The “Iran Nuclear Deal”

This is a re-post of my writing on this subject from 2015, but it is still relevant today.

July 29, 2015 (Revised August 5, 2015).

The US-Iran nuclear agreement is a victory for US imperialism and a danger to the Iranian nation and people.

This agreement affords the US its demand of limiting Iran’s nuclear-energy program and imposing draconian restrictions on Iran’s independence and territorial integrity. The only apparent advantage to Iran from the agreement would be the lifting of the sanctions; however, such lifting only figures in the agreement as a promise to be implemented in the future. Moreover, according to the US administration, removal of any sanctions is accompanied by a provision that will allow the sanctions to snap back into place as soon as a problem is perceived with Iran’s compliance with any of the many intricate requirements.

The requirements detailed in this agreement go way above and beyond the regular and additional protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), taking away Iran’s international rights afforded to all NPT signatory countries. In addition, Iran has agreed to the inspection of any site including its military sites. Since the agreement contains no sunset, Iran has committed itself to this intervention in its sovereignty forever.

Prior to this agreement, even during the additional-protocol inspections, the IAEA reported no material evidence of cheating by Iran. Nevertheless, the US expressed suspicions that Iran was cheating in order to sell the public on measures and threats against Iran. This new agreement makes a whole new category of obligations that the ruling class can accuse Iran of violating. Consequently we have every reason to expect them to use such pretexts for more serious threats and possibly actual military attack.

This agreement began covertly in March of 2013 with Nicholas Burns, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, acting as the undercover negotiator, with the Party of Moderation and Development ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moderation_and_Development_Party ), whose leader, Rouhani, was expected to be the incoming president. Consequently upon the beginning of his presidency, his government, unilaterally suspended uranium enrichment, as the Khatami government had done for two years. In addition, Rouhani’s government began implementing many neoliberal policies by reducing or eliminating many welfare programs, such as bread subsidies, to the lower-income families, and reducing free services, such as daycare centers for children with disabilities such as Down syndrome.

Rouhani represents the pro-global-capital, neoliberal class in Iran. From the beginning of the victory of the 1979 revolution, while the US used every tool, including the Saddam Hussein war on Iran, for regime change from without, it tried to find allies in the class struggle in Iran. The 1979 revolution was an anti-US-imperialism revolution that included the Islamists, the nationalists, and the socialist/communists. The Islamist forces, who had been the majority, eventually eliminated the others from the power structure. But within the Islamist forces, the class struggle has continued between the revolutionary, anti-imperialist, pro-working class forces (who wanted a welfare state independent of imperialist forces), and the wealthy classes (who preferred a more western type capitalist economy). Via the victory of Khatami in 1997, the pro-western, anti-welfare, neoliberal forces came to power. The Khatami government began the appeasement of the US, and in order to attract more investment, it forgave the monarchists, many of whom had fled Iran, and invited them to come back. Many went back and reclaimed lands that had been confiscated in the revolution. Despite all the overture, the US continued its sanctions and hostile rhetoric against Iran. This was due to the fact that the revolutionary forces were quite strong and required US confirmation of the Algiers agreement signed by the Carter Administration as part of any negotiation. The first provision of the Algiers agreement is, “The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.” The US would not agree to that because its strategic goal is the control of Iran for its geopolitical importance and oil and gas resources.

In furtherance of that goal, in 2002 the US began a new attack on Iran by accusing it of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran had signed the NPT in the 1970’s and had begun building a nuclear-energy program. It was in 2002 that the Iranian government decided to restart that program according to NPT regulations. However, the US said that Iran was cheating, and their first source of the information of this alleged cheating was reported to be the Mojahedin Khalgh Organization of Iran (MKO). Somehow, the IAEA had not found any problem, but an exiled organization living in an enclosed camp in Iraq was successful in discovering problems with Iran’s nuclear program. This lie was accepted in the west even after the US lie about chemical weapons in Iraq had been exposed.

Again, to appease the US, the Khatami government unilaterally suspended uranium enrichment in 2003, hoping for an agreement with the US for lifting of sanctions. However, in any preliminary discussions conducted by other nations as intermediaries, Iran demanded the non-intervention condition, and the US refused to begin direct discussions with Iran.

