The kind of propaganda offensive that paved the way to war against Iraq is now being directed at Iran.
What’s been happening in Iraq should show that US intervention, with the support of the British government, does not bring peace, stability or democracy.
But we have seen growing hostility against Iran since George Bush’s State of the Union address in January.
That’s why a group of us have launched this initiative in solidarity with the Iranian people.
According to a recent Sunday Times article plans have already been drawn up for attacks in the near future, either by US or Israeli forces.
It would be foolish to dismiss the possibility of George Bush widening his war. They talk of Iran posing a nuclear threat. But there is huge hypocrisy over nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Israel, a US ally, has nuclear weapons and has threatened Iran. Pakistan has them and it too has backed Bush’s war on terror.
I am opposed to all nuclear weapons, everywhere in the world. But the US government’s attitude is selective.
And, by destabilising the region and imposing itself further, the US is increasing the political pressures that lead to regimes seeking nuclear weapons.
It is bringing about the very thing it says it is opposed to.
Then there is the question of human rights and democracy. The US now cites these as reasons for possible military action. But Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel peace prize winner and founder of the Centre for Defence of Human Rights in Iran, spoke for many civil society activists in the country when she wrote recently:
“American policy towards the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights.
“No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause... foreign military intervention in Iran is the surest way to harm us and keep that goal out of reach.”
It would provide the excuse for a crackdown on human rights activists. And it also betrays an immense arrogance.
There is a democracy movement in Iran. There is a degree of popular participation that is wholly ignored in most reports in the West. Also, people have seen what happened to Iraq and to Afghanistan.
Because of the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s there was no great upsurge of anger when the US invaded two years ago. That is beginning to change.
People in the West should not imagine that Iranians are ignorant of world events.
They have the internet. They have seen what happened in Guatanamo Bay. They have seen the curtailing of civil liberties in the US and now in Britain. Whatever view people take of the regime, most people do not want military action. Any war will have a direct human cost and a wider impact in bringing chaos across the region.
A decade and half ago people in Eastern Europe took their destiny into their own hands. Why can’t people in Iran be allowed to do that? The people who can bring a better society in Iran are the people who live there. The same is true of the Middle East region as a whole, freed from any foreign intervention.
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