Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Impeach, Bush, Cheney...Before More Ugliness!

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Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Impeach, Bush, Cheney...Before More Ugliness!



Sunsara Taylor takes on Bill O'Reilly

Escalating Attacks on Immigrants & New Resistance by Travis Morales

In July, after the Senate failed to pass Bush-backed “comprehensive immigration reform,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned that the increase of arrests of undocumented immigrants is “gonna get ugly.”

What does he mean by ugly?

He means arresting a Mexican mother, ripping her child from her, and deporting her to Mexico—splitting up her family. Like millions of other Mexicans, Elvira Arellano was forced to come to the United States to survive but was quickly captured and deported for the first time. Forced to return to the U.S., she worked cleaning O'Hare International Airport, super-exploited like millions of other Mexicans. In a post-September 11 “anti-terror” raid, she was arrested and convicted of using a fake Social Security number in order to work, like so many others who have decided not to starve. Convicted and demonized, she refused to be deported once again, taking refuge in a Chicago church with her U.S. citizen 8-year-old son and advocating for immigrant rights for a year before being arrested and deported.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) web site bragged, “ICE deports high-profile criminal fugitive alien to Mexico. Woman who sought refuge in Chicago church arrested during weekend trip to L.A.” What the fuck do they mean “criminal fugitive alien”? Who pillaged and ruined the economy of Mexico, making life impossible for her and millions more? Who super-exploited her and millions more like modern-day slaves? Who acts like modern-day slave catchers? Who are the real criminals?

“Gonna get ugly” means armed ICE agents storming through garment sweatshops and life-numbing meat packing slaughterhouses to arrest and deport immigrants. Only a generation or two ago, the grandsons of African-American slaves were super-exploited on the killing floors of slaughterhouses but then their wages got too high and their attitude too rebellious, so they were replaced with immigrants. First they super-exploit immigrants in these hellholes—under conditions that are close to those in factories 100 years ago in this country. Then they demonize them in the media, and send in the immigration police to round them up.

It means random sweeps of whole communities, grabbing up and packing off everyone “without papers.” “Gonna get ugly” means local ordinances and state laws making it illegal to rent an apartment or house to anyone who is undocumented or to hire them to work or to provide them with social services or let them post bail.

Important New Resistance

The system’s “gonna get ugly” attacks on immigrants have meant ICE agents sweeping into neighborhoods, kicking down doors, dragging people out in the middle of the night to be deported, leaving crying children behind. But on September 6, when ICE agents in South Los Angeles swept into a neighborhood, trying to force their way into apartments and arresting at least two people, residents of the neighborhood made a sign that said “ICE OUT!” and stood on the street. Some took pictures of what the ICE agents were doing and collected badge numbers. The ICE agents harassed these people. First, they were told to hand over their camera.

Then ICE agents asked for their identifications and wrote down their information. Then the agents told them that they were not allowed to be on the street. “But we stood our ground,” said Cristina, a resident of the neighborhood. “Finally, they backed down. We had hidden our camera, and they finally admitted that we had the right to take pictures and to be on the street with our protest signs. They couldn’t stop us.”

There are important shoots of resistance breaking out in response to all this that need to be supported and spread. As I write this, a work stoppage and economic boycott is in progress in Phoenix, Arizona, lasting from September 3 through September 9. An organizer with La Coordinadora 3 de Septiembre told me that estimates are that 20,000 to 40,000 people have left work for the week to protest the Bush decision to require companies to fire employees whose names do not match their Social Security number. Their leaflet asks, “What would YOU do if… Your child came home, found you had been taken, and your location unknown?” People are demanding in part, “To have a real immigration reform that does not simply reduce us to the level of a modern slave (guest worker).”

On September 2, an estimated crowd of 5,000 to 10,000, overwhelmingly immigrants, marched through the streets of Woodbridge, Virginia, which has a population of about 32,000, located about 30 miles from Washington, DC. They were protesting the passage of anti-immigrant legislation by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. Organizers are calling for a work stoppage on October 9. On June 4, in Houston, two activists chained themselves to the front gates of the privately run Corrections Corporation of America immigration detention center to demand freedom for all the detainees and blockade the entrance.

Early this year, the New Sanctuary Movement, composed of Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and other faiths, was formed. Their goal is to protect immigrant families from unjust deportation by providing sanctuary in their houses of worship. Earlier this year, in both Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, people protested and rallied to oppose ICE raids in their communities.

