IF US President Donald Trump is to be believed for once, he aborted military strikes against Iranian targets on Thursday night with just 10 minutes to spare.
Informed by his officials that the anticipated body count would number around 150, he thought this a disproportionate response to Iran’s downing of an unmanned US spy drone almost certainly violating Iranian air space.
Unfortunately, what may have been a momentary outbreak of humanity does not guarantee peace in the region. The military build-up in and around the Persian Gulf continues unabated, with British special forces, naval vessels and attack planes joining thousands of US marines, hundreds of US strike aircraft and at least two US battle fleets based in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, British-ruled Diego Garcia and surrounding seas.
An astonishing array of aggressive force has been assembled with the intention of intimidating the regime in Tehran. The reactionary clerics there have gravely offended the world’s only superpower by pursuing policies in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Yemen which do not comply with the interests of US and Western imperialism.
In displays of staggering hypocrisy, US and British politicians and pundits accuse Iran of “meddling” in the affairs of neighbouring countries — as though for all the world the Western powers and their Arab and Israeli allies haven’t already bombed, invaded, occupied or otherwise destabilised one country after another over recent decades.
Clearly, as the latest fulminations from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton testify, powerful elements within US ruling circles are slavering for war.
It is not enough that intensified US sanctions are forcing millions of innocent Iranians into unemployment, poverty and hunger, to the evident satisfaction of Bolton and his buddy Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem yesterday.
US blood lust has not been fully assuaged.
Hence Bolton’s warning that Trump’s order not to attack was only temporary and that the world should “stay tuned.” If the US President is serious about seeking a peaceful resolution to this latest Middle East crisis, he could signify it by sacking Bolton whose past apologetics for death squads in Latin America should already have made him an international pariah.
For its part, the British government should stop parroting US propaganda about Iranian aggression, especially when the Japanese government is not convinced that the Tehran regime is behind the recent attack on one of its merchant ships in the Gulf of Oman.
The truth is that this latest conflict in the region has been militarised by the US and its allies following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the UN-backed “P5+1” nuclear energy deal between the US, Germany, France, Russia, China, Britain and Iran.
That deal has never been accepted by belligerent sections of the US ruling class and their clients in Israel.
Should these warmongers get their way, the result may well be yet another bloodbath in the Middle East. The struggle for democracy and social justice in Iran will be set back years if not decades. The forces of sectarianism and terrorism will find new recruits around the world.
Such a possible scenario underlines the urgent need for Britain to break from the US-Nato-EU military axis in order to pursue a foreign policy based on peace, social justice and solidarity with the oppressed and exploited peoples of every country.
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