Monday, September 10, 2007

The United States and "Regime Change" in Iran

Stephen Zunes claims in "The United States and 'Regime Change' in Iran" (Right Web, 7 August 2007)
In an effort to head off such a popular uprising and discredit pro-democracy leaders and their supporters, Iran's reactionary leadership has been making false claims, aired in detail in a series of television broadcasts during the third week of July, that certain Western nongovernmental organizations that have given workshops and offered seminars for Iranian pro-democracy activists on the theory and history of strategic nonviolent struggle are actually plotting with the Bush administration in offering specific instructions on how to overthrow the regime.
Just which "Western nongovernmental organizations" does he have in mind, though? And what television broadcasts? Zunes doesn't spell them out, but since he confidently says that "Iran's reactionary leadership has been making false claims" about them, the impression left in the reader's mind is that the nameless Western NGOs are doing either good things or at least harmless things, not at all linked to the US government.

But doesn't Zunes actually mean the NGOs named in In the Name of Democracy, featuring Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbaksh, and Ramin Jahanbaglou, which was indeed aired on Iranian Channel 1 on 18-19 July according to Western media reports? Like the Soros Foundation? Now, Zunes suggests that those who object to the activities of the Soros Foundation and the like are only doing so because they "have actually bought into these claims by Iran's hardline clerics" ("The United States and 'Regime Change' in Iran," 7 August 2007). That is not the case, however. An increasingly prominent role played by Western NGOs such as the Soros Foundation* in the "soft power" varieties of regime change campaigns first came to light regarding Central and Eastern Europe, especially Yugoslavia, and, needless to say, leftists' concerns about them long predate any claim made by any Iranian official and have nothing to do with any Iranian broadcast that few here watched anyway.

* Read, for instance, Gerald Sussman, "The Myths of 'Democracy Assistance': U.S. Political Intervention in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe," Monthly Review 58.7, December 2006:
Today, the U.S. government relies less on the CIA in most cases and more on the relatively transparent initiatives undertaken by such public and private organizations as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Freedom House, George Soros's Open Society, and a network of other well-financed globetrotting public and private professional political organizations, primarily American, operating in the service of the state's parallel neoliberal economic and political objectives.


Chicherin said...

Well, what do you say to Hands Off the People of Iran who opose US aggression towards Iran but also oppose the Iranian Theocracy? They are supported by Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Ken Loach and hundreds of others.

These are the demands of HOPI:
No to imperialist war!
No to the theocratic regime!
The immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US/UK troops from the Gulf region!
Opposition to Israeli expansionism and aggression!
Support to all working class and progressive struggles in Iran against poverty and repression!
Support for socialism, democracy and workers' control in Iran!
For a nuclear-free Middle East in a nuclear-free world!

Full statement at:

Yoshie said...

A collection of demands, be they good or bad, put forward on the Net by a small group of intellectuals, however smart, does not constitute a campaign. A viable political campaign must be rooted in a real, mass social base, who collectively decide on demands that organically arise from their needs and desires and figure out a sensible strategy and effective tactics to achieve the demands.

Chicherin said...

But its not just a bunch of intellectuals. Did you bother to visit the site?

Its actvists, politicians, entertainers, Labor Unions. most importantly it is supported by Iranian Socialist organisations who oppose US Imperialism but who also oppose the Mullahs.

Do you take the side of the Mullahs against Anti-Imperialist Iranian Socialists?

Chicherin said...

Iranian Workers Bulletin, Issue 14. No War or Sanctions, No to the Iranian Regime!
In Defence of The Labour Movement in Iran

This is the latest edition of Workers Bulletin. It carries articles on the imprisonment and torture of Mansour Ossanlou, 11 workers sentenced to prison and flogged for celebrsating Mayday, news from the Tehran Busworkers and other stories. The full text of issue 14 is at the link.

Trade Union leader Mansour Ossanlou is being tortured in Evin Prison according to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran (Iran HRA). Ossanlou has been physically tortured whilst under interrogation and has suffered heavy injuries to his ribs. Furthermore, it is said that he is having extreme difficulty walking. Ossanlou is being held in section 209 of the prison which is under the control and authority of Sepah intelligence (Revolutionary Guards). The organization claims that its intelligence is based on reports from inside the prison, which is notorious for its human rights violations.

No War or Sanctions, No to the Iranian Regime!

Iranian Military Attack Workers.

More Arrests

Five members of the Executive Board of the Sherkate Vahed syndicate were arrested on the 9 August - the day of international action against the imprisonment of Mansour Ossanlou and Mahmoud Salehi. The latest reports claim the men are being held in Evin Prison.

No War or Sanctions, No to the Iranian Regime!

Related Link:

Yoshie said...

You see, I live in the USA, not in Iran. To get anywhere with a demand for "socialism, democracy and workers' control in Iran," you have to have a real mass social base making that demand in Iran itself. Otherwise, support for it among Americans and expatriate Iranians amounts to nothing. The same applies to the USA. A demand for "socialism, democracy and workers' control in the USA" won't go anywhere unless masses of US workers put it on their political agenda.