All of these are important developments. This movement of resistance must spread rapidly and broadly among immigrants and non-immigrants alike. Think about what a difference it made in L.A. when, in the midst of these raids, people on the spot mobilized to protect people. Imagine the impact if the movement of churches, mosques, and synagogues spreads. If in border communities, people politically challenge the brutal treatment of immigrants. And if all this is contributing to a broader spirit of defiance throughout society to the whole broader repressive agenda.

What Kind of World Do You Want to Live In?

Life has always been hell for immigrants. Until recently, the undocumented lived with the constant threat of deportation because of any unexpected encounter with the authorities. But, by and large, once here, they were allowed to be super-exploited, face discrimination and police brutality, but stay. Now something much more sinister is being hammered into place. Open season has been declared. Rules, for example, that in many places supposedly separated the normal police from the Migra are being changed to make every cop into an ICE agent. Anything goes. People who “work hard” and “play by the rules” can be snatched up at any time, their world and that of their families devastated.

On August 10, Bush announced a whole series of measures to be implemented by executive order. Many of these were contained in the so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” bill that failed in the Senate in June. They were not passed in Congress, so essentially by decree, Bush is ordering the enforcement of these regulations. The measures include 8,000 more Border Patrol agents, more walls, more detention camps, more raids, a campaign to go after workers whose names do not match their Social Security numbers, the importation of more “guest workers” to toil in slave-like conditions, and moves to require everyone applying for a job to have their identity run through a national government database.

Look at the kind of society that is emerging if we don’t STOP this: In Minnesota during the Swift raids, workers and advocates in the Swift meatpacking plant reported that individuals were first divided into groups by the color of their skin and that only non-white workers were questioned. In raids across the country, agents have arrested people based on their racial or ethnic appearance, accent, or limited English skills. People are presumed to be “illegal” with no rights based on how they look, the color of their skin, and the language that they speak.

And for those who still harbor the illusion that the Democrats will fight for immigrant rights, listen to the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi upon hearing Bush’s announcement: "Securing our border remains a top priority for the New Direction Congress."

All of this is no good. It is very, very bad for the people.

Throughout the spring of 2006, millions of immigrants and their allies poured into the streets all across the country, from the largest cities to numerous small southern and mid-western farming communities. This was a historic mobilization to defeat the draconian anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner bill (H.R. 4437) that would have made felons of the estimated 12–20 million undocumented immigrants in this country and anyone who aided them in any kind of way. People filled the streets to demand legalization and for immigrants to be treated like human beings. City after city saw the largest protest demonstrations in their history.

In the face of this escalating onslaught, there is great importance to promoting, supporting, and spreading new resistance. After being deported, Elvira Arellano called for a national day of action on September 12. This call has been taken up by activists in such places as Los Angeles, Chicago, Madison, Wisconsin, and New York who are organizing press conferences and protests that day to announce an October 12 National Day of Action for Workers Rights Against No Match (Letters), Raids and Deportations.

If you refuse to live in a world where human beings are categorized as “legal” or “illegal” based on the color of their skin, the language that they speak, and where they were born, with life and death implications, then you have the responsibility to resist. If you refuse to live in a world where millions are condemned to be super-exploited modern-day slaves, then you must act.

Send us your comments.

A Regime Still Set On Remaking the World. . . and the Need To Drive It Out by Sunsara Taylor

There are many deadly lies and deceptions in America today, but one of the deadliest is that the “Bush Regime is over.”

The torture, the wars, the spying and theocratic measures and the toxic waves of bigotry—against Black people today, gays tomorrow, immigrants or women or dissenting professors the day after—isn’t “limping to the finish”…it is intensifying. The crimes committed in our name pile up each and every day.

The planning at the very highest levels—to sustain the war in Iraq, to very possibly launch a new one against Iran, to hammer in and further legitimize the revocation of the most fundamental rights—not only continues, but accelerates. The casting aside of high-level operatives like Rove or Gonzales is not the dissolution of a regime, but preparation for a “sprint to the finish.” Bush himself is reported to be impervious to criticism, “optimistic,” and acting with his “historic legacy” in mind.

That “legacy” is not something for the history books, after we’re all dead.

It’s about locking in and pushing further the horrific crimes that have become “the new normalcy” of this imperialist system. It’s about what we’re willing to—and going to be forced to— live with; and what we’re willing to see other people live—and die—with.

