As US, British and French warships sail into the Gulf, Stop the War's national convenor Lindsey German writes on the need to campaign now to stop a war with Iran before it starts.
By Lindsey German
Stop the War Coalition
23 January 2012
The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln joins the flotilla sailing into the Strait of Hormuz, a few miles from the Iranian coast.
The European Union's decision to ban Iran’s oil imports -- accounting for a fifth of the total -- is an act of economic warfare aimed at weakening the regime. It is one of the toughest measures the world’s largest trade bloc has ever taken.
It is just one of the moves taken this year aimed to make clear that the western powers are going to keep turning the screw on Iran in ways which eerily echo the build up to war with Iraq nine years ago.
Other countries are being pressured to stop buying Iranian oil. US, British and French warships have entered the Strait of Hormuz, just a few miles from the Iranian coast. Britain has banned broadcasts by the English language Iranian television station Press TV. The United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is being sent back to Iran to "resolve all outstanding substantive issues".
The flotilla of US, British and French ships which has gone through the Straits of Hormuz is particularly provocative and can only heighten the danger of an incident leading to war, which may well be the intention of American and its allies, not least Israel.
This reckless and dangerous behaviour is being orchestrated and cheered on by a motley band, most of whom helped bring us the last war. They range from the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu to the Republican candidates in the US presidential elections.
Their attitude can be summed up in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine by Matthew Kroenig: ‘Time to attack Iran’ (for those who were in any doubt): ‘A carefully managed US attack would prove less risky than trying to contain a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic’.
This is the rub for those who have seen their warmongering in Afghanistan and Iraq ending, not in the reshaping of the ‘free world’, but in ignominy, chaos and misery for the local populations.
The net effect of the ‘war on terror’ and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein has been to strengthen the influence of Iran in the region. It is this that Israel and Saudi Arabia now want to combat, and they are urging their backers in the west to take action sooner rather than later.
To many who have watched the build up to previous wars over the past decade --and who have counted the cost in terms of human lives, destruction of societies and greater instability -- these latest threats sometimes seem too far-fetched to be true. Surely no one could be crazy enough to do this?
But there is a method in the madness.
A war with Iran would be the biggest war in the region so far, involving countries across the whole of the Middle East. Its outcome would be uncertain and bloody but its aim would be to destroy the regime in Iran, and any allies it might have, such as Syria.
It would have wider ramifications. The war against the Palestinians conducted by Israel would be intensified. Those marking the first anniversary of Tahrir Square would be sent a message that imperialism still rules in the region. The western intervention in Libya which overthrew Gadaffi last year will be consolidated.
A western attack on Iran -- or an Israeli one backed by the west -- would take the immediate form of an air strike against Iran’s nuclear power plants. But that would be the beginning of a war, not its end. There is every sign that the Iranians would fight back and that such an attack, far from weakening the regime would strengthen it.
If Iran does close the Straits of Hormuz, in response to the oil embargo, all bets are off. Oil prices could rise dramatically, further worsening the European economic crisis (hence the reluctance of Greece to back the embargo). If oil supplies are choked off the situation will deteriorate rapidly.
This month has seen the most dangerous escalation in the region since 2003. We all need to campaign as widely as possible to oppose the latest rush to war against Iran, perhaps the greatest lunacy so far in ten years of the 'war on terror'.
As part of this urgent campaign to stop the war on Iran before it starts, a protest rally will be held at the US Embassy in London on Saturday 28 January, called by the Stop the War Coalition and supported by Britain's biggest trade union Unite, among other organisations. Everyone who recognises the dangers we now face from political leaders with an insatiable appetite for catastrophic wars should aim to be there.