Socialists and the US attack on Iran
With the assassination of Qassim Suleimani, the leader of the al-quds brigade, the Iranian elite unit, with an air raid at Baghdad International Airport, President Donald Trump declared the war to Iran as good as possible. The murder of Suleimani is very likely to lead to war, although it is still unclear how such a war will develop and what form it will take. How do American socialists determine their position in this new situation?
Against US imperialism
Firstly, we are opposed to the recent US government attack on Iran, the youngest of a series of diplomatic, economic and military measures against the Iranian government. The economic measures affect the entire population. In May 2018, Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear agreement with Iran. He then announced new economic sanctions against Iran in June and again in September 2019. This all built up the latest assault on Iran in the form of killing Suleimani. Now the Trump government has sent 3,000 extra soldiers to the Middle East. As socialists, we must resist the US diplomatic, economic and military pressure or attacks on Iran.
Trumps presidency has imperial features. He acted in an authoritarian and completely undemocratic manner in the way he waged the US at war. When he launched the attack on Iran, Trump did not ask the US Congress for a new War Powers Act, nor did he invoke the old War Powers Acts, which are now outdated. He did not even consult the leaders of the political groups in Congress. According to the American constitution, of course only Congress can declare war, even though since WWII Congress has consistently refused to take responsibility for declaring or refusing war.
Wars ultimately depend on the military budget. In July 2019, the Senate adopted the military budget with 67 votes to 28 votes and the House of Representatives with 284 votes against149 votes; this means that both Republicans and Democrats approved the funds for weapons and war. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders either voted against or did not vote on the latest military budgets by remaining absent, which of course speaks to his advantage.
For decades, Washington tried to secure its dominance in the Middle East, in particular the control of immense oil reserves. This meant invading Iraq, supporting dictatorial regimes, imposing deadly sanctions and providing diplomatic support and weapons to Saudi Arabia for its brutal war in Yemen and to Israel for carrying out multiple deadly attacks on Gaza. In its attempts to maintain a reactionary order, the US interventions caused disaster for the region and its population. We oppose US imperialism in all its economic and political forms.
The ‘Democratic Socialists of America’, of which I am a member, issued an excellent statement against the American attack on Iraq and organized a protest here in New York against the war against Iran at the home of Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, where we demanded that he also resist the attack. We should demand that all Democrats take a clear stand against a war against Iran, and not just on procedural grounds. We demand that every Democrat oppose a war. Those who do not should not receive any further political support.
No political support for the Iranian government
Our opposition to the US attack on Iran does not constitute any political support for Iran’s authoritarian, right-wing and theocratic governments. In Iran we are on the side of the movement for democracy, for political pluralism, civil rights and freedom. Within that democratic movement we stand on the side of the working class and socialist forces.
As the Alliance of Middle Eastern and North African Socialists writes : “In Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and other government forces brutally crushed the popular protests that broke out across the country on November 15 against raising gas prices. These protests demanded the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and an end to its military interventions in the region. According to Reuters, at least 1,500 activists were killed in four days. Between 8,000 and 10,000 predominantly young campaigners were arrested, most of them had not been heard since. Many political prisoners, including trade union activists, feminists and activists from oppressed national minorities, are still in jail for earlier protest movements. This movement and the revolutionary protests in Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Algeria,. ”
We oppose US imperialism but support the democratic forces in Iran, knowing that in the short term the attack by Trump on their government will make their duties more difficult, but that in the long term the war will increase the credibility and support of can undermine the Iranian government. As socialists, we will certainly support a political or democratic revolution in Iran, but we will resist any US intervention in such a situation.
Against the US and all other imperialist powers
As internationalist socialists in the US, the focus of our attention is on opposing the role of the US in the Middle East. At the same time, we oppose the interventions of other powers in the region. We oppose the Russian authoritarian ruler Vladimir Putin and his support for the Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad with the bombing of the province of Idlib, the last refuge of the Syrian opposition, including the bombing of schools and the killing of civilians, women and children. We must oppose the role of Saudi Arabia in the terrible destruction and massacres in Yemen and against Turkey, which is sending troops to Libya.
While we oppose the US attack on Iraq, we must also oppose the joint Iranian-Russian-Chinese naval exercises in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. Both Russia and China have shown their imperialist ambitions, Russia by stealing Crimea and China by its annexation of Tibet and its attempts to destroy the cultures of Tibet and the Uyghurs. China is also building new naval bases in the South China Sea to intimidate its neighboring countries.
In each of these situations, we as socialists oppose the major imperialist powers such as the US, Germany, France, Russia and China, as well as the regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We stand up for self-determination of all nations and peoples in the Middle East, such as the Yemeni people and the Kurds. We stand on the side of the democratic, and where they exist, the socialist movements, in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Everywhere we stand on the side of the working population against the tyrants.