ALAI, América Latina en Movimiento
Considering the threat of an Israeli attack on Iran
One does not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to reveal the fact that the United States and their allies, whether or not these are members of NATO, have abandoned all pretence and have fully adopted the arrogance of the old colonial powers, who arm fundamentalist and terrorist groups in order to provoke civil wars that justify already planned military intervention, as happened in Libya and is happening now in Syria.
In this context it is necessary to analyze the threat of an imminent Israeli attack to destroy Iranian nuclear installations. The Argentinean writer Juan Gelman concludes his well-documented analysis in Página 12 (Obama, Iran, 19 August 2012): "What is certain is the absence of any immediate threat and the nuclear superiority of both the US and Israel, which makes it impossible to justify an attack on Iran. Lieutenant General Ronald Burguess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), declared before a Senate Commission that it 'is improbable that [Iran] would initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict or launch a preventative attack' (http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/02/16/10427563-iran-unlikely-to-provoke-conflict-us-official-says?lite). Given this, why war? Or is it again a question of oil?”
Capitalism without a future looks to the past
Since the unipolar world that emerged from the implosion and breakup of the Soviet Union we have seen the global imposition of neoliberal capitalism which is dominated by the oligarchy represented by finance, the military-industrial complex, and the oligopoly of the mass media, among other sectors.
But five years ago, with the great Recession that began towards the end of 2007, this system was faced with a structural crisis, for which there may possibly be no solution, and which had been fermenting for a long time, which manifests itself in the developed capitalist economies in an uncontrollable over-production accompanied by a massive crisis of unemployment, which in turn has threatened the ability of the masses to consume.
This is not a situation parallel to previous crises, when a partial or total reestablishment was attained and the capitalist system emerged reinforced, stronger and more powerful than it had been.
In reality the principal economies of the capitalist world are unable to emerge from a situation characterized by low growth rates that tend towards stagnation, as is the case with the US, Canada, Japan and other countries, or which have fallen into recession through policies of austerity, as is the case with many countries of the European Union.
Both in the United States and in the European Union official statistics (1) confirm that we are far from recuperating the situation before 2008 with respect to production, employment, wages and consumer spending. In the European Union the statistics of Eurostat make it evident that the economies of various countries are in recession or stagnation, and that those which still grow (such as Germany) are doing so much more slowly. Unemployment rates in the US and the EU are very high, frankly alarming when one looks at youth unemployment. Suicide rates have exploded because of the increase in unemployment, as the journalist Ariana Eunjung Cha has noted (Washington Post, 14 August 2012).
As was the case in early crises of liberalism, both in the 19th and the 20th centuries, the collapse of the liberal system is accompanied by a return to the most brutally elemental forms of capitalism in order to capture markets and natural resources, threatening nationalisms and wars to occupy territories. In a word, this is a question of the colonialist scramble alluded to by the late Hannah Arendt (3).
The Israeli threat to attack Iran
This is the context for the threat of the Israeli government to attack Iran, after having intervened in Syria.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak, made it known that they want to attack Iran before the US elections of November 2012, according to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. There was no denial of this, and to confirm this with measures on the ground, Israeli authorities inaugurated preparations for civil protection against eventual Iranian retaliation.
In a speech at a breakfast organized by the Bloomberg Agency, in mid-August, the Ambassador of Tel Aviv in Washington, Michael Oren, said that "would be willing to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, even if doing so only delayed its ability to produce nuclear weapons for a few years." But, according to Oren, before an attack on Iran is feasible, it will be necessary to deal with Syrian chemical weapons, a theme that is the object of "serious consultations" with the US. “The situation in Syria is highly fluid, highly flammable,” he said, so much so that Israel may have to deal with its northern neighbor’s chemical weapons before any confrontation with Iran. “If you had to assign a clock to” Syria, Ambassador Oren said, then “that clock is ticking.”
According to Oren “diplomacy hasn’t succeeded. We’ve come to a very critical juncture where important decisions do have to be made.” (See: "Israel would strike Iran to gain a delay", Oren says. Bloomberg News, 16 August 2012).
At the same time three former directors of intelligence services of Israel, according to the daily Haaretz (4) alluded publicly and "innocently" to an attack against Iran before the November elections in the US.
This is not the first time that the Israeli government has, with or without agreement from Washington, attacked real or supposed nuclear installations. With support from Washington, in 1981 Israel attacked Iraq to destroy the nuclear reactor Osirak, which involved French technology (the same that France supplied to Israel so that Israel could develop nuclear capability), and in 2007, without consulting Washington according to some experts, bombed installations in Syria that Tel Aviv claimed were part of a plan to develop nuclear weapons, something that Syria always denied.
Some of the influential "analysts" from US intelligence services, who engage to create a "state of opinion" in the media monopolies, such as George Friedman of Stratfor (5) have expressed serious doubts as to the rationality of an Israeli military attack to destroy Iranian nuclear installations.