With the US increasing its sanctions despite Iran’s suspension of enrichment, the revolutionary forces won the election in 2005, electing Ahmadinejad as president. His government expanded many existing welfare programs and implemented new ones, such as massive affordable housing for the poor. This government also raised the slogan of nuclear energy as an international right and restarted the enrichment program. He also expanded international relations with independent and/or socialist countries, especially Cuba and Venezuela. His government reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to support liberation struggles in the Mideast, especially Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon. All of these domestic and international actions were considered hostile by the US, which increased sanctions and anti-Iran propaganda. The US also increased its support for the neoliberal forces in Iran and attracted many of the educated upper-middle-class youth through”pro-democracy” slogans and financial and training support. These people were in the same class as the ones recruited in color revolutions in various countries. So, in the 2009 election, the class struggle was represented as between, on the one hand, a pro-Ahmadinejad faction (mostly poor working-class from outside Tehran), and on the other hand, a pro-Mousavi faction or the Greens, mostly urban upper-class youth and the neoliberal capitalists (the symbolism of the green color being interpreted in this social context as the color of Islam, not the environment).

This movement was clearly pro-Imperialist, since the slogans included death to China and death to Russia and no more money for Palestine. This was the first time in Iranian history where anti-Palestine slogans had appeared. While Russia and China had nothing to do with the Iranian elections, the US was extremely involved in promoting the Greens and condemning Ahmadinejad’s government. The US was hoping for a win by Moussavi, and Obama promised to begin talks with Iran after elections. When the Greens lost, the US attacks on Iran increased and the elections were called invalid.

The US kept increasing sanctions on Iran and threatening Iran with military attack while expanding its support for the neoliberal forces in Iran. During the eight years of Ahmadinejad’s government, the class struggle in Iran had intensified. The majority of the members of the parliament were anti-Ahmadinejad forces, especially the neoliberals. With the increasing US sanctions and financial attacks on Iran and embargo of Iranian oil, and the US covert support for the neoliberals, the anti-imperialist and populist government of Ahmadinejad came under political attack. The neoliberals, who wanted appeasement of the US in order to attract international investment to Iran, had gained such power that no presidential candidate from the anti-imperialist and populist forces was certified to run.

This is the context in which ambassador Burns was sent to begin talks with the almost assured incoming president, and the US was assured of suspension of uranium enrichment, giving up of the previous Iranian demands, and implementation of neoliberal policies.

This is that reason that Obama decided to have a direct talk with Iran for the first time. It was not a talk between equals, but the master and the servant.

The agreement creates many detailed obligations on Iran. The perceived failing of Iran in any detail will provide the US with a pretext to snap back the sanctions and attack Iran. During the whole process of these talks and subsequent to the signing of the agreement, the US government has maintained that the military option is on the table. So, Iran is still considered by US as “a supporter of terrorism”, and Iran is still under threat of military attack by the US. This agreement provides extended opportunities, excuses and pretexts for the US to attack Iran militarily without resort to any new UN resolutions where the US might face opposition by Russia and China. Now, Iran has agreed to be directly responsible to the US under the draconian measures of this agreement.

What is the basis of US hostility to Iran? It stems from Iran’s nationalization of its oil. The US responded with the infamous CIA coup of 1953, which brought Iran under US influence. The 1979 revolution overthrew the Shah and the US influence and interference in Iran. Ever since 1979, the US has used every excuse and attempted every trick to change the regime in Iran either through revolt, threat of military attack or subversion of the current system to the will of the US and its supporters in Iran (the pro-globalization, capitalist class).

Iran has never threatened to attack the US or its “interest”. In fact, during the war on Afghanistan, Iran declared neutrality. Al-Qaida and the Taliban were and are determined enemies of Iran. Although Iran was opposed to US military occupation of Iraq, it has supported the government established by the US in Iraq. On the other hand, the most important ally of the US in the Middle East (after Israel) is Saudi Arabia, the founder and supporter of Al-Qaida, ISIS, and the Taliban.

