraq, the third in line, has an estimated 115 billion barrels. With this much oil — about one-tenth of the world’s estimated total supply — Iran is certain to play a key role in the global energy equation, no matter what else occurs.” Consider also: “Iran also sits athwart the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway through which, daily, 40% of the world’s oil exports pass. In addition, Iran is becoming a major supplier of oil and natural gas to China, India, and Japan, thereby giving Tehran additional clout in world affairs. It is these geopolitical dimensions of energy, as much as Iran’s potential to export significant quantities of oil to the United States, that undoubtedly govern the administration’s strategic calculations.” If the US topples the current regime in Iran, it secures its place first in line for Iranian oil. In the meantime, government officials are doing their best to prevent other countries from doing business with Iran. Stave off competition until we get a foothold. Sound possible? Sound ludicrous? I think so. But governments are not rational entities and seldom admit their actual intents.
While it remains hazy why we’re letting our leaders impose new sanctions on Iran, consider who this is going to affect. The Tehran elite? No. It will affect Iran’s people. With new sanctions forbidding our allies from investing in Iranian banks and therefore in its oil industry, which is most vulnerable to sanctions, it would be a tough blow. Sanctions might also inflame anti-US sentiments not only among Iranian people but among people in the Middle-East as well.
These sanctions are entirely counter-productive. Nor does Iran deserve the constant demonization that our government and this current administration has churned out on a regular basis. They are typically half-truths and hypocritical accusations meant to distract us from the real reasons we are trying to break Iran.
In his article on economic sanctions against Iran, William O’Beeman concludes the argument well: “The lesson that the Bush administration refuses to learn is that Iran will not respond to pressure. The only route to Iranian cooperation is face-to-face dealings with no preconditions, where Iran is treated respectfully as an equal partner. This proposition sticks in the craw of the Bush administration—to the point where the irrational call for military action becomes preferable in some quarters.”