Israel, an example of the future that threatens us
According to Yakov Rabkin, historian and professor at the Université de Montréal (6) the origins of the creation of the state of Israel do not come from the Jewish tradition, but rather from nineteenth century British colonialism.
In Interviews for ALAI (7), which I shall cite fully because of their relevance at the present time, Rabkin noted that "Israel was the last one to line up for colonial conquest, and this Israeli colonialism is presented as part of a struggle for national liberation, based on the 14 points of President Woodrow Wilson, but at the same time Israel serves as a vanguard of a new epoch, in which white countries, of European origin, face off against other countries."
This is a vision shared by many Israeli intellectuals, including Sami Michael (8).
What is fundamental for Rabkin, is that Israel exercises a great influence over the US and the old European colonial powers because over the course of its existence it has "provided an example of how foreign and military policy can be conducted" and because "after the events of 11 September 2001 Washington is doing exactly what Israel has been doing for some time, under the colourless critique of the US", such as the policy of political assassination of opponents.
The historian points out that "the impunity with which the US is attacking objectives in sovereign countries appears to me to come from the Israeli example", and Israel is also an example when it is a question of the use of violence: "Since the Zionists came to Palestine they created facts on the ground with violent methods. Since World War II western countries, for various reasons, including decolonization and the cold war, had abandoned this practice at least part of the time. But Israel never abandoned such practices and in some way preserved the western 'impulse' to occupy, destroy and impose themselves."
For Rabkin what saved a great part of the world from colonial pillage after the end of World War II is the fact that "in the context of the cold war [the western powers] had to be seen to play the role of 'decolonization" and the rest in order not to 'lose' Africa and Latin America in the face of the Soviets. Now they have no need to restrict the use of force and violence."
This western "virus" of the use of force to overcome and colonize other peoples, as Rabkin notes, was preserved in this small country -- Israel -- and "now the virus is spreading. It is not of Israeli or Jewish origin, it is of European origin and was preserved in Israel, which functioned as a guardian of western values which are so agreeable to the king of Saudi Arabia, which is employing them for the repression in Bahrein."
Successive Zionist governments in Israel have imposed, through the overwhelming use of force against the Palestinians or others who attempt to help them, as Sami Michael has pointed out, the principle that the oppressed, the occupied people, have no right to oppose [the occupation] or to attempt to free themselves even -- as happened in Gaza -- when they attempt to celebrate free elections. And it is this principle that now serves as a guide, on a planetary scale, for the policies of US imperialism and that of their NATO allies.
The consequences of an attack on Iran
It is obvious that an Israeli attack on Iran would immediately result in multiple consequences on a global scale.
The consequences would be very serious, although even to look at the economic consequences of a closure of the Straights of Hormuz as an Iranian response, the Israeli writer and analyst Uri Avneri thinks that because of this there will be no attack. An Israeli attack seen by Iran as instigated by the US would trigger a serious response along these lines, as Teheran has made clear in recent days. The greater part of world petroleum passes through this maritime channel. Even the threat to close the Straights would send [oil] prices through the roof. And the result of eventual hostilities would be a world economic collapse, [not] with hundreds of thousands, but millions of new unemployed (9).
Avnery reaches this conclusion because he believes that prime minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Barack would not have cabinet and military establishment support to launch such an attack, and that in reality "Netanyahu's actions show that, for him, keeping the West Bank is vastly more important than the Iranian bomb.
Paul Craig Roberts, economist and undersecretary of the Treasure of the US (10) thinks, on the other hand, that “Netanyahu lusts for war against Iran. He strikes out against all who oppose his war lust. Recently, he called Israel’s top generals “pussies” for warning against a war with Iran. He has denounced America’s servile president Obama and America’s top military leader for being “soft on Iran”. And Craig Roberts said Netanyahu is not alone. He has the American neoconservatives in his corner. The American neoconservatives are as crazed as Netanyahu. They believe in nuclear war and are itching to nuke some Muslim country and then get on to nuking Russia and China. It is amazing that no more than two or three dozen people have the fate of the entire world in their hands”. Knowing the importance of the Zionist lobby in Washington, he adds that "The Democratic Party is helpless before them. The Republican Party is their vehicle”.
It is so astounding, paraphrasing Paul Craig Roberts, that the politicians and governments of the western world have not asked some fundamental questions regarding the policy of sanctions against Iran, at the instigation of Israel and the US, and continuing threats of an Israeli attack on Iran.
Questions without answers
For example, what would be the impact on the world economy of the "risk bonus" that could bring the price of crude oil to 120, 140 or 160 dollars per barrel at a time when the basic food prices have shot up because of serious drought in North America and Africa, as a catastrophic food crisis is in the making?
Who in the western capitals are concerned to evaluate an eventual collapse of the financial and banking system which is already insolvent, in the US and in the European Union, in the face of a world economic and commercial crisis that would be brought on by an attack on Iran?
