Question: The Worker-communist Party of Iran has stated that the USA war against Iraq must be stopped and that any USA military attack on Iraq is condemned. How would you explain the difference between the USA attack on Iraq and its attack on the Taliban; how do you explain the different positions of the WPI vis- à-vis the two USA attacks?
Koorosh Modaresi: It is not a question of war; it is obviously a question of a USA attack on Iraq. The attack that the USA is preparing for is different from the USA-Taliban war. The USA attack on Iraq is the continuation, or better stated, expansion of the policy the USA was pursuing during the Gulf War, i.e. the imposition of a New World Order, which will guarantee complete USA domination. The Afghanistan war was a war by the USA and a coalition of many countries across the world to overthrow the Taliban, one of the centres of political Islam in the region. In that war, the downfall of the Taliban and political Islam was both beneficial for the people of Afghanistan and positive for the people of the region and the world. In that framework, whoever was to replace the Taliban would reduce the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and weaken political Islam in the region. The war that the USA is preparing for today, however, is a completely different issue. The downfall of Saddam Hussein and possibly the Ba'ath regime will not be the only result of this attack. Before anything else, this war will secure USA domination, a seriously harmful phenomenon for the people of Iraq, region and world, and will negatively impact on people's progressive movement throughout the world.
This war must be looked at from two angles that are certainly related to each other. One is the issue at hand itself that the USA poses and the other is the more general strategy that its bourgeoisie's extreme right is putting forth as a framework for US foreign policy in today's world.
The USA has presented the issue as one of overthrowing a dictatorial, fascist and criminal regime. This is not the issue at hand, however; it is the hue and cry that the USA has raised in order to cover up the real issue. We have previously spoken extensively on this, i.e. bringing up the characteristics of the Ba'ath regime, which was incidentally supported by the USA during most of its tenure, in connection to the Gulf war and economic sanctions on Iraq. Readers can refer to Mansoor Hekmat's articles about the Gulf War and my interview in the 'Porsesh' journal.
In brief, I must say that the issue of Afghanistan had a real and actual foundation, which separates it from other parts of the world - political Islam's domination and the expansion of its terrorist base. On Iraq, however, the issue raised is arbitrary and as such cannot reflect reality, i.e. the issue that the USA is raising in this war is not particular to the Iraqi government; the majority of USA friendly states are such. By separating Iraq, we give the judging of who is criminal and despotic to the USA. Let me give some examples: They argue that the Iraqi regime is despotic. But are the regimes of Saudi Arabia and other US allies less despotic than the Iraqi regime? By accepting this, we are consenting that the USA determines the despotic nature of regimes. They argue that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. But doesn't the USA, UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, France, China, etc. have the same weapons? If we accept this, then we accept that owning weapons of mass destruction is a crime only if the USA thinks it is. They contend that Iraq has used these weapons. But isn't the USA the only state that actually used nuclear weapons in the world? Were not the defenceless people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims of this? What about the people of Vietnam? Did the USA have any doubts on using chemical and biological weapons against the people of Vietnam? Wasn't the USA and West supporting Iraq exactly when it used chemical weapons, including against us? Didn't they ignore and silence the protests and objections raised by us and the people of Iran and Iraq who were victims of Saddam? Was it not the USA that used depleted uranium in the very same Gulf War? Haven't hundreds of thousands of children, young and old become victims of this, according to the UN; has not the USA used the most horrific weapon of mass destruction, i.e. economic sanctions, for more than ten years against the people of Iraq? The truth is that the issue at hand is not having or using weapons of mass destruction; if we accept this from the USA, then we have officially accepted that the use of weapons of mass destruction is a prerogative of a small number of countries and their permission to use it is given by the USA and its friends.
There is only one fact in light of the hue and cry that the USA has raised. The USA can overthrow anyone that it determines to be contrary to its interest. Today the 'change of regime' is aimed at the fascist regime of Iraq. With this same reasoning, if this is established, then tomorrow, the USA can remove any regime or system it considers contrary to its interest under the slogan of 'regime change'. A 'regime change' in Iraq is most certainly the demand of any decent human being but in reality this is not the issue at hand for the USA. Raising this is merely a propaganda war to secure a special role for the USA.
