Why Washington hates Iran - free pamphlet download

The following is the introduction to Why Washington Hates Iran: A Political Memoir of the Revolution That Shook the Middle East, a new Socialist Voice pamphlet published by South Branch Publications. The entire pamphlet is available for free download from http://readingfromtheleft.com/PDF/WhyWashingtonHatesIran.pdf.

The author, Barry Sheppard, was a member of the US Socialist Workers Party for 28 years, and a central leader of the party for most of that time. In 2005, Resistance Books published the first volume of his political memoir, The Party: The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988. The new pamphlet is a chapter from the second volume, now in preparation.

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By Barry Sheppard

The United States and its client garrison state of Israel are openly saber-rattling against Iran. The immediate issue is Iran’s nuclear program. Both Washington and Tel Aviv have stated that it would be “unacceptable” for Iran to develop the capacity to make nuclear weapons, and threaten a pre-emptive military strike possibly including atomic weapons.

Iran states its nuclear program is for peaceful uses only. But even if Iran wants to have a future capacity to develop its own bomb, the US and Israeli stance is patently hypocritical, as both are armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. They seek to preserve Israel’s status as the sole nuclear power in the Middle East. However, more is involved. Washington seeks to turn back Iran’s growing influence in the region resulting from the failed US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Widening the war to include Iran and possibly Pakistan, however irrational it would be, could be a desperate gamble for the US to somehow pull its chestnuts out of the fire.

If there is such an attack, the Iranian people will unite to oppose it. Iran has many cards to play. Its armed forces are stronger than Iraq’s were before the US invasion. It has middle-range missiles. It has important influence with its ally, Syria, and armed sympathizers in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine Partisans of Iran are capable of waging irregular warfare (“terrorism” in Washington’s jargon) against US interests throughout the world. The recent escalation of tensions between Washington and Moscow has redrawn the map of international relations and thrown a monkey wrench into any plans to attack Iran. As of this writing cooler heads are prevailing in the US administration, but this could rapidly change in the current unstable situation.

The confrontation with Iran is the latest manifestation of the hostility the US has maintained against that country for three decades, since the 1979 Revolution. A central thrust of that Revolution was the overthrow of US imperialism’s direct control of Iran through its proxy regime of the Shah. This anti-imperialist aspect of the revolution was very deep and survives to this day, which explains why any attack on Iran will be met with a mobilization of the Iranian people.

This pamphlet consists of a chapter which will appear in the second volume of a political memoir of my time as a central leader of the US Socialist Workers Party and earlier of its youth group, the Young Socialist Alliance. It tells the story of the first year of the revolution from the prism of my involvement in it. I was in Tehran during the February 1979 insurrection, and returned twice. It isn’t a history of that year, and it doesn’t cover the development of Iran in the following years and decades. Other chapters of my book will include information on the years 1980-1988 in Iran, including the violent suppression of the left and the US-backed Iraqi war against Iran.

My companion Caroline Lund and I were living in Paris in 1979. We were part of the leadership team of the Trotskyist Fourth International, representing the Socialist Workers Party. I was assigned to go to Iran early in 1979, and Caroline went back to New York while I was in Iran. That is how I happened to be there during the insurrection.

I agree with the editors of Socialist Voice that publication of this chapter at this time, before the book is published, will help explain US hostility toward Iran and the anti-imperialism of the Iranian people as a background to the present crisis.

The chapter also, I believe, sheds light on the contradictions of the Iranian Revolution, contradictions which persist to the present day. Many on the left internationally have a one-sided view of the Iranian Revolution, and tend to dismiss it because of the capitalist Islamic clerical regime that emerged from it. It is beyond the scope of this pamphlet to describe present-day Iranian reality, but the contradictions between the capitalist regime and the demands of the workers, peasants, women and oppressed nationalities continue, with the regime being forced to make concessions while at the same time continuing repression to maintain its rule.

Iran’s response to the imperialist threats suffers from the fact that it is governed by a capitalist regime, beset by corruption and conflict within its leadership, while the workers’ movement in the country is not politically independent although it has waged some militant struggles for better wages and living conditions.

Another aspect of this chapter is the heroic role that was played by Iranian revolutionists, in spite of the small size of their organizations, in the cauldron of the revolution. They got it right. They were intransigent supporters and defenders of the revolution unlike many Iranian leftists who turned against it in face of the repression of the new capitalist regime. At the same time, as they formed the Iranian Socialist Workers Party, they retained their independence and intransigent defence of the workers, peasants, women and oppressed nationalities — the backbone of the Iranian Revolution.

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Download the full text of Why Washington Hates Iran: A Political Memoir of the Revolution That Shook the Middle East at http://www.socialistvoice.ca/?page_id=223

Purchase the first volume of Barry Sheppard’s political memoir at http://www.barrysheppardbook.com (North America) or from Resistance Books.

The great majority of what Comrade Slee says does not concern this pamphlet, which is only about 1979. I will deal with the SWP after 1980, and Iran, in my next volume. Comrade Slee will then be able to asses my viewpoint on those matters after my next volume appears.

Barry Sheppard

It is easy to forget the sheer scale of the Iranian revolution and the massive mobilisations that drove it.Today there is such misrepresenation in the bourgeois media that it's hard to sort out the history of the country.

But to get around all that dross, the Iranian cinema carries a very different message. Abbas Kiarostam's  10 is an thoughtful insight into Iran today, especially on the status of women, as is the recently released Marjane Satrapi's Persopolis.

Satrapi comes from a Iranian communist family.