What would be the reaction of China in the face of a cutting off of supplies of oil from Iran? How can one ignore the fact that Beijing could interpret such an attack as part of measures against China now contemplated by the US, from commercial harassment to the encirclement of military bases and fleets that already surround China?
There is also room to ask, as Paul Craig Roberts does, what would be the reaction of Russia, whose political leadership have reason to think that an attack on Iran could unleash a nuclear war. Or that the attack on Iran is to appropriate Iranian oil and natural gas and to establish a US military and energy control, as is already the case in some former soviet republics of central Asia, so as to impose an economic and commercial strangulation of Russia.
Emerging and developing countries would have good reasons for interpreting a military aggression against Iran, in the context of the recent intervention of NATO in Libya and now in a more subtle way in Syria, as the setting up of a colonial scramble to appropriate by force all the natural strategic resources, from oil, basic minerals and even fertile land and fresh water.
It is also worth asking what would be the impact in the Muslim world, in the medium and long run, of an Israeli attack on Iran, as well as the consequences of the support of western countries, of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for Sunni fundamentalists, including al-Qaida, in Libya and Syria, and the repression of the Shiite population in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Would this strengthen the position of Saudi Arabia and with this increase the struggle and acts of terrorism among Muslims and other religious groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and potentially in other countries where different religious groups are present, as in Africa?
The imperial goat returns to the wilderness
To appreciate the imperialist ambitions in the present situation it is necessary to note that in the brief historical period after World War II, which covered three decades and has been defined as "the good years" or "the glorious thirty years" because of socioeconomic gains in industrial countries and in some developing countries such as Latin America, this period was for the countries of Asia, Africa and Oceania "the era of de-colonization".
This historical situation, as Rabkin emphasizes, was the product of a correlation of forces at an international level, that is to say the impact of the Soviet Union which had defeated Nazism, occupied part of Germany and affirming its influence in Eastern Europe, the Chinese revolution, the military balance that led to the cold war and obliged western countries to "act as if they played the role of 'decolonization' and so forth, in order not to 'lose' Africa or Latin America to the Soviets" and in domestic politics to encourage redistribution of wealth through fiscal measures and support for unions in order to combat and to impede the advance of ideas and organization of the left.
Thirty years now in the west have been dedicated to destroying the "welfare era" and for a little more than two decades the Soviet Union has been dismantled. With respect to the "era of decolonization" in many cases this was an illusion replaced by neocolonialism, and worse, the culture, thought, and imperialist practice was never abandoned and continued to exist in the imperial countries.
This is substantiated by the attitude of the British government, the cradle of capitalism, free trade and universal imperialism on which the sun never set, towards the small country of Ecuador, which dared to offer diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. No half-measures! No, the traditional cannon shots in the threat to not recognize the diplomatic immunity of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the threat to invade it to capture a man who had revealed the secrets and dirty linen of the Empire.
With all this we are moving into an epoch that the Indian writer and essayist Pankaj Mishra describes as the "creative destruction" of neoimperialism that has ruined millions of lives in remote lands (11).
In other words, neoimperialism wants to return us to times when the objective was to occupy, destroy and dominate in order to loot the riches of subject peoples.
(Translation: Jordan Bishop for ALAI)
La Verdière, France, 2012-08-20
- Alberto Rabilotta is an Argentine-Canadian journalist.
The graphs of Eurostat on the grown of the GDP of the European Union, before the last trimester, are as follows: last trimester of 2011: -0.3%; first trimester of 2012: 0.0%; second trimester of 2012: -0.2%. Obviously Germany and the Nordic countries experience growth, but France already has three trimesters with zero growth.
See also the statistics on the fall of industrial production:
2.- For the US there is only one statistical measure of unemployment, that underestimates unemployment by presenting part-time employment as employment and does not include those who have left the labour market because they could not find work, so-called chronic unemployment.
In the US there are two official calculations: U3 is the monthly survey done on households and the official measure, which in July was 8.3%.; U6, which in July was 15 per cent, is the calculation of the bureau of labour statistics which includes as unemployed those who are without work, those who have lost hope of finding work and who cannot find permanent employment and work a few hours weekly; and SGS Alternate, which until 1994 was used to classify unemployment and was discarded in order to hide unemployment, and which at the present time is something like 24 per cent.
3.- See the works of Karl Polanyi, who studied the impacts of the crisis of liberalism in the 1930s and its consequences: The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Forward by Joseph E. Stiglitz. Boston, Beacon Press, 1944, 1957, 2001; and The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1958.
5.- The Israeli Crisis by George Friedman, STRATFOR http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/israeli-crisis
6.- Professor Yakov M. Rabkin is the author of A Threat from Within. A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism. Winniped/London, Fernwood Publishing/Zed Books, 2006.
9.- Uri Avnery, http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/17/striking-iran-mad-or-crazy/
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