To stop a war, it’s necessary to be clear about its causes.
In a criminal act, the United States assassinated Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most important military official and one of the country’s most powerful people, as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), which are allied with Iran, along with as many as eight other people.
Subsequently, a US air raid, ostensibly aimed at a PMF commander, killed six people, some of whom were medics, and left three others critically wounded.
This all came less than a week after the United States bombed Iraq and Syria, reportedly killing twenty-five and wounding fifty-five, four of them commanders in Kata’ib Hezbollah, a key player in the PMF. The justification offered for this was that a US contractor and several members of the US military were killed in an apparent rocket attack for which Washington blamed Kata’ib Hezbollah.
Iraqis responded to these bombings by storming the US embassy in Baghdad and demanding that American officials leave the country. The United States attempted to justify its ongoing murder spree by claiming that the PMF and Soleimani masterminded the protests — as though after thirty years of US terror Iraqis needed an external conspiracy to prompt them to be mad at America. That it only took until the second day of the 2020s for Washington to extend its streak of bombing Iraq into a fourth consecutive decade lays bare the unadulterated barbarism of US imperialism.
Meanwhile, America’s ruling class has effectively been waging war against the Iranian people since the United States carried out a coup against the country’s democratically elected reformist prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953. The United States propped up the merciless shah’s dictatorship, a crucial ally in the Cold War, from 1953 until it was ousted in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran became independent of Washington’s death grip, and the United States sought to turn it back into a vassal state by funding Iranian exiles and by helping Saddam Hussein’s invasion of, and use of sarin and mustard gas against, Iran.
The United States has strangled the Iranian economy for years, including the period when the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran was in effect. Though Iran abided by the accord, Trump tore it up and intensified the sanctions, weakening Iran’s economy, preventing aid from getting to victims of mass flooding, and depriving Iranians of food and medicine to the point of killing cancer patients. For years, the United States has worked to build a belligerent anti-Iran collation that includes Israel — which has a track record of murdering Iranian scientists — and reactionary Arab monarchies, Saudi Arabia chief among them.
Let there be no doubt: if the US-Iranian antagonism explodes, it will be because of this lengthy record of US aggression. Iran hasn’t overthrown what passes for American democracy, forced a dictatorship on it, aided an invasion of the country, participated in chemical warfare against the United States, or destroyed the US economy. The American military has fifty-three military bases and, as of September, between sixty thousand to seventy thousand troops on Iran’s doorstep; at last check, Iran has no bases or soldiers in Canada or Mexico.
It is clear, therefore, who needs to be fought to stop the fighting.
The signs that the United States’ long-running war on Iran will become a larger-scale military conflict are ominous: the Trump administration is sending three thousand more soldiers to the Middle East, on top of the 650 it announced it was deploying on New Year’s Day. It has urged all of its citizens to leave Iraq. Oil prices have surged, and the stocks of Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and other war profiteers have rallied.
What’s at stake in the present moment is full-scale regional conflagration. Innumerable lives are at stake not just in Iraq and Iran, but also in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen, as both Iran and the United States have partners in all of these places. After all, Iran’s function as an obstacle to US-Saudi-Israeli designs across the region is a central reason for the US ruling class’ violence against Iran. It is all but impossible for the people of these or any other nations to build better political and economic lives for themselves when they are facing the threat of imperialist annihilation.
The United States has no right to bomb other countries, to try to overthrow governments, or to assassinate other states’ officials, though it has been doing so for so long that these practices have come to be widely accepted as natural.
Reverse this process. Organize at work. Organize in your neighborhood and at your school. Don’t be sectarian. Be in solidarity with those who live under the gun of the empire, particularly those who resist. Stop the war.