And that’s what will happen if the tens of millions who hate this regime and what it’s been doing continue on the current passive—and, yes, complicit—course. George Bush aims to use his last 16 months in office to do everything he can to ensure the continued existence and dominance of this empire, on even more horrific terms and with exponentially greater ability to suffocate any fundamental resistance to it.

The Bush Regime must be driven out. For unless it is decisively repudiated by the people, in massive visible political opposition, the outrages of today will indeed become the norms of tomorrow, with terrible consequences.

There Are The People to Do This

I have had the chance to talk to more people than most—traveling the country and speaking especially to young people on campuses—and there is a battle going on among tens of thousands of people. Giving voice to something I have heard repeatedly before, a young woman at NYU explained to me that if she led a walkout against the war she would risk her scholarship, have to go to a community college and work at the same time, and would never have the career that there is so much pressure to compete for in this increasingly insecure world...and then she added, “But I would do it in a second. I would risk all that and more—if I thought it would make a difference.” And there are people, increasing numbers of people, who want to hear about revolution —why it’s needed, what it’s all about, and whether it’s possible. And how does what we are doing today relate to that.

Three weeks ago in San Francisco, I watched the crowd at Rock the Bells go fucking wild when performers from the stage called for resistance and sacrifice to stop this machine and its fascist drive. Screaming, jumping, fists in the air.

There is a radicalness brewing in this country. There’s a section of this generation that is looking out on the world and sees nothing good and nothing they want to have any part of. A section of this generation that is ready to struggle and to question, that senses the need to be as radical as the times, that gravitates to the need for struggle and even great sacrifice to stop this whole direction.

But somebody’s got to step out and DO IT.

World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime has called for an “Orange Uprising.” Stop keeping your discontent and your anguish private. There are millions and tens of millions who share it—become a magnet for them, every day.

Be part of setting a different social context where other people who, like yourself, feel—and right now, are—isolated, begin to see that there are others. Declare it loudly and boldly by brandishing orange, the color of the torture victims and the color of those who refuse to bow down. Wearing orange has to become a declaration of refusal to sit quietly as the world is burning around us. It has to be a challenge to all those who do in fact already agree but are not yet resisting, giving them the heart and the courage to not only step out against the regime but to go up in the face of those who are still going along, and to insist that they not allow these crimes to be done in their names.

A sea of orange, to revoke the legitimacy of anyone—from the Bush regime to the “opposition” party Democrats —who claim to be acting with a mandate from the people; a sea of orange to confer legitimacy on those determined to drive out this regime, and to encourage and galvanize the massive disgust and refusal to accept its crimes.

Orange must become the color of defiance. People have to begin noticing all the orange, and asking each other what it’s about, and then become part of it catching on and becoming a social wave. It must be promoted by popular artists, advertised on the airwaves and internet, and in the actions of individuals and groups that take on these horrors.

The news should feel compelled to regularly report on “orange clad protesters” sitting down in major intersections or in politicians’ offices and orange flags turning up in the most unexpected places. At the World Can’t Wait website there are all kinds of ideas on how this can go viral, and all kinds of things ready to happen—if people act.

This sea of orange must be coupled with, and reinforce, increasingly militant and growing outbreaks of real political resistance—actions of individuals or groupings that keep pace with and are on a scale commensurate with the horrors piling up. Some of that’s starting. But it’s not yet enough. We’ve got to stop waiting for a resistance to emerge, and go out and lead it. If we want to see a resistance movement, people need to start being one. Resistance needs to much more spring up like mushrooms after the rain, in all kinds of different forms and unexpected places, and everybody wearing orange can help spur that and spread it.

Four Crucial Political Battles

Four political battles are shaping up now that are crucial. If seized upon, and if coupled with the growing social wave of orange envisioned above and with the kinds of resistance I just outlined, these can be openings to make things more two sided, to bring another force onto the stage that can give expression to people’s pent-up aspirations, and to reverse the political momentum and direction in this society.

First, there is the extremely high stakes Jim Crow trial down in Jena, Louisiana where six Black high school students face decades in prison for standing up against nooses being hung from a “whites only” tree in their schoolyard. The actions being planned for September 12 and especially September 20 have everything to do with whether anything meaningful will be done to stop the whole direction of this society against Black people—and with the Bush regime, the definite genocidal element of this agenda has found sharp expression, as became sharply clear with Hurricane Katrina.

