Statement by the Chicago Anti-War Coalition
The world is in great danger because of the U.S. government’s threats and actions against many countries around the globe. These threats can too easily result in horrendous and unjustified bloodshed, and even to nuclear world war. The American people must hold the President and members of Congress accountable for planning, financing, and carrying out aggression against countries which have not attacked the U.S. We need to organize together to repel these threats and actions.
One of the key countries that the U.S. government has been bullying is Iran. This includes threats of regime change as well as imposing sanctions. These sanctions include blocking Iran’s export of oil, which is basic to its economy. The U.S. has stated it will punish any governments, or corporations which do not honor the U.S. sanctions.
The government of Iran has made clear it will resist all assaults, including threats on its right to trade with other countries without U.S. interference. Governments of some countries such as China, Russia, Turkey, India, the European Union, Britain, France, and Germany have said they will take steps to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran, including on its export of oil. As a result, the Trump Administration has announced that it will grant waivers to these 8 on the import of Iranian oil, but just temporarily.
Here are some recent events that have led to the current developments. These events are examples of U.S. arrogance in relations with a nation that does not do the bidding of the U.S.
U.S. predatory interests in Iran go back to at least 1908, with the discovery of oil in Iran. We’ll review that history later in this Statement.
- On May 8, 2018, the Trump Administration withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement with Iran, even though Iran has been fully complying with its requirements. The Trump Administration complained that there were not enough restrictions on Iran, and demanded additional restrictions, such as on Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is not covered by the agreement.
- The U.S. government then increased threats and actions against the government of Iran. It intensified demonization of Iran, escalated economic war, and revealed it was taking steps to target specific Iranians and to overthrow the government of Iran.In August, the U.S. government re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran to prevent it from importing needed goods from U.S. corporations such as airplanes and parts, and metals such as gold, aluminum and steel. In addition, the U.S. imposed sanctions preventing U.S. imports of carpets, pistachios and other foods from Iran. The U.S. blocked Iranian transactions in U.S. dollars, the main currency used in international trade, thereby impeding Iran’s relations with foreign banks. And the U.S. said it would sanction banks in countries doing business with Iran.• In early November, the U.S. imposed additional sanctions to try to prevent Iran from exporting any of its oil. And the U.S. has threatened to sanction any country which imports oil from Iran, except for those 8 countries given temporary waivers. Trump is demanding that these countries not pay Iran directly but deposit the money in escrow accounts controlled by the U.S.• The U.S. government revealed it is actively supporting opposition forces inside Iran to overthrow the current government. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer and advisor, even says the U.S. has chosen a candidate to come to power, Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group which has taken up many actions at the behest of the U.S.• Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted in August, “We must see major changes in the regime’s behavior both inside and outside of its borders…We are committed to a whole-of-government effort to change the Iranian regime’s behavior.”Pompeo said the U.S. will “track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and we will crush them.”
• The U.S. says it will keep troops in Syria until Iranian forces leave. But, Iran has been invited by the Syrian government to help it defeat the opposition forces recruited, trained, and armed by the U.S. government.
Many people want to know: Why is the U.S. targeting Iran? The answer includes:
James Jeffrey, a special representative of Secretary of State Pompeo assigned to Syria, testified before the Senate Armed Forces Committee in January: “Russia and Iran…want to change the mix in the Middle East…We just have to push back.”
More specifically, U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said in a Pentagon briefing, “Iran … puts global political stability and economic prosperity at risk.”
In other words, Iran has been and remains a main obstacle to full control by the U.S. ruling class over the energy-rich and politically strategic Middle East.
Successive U.S. governments have long demonized Iran because of its political independence from the U.S. This demonization includes every U.S. administration since President Carter (1977-81). For example, in the early 2000s President Bush talked about Iran as part of “the axis of evil” in the world.
More recently, the U.S. is targeting Iran as part of its so-called “war on terror.” President Trump in his policy speech “On Iran Strategy” in October 2017 called Iran a “rogue regime” filled with “hostile actions” and “sponsorship of terrorism”— “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.” He claimed Iran is “continuing aggression in the Middle East and all around the world…spread[ing] death, destruction, and chaos…”
This demonization is turning truth on its head. It is the U.S. government which has been guilty of aggression and terrorism and violating international law against Iran and other countries. It is the U.S. government which is the chief terrorist and criminal actor, not Iran. In 1967 Martin Luther King pointed out during the U.S. war on Vietnam that the US government was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” This description of U.S. militarism remains unchanged.
