American Imperialism and the ‘war in Iran’

US presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton recently threatened an attack upon the Islamic Republic of Iran. As if instinctive human morals weren’t enough to dissuade her, it also seems that the Democratic candidate has learnt nothing of the controversies this kind of behaviour has sparked in the past, and she listed several reasons as to why she believes the invasion would be a justified one.

The invasion of Iran can only be described as US imperialism, something condemned not only by the socialist movement, but many people from across the political spectrum, and this action will likely be criticised not only internationally, by many in the United States as well. So, we have a smaller, largely impoverished country at the mercy of a larger capitalist giant, militarily threatening Iran for its own interests in the region. This is just the situation that unfolded in Vietnam and Iraq, and in neither example did it end well.

Yet to develop a better understanding of the situation, it’s important also to view Iran with the same critical slant. This is a country that operates as a reactionary theocracy, that employs an extremely backward and restrictive set of laws, and that doesn’t think it’s ridiculous to legally ban owning a dog, or, in certain universities, wearing bright clothes. This means that, in this case, we have an imperialist, capitalist power invading a reactionary, repressive state. Neither country occupies the moral high ground, and neither regime, in an ideal world, would receive my support.

I recently read an article called ‘Iran and the Chauvinism of American Media’, about reactions among the American public to Iran’s detaining of two US ships which entered its territorial waters, and the respective political situations (especially the media) in both countries. The article was posted on anti-imperialism.com, a far-left political blog similar to this one, and whilst I agree with its gist, I did feel that it expressed a tendency which I’d criticise: as part of a critique of US imperialism, it was as though they took to defending Iran. Not just the Iranian people, the victims of imperialism, but the Islamic Republic of Iran. If you’re endgame is communism, I think this kind of attitude is unproductive…

It is important to remember that, by Marxist logic, the revolutionary state (or, for that matter, the revolutionary) holds at heart the duty to spread the revolution worldwide. Thus, any country which falls short of the communist criteria is effectively an enemy, and should be allied with only as a means to an end. To support these states, therefore, betrays this central tenant.

Yet, in writing this, I am certainly not condoning the atrocities committed by American imperialism, and do not want to underplay their role in this scenario. As the previously-mentioned article reads, America ‘occupied two countries on opposite sides of Iran for more than a decade, extracting oil and other resources’ and imposed ‘imperialist economic sanctions since 1979’. It is obvious that these actions cannot be ignored, but to give active support to a reactionary administration should by no means be viewed as a desirable move.

This is why, when I say that in this potential situation I would defend Iran, it is purely because this way, I’m acting against a greater evil (Americah, or the ‘Great Satan’, as Ayatollah Khomeini called it). It is important not to call into the trap of sympathy, sympathy in this case meaning sympathy towards the state, rather than just those living there. To defend a nation such as Iran for any reason beyond tactical expediency is to turn your back upon the international revolution for the politics of petty centre-leftist internationalism.

9 thoughts on “American Imperialism and the ‘war in Iran’

  1. Dear Max,

    This is to wish you luck for the book launch. I’ve dipped into your blog
    and enjoyed reading it- good, lively and proactive. Keep battling, there
    will be many who appreciate what you write.

    With warmest good wishes,

    Ken Loach, filmmaker

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  2. Just seen the book; lovely production. I ll need several for your supporters and will buy them on Thursday. All admiration and thanks.

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  3. Hi Max, don’t know if you’ll remember me but I’m the step-daughter of Rachel (married to Robin, my father). We met a looong time ago when you must have been thirteen or so. Rachel’s been telling me lots about your blog (I lost the link ages ago, but finally got it again) and it’s so fascinating to read it (and your book! I’ve asked Rachel to buy me a copy next week) and your opinions. It’s so rare to find people our age who take an active interest in politics and world history, and just skim reading a page of your book proved your writing is rivalling that of fully-grown adults.

    Studying history at college, I have to say, is a rather biased view of things, no matter what the prospectus may have said. We’re currently studying Russia between 1900 and post-First World War and it’s amazing how the curriculum refuses to take more than one viewpoint. Blogs like these are just a goldmine for teenagers who need extra sources, that are actually informed and not biased towards Paul Milyukov or Lenin solely. Your posts are something thought-provoking to read with a cup of coffee and a pack of crackers, I have to say.

    I’m beating myself up for actually going through your blog so late on, but rest assured I’ll read as much as possible; for my own interest, not just gaining the high ground in class!. Thank you for taking the time to break the mould of typical teenage-pessimism with this blog, and I’ll make sure to take a look each Friday 🙂

    – Bethan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bethan, thanks so much for reading my blog – I’m really glad you like it! I was interested in your obsession with Korea, which I heard about through Rachel. I find (North) Korea/North Korean history really interesting. I’m not sure that this is completely accurate, but I also learnt the other day that in S. Korea, half the population have identical surnames – a random fact, but thought you might be interested (: Thanks for taking the time to read through the posts!

      Max

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  4. Hey max,

    Thank you so much for allowing me to come to your book launch this evening, can’t pretend I know anything about communism but with your book I feel like I am heading in the right direction! I got one for Alex and he has not put it down since we have got home. Congratulations on having suc a great book published!

    Lou

    Liked by 1 person

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