Friday, February 09, 2007

Readings on Iran

As it increasingly appears that the United States is gearing up for an attack of some kind against Iran, it's important to remember that, as with the attack and ongoing occupation of Iraq, such an attack would be wholly unjustified, whether in law, morality, or logic.

Why would we attack Iran? We are of course fed an ever-shifting array of pre-emptive justifications: Iran is developing nuclear weapons; Iran is a threat to Israel; Iran is aiding the Iraqi insurgency; Iran is led by a religious fanatic. Etc. In an excellent post at American Leftist, Richard Estes puts it thus:
There is a thread that ties all of [these] themes together, and that is the necessity to conceal the fact that a US attack upon Iran will be unprovoked and unjustified. A frightening corollary is the recognition that Iran may therefore legitimately target any country, any institution and any people around the world that facilitate this attack. Concealment of these extremely unpleasant insights requires something more, however, the burial of the history of the US, and the West generally, in regard to Iran for the last 100 years. [italics in the original post]
He then proceeds to sketch out the details of that history. Go read the whole thing. (I think that too many Americans, generally not the least bit acquainted with this history, are all too ready to accept some of the scaremongering propaganda, in large part because of the hostage crisis in the wake of the Iranian Revolution of the late 1970s.)

In a post about the escalation of the air war in Iraq, Lenin concludes:
The escalation in the Iraq war comes as further aggression is threatened, this time against Iran. When it comes, I am certain it will be a brief, but destructive air war. The ironies are too numerous to enumerate. One is that it is an axis of aggressive states that accuse Iran of aggressive designs. Another is that it is an axis of nuclear states that cries foul about Iran's alleged plans for nuclear weapons. A third is that states which have explicitly pursued a sectarian strategy and in broad daylight, for those not too blind to see, sent death squads roaming across iraq, are now accusing Iran of the same. And when they threaten Iran, they will cite some UN resolution as if they held these things to be holy texts. UN resolution 2625, which prohibits even the threat of aggression, will not be so highly spoken of. Finally, various throw-away stories about the human cost of the regime in Iran will be purveyed and then dropped like sizzling carrion when the bombs have done their business. They may even, while strafing the cities with tonnes of explosives, have the nerve to lob a few food parcels out of the airplanes. Didn't someone say the age of irony was over?
Too often, I think, we talk about other countries as abstractions, and most of the scenes we see from the Middle East are of desert and destruction. So it's important to remember that Iran is a real place with real people living their lives. Lives that might not seem all that dissimilar to our own. Please click here to view a video of some images of Iran that may be surprising* (published by Lucas Gray; link via Another Day in the Empire).

*I say "surprising". I labored over this word. Why should it be surprising? I have to admit that my own mental picture of Iran has been heavily colored by the idea that it's in the "war-torn Middle East"--images from both Iraq Wars, back through recent years to Beirut in the Eighties and sketchy memories from the hostage crisis itself. As a result, upon viewing this video, I was struck by the greenery and the modern buildings and the cars. I should know better.

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