Shortly after that, on September 25, George Bush is daring to come to New York City to speak to the United Nations as part of greasing the way towards a new war against Iran. The eyes of the world look upon New York City and the city must appear to them as what it is—one of the most anti war and anti Bush places in the country, not like people who can’t be bothered to do anything as massive death, suffering and torture is being engineered. They also must not see simply an isolated, routinized protest. The city needs to be ORANGE—everywhere the eye looks and everywhere a news camera pans, on armbands and ribbons, on flags out store windows, on banners on rooftops and clenched in the fists that get raised in opposition to Bush’s monstrosities right outside where he speaks.

In the week of October 22-26, David Horowitz’s fascist student group “Students for Academic Freedom,” has announced a week against “Islamo-fascism” to take place on over 200 campuses. Horowitz is a close ally of Bush and intends for this week to target Muslim student associations, women’s centers, and more for not being sufficiently supportive of the “war on terror.” This has the potential to even more seriously chill what is already an icy atmosphere on campus. But it also has the potential—if it is met with orange-clad students and faculty ready to take them on and increase awareness of the fascist order being locked into place here—to actually turn the tables on these bullies.

Finally, on October 22, there will be a national day of protest against police brutality. This too can bring thousands more into political action against yet another horror of this system, and powerfully stand against outrages like the murder of Sean Bell in New York last December, on his wedding day.

Each of these must be very powerful in their own right; and they must also be times when the “orange upsurge” gets further launched into society.

A Different Political Calculus

If this movement of wearing orange takes hold, and people increasingly see that they are not alone and there’s an everyday defiance that takes hold in the culture and finds expression in all kinds of ways… if these important days of resistance and action this fall break into the atmosphere in a way that cannot be denied or marginalized…and with all that taking place in the face of the Bush regime’s high-stakes horrific gambles in Iran, their grinding bloody war in Iraq, and who knows what new measure within the U.S., as Bush sets out to cement his “legacy”… then there is a chance for a different sort of political calculus to take hold.

A chance for a serious challenge to the legitimacy of this regime and to create a political situation in which it is driven out. The synergy between a growing social movement of defiance in the everyday action of wearing orange, and increasingly broad and determined outpourings of resistance, can create something on a whole other level…in other words, in the political sphere the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

And let’s imagine what that would mean. A victory like that would change things for millions of people and it would open up new possibilities in everybody’s thinking. People would feel their strength and they would raise their heads. The question of the imperialist character of the kind of system that gives rise to a Bush—and to political “opponents” who refuse to question his basic assumptions—would get posed in a different way, to millions. The question of what to do about it—of what kind of future people do need—including the possibility of revolution, would become a much more living thing.

And the Bush regime and all its horrors and the course it has set things on would be repudiated. The wars, the torture, the attacks on women’s rights, everything symbolized by Katrina, the gay-bashing, the repression and demonization of the immigrants, the outrages to people’s legal rights, the attack on critical thinking…repudiated.

And wouldn’t that be a new day worth fighting, and sacrificing, for?

Bob Avakian has recently said, “The politics of the ‘possible’ is the politics of monstrosity.”

To those who think the Democrats will bring meaningful change: how do you describe people who question the ethics of Alberto Gonzales while never challenging the torture he helped legalize? Or the politics of debating strategies to “stabilize” the Middle East in a way that corresponds to U.S. “strategic interests,” while never admitting—and indeed covering over—the fact that those interests drove the decision to invade Iraq and kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

Send us your comments.

America's Fascists Call for “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”
by Reggie Dylan

“The Left controls the labeling machines in our culture—universities, virtually the entire press, network broadcasting, the schools… I want to scream every time one of my conservative friends uses the term ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ to describe totalitarian reactionaries who would send them all to gulags if they had a chance…A Noam Chomsky, a Howard Zinn, an Ibrahim Hooper—these are Nazis, or fellow-travelers of Nazis…

“This October 22-26 I am declaring Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. I will hold demonstrations and protests, teach-ins and sit-ins on more than 100 college campuses. Our theme will be the Oppression of Women in Islam and the threat posed by the Islamic crusade against the West.”

David Horowitz, August 28th, 2007 interview at

This declaration by David Horowitz can’t just be dismissed as the rantings of a reactionary meglomaniac. Horowitz is a major figure in Republican and Christian Fascist political circles. He has been a major spearhead of the assault on dissent and critical thinking in the universities, with the aim of transforming them into servile sites of indoctrination.

