Tuesday, December 11, 2007

UFPJ, Iran, and the Democratic Party

United for Peace and Justice, a US anti-war coalition, has finally come to realize that it can't just focus on Iraq, compartmentalizing it from the rest of US Middle East strategy: "We must develop new ways to express our outrage that this war continues to cause so much death and destruction both in Iraq and here at home. At the same time, we must be vigilant in preventing a new war on Iran" ("2008: Looking Forward to a Critical Year for Peace and Justice," A Message from the UFPJ National Steering Committee, 10 December 10 2007). The second part of its three-part campaign in 2008, says the coalition's steering committee in the same message, will be to "focus energies on preventing any attacks, including the use of sanctions, on Iran."

So far, so good. Washington's rationale for and strategy of the Iraq War has shifted to containing Iran, and it is crucial for US activists, like those involved in UFPJ, to recognize this fact:
Behind a maze of concrete blast walls rising from a desolate desert landscape that once was the scene of pitched battles between the armies of Iran and Iraq, a new American base is springing to life.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And though the U.S. troops here were deployed as part of the surge of U.S. brigades dispatched to Iraq earlier this year, they will not be withdrawn when the surge brigades are drawn down, something U.S. commanders have said will happen by the middle of next year.

Instead, the intention is to maintain "a continuous presence" in the border area, training Iraqi border guards, looking for smuggled weapons and monitoring the flow of goods and people from Iran, according to Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch of the 3rd Infantry Division, under whose command the base falls.

The new base along the Iranian border illustrates another shift in the U.S. military's Iraq mission. From toppling Saddam Hussein to searching for weapons of mass destruction to defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq, checking Iran's expansive influence within the new Iraq has emerged as a key U.S. goal.

Containing Iran "is now clearly part of our mission," Lynch said in an interview during a tour of the base. (Liz Sly, "In Iraq, U.S. Base Eyes Iran Border: New Effort to Curb Tehran's Influence," Chicago Tribune, 10 December 2007)
The devilish problem, like God, is in the details. The UFPJ steering committee says: "We will use many different tactics, including activities and projects specifically related to the election-year cycle" (emphasis added). Uh-oh. Will political activism be once again taken hostage by electoral politics, support for the Democratic Party in particular?


I just heard at the UFPJ Iran Working Group listserv that the coalition is working with Just Foreign Policy, the National Iranian American Council, and other groups to coordinate a nationwide speaking tour of Stephen Kinzer, the author of All the Shah's Men, in February. There will be a conference call about it on Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 9 PM EST. Very good.

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