Saturday, 17 February 2018

Iran at 39 years old: drones in Israel (?), trade with Europe, calm on the streets

Iran at 39 years old: drones in Israel (?), trade with Europe, calm on the streets
by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
The Iranian Revolution turned 39 on February 11.
It’s about time to get married! At least that’s what people tell me – I recently turned 40.
“Married to the revolution” is indeed a good description for Iranian society at 39…but the fullness of Iran’s marital bliss is a 100% domestic issue – after all, nobody knows what goes on behind a couple’s closed doors (nor do we want to know, LOL).
But looking at this from a foreign perspective, at 39 years old the Islamic Republic of Iran appears closer to than ever to a partial rapprochement with the West, and one based on mutually-beneficial cooperation. Such a rebalancing, everyone must concede, could only have been prompted by a vast and wide-ranging increase in Iranian strength since 1979.
The day before the anniversary, Israel claimed that they shot down an Iranian drone inside Israel…which is obviously preposterous. Even the Israeli military and media admitted they were “puzzled”.
It’s not that Iran should be worried about violating Israel’s sovereignty: Israel is, of course, an illegitimate state which keeps Palestinians in concentration camps, a practice which Israel’s elders leaned from the “legitimate” European states.
But Iran has nothing to gain from risking a drone flight in Israel. My guess is that the drone was captured in Syria and then hauled out in a fake show, but why now?
Just a couple days later police recommended that Netanyahu be indicted on bribery charges – Iran fear-mongering is among Netanyahu’s favourite diversionary tactics. Israel allegedly bombed Iran targets, which sends the message to the Israeli public that Netanyahu is all that stands between them and Iranian-led annihilation (which is also preposterous).
From another perspective, I lumped the fake drone news along with the (latest) unverified US claim of chemical weapons used by the Syrian goverment, France’s deluded assurance that people view their (latest) call for “humanitarian corridors” as not being motivated by neo-imperialism, as well as with the faltering invasion of Syria by NATO ally/ISIL supporter Turkey (which reminds us that bombing is easy, but that Turkey seemingly hasn’t won a ground battle since the Crimean War).
Indeed, things are going very badly for the West in Syria, so the Iranian drone seemed to me like another attempt to turn the tide with propaganda. While propaganda can start and prolong wars, it certainly can’t win them.
But just for fun, let’s play along and say that Israel’s drone claim is correct: It means that 39 years after Iranian Revolution it is Iran who is invading Israel, and not the other way around!
Who would have predicted that in 1979, LOL?
The drone is a stark reminder of just how much things have changed in Middle East foreign policy because of the success Iranian Islamic Revolution: Iran has become so advanced and so powerful that not only have they safeguarded their own popular revolution, but they are so regionally powerful that they are invited to help others resist Western/Israeli attempts to destabilize their own nations.
There is a long way to go, sure, but: my, my, my…Iran is still looking good at 39, no?! A real (Zionist, capitalist, imperialist) heartbreaker!
Europe is taking concrete steps to break with the US on Iran
The pattern is clear, and illustrated by China: a nation has a modern and popular revolution, the West declares open war/foments war by proxy in order to stop it, but that fails so there is a cold war via sanctions for decades in order to destabilise it, and when that fails…finally there is economic cooperation.
(Political cooperation with the West would be a violation of any modern revolution, of course, but diplomacy is always a must while we wait for their political modernization/enlightenment).
It’s a tough timeline which takes decades of revolutionary sacrifices – ask Cuba – but if the capitalists can’t beat them, they will eventually join them: money talks, ideology walks with capitalists.
Iran has 1/28th the weight of China, going by economic size, but capitalists love “untapped” markets….
Did Iran need new airplanes and high-end technology during the Rouhani government’s $100 billion spending spree in continental Europe in 2016? Absolutely, but there was a likely political aim as well: using trade to purchase a political détente with Europe in order to increase Iran’s political security.
And, so far in this young Western year, we have seen a raft of developments which show that Europe is actually moving forward with ending Iran’s political and economic isolation.
