Emergency Labor Network
No War, No Sanctions, No Bombing Iran!
Second in a Series on Key Issues in 2012
Iran poses no threat to the U.S. It has initiated no aggressive measures against the U.S. It has not sent its navy into the Gulf of Mexico in order to flaunt its power. It has not imposed crippling economic sanctions against the U.S. that punish the civilian population first and foremost (in Iraq, economic sanctions resulted in the deaths of over 1 million civilians). It is not engaged in the production of nuclear weapons (the U.S. has about 5,000). And it has not affirmed the right to launch a military attack against the U.S. or any other country.
By contrast, the Obama administration, supported by Congressional Democrats and Republicans, has imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran and sent the U.S. Navy into the Persian Gulf within artillery range of Iranian naval installations on the island of Qeshm. The U.S. government has also threatened Iran with military action, with President Obama warning, “No options are off the table” and following up with “I don’t bluff.”
The danger of a U.S.- Iran war is very real. If it happens, the consequences will be horrific: Thousands of people killed; several times that number experiencing loss of limb, eyesight, and permanent psychological damage; vast destruction of homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure; tens of billions of additional dollars diverted for military spending; and oil prices skyrocketing out of orbit, dwarfing what we are already paying at the pump.
Some of the loudest voices screaming for yet another war are the very ones telling us there is not enough money right now for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other vitally needed social programs. But if that is the case, where will the money come from to fund a war against Iran?
Many in the U.S. administration and media condemn the human rights record of regimes in Iran and Syria. Meanwhile they support and carry out the arming and financing of the bloody sultans, dictators, and military juntas in Yemen, Bahrain, and Egypt. So why is the U.S. threatening war against Iran?
The sanctions against Iran are intended to impoverish its workers and the general public, and to deprive the country of the goods and services essential to sustain life, all in the hope that the people will overthrow the repressive Iranian government or that Iran will be weakened to the point that it can no longer defend itself against a military assault from outside.
But it is solely the job of the Iranian people to deal with their government, not outside forces. And given the scope of the sanctions, they constitute a blockade and are an act of war against Iran, all in violation of well-established international law (see Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions – 1977 Part IV, Section 1, Chapter 111, Article 54). We therefore demand an end to these illegal and inhumane sanctions; sanctions designed to destroy the standard of living — and the very lives — of the Iranian people, and bring Iran to its knees.
The accusation is that Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons, a charge that the Iranian government denies (and note the February 25, 2012 New York Times front page article titled “U.S. Agencies See No Move By Iran To Build A Bomb”). In fact, the Iranian nuclear program is a continuation of a program to build nuclear plants to generate electricity, which began with Washington’s blessings when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was on the throne in Iran prior to 1979. At that time, Iran was armed to the teeth with American-made weapons and an American-trained army, navy, air force, and secret police. Iran was also engaged in border hostilities with Iraq, with almost daily artillery exchanges during the 1970s.
In the thirty-three years since the Iranian people overthrew the monarchy, the United States has threatened war on Iran almost without interruption. During that time, however, Iran has actually fought only one of its neighbors: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which attacked Iran in 1980 with the complete support and encouragement of the Carter administration and later of the Reagan administration. The cost to both countries in that war in lives and economic resources was incalculable. Since then no accusation of Iranian meddling in the affairs of its neighbors has been made to stick.
The U.S.-backed state of Israel, which has increasingly become a loose cannon in international affairs, has made clear its desire for military action against Tehran. At the moment, there are far fewer voices for restraint in Tel Aviv than there are in Washington and the immediate threat of war comes from Israel. It is important to emphasize that Israel has nuclear weapons – in fact hundreds of them – and refuses to allow IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors into the country.
Even though there is no conclusive evidence that the Iranians are working on developing a nuclear deterrent, could anyone blame them if they did? All civilized people look forward to the day when nuclear weapons no longer exist anywhere in the world. But in the meantime, the people of Iran have the right to defend themselves from external aggression by any and all means. Of course if the U.S. government spoke out firmly and publicly against an Israeli strike on Iran, the chance that Israel would proceed unilaterally would be far less likely.
On February 4, 2012, people in 80 cities throughout the United States took to the streets to demand, “No War on Iran!” We must make sure that this is only the beginning and that we continue with an ongoing and massive campaign to demand that the United States and its allies keep “Hands Off Iran!”
- Adoption of resolutions by unions and community groups opposing a war against Iran.
- Forums and town meetings underscoring the cost in blood and treasure that would result from a war against Iran.
- Letters to the editor and use of other publications and the social media to spread the antiwar position.
- Formation of broad-based local and regional coalitions demanding no war or intervention against Iran.
- Unity of the antiwar movement in calling for massive antiwar demonstrations across the country to prevent the outbreak of war against Iran.
Consider what it would mean if the labor movement today had its own independent political party, supported by tens of millions of its allies among unorganized and low income workers, the unemployed, communities of color, students and other youth, the women’s movement, immigrants, and other progressive sections of the population. Instead of a foreign policy driven by the transnationals, with their insatiable pursuit of maximum profits — which underlies U.S. wars, occupations and gigantic military appropriations — we could have a policy which respects the right of all countries to self-determination so that they could settle their own destinies.
Such a policy would enable the U.S. to spare countless millions from the horrors of war and destruction, and allow the redirection of military spending to meet human needs. And such a policy could advance the cause of international solidarity among workers throughout the world instead of the policy currently in place that results in workers of different nations warring against each other for the benefit of the 1%.
Isn’t it time for those of us in labor to be seriously discussing the establishment of a working class party which advances policies that will help ensure a world at peace and an end to unjust and undeclared wars?
For more information about the Emergency Labor Network, visit www.laborfightback.org.