Mr. Mousavi's Gas Embargo on Iran? By Robert Naiman

5 August, 2009 — MRZine – Monthly Review

In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran’s gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium.  A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran’s gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called “Israel Lobby.” But it’s a stupid idea.  Let us count the ways.

One: there is no indication that Russia and China will go along with it.  Even Europe is split, Reuters reports.  Turkey is also likely to be unenthusiastic — a country that has good relations with Iran, has a long border with Iran, and is currently on the UN Security Council.  A U.S.-sponsored gas embargo on Iran isn’t likely to have much impact if Russia, China, Turkey, and half of Europe aren’t cooperating — after all, it’s not the U.S. that’s exporting gas to Iran — unless it is imposed by force.

Two: Iran has threatened to retaliate against a U.S.-sponsored gas embargo by stopping its oil exports to the West.  There is a historical precedent that ought to give Americans and Britons some pause: when Britain wanted to punish the democratically elected Mossadegh government for nationalizing Iran’s oil, Britain imposed an embargo on Iranian oil exports, enforced by the British Navy.  Fine, Mossadegh said, we don’t care.  Let it stay in the ground.  When the embargo failed, the British tried to overthrow Mossadegh in a coup.  When that failed, the British asked the U.S. to intervene, and the CIA and British intelligence overthrew Mossadegh.  How does returning to the British colonialism script for Iran fit in with the whole outreach to the Muslim world thing?

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Left is wrong on Iran By Hamid Dabashi

18 July, 2009 —

Who are and who promoted these leftist intellectuals who question the social uprising of the people in Iran, asks Hamid Dabashi*

When a political groundswell like the Iranian presidential election of June 2009 and its aftermath happen, the excitement and drama of the moment expose not just our highest hopes but also our deepest fault lines, most troubling moral flaws, and the dangerous political precipice we face.

Over the decades I have learned not to expect much from what passes for ‘the left’ in North America and/or Western Europe when it comes to the politics of what their colonial ancestry has called ‘the Middle East’. But I do expect much more when it comes to our own progressive intellectuals — Arabs, Muslims, South Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. This is not a racial bifurcation, but a regional typology along the colonial divide.

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An Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement: How Should We React to the Events in Iran? by Phil Wilayto

8 July, 2009

The “Iranian people” have not spoken.

What’s happening in Iran today is a developing conflict between two forces that each represent millions of people.  There are good people on both sides and the issues are complicated.  So before U.S. progressives decide to weigh in, supporting one side and condemning the other, let’s take a little closer look.

Who Won the Election?

On June 12, 2009, nearly 40 million Iranians, some 85 percent of the electorate, cast votes for one of four presidential candidates.  The following day, the government announced that the incumbent, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had won 62.63 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a run-off with his leading rival, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, who was said to have received 33.75 percent of the vote (CNN, June 13, 2009).

“Before the vote count ended, Moussavi [sic] issued a sharply worded letter urging the counting to stop because of ‘blatant violations’ and lashed out at what he indicated was an unfair process” (CNN, June 13, 2009).

Mousavi denounced the results as a fraud and hundreds of thousands of his supporters poured into the streets of Tehran and other major cities to protest the election results.

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Azmi Bishara, "Iran: An Alternative Reading"

26 June, 2009 – MRZine – Monthly Review

Iran does not just have an authoritarian system of government, it has a totalitarian one. It is powerful, highly centralised, with sophisticated administrative and control systems, and it applies an ideology that claims to have answers for everything and that seeks to permeate all aspects of life. Instead of a political party and youth organisations, it relies on mass organisations, such as the Basij, that blend security with ideology and even with the benefit of broad sectors of the populace. It also depends on a broad and well-organised network of mullahs and on a politicised security agency and Revolutionary Guard. However, it differs from other totalitarian systems in two definitive ways.

Firstly, no other totalitarian system has incorporated such a high degree constitutionally codified democratic competition in the ruling order and in its ideology. Political competition is systematised in the form of regularly held elections in which rivals espouse different platforms within the framework of the agreed upon rules of the game, just as do political parties within capitalist frameworks. The difference between Democrats and Republicans in the US is not much greater than that between reformists and conservatives in Iran. Of course, these trends in Iran are not actual political parties, but then neither are the Republicans and Democrats, at least not in the conventional European sense. They are more in the nature of electoral leagues.

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