Hey, I’m as surprised as you are!
This month began with the news that France will start offering euro-denominated credits to Iranian buyers of its goods later this year. There is no link to the US, either via dollars, individuals or companies, so there is no way they can legally be accused of violating US sanctions. One can imagine that the US is not pleased at such a plan, but other EU countries are working on the same mechanism.
Late last year there was speculation – quite possibly fake news floated by Reuters intended to push it in that direction – that France’s Total would pull out of the South Pars oil deal, which represents the biggest deal between Iran and the West. But this month Total’s CEO said that work was progressing because they have gotten reassurances from French and European authorities regarding, “means to protect investments already made in Iran, even in the case of the return of (US) sanctions”.
Shortly after that was the announcement that the EU is actually threatening to impose “blocking sanctions” to protect European corporations from US sanctions, if Washington unilaterally pulls out of the JCPOA deal on Iran’s nuclear energy program. This “blocking” legislation dates from 1996 and was used to help the EU trade with Cuba, and now it may be dusted off for Iran. (However, such legislation did not prevent Obama from making billion-dollar fines on EU banks for working with Cuba – and such intimidating fines came after hi alleged “thaw” in Havana-Washington relations.)
France’s largest bank BNP Paribas received a $9 billion fine from the US because of working with Iran (and Cuba), while US companies like Apple avoid EU taxes by keeping them in UK dependents like Jersey. The reality is: the EU must be getting sick of these fines. They are clearly used not just to benefit US foreign policy but to advance US economic policy (like how US fines paved the way for GE’s takeover of France’s Alstom Energy), and so they are coming up with ways around the US.
Dare we say it, but: It has taken nearly three years, but it’s possible the JCPOA will finally start to be actually implemented, finally begin the re-integration of Iran into the global business system, and finally start showing Iran some benefits.
I always thought that because of Iran’s strict anti-Zionism the West would never make peace with Iran, but…we have these developments.
European capitalists surely make much more in trade with the US than in unrealised trade with Iran, so it doesn’t seem to fit in with their capitalist logic but…we have these developments.
It’s still early, and there are certainly more levers for Washington pull, but let’s just enjoy the birthday cake for now….
Peace in the streets, sorry to disappoint you
Yes, there was a short period of unrest in Iran over the Western New Year – initially sparked by a private bank failure (capitalism…such a permanent risk and threat) – but there is calm in the streets by the anniversary of the revolution’s victory, and there certainly is no threat of a counter-revolution.
Friends and well-wishers continually tell me how worried they are about an invasion of Iran, and I mostly just listen politely. During the recent economic protests I tried to explain why such fears are unnecessary. and also the democratic, grassroots basis for my beliefs.
My article even led to a reply from the World Socialist Web Site. Interestingly, the World Socialist Web Site has just begun publishing a 3-part series addressing my journalism on Iran and also my view of the WSWS, titled: “A reply to a proponent of ‘Iranian Islamic socialism’”. I am that proponent.
I haven’t had a chance to read Part 1 or Part 2 yet, but the WSWS does good work, mostly. Certainly, the centre and right publish only nonsense on Iran, so I’m glad to see one of the top-English-language leftist daily news sites is going to discuss Iran in-depth. They will filter everything through their Trotskyist lens, as they do for every single news item, but everybody has an editorial line (admitted or not). Certainly, all intelligent debate is welcomed…and hopefully useful to advancing both leftist causes and the appreciation of Iran’s many principled stances and policies.
“Iranian Islamic Socialism” is a phrase which quickly sums up the nature of the Iranian system, and “quickly summing up” is what we daily reporters are supposed to do, after all. The phrase is so obvious and accurate that it seems that if I take credit for it, someone will surely unearth a previous usage. Perhaps not in English media…and certainly not recently, where anything with the adjective “Islamic” is undoubtedly pejorative. But credit is certainly not important.