Over the summer we saw the purging of two prominent scholars at the top of Horowitz’ hit list for scholarship and public statements that challenged official “truths” vital to mobilizing the country behind the Bush regime’s global war for empire: Norman Finkelstein from DePaul University and Ward Churchill from the University of Colorado. And Horowitz and others have made it clear that this is only the beginning.

“Islamo-fascism Awareness Week” is his call for a major fall campus offensive, a concentrated effort to combine racist bullying with insidious deceit to recast this country’s global war for empire as an historic defense of freedom against the threat from Islamic fundamentalism in alliance with the “radical left.” And through it to further harden the dangerous polarization that sees the only choices in the world as between Jihad and McWorld/McCrusade—between Islamic fundamentalism on the one hand and capitalist-imperialist domination led by the U.S. on the other.

This fall campus offensive needs to be met by a Fascism Awareness counter-offensive that focuses on the threat represented by this country’s Christian Fascists and the Bush Regime, and at the same time brings forward an alternative vision of the future that is tied neither to the imperialists nor to the Islamic fundamentalist states and movements.

We must both take on and defeat this—and see the real opportunities this poses to flip the script on Horowitz and his ilk. In other words, the negative polarization that Horowitz is driving for must be and can be re-polarized.
Behind “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”

In March of this year Horowitz brought former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and other right-wing politicians to Washington D.C. to huddle with his campus brownshirts—Students for Academic Freedom—at their annual conference. (Santorum, among other things, is the Senator that attempted to insert into the “No Child Left Behind” Act the teaching of Intelligent Design creationism in the country’s science classes.)

There they began laying plans for this fascist offensive on the college and university campuses this fall. In his keynote speech, Santorum told the campus Republicans “Words matter. How you define things matter, particularly in this war.” He explained "You see, they [Shia Muslims] are not interested in conquering the world; they are interested in destroying the world … But it's not just radical Islam; it is also the radical left … They fight us on college campuses, and they fight us in the streets of Central and South American countries, in North Korea … They see the soft underbelly of America, just like the Soviet Union did. And they're going after it…. What must we do to win? We must educate, engage, evangelize and eradicate … We need to do more…to spread the ideas throughout your campuses."

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is planned as a national effort “to rally American students to defend their country.” It will feature “memorial services for the victims of Islamic terror both in America and around the globe.” It will include sit-ins at the offices of Women’s Studies Departments and campus Women’s Centers “to protest their silence about the oppression of women in Islam.” According to the Anti-Racist Blog, “The stated goals of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week are:

TO EXPLAIN WHO THE ENEMY IS—not ‘terror,’ but a fanatical religious movement associated with … the sponsors of the Muslim Student Association (MSA)…

TO COUNTER THE LEFT’S BIG LIE – that ‘George Bush created the war on terror…’




Horowitz envisions this the “biggest conservative campus protest ever” that will tell the truth about “the greatest danger Americans have ever confronted.” Campus speakers will include David Horowitz, Christopher Hitchens, Rick Santorum, Daniel Pipes, and more. Senator John Kyl and Santorum will be among those hosting showings of “Obsession,” a controversial “documentary” on the threat of radical Islam, marketed by a self-described pro-Israel group—HonestReporting—and promoted by Fox News and CNN.

A particularly racist component of this week is the targeting of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) around the country. Claiming it is sponsored by fanatical religious movements, MSA is already being “baited” by these brownshirts—insisting that it sign on to their “Islamo-Fascism Petition” to prove that it “reject[s] the hateful agendas of its sponsors, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.”

This vilification of immigrants from the Middle East and Muslims of all countries is meant to appeal to and inflame the most ugly, nativist passions. In his speech to the SAF in March Santorum explained: “What losing looks like is pretty easy, in my mind. Look at Europe….The most popular male name in Belgium—Mohammad. It’s the fifth most popular name in France among boys. They [native Europeans] are losing because they are not having children, they have no faith, they have nothing to counteract it.”

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

If this weren’t so deadly dangerous, it would be laughable. Stop and think for a minute about who these people are that are portraying themselves as the opponents of fascism:

They are the staunchest champions of the Bush Regime, which has legalized torture on an industrial scale. That claims the right to declare any U.S. citizen an enemy combatant and strip them of all legal rights—and did just that with Jose Padilla. That has declared its right to spy on anyone, and is doing so on an unprecedented basis.