The U.S. government has been in violation of international agreements and law ever since it signed on to them, including the United Nations Charter, the Nuremburg Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, etc.
For example, the U.S.’ repeated threats of attacking Iran and other countries are “crimes against peace,” which the Nuremburg Tribunal condemned as “the supreme international crime.” The U.S. has repeatedly violated international law which says no country has the right to attack another unless it has been attacked first.
Iran has exercised its right to self-defense against U.S. threats and bullying. It has said that, if necessary, it can block the Strait of Hormuz, through which 1/3 of the world’s oil is transported. It says it will retaliate if attacked, which is its right.
One question that many people raise is what can we do in a situation like this?
The Chicago Anti-War Coalition (CAWC) thinks one important step in working toward a solution is to develop Statements and flyers about particular areas of the world or specific countries, to influence public opinion by publicizing all that is involved in endless U.S. wars:
In the current two-party system, Americans get to vote for Republicans or Democrats whose campaigns are financed by the rich. Then members of Congress authorize funneling 62% of our discretionary federal taxes to go to war profiteers, such as bankers who get billions in interest from the government from loans that are used to finance wars. These loans are used to pay corporations like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Raytheon to manufacture war materials which are used to force other countries to surrender their natural resources to the petroleum industry and other corporations.
Working people pay for U.S. aggression, not only from misuse of our taxes, but also from erosion of our moral values, through activities such as training our impoverished youth to kill people who are not their enemies.
We can educate the public and influence public opinion. We need to encourage working people to strongly oppose the criminal aims of the U.S. ruling class. Counter military recruitment is one important form of resistance.
The Long History of U.S. Designs on Iran
The U.S. ruling elite aims to build the American Empire, to control other countries for profits and power for the 1%. U.S. imperialist crimes against Iran are not recent occurrences. The U.S. has long had imperialist ambitions to control the Middle East in general and Iran in particular— part of the larger context of the U.S. government’s aims to control the whole world.
If we recognize the imperialist nature of the U.S. ruling class, and help others to also recognize it, our path of opposition will likely be made clearer.
There is an untold history of U.S. ruling class aims:
For example, it is an important but often untold story that the aim of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. was to have an American Empire. Correspondence by many of the Founding Fathers, Washington, Jefferson, Adams among them, demonstrates the imperialist intentions of the nation’s rulers dating back to the earliest days of the republic.
U.S. political and business leaders increased the long-time use of force to kidnap African slaves to accumulate the wealth needed to continue expanding westward under the banner of Manifest Destiny. Part of this was the takeover of Native American territories, attempted decimation of their cultures, and genocide, with the slaughter of more than a million indigenous people.
The U.S. government proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 to warn European powers not to try to gain control of any part of the Western Hemisphere, as if the U.S. was the only imperial power that should operate there.
Through the war on Mexico in 1846, the U.S. rulers annexed 55% of Mexico, and then went on to intervene in Central and South America.
From the earliest years after the establishment of the U.S., the ruling class developed an aggressive naval force to expand its power around the world and gain profits for U.S. companies.
For example, the early U.S. Empire went forth under the banner of “free trade.” It pushed its way into the part of the Ottoman Empire in North Africa known as the Barbary Coast using U.S. Marines. Fittingly, the Marine Corps Anthem says, “From the Halls of Montezuma [Mexico] to the shores of Tripoli [Libya], we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea.” “Our country’s battles” had nothing to do with defense, and everything to do with aggressive moves with aims such as to open lucrative markets for U.S. trading companies in North Africa. By 1815, Mediterranean-U.S. trade accounted for 20% of U.S. foreign trade.
Increasing U.S. Focus on Iran and the Middle East
The U.S. ruling class’s particular interest in Iran began after the discovery of oil there in 1908, a find that turned out to be the third largest single reserve in the world, an irresistible opportunity for U.S. oil corporations.
The Middle East has been a particularly key target for the U.S. since it contains half of proven petroleum reserves, accounts for 1/3 of oil production and exports, and has some vital oil transit chokepoints such as the Strait of Hormuz, adjacent to Iran. China, India and Europe are highly dependent on Iran’s oil. So, naturally, the U.S. superpower would like to control what its competitors depend on.