The Trotskyist WSWS may not be full supporters of Iranian Islamic Socialism…but we’ll have to wait and see. Certainly, they want to push the Trotskyist view of socialism, and will likely insist that Trotskyism is the “only real” socialism. Like many Western leftists, they may reflexively think the term “Islamic socialism” is an oxymoron, but I hope they dig a bit deeper.
Because I obviously disagree, have given have given extensive proofs, and remain unwilling to cede the very broad concept of socialism to a single, universal conception…and that is why I am not a Trotskyist, LOL! Regardless: point-counterpoint, sharing views, elevating the idea over the personal ego – this is not just part of journalism, but part of a functioning society.
The tangible basis for why Iran’s protests did not morph into a Trotskyist revolution are so simple and obvious – and already addressed in my first column – so let’s ask a more difficult question: what is the intangible basis?
That is a serious question: formal societal structures are propelled by an intangible spirit – otherwise they collapse, surely.
Khaste nabasheed – don’t be tired
This is the standard greeting in Iran. Kind of strange, perhaps, but is it any more curious than Italians who say “ready” when they answer a telephone?
At 39, the Iranian people are not tired of the revolution. Since 1979 some societies have gotten tired, although they certainly regret that now: Burkina Faso, Libya, Yugoslavia, the former USSR, even Russia.
It takes an intangible force to make and maintain a revolution, and if there’s one thing Muslims believe it’s that Islam is a force. By force, we can say “law”: something with an unseen gravity, yet which is trusted, verified and widely-observed.
Socialism is also a force, and also rests on a utopian faith (in my view). But I think we all agree that Marx’s writings are not considered divine revelation by anyone: they are simply excellent ideas regarding economics and democracy, and which contain great moral value.
Iran has not gone backwards by basing their revolution around Islam, an ideology which began some 1400 years ago: In the Western year 3418, will socialism be discredited as an economic and democratic ideology because it is old? I highly doubt it, but economic laws certainly change faster than moral ones.
What 1979 undoubtedly did was show that Iran wished to learn from their own history and experience – not from the West: They used what they know and feel in order to make their society better.
And using what they know not only passes the democratic test, but it’s a savvy wager to increase a society’s chances of creating successful progress. Even if one is an Aboriginal Australian living in the Outback, their elders will certainly pass on their history to their young: it’s a transmission of culture, morality, law and the savoir-faire of living in harmony with those around you – it’s essential. I offer no solutions to Australia’s Aborginals – as I am rather ignorant of their values – but I do know that asking Aboriginals to wholly adopt European ideals has been, and will continue to be, a total societal and spiritual disaster for them because they lack authenticity.
This is what Islam is in relation to the 1979 Revolution: a guarantee of democratic authenticity – it came from the People.
Also, as polls repeatedly show, Iranians democratically reject Western secularism in governance – probably because they feel that Islam provides Iran with scientific answers to social problems: the problems of the economy, the basis for whom should govern a society, what role should morality have in society, what are the proper and improper things to worship, etc.
Iran has chosen things which are not the same things Australian Aboriginals would choose, but Australian Aboriginals are certainly confronted by these questions, because they are human beings (despite historical Western opinion).
Indeed, only questions are universal, not answers (sorry Trotsky). Intangible questions will not change by 3418, I would imagine, much more than they have changed since 618….
If we imagine Western countries to be 39 years old, what do we see?
We see countries where humanism has been exposed as a fraud, and then defeated by individualism and materialism.
The West’s crisis is caused by the fact that their 1% claimed it was based on “humanism”, but advances in communication have proven it to be based on mere “individualism”. The whole world now knows that the 18th and 19th century “humanism” of the West was a Potemkin village: Western success is built on unpaid wages, atrocities and genocide, not kindness, spiritual growth or moral achievement.
These realities were hidden during that era due to a lack of communication technology, education and honesty. With the advantage of hindsight we see that humanism was only granted only to those who could pay for it – it’s obviously the same ideology at play now with Western liberalism and neoliberalism. Even more pathetically, across the entire West until the 1960s, human rights were only for those who were of a certain race and gender.
