Friday, May 19, 2006


Reinventing the Wheel and the Coming Attack on Iran

Genocide seems to be something that our species have been at for some time. For example, new anthropological evidence suggests that while Native American peoples were victims of genocide following the arrival of Europeans in the “New World,” Native Americans themselves displaced, through genocide, the originally of African descent residents of the lands they settled. It is in this sense that the Nazi implemented genocide (The Holocaust) of European Jews during WW II is nothing unique. Many more Africans died during the Middle Passage to the so called “New World” than the Nazis were able to kill. What the events of the 20th century, from the carnage of WWI and II to the gulags of Stalin, the killing fields of Vietnam and on to Pol Pot's Cambodia and Gulf War I highlight is not the invention of genocide, but its perfection. The Nazis industrialized the killing process. Stalin's gulags represent a model for the genocidal totalitarian state. The Nazis cousins, the Americans, (can any serious knowledgeable observer doubt the relation, both historical and at present, between the USA and Nazi Germany) have virtualized the killing. A reinvention of the wheel? Hardly, just one that rolls along a lot more smoothly. So while Los Angeles gained some noteriety in the late 1980's and early 1990's (via its insipid gang wars) for its “drive by shootings,” the American military state has given us “fly by shootings” otherwise known as “shock and awe.” No need for nasty concentration camps, cattle cars or tedious record keeping; raining death and destruction from above without leaving the comfort of home is the American innovation in the art of mass killing. More than terrifying weapons of mass destruction, cruise missiles, so called tactical nuclear weapons, daisy cutter bombs, remotely controlled air drones and the like are typically American in their Lazyboy (of recliner fame) approach to warfare and genocide. The resort to war and the return of naked imperialism as opposed to the growing untenability of neo-colonialism is a surefire sign of an economic system attempting to keep it legs underneath it. Though history does not repeat itself or at least not in the same way, Capitalism's inherent contradictions leaves few options in overcoming the crisis that are forthcoming from the system's shortcomings. As in times past, it is war at both home (in the form of economic austerity and loss of civil and political freedoms) and abroad that the Capitalist class has turned to in order to stave off collapse.

If Capitalism's mantra is “grow or die” its caretaker's, militarism, motto is “attack or die. The rationale for the coming attack on Iran by the American hyper-State will no doubt include control of the Oil, defense of the dollar, protecting Israel and, the catchall reason, upholding US hegemony. However, imperialism is an integral part of Capitalism's schizophrenic personality. The US, being the leading capitalist state, cannot, in the end, act otherwise. The system is in crisis. Its bare cohesion is maintained in the US by, on one hand, the real estate bubble that is propping up consumer spending and, on the other, massive inflows, largely from China and Japan, of foreign capital that, so far, has permitted the continuing ballooning of the massive US trade and fiscal deficits. How long can this last without some correction? What will the correction look like? Well, the correction is here and it looks awfully like the correction of an earlier time. The same solution Germany and Italy turned to in the 1930s: war and imperialism. Rather than an anomaly, it is part and parcel of the logic of the system for states at the center to react to threats to the viability of the system by turning to military adventurism abroad. For the US, again, the leading capitalist state, this will allow it to divert attention from the gathering Katrina size economic storm with its accompanying steep class stratification at its center, bolster its weakening economic standing vis a vis the rest of the world and, most critically allow it, under the guise of fighting “the war on terror” to put the final pieces of the puzzle in place for a police state. It is no wonder that the US more and more with each passing day looks like a fascist state. Mussolini himself said fascism can be better defined as corporatism; the melding or joining of the corporation and the state. Clearly, this is what has happened in the US and what is really behind the push to attack Iran just like it was in the run-up to the attack and occupation of Iraq.

All this smoke being blown over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program is just that – smoke. Much of the liberal commentary, while warning off the US from attacking Iran, argues from the standpoint that Iran, even if it were after the bomb is still 5 to 10 years away or that doing so without the imprimatur of the UN would be against international law. For this reason it is imprudent to attack Iran now though, of course, perhaps not in the future. This is little more than American Exceptionalism (1) and racism all rolled into one. Obviously, Iran, has no less right to nuclear weaponry than the US who still stands as the only country to ever have used the devices, at present is brandishing these weapons left and right (especially against Iran) and even now, in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, is hard at work developing the next generation of these terrible weapons. It is also a bit peculiar (sic) that the Western (read white) countries object most strenuously when it is a black or brown, especially if non-Christian, country that aspires to join the nuclear club. Supposedly the mullahs (a term that acquires distinctly bigoted undertones in Western usage) are too wild eyed and irresponsible to be trusted with the bomb. Unlike the Western countries who reserve that privilege for themselves despite public pronouncements by at least a few of their number (the US and France), attesting to their sober and ponderous decision-making (sic), that they would seriously consider using nukes even on non-nuclear states!Getting UN approval is no bargain either since rather than upholding international law, the UN (owing especially to its undemocratic structure that allows any of the five permanent members of the Security Council to submarine any resolution or initiative arising out of the much more inclusive General Assembly) is little more than a nuisance to be thrown aside when in the way of one of the major powers or a rubber stamp faithfully nodding its head in approval of decisions already arrived at by them. The law, whether international or domestic, comes down to enforcement. Who is it that will enforce international law and rein in the two most egregious outlaws , the US and Israel, in the world today? For now, it seems that, much like the lead-up to WW II a policy of appeasement, at least by the European members of NATO, is being pursued in regard to an implacable US administration's drive toward yet another fiasco of a war. Iran would be wise to brace themselves because an attack is in the offing for reasons having to do with present day realities as well as because this what our species has somewhat reliably, even if not consistently, done in the past.

Instead of presenting self serving arguments against Iran's supposed quest for nuclear weapons that preserve American Exceptionalism and hegemony, commentators of all stripes would do well to argue for, in the short term, the restraining of the American juggernaut by the rest of the world, the complete elimination of nuclear weapons (they should never have been invented in the first place) and the construction of mass movements that can eventually overturn the Capitalist order so that its crisis inspired wars can be avoided from the get go. Otherwise, the question will remain for humanity, as Noam Chomsky put it, as one of hegemony or survival.


(1) American Exceptionalism is the notion held by many in the US that the country is a beacon onto the world. That it alone can stand above all others and serve as a model to others of a democratic society based on free market principles. In an earlier incarnation, when the US had not yet arrived at the top of the Capitalist order, American Exceptionalism was known as Manifest Destiny. The idea here is that God bequeathed the North American Land mass to white Europeans and that it was their destiny to build a strong nation that would one day stand above all others socially, economically, politically and, of course, militarily.

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