by William Skink
Within these here United States, the chatter surrounding the Iran deal is reaching fever-pitch. The collective freak-out of the GOP is the most useful instrument to keep the conversation corralled to the two party binary, where the GOP play the role reactionary warmongers frothing for military confrontation (to appease their racist base and even more racist allegiance to Israel) and Democrats play the role of reasonable diplomats, the adults in the room, so to speak.
The hubris and arrogance from both sides of this American conversation mask the extreme limitations of our national perspective. A few months ago, Ayatollah Khamenei made a fiery speech days after the Iran deal was signed, vowing to maintain Iranian opposition to US foreign policy in the region. Kerry was disturbed:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday vowing to defy American policies in the region despite a deal with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program was “very disturbing”.
“I don’t know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that’s his policy,” he said in the interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television, parts of which the network quoted on Tuesday.
“But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling,” he added.
Ayatollah Khamenei told supporters on Saturday that U.S. policies in the region were “180 degrees” opposed to Iran’s, at a speech in a Tehran mosque punctuated by chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.
At The Saker, Sayed Hasan has a piece (translated from French) titled Iran Deal: the Islamic Republic sticks to its guns. Here is how Hasan interprets Iran’s resolve to be a presence of opposition to the violent oppression of US foreign policy:
Sayed Khamenei also wished to reaffirm the inviolable principles of the Islamic Republic and its foreign policy, for which no compromise, no negotiations are even considered. The Iran/US dialogue stops at the nuclear issue and is not intended to extend to other issues. The hostility of Iran to the US government, considered “the heart of global Arrogance” is unconditional, as well as its hostility to the State of Israel: “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” will remain the fundamental slogans, constituting the very identity of the Islamic Republic and the Iranian people – and John Kerry should know that it is much more than mere rhetoric . In this way and predictably , Sayed Khamenei reaffirmed the unwavering support of the Islamic Republic to the oppressed peoples of the region, be it humanitarian, diplomatic and moral support for Bahrain and Yemen, or total support (economic, financial , military, etc.) for the countries and movements of the growing Resistance Axis – Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions of the Palestinian resistance. Moreover, Sayed Khamenei did not even make this distinction, simply speaking of ongoing – and obviously increasing – support to all.
Finally, Sayed Khamenei referred to the march of History by emphasizing the many mistakes and setbacks of the United States since the end of World War II, sure to be repeated. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, which is also the ultimate authority to which refer tens of millions of Shiite Muslims around the world, both in the East and the West – including Hezbollah, who consider him nothing less than the politic and religious leader of the Islamic Community as a whole – confirms that far from being an arch-conservative , as claimed by Western propaganda, he remains at the forefront of international political and social struggles, following the example of a country such as Cuba. This can be difficult to conceive of in the West, historically used to seeing “traditional” religious authorities, such as the Pope for the Catholic Church, have conservative and even reactionary positions on many international political and social issues and be committed to maintaining the established order and teaching resignation to the peoples. Yet, it truly is on Islam and in its name that the Islamic Republic bases its internationalist policy of fighting against oppression and helping the destitute, and Iran is without any doubt destined to play a leading role in the world of tomorrow.
Americans must be prevented from being exposed to this perspective. ISIS is the great evil, a new evolution of enemy sprouting from the violence and chaos we have unleashed, not some tool of US allies in the region.
Luckily, the fascist security state continues to move toward criminalizing dissent, making it less and less likely that journalists and academic scholars will risk their own freedom to inform the public:
When the U.S. Department of Defense published a new Law of War Manual (LOW) this past summer, editorialists at the New York Times sat up and took notice. Their concern was that the manual stated that journalists could be deemed “unprivileged belligerents.” The editorial explained that as a legal term “that applies to fighters that are afforded fewer protections than the declared combatants in a war.” In fact, it is far more insidious than that innocuous description.
Here is the manual’s definition: “‘Unlawful combatants’ or ‘unprivileged belligerents’ are persons who, by engaging in hostilities, have incurred one or more of the corresponding liabilities of combatant status (e.g., being made the object of attack and subject to detention), but who are not entitled to any of the distinct privileges of combatant status (e.g., combatant immunity and POW status).”
The key phrase here is “being made the object of attack.” For slow-witted New York Times editorialists, that means journalists can be killed as can any enemy soldier in wartime. “Subject to detention” means a journalist deemed an unprivileged belligerent will be put into military detention if captured. As with any enemy belligerent, however, if “capture is not feasible,” they would be killed if possible, by drone perhaps if in a foreign country.
These trends, pushed in earnest under Bush after 9/11, have continued, and in some instances, even accelerated under Obama. But that can’t be fathomed within the two party binary, especially by lesser evil Democrat cheerleaders promoting electing Democrats as the first step to righting the wrongs of imperial US intervention.
Sometimes one can find an honest statement about how the US operates abroad. At The Intercept, a short, two paragraph excerpt from a 2013 Washington Post article makes this surprisingly direct statement about what side of the security/Democracy divide Obama has chose to conduct US foreign policy. For context, the Post article is describing the Obama administration’s growing alliances with regimes in Africa known to be blatant violators of human-rights:
Human-rights groups have also accused the U.S. government of holding its tongue about political repression in Ethiopia, another key security partner in East Africa.
“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass,” acknowledged a senior U.S. official who specializes in Africa but spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Whereas other countries that don’t cooperate, we ream them as best we can.”
When you leave the bubble of American media you can see a bit clearer why America has no credibility when it comes to its criticisms of non-cooperating countries violations of human rights, because if you’re a cooperating country, you can go ahead and imprison, kill or torture whoever the state wants without repercussion.
When those who argue for an American led unipolar world, I hope they take into consideration the total absence of morals and values involved in conducting foreign policy. This is what those who wield power really think: fuck democracy and fuck human rights. Despite a more articulate Democrat in the White House, you’re either with us or against us is still the operating principle.
And we’ll get more of the same with Hillary or Bernie.