When Britain weakened as an imperial power after World War II, the U.S. stepped into its place in the Middle East, with control of oil and strategic positions being of key importance.
In 1951, after Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mossadegh got a vote from the Iranian parliament to nationalize the British-owned oil industry in Iran, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, with the aid of the British secret service (MI6) and the elements of the Iranian military forced Mossadegh from office by organizing a coup in 1953. They returned Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi to power. “The Shah” ruled the country in the interests of the U.S., against the interests of Iran’s population. Over the next 26 years, he ruled in a brutal manner, arresting opposition activists, many of whom were tortured and killed. The Iranian revolution in 1979 forced him into exile.
After the Iranian Revolution, Iran’s oil was no longer available for U.S. exploitation. And the new Iran refused to give in to U.S. pressures. Because Iran’s resistance is a barrier to the expansion of the U.S. Empire, successive U.S. governments have tried to destroy Iran’s independence:
- Democratic President Jimmy Carter declared in his Carter Doctrine in 1980 that the U.S. would use military force, if necessary, to defend its “national interests” in the Persian Gulf, meaning attempting to dominate political decisions and open lucrative markets for U.S. corporations selling arms, cars and other products, and to ensure that the flow of oil for U.S. corporations would not be blocked.
- Shortly after the Iranian Revolution, the U.S. incited the government of Iraq to attack Iran, in 1980. This war lasted 8 years, resulting in 500,000 Iranian deaths and injuries to as many more. The U.S. supplied weapons to Iraq, that reportedly included the chemical weapons that Iraq later used on Iran. The U.S. initially supported Iraq with weapons and intelligence, then gave support to Iran and later again supported Iraq. This policy is sometimes referred to as “dual containment.”
- Some of the terms of the Algiers Accords agreements (1981) which have not been kept by the U.S. government: to not intervene in Iran and to return all of Iran’s financial assets seized by the U.S.
- In 1988, a U.S. missile cruiser shot down an Iranian commercial airliner, killing the 290 people (all civilians, including 66 children) aboard. Initially the U.S. government tried to cover over its crime with lies: that the Iranian airliner was a military plane, that the airliner was flying outside the agreed on corridor for civilian airliners, and that the U.S. ship was in international waters. In fact, the U.S. ship was in Iranian national waters and the airliner was easy to identify as a civilian plane. Adding insult to injury, the U.S. arrogantly awarded a medal to the missile officer for his bravery!
- More recently, the U.S. has included in its attacks, the introduction of viruses into the Iranian computer systems, assassinations of key scientists, and encouraging anti-government uprisings among various ethnic groups in Iran, including efforts by agencies of the U.S. government such as the National Endowment for Democracy and the CIA.
When Iran had a nuclear program, the U.S. insisted that Iran submit to a severe series of restrictions, sanctions, and inspections regarding nuclear development, including low-level development that is clearly legal under international law.
- Both the U.S. and Israel have repeatedly threatened nuclear attacks on Iran. Democrat Hillary Clinton threatened she was ready to “totally obliterate” Iran if she were elected President and decided to take such action.
Today the Iranians continue to make it clear they will be active in fighting against U.S. sanctions, military attacks, subversion and against threats by the U.S. or the close allies of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Please join with the Chicago Anti-War Coalition to expose and oppose the endless aggressions by the U.S. government’s war machine that serves the rich, and harms working people abroad and at home.
Today there is a dangerous myth that to solve problems we should simply vote against Trump. But, is there a Democrat, or Republican, waiting in the wings, who claims that s/he will stop using our human and financial resources for endless aggression, and establish a peace economy?
When has there ever been a U.S. president or a member of Congress who opposed spending the American people’s resources for U.S. imperialist expansion into other people’s countries?
We need to build a political force that is independent of these war parties, a force for peace and justice. A force that declares: No attacks against Iran. No aggression against any country (bribes, threats, sanctions, intelligence gathering, supporting opposition groups within a country, drones, bombing, invasions, attempts at regime change). Oppose all U.S. wars, at home and abroad.
Oppose All U.S. Government Threats and Attacks on Iran! Hands Off Iran!
No More Wars for U.S. Empire!