That is continuing the war in Iraq—an ongoing and outrageous war crime launched on the basis of complete lies. And that is now threatening and preparing for a pre-emptive strike on Iran—launched either by the U.S. or Israel—with potentially disastrous consequences for the world. And these campus brownshirts are planning to shove this whole program down the throats of college students by telling them “you’re either with U.S., or you’re with the Islamo-Fascists.”

These forces also claim to be the champions of the rights of women and opponents of fundamentalist religious fascism. Meanwhile they work hand in glove with the Christian version of fundamentalist religious fascism in this country—forces who are determined to deny women not only access to abortions, but to birth control as well; to reinforce the subjugation and degradation of women in all its imperialist forms; to blur and overwhelm the boundary between science and religion; and to knock down the wall between religion and the state and establish a theocracy. How can we let them pose as opponents of the oppression of women? Or as “champions of religious tolerance?”

The Two Outmodeds

The world is a complex and dangerous place at this time in history – and we cannot allow these reactionary forces to define the future.

Bob Avakian has brought forward a crucial analysis of the present situation and the road forward in Bringing Forward Another Way (available online at and also as a pamphlet).

In it he elaborates on his characterization of the two forces contending in the world at this time—McWorld / McCrusade or Jihad—as representing “the two outmodeds,” and he argues that there is no future in the interests of the people of the world in allowing our vision to be reduced to choosing between them:

“What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these ‘outmodeds,’ you end up strengthening both.” (From the talk, “Why We’re in the Situation We’re in Today…And What to Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution. ”)

This analysis must be deeply grappled with. As we wrote in our article on line last week: “Islamic fundamentalism is not a progressive force for the world. It, or any kind of religious literalism, is a program full of outmoded and oppressive content: vicious patriarchy and bigotry, religious warfare, “honor killings,” and the promotion of unscientific, superstitious ignorance. But the U.S. is a much more powerful and more dangerous reactionary force. Overall, it is the far greater threat to humanity. It is in no way the "answer" to the genuinely oppressive nature of Islamic fundamentalism…. Every progressive-minded student and teacher should begin preparing now to politically – and ideologically take on these hypocritical fascists.”

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week must be met by a determined counteroffensive. The “two outmodeds” – either Islamic fundamentalism or capitalist-imperialist domination—must be repudiated as choices that represent any road to the future. And we need to be collectively grappling with the road to a future that genuinely represents the interests of the people of the world.

Send us your comments.

The U.S. & Iran: A History of Imperialist Domination, Intrigue and Intervention

Part 7: 1991-2001: The Soviet Collapse, the Growth of Islamic Fundamentalism, and The Intensification of U.S. Hostility Toward Iran
by Larry Everest

For over 100 years, the domination of Iran has been deeply woven into the fabric of global imperialism, enforced through covert intrigues, economic bullying, military assaults, and invasions. This history provides the backdrop for U.S. hostility toward Iran today—including the real threat of war. Part 1 of this series explored the rivalry between European imperialists up through World War 1 over which one would control Iran and its oil. Part 2 exposed the U.S.’s 1953 overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh’s secular, nationalist government in order to restore a tyrannical client, the Shah.

Parts 3 and 4 examined the impact of 25 years of U.S. domination via the Shah, and how it paved the way for the 1979 revolution. Part 5 explored the 1979 revolution and the U.S. response, including how both fueled the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Part 6 exposed the imperialist logic—and necessities—behind Ronald Reagan’s 1985-86 “arms-for-hostages” gambit to Iran. Part 7, traces the escalation of U.S. hostility toward Iran—from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991until 2001, when George W. Bush took office.

The Soviet Collapse—A Geopolitical Earthquake

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a geopolitical earthquake—opening both new opportunities for and new threats to U.S. imperialism. In one swift stroke, the main rival to U.S. global power had (at least temporarily) been removed. America’s theoreticians of empire sensed a historic opportunity to forcefully extend U.S. global dominance and deal decisively with a raft of impediments—to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable empire.

This new mix of opportunity and necessity reshaped Washington’s approach to Iran. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the U.S. not only drove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait but destroyed much of Iraq’s military and industrial infrastructure—while Iran remained neutral. Afterward, the Islamic Republic’s leaders took some tentative steps to normalize relations with the U.S., which had been broken when the U.S. Embassy was seized in 1979. The Ayatollah Khomeini had died two years earlier and a new, more pragmatic leadership under President Rafsanjani had come to power. And Iran was eager to attract new foreign investment and trade to prop up its economy.

