Editorial, Imperialism, Middle East

No US war on Iran • US out of Iraq and the entire Middle East

Trump’s drone strike in Iraq and assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani is an act of war against Iran. An all out war between the US and Iran seems imminent, which would constitute a huge escalation in global militarism. It would place millions of people’s lives at risk if such a nightmare were to materialize.

Blood on their hands

It is no secret that the US has a long history of intervention in the Middle East. Their legacy is anything but peaceful. In every invasion the US military has undermined democratically elected governments and installed tyrannical dictators in an effort to control the flow of oil and to contain its enemies. 

In 1953 the US and UK orchestrated the coup in Iran that overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossaddegh. In response to Mossaddegh nationalizing the oil industry, the US helped install the tyrannical and brutal regime of the Shah. Since the Shah’s overthrow the US war machine has spent the intervening decades trying to regain a foothold in the region, including backing the Iraqi invasion of Iran that led to the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. 

The list of crimes is long. The US and its allies have blood on their hands. This new push for war in Iran compounds the existing US-backed bloodshed throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This includes both major political parties’ ongoing support for Israel’s occupation and daily brutalization of the Palestinian people, its long-time backing of military dictatorship in Egypt, its ongoing wars in Yemen and Syria, and the devastation it has wreaked on Afghanistan.  

Another war

Trump has been itching for a confrontation with Iran his entire presidency. In 2018 he tore up the Obama-era nuclear deal and re-imposed harsh sanctions on the Iranian population. In April last year the Trump administration officially designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, an unprecedented move against a nation’s own military that even diplomats and the Pentagon had resisted. This led directly to the latest attacks. 

While some Democrats have spoken out about Trump’s saber-rattling, most of them voted for the military budget he is currently using in Iran and Iraq. With notable exceptions, the Democrats generally back the US war machine without criticism. Very few criticised the crippling sanctions on Iran. They are not opposed to war in general, just the clumsy way Trump goes about it. 

Solidarity with the people of the Middle East

Our rulers used lies to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq and we are still seeing the consequences of that crime. The US’s immiseration of Iraq created the conditions for organizations like ISIS to flourish. Every US-led intervention in the Middle East has made life worse and more violent for the people on the ground. 

This past year there have been mass protests against austerity, corruption and imperialism across the region, including in Iran and Iraq. The US attacks in Iraq against Iran have now made the task of building these democratic movements much more difficult. The only way the people of the Middle East can decide their own fate is with the full withdrawal of US troops and an end to all wars. 

Anti-war movement

In 2003 millions of people in the US and across the globe demonstrated against the US-led war on Iraq. We weren’t able to stop it, but today the US left is stronger than it was then, with tens of thousands of people openly calling themselves socialists. The Democratic Socialists of America’s statement against war on Iran is a welcome and necessary contribution, as are Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar’s vocal opposition since the drone strike in Iran. 

It is essential that we all do our part by organizing large protests to force Trump and his friends to back down from a conflict that will most certainly have horrific consequences in the Middle East and beyond. Already thousands of people have demonstrated around the world and in different US cities. On Saturday January 4 there were marches and rallies in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Portland and Los Angeles. We must all join together in the streets to demand:

  • No US war on Iran 
  • US out of Iraq and the entire Middle East
Feature image by Martin Berg, 1/4/2020