29 January 2018
The recent social unrest in Iran exposed a number of elements of western foreign policy that the mainstream media either failed to appreciate or, more likely, deliberately chose not to report.
Iran has been a target of western intervention for a very long time. Operation Ajax, a joint CIA MI6 operation in 1953 overthrew the relatively secular and nationalist government of Mossadeq Mossadegh and installed in his place the brutal rule of the Shah.
The primary motive for the western coup was to prevent the nationalization of the Anglo Persian oil company (now BP) by Mossadegh. It is often overlooked that a further important motive was Iran’s geographical location, sitting as it does in a key location between Southwest Asia and Europe, and adjacent to the crucial oil and gas reserves of the Middle East.
The Shah’s reign, and with it steadfast support for US geopolitical objectives in the wider Middle East and Southwest Asian region, was brought to an abrupt end by the Islamic revolution of 1979. Since then the US and its allies have effectively waged asymmetric war upon Iran.
This warfare has taken a number of forms, including sanctions, confiscation of Iran’s overseas assets, support for terrorist groups such as the MEK, which has sabotaged economic assets, assassinated key scientists and officials and promoted for its own ends the separatist ambitions of different Iranian ethnic groups.
Since 1979 the US has been continually urged by Israel to wage actual war against Iran. Successive Israeli governments have stated that Iran was only months away from having nuclear weapons and as such posed an existential threat to Israel.
That such allegations could be repeated for 20 years without a shred of proof of any Iranian nuclear bomb program mattered not at all. The uncritical western media reported the allegations ad nauseum, along with other fabrications such as Iran’s alleged sponsorship of international terrorism. For such allegations to come from the governments of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US is evidence of the complete irony bypass that inflicts the media and leadership of those three countries.
It was in this context that Iran participated in the JCPOA in which Iran agreed not to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of the prolonged sanctions that had crippled its economic program.
The US was a party to those negotiations, signed the agreement and was a party to the unanimous vote in the Security Council resolution approving the JCPOA. That agreement was denounced barely a year later by Trump, as “the worst deal ever.” Trump is only reluctantly certifying Iran’s compliance with the terms of the JCPOA (as required by US law and not the terms of the agreement). The US has not only failed to lift the sanctions as required by the agreement but has in fact imposed further sanctions on manifestly false premises. It confirms Putin’s observation that the US is simply “not agreement capable.”
When the Iranian protests against price rises for basic food commodities broke out in late 2017, the western media totally failed to acknowledge that a major contributing factor to Iran’s economic difficulties were in fact the sanctions that they had supported. It was hypocrisy and doublethink on a scale all too commonly found in the western media.
The distortions went further. Film clips of protests in Argentina, Bahrain and Spain were shown on western TV as “evidence” of popular unrest in Iran. That the total number of protesters in the whole of Iran were fewer then New York’s “Occupy Wall Street” protests was never mentioned, and neither were the scale of the pro-government demonstrators that vastly outnumbered the anti-government movement.
The US State Department has openly admitted that it was communicating via social media with anti government protesters. The United Kingdom’s Joint Threat Intelligence Research Group, a unit of British intelligence tasked with creating fake news on social media to discredit the UK government’s opponents was also active at this time. Little or none of this was ever reported the western media.
None of this should come as a surprise. As Tony Cartalucci has recently pointed out www.journal-neo.org 3 January 2018), the plan to disrupt and destroy the Islamic republic was set out in detail in the Bookings Institute document (2009) “Which Path to Persia” that Cartalucci describes as a “200 page written confession- a signed and dated conspiracy against another nation state.”
The underlying motive for the US’s current drive to war against Iran however goes much deeper even than that set out by Cartalucci. It is rooted, I suggest, in the US’s desperate attempts to retain the dollar as the world’s leading reserve currency.
Since at least 1971 when Nixon took the US off the gold standard, the US has run in effect a giant Ponzi scheme, using other people’s money to fund its deficits, pay for its endless wars, and to defy what should ordinarily be the consequences of printing money without productive backing and running up a $20 trillion (and counting) national deficit.
Under ordinary economic principles, having a rapidly growing debt and a need for ever greater borrowings to service debt would lead to an increase in interest rates. A rise in interest rates would of course make the servicing of the debt that much more difficult.
To avoid this conundrum, the US needs foreign demand for dollars to remain high. Any threat to the dollars supremacy is required to be resisted, even to the point of war. Iraq and Libya are two recent examples where invasion and destruction of whole societies were motivated in part by the threat of those two nations to cease trading their oil and gas in US dollars.
Actual warfare has been accompanied by economic warfare, of which the sustained sanctions, endless threats, and sabotaging of Iran’s economy are further illustrations. The US froze $100 billion of Iran’s overseas assets, and excluded it from the SWIFT Interbank currency system. This also has been a major factor in creating the economic difficulties that Iran’s government faced, and the necessity of introducing economic policies that in turn led to the recent social unrest.
Again, this reflects common US economic sabotage of its adversaries. The US has waged economic warfare on Russia on and off since 1917, and very recently US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has also threatened to exclude China from the SWIFT system. It is hardly surprising therefore that at the September 2017 BRICS meeting, Putin criticized the unfairness of the existing global financial structure and expressed the need for a new system.
It is just such a new system that Russia, China and Iran are spearheading, to defeat what Alisdair MacLeod calls an American “pump and dump system”, facilitated by the US dollar’s reserve currency status. (www.goldmoney.inc 20 April 2017). The US issues debt, which brings money to the US from overseas via the commodity market, the Treasury bill market and the stock market. A circular system is thereby created, independent of any genuine industrial production.
In October 2015 China inaugurated it’s own International Payments System (CHIPS), which was one move to independence from the US controlled SWIFT system. Other moves include signing an increasing number of contracts with payment in a gold backed Yuan and a soon to be announced oil futures contract based on Yuan.
In short, the end of the dollars dominance is in sight, with the rapid development of not only China’s BRI but related geopolitical and economic developments including in particular the EAEU, SCO and BRICS. The countries involved in these developments already exceed more than 42% of the world’s population.
Their political leaders clearly see the advantages of the China-Russia-Iran led alternative economic model. From the US perspective these developments represent a major threat to its earlier economic and geopolitical dominance. Hence the increasingly desperate tone emanating from Washington, the ludicrous rhetoric of President Trump, the ramping up of tensions in Korea and the South China Sea, and the latest bizarre and illegal plan to create a separate Kurdish-dominated State in northern Syria together with a 30,000 strong so-called border force. It’s scarcely needs mentioning that this latest scheme is bereft of any UN Security Council resolution or other foundation in international law.
Notwithstanding these desperate maneuvers it is readily apparent that the geopolitical ball is firmly in China’s court. The Chinese government has the ability to deliver a financial coup de grace to the Americans. For the time being they are apparently willing to refrain from exercising this power. The more that the US escalates its threats and intemperate behaviour however, the more quickly that coup will be administered.
In the meantime, China, Iran and Russia are steadily creating a wholly different economic, financial and geopolitical framework. When the crunch comes, as it inevitably must for the US Empire, an alternative model should be firmly in place.
*Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org