The second angle that must be considered, and which I believe is the main pillar of explaining USA policy, is the debate about the new USA strategy in the contemporary world, i.e. the New World Order. We are witnessing a fundamental change in the philosophy of the USA's international policy. Up until now, even at the height of Reaganism, the official USA international policy was that the USA must be so powerful militarily so as to deter the enemy, particularly the Eastern Bloc, from militarily attacking the US and use this to defend its political, economic and military domain. This policy was called the 'Deterrence Policy'. Today, however, we are witnessing the pronouncement of a new policy by the extreme right of the US bourgeoisie called the Pre- emptive Strike Policy. The White House has recently announced this as the basis of USA foreign policy. According to this policy, the USA must not allow the shaping of any competitor, be it economic, political or military, that can ignore or threaten USA interests; the USA must be able to suppress the shaping of such a power by use of military force. Adopting this policy does not require United Nation or any other state's backing, but rather requires that the USA act unilaterally by relying on its own power and independently of others. This is the basis of the USA policy towards Iraq. Upon establishing this policy, from tomorrow, people anywhere who demand certain freedoms that threaten USA interests will face the military might of this state. By adopting this policy, the USA is turning the world into its own backyard. It is doing what it has done over the past century in Latin America - coup d'etats, military interventions, and maintaining states that guarantee USA interests. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel are contemporary examples in the Middle East.
We must also, however, take into account the human dimensions of this adventurism in USA policy. Economically speaking, Iraq is a much more complicated country than Afghanistan. Attacking Iraq will again mean the destruction of its economic foundations, from its electricity grids and water networks to bridges, roads, etc., examples of which we saw in the Gulf War. One pillar of the USA war against Iraq will be the destruction of its infrastructure and economic basis. Also, the USA has shown that it is willing to kill thousands of innocent people to prevent even one casualty on its side. Furthermore, this time, the Iraqi regime will be dragged into a war of life and death. Does anyone have any doubts about the brutality of the Iraqi regime? Can anyone guarantee that Iraq will not use chemical or biological weapons? If it does, what will happen? In the last war, Iraq was officially warned that if it uses chemical weapons, nuclear bombs would be used against Baghdad. In this case, the regime is facing its overthrow and no retreat has been left for it, therefore, the possibility of its using chemical weapons is more probable and real; what would they do then? Would they not bomb Baghdad with a nuclear bomb? Do they have any moral dilemma with this? Did they not do it in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Vietnam? By attacking Iraq, the USA will begin a war of lunatics! The people of Iraq will be the first victims of this war. The USA-made government, which is to replace the Iraqi regime, is an interesting one - a collection of tribal leaders and generals who should be in tried next to Ba'ath leaders, Islamists who have been one pillar of political Islam in the region, and so on. The war hasn't even started and Jalal Talebani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Masud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party are talking and planning the ethnic cleansing of Karkuk.
The result of the arbitrary separation of Iraq from other reactionary states and alongside the brutal incursions of the Israeli state will be the expansion of political Islam in the region. Islamists will once again have an audience for their bleak propaganda. This policy will give them legitimacy. It will encourage fascism vis-à-vis fascism. The 'Pre-emptive Policy' will be used against regimes unacceptable to the USA and not against despotic regimes. In its opposition, this policy will promote various kinds of corrupt and foul ideologies such as political Islam and nationalism. In a single sentence, the outcome of the USA attack against Iraq will be nothing but deprivation and corruption. Do not forget that the formation and development of Al-Qaeda was the result of the first Gulf War, which defined itself in reaction to it. This time however more foul groups will come to the fore.
The above is the translation of an interview first published in International Weekly number 125 dated 27 September 2002. It was first published in English in WPI Briefing number 75, dated 2 October 2002.
Briefing No. 75, 30 September 2002