Last week I wrote about how the U.S. helped create an organization of fanatical Islamists in Afghanistan—the Taliban. Later we engaged in a long and fruitless war against them, and now we’re going to turn the country back to them. What I find most intriguing, and saddest, about this turn of events is that we’ve done the same thing elsewhere, visiting death and destruction on nations that have never attacked us—like Vietnam and Iraq—and are on track to do the same to two more. I’m referring, of course, to Iran and Venezuela. Their major crimes are trying to be independent of U.S. corporate domination, and having lots and lots of oil.
The pattern is always the same: when a smaller nation tries to become independent of the empire, we impose sanctions to cripple the economy and orchestrate a coup if we can. The mainstream media repeats our government’s lies and beats the drums for war, saying we need to intervene to restore democracy and prosperity to the poor oppressed people. Then we invade and install a puppet government.
We are on the verge of invading Venezuela, even as I write. Venezuela has the largest petroleum reserves of any nation, 297 billion barrels. They elected a socialist government and are therefore our enemies. Saudi Arabia has an estimated 268 billion barrels, but they use the oil money to buy our weapons and slaughter the Yemenis, so they’re our friends. Iran has about 1/10 of the world’s oil reserves, 138 billion barrels.
Unfortunately, my fellow citizens lack historical memory and are easily propagandized into supporting such wars. I’ll be writing about Venezuela next week, but this week I’d like to give the reader a brief account of our recent history with Iran:
1951—Mohammad Mosaddegh appointed prime minister, institutes unemployment compensation and sick pay for injured workers, abolishes forced labor by peasants and—worst of all—nationalizes the oil fields so the bulk of the revenue would go to the Iranian people instead of the British-owned oil company.
1953—CIA coup overthrows Mosaddegh and installs the Shah, who governs with the help of the secret police, known for torturing and executing opponents of the regime.
1979—Iran Revolution overthrows the Shah and establishes a Shia Muslim theocracy. The new government favors other revolutionaries, such as the IRA in Ireland, Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, but does not support the Sunni Muslim mujahidin in Afghanistan.
That same year a group of Iranian students, outraged that the Shah was allowed to travel to New York for medical treatment, stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held its personnel hostage. The U.S. imposed crippling economic sanctions.
1980-1988—the U.S.-backed regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq invades Iran. An 8 year war ensues, costing an estimated 1,000,000 Iranian lives and 250,000-500,000 Iraqi lives.
1990—As a result of the war, Iraq is in heavy debt to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Those nations refuse to forgive the debt. Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait. The U.S. imposes economic sanctions on Iraq now, causing economic misery and costing the lives of 500,000 children, due to malnutrition and lack of medicine. When asked about the children, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright infamously said it was a hard price to pay, but “we think the price is worth it.” [We note that her children and grandchildren didn’t pay the price.]
1991—The U.S. invades Iraq. 25,000-50,000 Iraqis killed, 75,000 wounded, 80,000 made prisoner.
2003—The U.S. invades Iraq a second time, under the pretext that Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons exist. We destroy the Sunni Muslim government there. 70% of the Iraqi population is Shia and resented Sunni domination. They now look favorably upon Iran, which exercises considerable influence there.
Iraqi military and civilian violent deaths are anywhere from 288,000 to half a million—and still climbing. That doesn’t include deaths by malnutrition. Wounded? No one seems to know.
2015—Most sanctions against Iran were lifted when that country agreed to limits on its nuclear program.
2018—Trump decides to back out of our agreement and reimpose sanctions, despite reports that Iran has been in compliance with those limits. As in Iraq, the middle class and poor are hurt first, unable to buy enough food or medicine.
Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are pushing for war with Iran. The Saudis see Iran as a religious rival—Sunni vs. Shia—and an economic one, with respect to world oil markets. The Israelis see Iran as a military threat, since it supports Hezbollah, a militant Shia party in Lebanon. Interestingly, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been making secret deals. Israel, as is well known, has nuclear weapons though it won’t admit to them. And now it looks like Trump is about to sell nuclear technology to those champions of liberty and democracy, the Saudis.