Sat Apr 7th, 2007 at 01:22:44 AM EST
Courtesy of Noam Chomsky:
` Doubtless Iran's government merits harsh condemnation, including for its recent actions that have inflamed the crisis. It is, however, useful to ask how we would act if Iran had invaded and occupied Canada and Mexico and was arresting U.S. government representatives there on the grounds that they were resisting the Iranian occupation (called "liberation," of course). Imagine as well that Iran was deploying massive naval forces in the Caribbean and issuing credible threats to launch a wave of attacks against a vast range of sites - nuclear and otherwise - in the United States, if the U.S. government did not immediately terminate all its nuclear energy programs (and, naturally, dismantle all its nuclear weapons).
(quote continued overleaf)
'Suppose that all of this happened after Iran had overthrown the government of the U.S. and installed a vicious tyrant (as the US did to Iran in 1953), then later supported a Russian invasion of the U.S. that killed millions of people (just as the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran in 1980, killing hundreds of thousands of Iranians, a figure comparable to millions of Americans). Would we watch quietly?'
On a related matter, Tony Blair's joy at the release of the 15 British sailors captured by Iran was tempered by the recent deaths of four British soldiers at the hands of the Iraqi resistance. Blair described the roadside bomb attack as "terrorism", and accused Iran of a role in it (perhaps not in this specific instance, he was quick to clarify, but just in general - thereby admitting to shamelessly capitalising on the deaths of four soldiers as an excuse to launch a political attack on Iran).
Now, at the risk of repeating myself, resistance in Iraq is legitimate and therefore the Coalition soldiers in Iraq are legitimate targets. That's not to say that we should "rejoice" at the deaths of the soldiers - only a psychopath revels in the death and suffering of others. But we can at least recognise that as participants in an unwanted occupying force, British soldiers in Iraq are acting as agents of aggression and oppression. Conversely, those Iraqis resisting this occupying force are acting as legitimate agents of liberation, in exactly the same way as occupied people everywhere, be they in the Occupied Territories, Vichy France, Soviet-controlled Afghanistan or present-day West Papua, have the right to resist their occupiers. The fact that in this case it happens to be "our boys" doing the occupying changes precisely nothing.
In any case, as a fairly sensible Independent editorial noted, the British government "has by no means been proved that Iran or its "elements" are behind attacks on British troops in southern Iraq" (see Justice Not Vengeance for a thorough desconstruction of the "evidence" put forward by the U.S. government in this regard). It assumes, of course, that any such Iranian aid to this legitimate Iraqi resistance would be abominable as opposed to praiseworthy (Anne Penketh, writing in the same paper, makes the same implicit assumption), but then one can only expect so much from the corporate media. As Chomsky's rhetorical question highlights, the same people and institutions who in the 1980's assumed reflexively that Western aid to the Afghanis (or foreign fighters - Osama Bin Laden, being a prominent example) resisting the Soviet occupation was justified today assume equally reflexively that Iranian aid to the Iraqi resistance is not. As Chomsky notes, such `arguments' can only proceed "on the assumption that the United States [or, interchangeably, Britain/the West] owns the world". We should remember that, published as they are in The Independent, these criticisms effectively represent the outer limits of dissent acceptable in the mainstream press. These are the "radical" exceptions - most of the time, we get the likes of Sir Admiral Alan West observing in The Times that Iran's attack on our sailors was "outrageous" (now there's a controversial view) - no mention, of course, of the five Iranians kidnapped by Coalition forces in Iraq a few months ago (and it's strange, but I don't recall The Times giving any comment space to an Iranian Admiral or General - you know, in the interests of "balance" and all that).
The unfortunate fact remains that as agents of the occupation, all Coalition soldiers in Iraq are legitimate targets. If we want stop them getting blown up - and, of course, we all should - the only solution is to bring them home.