The U.S. wasn’t interested. The Islamic Republic was still an obstacle to U.S. aims on a number of fronts. The Soviet collapse hadn’t resolved the knot of problems the U.S. faced in the Middle East (in fact it exacerbated some) and it opened up a Pandora’s box in Central Asia,. The U.S. was increasingly bumping up against Iran in both regions. And now with the Soviet Union gone, U.S. strategists no longer felt the need to balance Iran and Iraq. Instead they could move more directly against both.

“Dual Containment”—Preserving the U.S.-Dominated Status Quo

The Clinton administration adopted a policy of “Dual Containment,” with punitive economic sanctions against Iran and Iraq, aimed at weakening and isolating both. Clinton and company feared that Iran’s regional needs and ambitions and the growth of Islamic fundamentalist movements could jeopardize the U.S.-dominated Middle East order.

Iran’s 1979 revolution and its anti-U.S., Islamist message still reverberated with people living under brittle pro-U.S. tyrannies in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan, and Egypt. The Soviet Union’s demise had weakened (sometimes fatally) many pro-Soviet parties and movements. This further strengthened Islamic fundamentalist trends, which were becoming the main pole of opposition to the U.S. and its clients. The Iranian revolution and then the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan emboldened Islamists who could now argue that if they had helped bring down the Shah and then a superpower, why couldn’t they do the same to the United States?

As the region’s main Islamist state, Iran represented an ideological challenge to U.S.-led imperialist globalization and “modernization.” The Islamic Republic represented a pole of opposition to some of the U.S.’s political objectives in the region, as well as a source of inspiration (and sometimes direct support) for various Islamic trends.

The Clinton administration viewed the U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” which was aimed at ending the Palestinian struggle and strengthening Israel, as crucial to undercutting anti-U.S. sentiments and strengthening U.S. control of the region. But Iran was an obstacle here—both because of its political support for the Palestinians and its material support of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Islamic Palestinian forces.

The U.S. also worried about Iran’s potential to become a major force in the region due to its size, location, vast oil resources, and its efforts to reach out to global powers. The fact that the U.S. 1991 war on Iraq had weakened it as a regional bulwark against Iran added to these worries.

Iran, meanwhile, was eager to attract foreign investment precisely to expand oil production and build its industrial and military infrastructure.

In the early 1990s, Iran offered the U.S. oil giant Conoco $1 billion to help develop its oil and gas industry. This sparked a furor in the U.S. and led to the imposition of sanctions in 1995, blocking any U.S. companies from investing in Iran’s oil and natural gas industries (later expanded to punish foreign firms who did so).

A New “Great Game” in Central Asia

The Soviet collapse also had enormous repercussions for the U.S.—and Iran—in Central Asia. Suddenly, states formerly part of the Soviet Union possessing vast energy resources—Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan (today the site of the world’s largest oil development project)—were independent and up for grabs.

Fierce competition was quickly underway between the U.S., Russia, China, as well as European powers for access, influence and control. Former Carter official Zbigniew Brzezinski warned, “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

Iran sought to expand its historic, geographic, cultural, and linguistic ties with these new republics. It also sought inclusion in the new energy arrangements centering on the construction of oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia to outlets for the global market. Iran lies between the energy-rich Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf to the south, and already had a network of pipelines. So why not transport oil and gas through Iran?

As Revolution noted, “If the pipes go south through Iran to its refineries and harbors, then the U.S. containment of Iran is broken…. The U.S. vetoed any Iranian route and insisted the pipes run over Afghanistan—to Pakistan.” (See “Afghanistan: The Oil Behind the War,” Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution ) November 4, 2001)

In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. and its ally Saudi Arabia were also covertly organizing and bankrolling anti-Iranian Sunni fundamentalist groups (including the Taliban) in order to isolate Iran and counter Iranian-inspired Shia Islamists, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These covert intrigues further fueled reactionary religious fundamentalism and sectarianism across the region.

The Clash Over Grand Strategy in the 1990s

U.S. strategy toward Iran was shaped by sharp debate within the bourgeoisie that took place during the 1990s over post-Soviet global strategy. The neocon strategy was articulated in 1992 by top officials in the George H.W. Bush administration (who returned to power under Bush II). It called for wielding U.S. military power to preemptively knock down potential rivals and establish unilateral global hegemony.