West European Humanism always could only provide dignity for itself, but it failed to provide dignity for the other person. That seems to require the gentle humility of religion, the economic and democratic planning of socialism, or both.
Contrary to the above in the 20th century were the socialist nations of Central and Eastern Europe. Sadly, socialism has become a minority in those countries, and they are blindly following the lead of Western nations. The hopelessly corrupt nature of the Eurozone & the Eurogroup is an article I wrote to discuss the power structure which Europe’s triumphant 1% has forced upon their People.
I have shown how humanism never really existed, but we can say that from around 1970 to 1991 they made an effort, or at least they believed they did – via their opposition to socialism, which they mistakenly claimed was inhumanly totalitarian. But, certainly, the fall of European socialism in 1989 marked the end of this limited humanism and the transition to full-on materialism.
Materialism is not only about happiness through material goods and sensual pleasure, but also biological/psychological determinism, technocratism, Taylorism/scientific management, never-ending moral relativity/political correctness, and whatever systematically erases the intangible from our personal lives and social planning due to a complete rejection of anything humankind broadly calls “the spiritual side”.
In 2018 we see clearly that materialism has defeated humanism in the West: The Eurozone is imperialising their own neighbors, they are waging war on the Muslim world, there is a pathetically hysterical Orwellian war on Russia, etc.
I would suggest that Western materialism simply cannot provide the spiritual fulfilment which the overwhelming majority of humans have craved throughout human history. Socialism can, it seems, but only if the ardent socialist realizes that in his or her own heart…their zeal is religious in its fact-ignoring, immaterial, ethically-based faith in socialist ideology.
But materialist Western socialism? Already gone the way of the dodo….
And the realisation of the spiritual bankruptcy of materialism – whether in capitalist or socialist economic-political form – is perhaps the greatest contribution of Iran’s revolution.
Iran is not alone: Many of the countries on the ascent or successfully holding back capitalist and/or imperialist forces at this arbitrary 1979 birthday date are heavily-influenced by faith-based ideologies: Russia (Russian Orthodox Church and a sizeable communist minority), China & Vietnam (communism, Confucianism/Taoism/Buddhism/folk religion), Cuba (Communism, Catholicism & Santeria), etc.
It is very easy to demonstrate that 2018 Iranians have rejected materialism: in their overwhelming support for our nuclear energy program.
LOL, we only have just one nuclear reactor! We have abundant energy supplies! People leave the tea warming on the stove all day long because energy is so cheap (an extremely wasteful practice)! Iran needs more energy like Goliath needed lifts in his shoes! Why are we going through all this pain over something we don’t even need?!
Western materialists cannot understand why they just can’t buy Iran off because the answer has everything to do with spirit and nothing to do with the materially tangible.
It’s a question of something intangible – morality (right and wrong) and personal dignity (Iran’s sovereignty).
Iranians are not clamouring for nuclear power, but they are incredibly united in their insistence that they should be able to have it if they want to. This is Iran at 39. This is the clear sign of an ideologically-committed nation and not a materialist-committed one.
And good things can only flow from this invisible source…and at least it can never be subject to US sanctions.
God willing, Iran will continue to affect the non-Iranian world positively for the next 39 years, even if that provokes another 39 years of sanctions. Certainly, how can Iran or its government be responsible for the wrongdoing of other nations against us? Supporters of the Iranian Revolution probably regularly apologise to God (because this is a rather prevalent concept in the Koran), but Westerners expecting to extract an apology for 39 years of Islamic Revolution are waiting in vain….
Philosophy aside, the recent developments with Europe are tenuous, but certainly a positive development to report. Maybe the West’s Cold War Against Iran is getting half-thawed, with Europe as Iran’s diplomatic bride?
On this day – the day after the West’s holiday for romance – I hope we have all been well-reminded that a revolution maintains the romance, or the revolution ceases.
As an Iranian that’s about as much as I feel comfortable discussing romance…in public, that is!
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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