During his eight years in office, Clinton championed Washington’s “right” to act unilaterally and shape the global environment by force if need be, while emphasizing acting in alliance with other imperialist powers, an overall posture the administration called “assertive multilateralism.”

Clinton was not hesitant to use military force, as in the NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia, the military preservation of the no-fly zone over Iraq, and the taking out of targets in Sudan. And he pushed for NATO expansion into the former Soviet Bloc. But this was still in the context of a more traditional “multi-lateral approach” (in which the U.S. always had the final say and veto power). Further, there was a considerable focus by the Clinton administration on strengthening the U.S. economic hand globally, and aggressively pushing forward with imperialist globalization and things like “free trade agreements” in the interest of U.S. finance capital.

Clinton never adopted a strategy of regime change toward the Islamic Republic, but while emphasizing the stick, also dangled the carrot of better relations. U.S. bullying was, in the words of Clinton’s “Report to Congress on National Security Strategy” (January 11, 2000), “aimed at changing the practices of the Iranian government in several key areas,” while “signs of change in Iranian policies” were viewed “with interest…”

The neocons felt the Clinton administration was squandering the victory of the Cold War, allowing events to drift and threats to build. They considered Clinton’s approach too multilateral (vs. unilateral) and his efforts to forge a new wave of globalization (in the interest of U.S. imperialism) too economically focused. What these neocons saw was an opportunity to radically reshape global relations through a hard line, unilateral and vast step-up in the application of military force and an aggressive program of “regime change.”

Their view was that even though Saddam Hussein was not a major threat to the U.S., the Middle East needed to be radically reshaped or else it would keep generating anti-U.S. forces, particularly Islamic fundamentalist forces, which would get in the way of U.S. domination in the whole region—an objective shared by the whole ruling class, even while there were (and are) differences over how to go about achieving this.

This battle was intertwined with a sharp debate over the significance of resurgent Islamic fundamentalism, which had been sparked by serious Islamist challenges to the ruling regimes in Egypt, Algeria, and Afghanistan. According to author Robert Dreyfuss, there were basically two camps within the U.S. establishment: those who “argued that the United States had nothing to fear from the Islamic right” versus “the clash-of-civilizations school [championed by right-wing academics like Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis], which believed that the Muslim world was unalterably and fundamentally hostile to the West.”

George Bush’s capture of the presidency in 2000 followed by the attacks of September 11, 2001 led to the consolidation of the neocon grand strategy and the launching of the “war on terror” to carry it out. The U.S. war machine would be unleashed to defeat Islamic fundamentalism and take down states impeding U.S. objectives. Global relations were to be radically transformed, and America’s sole superpower status locked in for decades to come. Iran would quickly become a prime target in this war for greater empire, as we will explore in the next and final installment of this series.


Ali M. Ansari, Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Conflict in the Middle East, Chapter 4—The United States and the Islamic Republic, pp. 132-146

Bob Avakian, “The New Situation and the Great Challenges,” Revolution #36, February 26, 2006

Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, p. 30

Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, p. 316

Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, Chapter 8—A Growing Clamor for Regime Change

Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, Chapter 5: The Battle of Islamic Fundamentalisms, pp. 160-168
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Over the last month, U.S. preparations for attacking Iran have taken a leap, and war—in the near future—is a real possibility.

In mid-August, the Bush administration announced plans to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist organization.” This would be the first time any state organization had been so designated and could be an effort to prepare a "legal" basis for attacking Iran. Former CIA operative Robert Baer wrote in Time (8/18) that "Officials I talk to in Washington vote for a hit on [Iran] maybe within the next six months."

On August 28, Bush made a belligerent case for war to the reactionary American Legion, charging Iran with threatening a "nuclear holocaust" and murdering Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops. He warned, "I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities."

The same day, a British think tank released a study concluding that the U.S. was preparing a "massive" military assault on Iran which could "destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order." On September 2, London’s Sunday Times reported that the Pentagon had plans for a three-day bombing blitzkrieg against 1,200 Iranian targets.

It’s estimated that half the U.S.’s warships are now poised near Iran, which means an attack could come very quickly – with little if any warning.

Far too many are either unaware or in denial about this extreme danger, and the capitalist media refuses to report it.

People need to call attention to and resist this U.S. escalation, including by joining World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime and building anti-war protests scheduled for September 15 and 29. (See for details

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