So, considering that this agreement does not change any US policies or strategic goals toward Iran, what are the possible outcomes for the Iranian people?

1- Increased probability of various degrees of military intervention by the US for the reasons explained above. This is coupled with increased vulnerability of Iran’s defense due to the compromise of its military secrets via IAEA inspections.

This increase in the probability of war is against the interests of the American and Iranian people.

2- Increased probability of covert US operations in Iran resulting in revolts and chaos as is happening in many Arab and/or Islamic countries where the US has had access to do so. The opening of Iran to the US as a result of this agreement will make it easier for the US to support “pro-democracy” (neoliberal and pro-US) factions.

3- Decrease in actual support by Iran for liberation movements in Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, and military and political support for the governments of Syria and Iraq. Under the current political atmosphere where the power struggle between revolutionary forces and the pro-west neoliberals has not ended in complete victory for the latter, this outcome, which is one of the main objectives of the US, cannot be easily and openly implemented. The possibility of this outcome increases gradually as the revolutionary, nationalist and anti-Imperialist forces in Iran lose power.

4- Weakening of Iran’s trade and political alliances with the ALBA countries (Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America, including Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and other Latin and Caribbean countries), Russia, and other non-aligned countries in the world. This outcome will become more probable as Iran expands its relations with the West.

5- More reduction in welfare and social programs for the poor and working people to attract global capital. The neoliberal forces in Iran, who are in control of the Administration, the Parliament and the Judiciary at this time, have already begun the process to achieve this outcome as a prerequisite for the Agreement.

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Celebrate the Declaration of Independence

On this fourth of July of 2018, we read the Declaration of Independence of July 4th, 1776, where one of its more prominent complaints against the British monarch is “for depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.” So we are wondering about, given that our founding fathers went to a war to stop this cruelty, why is it that today, that same cruelty is imposed on us through multi-billionaire corporations such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook, …, whereby they make us sign away our right to jury trial, and they enforce on us their absolute edict to accept their mediation process in any conflict of interest that we may have with them, on their pre-designed form, with no ability to negotiate.

So, Americans, rise against the cruelty of the new kings.

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“Democrats” Support War While Shedding Crocodile Tears

The “Democrats” say Trump is a madman and that he may start a nuclear war. So how do we square that with the chair of the DNC, Tim Kaine, cosponsoring a bill to transfer the power to declare war from the Congress to Mr. Trump? Which is more dangerous and important? That the American people allow their Congress to undermine their Constitution, and more importantly, to give over the power of declaring war to a president that they consider a madman? What is more important, that one, or the details of how border security is implemented? And for the bleeding-heart liberals, does a war separate children from their families by killing, bombing, destroying homes, making them into refugees, children with dead parents and so on? Were the war and sanctions on Iraq that killed at least half a million children more dangerous to the children of the world? Or temporary separation of some children from their parents at the US border? If you can advocate about both issues, do it, but we don’t see you putting any attention on the more severe issues; the ruling class is succeeding in diverting your attention.

If you want the children not to be separated at the border, you should end the condition that makes them come to the border. You should not give the power of war to your madman president or his successors. In fact you should do everything to stop American wars and interference in other countries, undermining their communities, supporting dictators, and on and on and on.

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What Makes an American President Presidential?

Self-styled “Democrats” — Why is Mr. Trump presidential when he bombs another country but not presidential when he enforces border-control laws which may lead to temporary separation of some children from their parents, but the bombing that kills and separates families and maims and kills and makes them homeless is OK? In fact, most refugees in the world are so as a result of wars. Instead of enforcing the border laws, should he be bombing some Latin American country to get your approval, since the only time he got approval and was called “presidential” was when he bombed Yemen and bombed Syria. When he has tried to negotiate and use diplomatic means to settle the nuclear issue with North Korea in a peaceful way, the “Democrats” and their followers have yet again made fun of him and said the two madmen love each other and opposed the meeting of Trump with the leader of North Korea.

In fact, the “Democrats” so fervently judge that waging war is the most presidential character, and in the case of Mr. Trump, his only presidential action, that the chair of the DNC, Tim Kaine of Virginia, has cosponsored a bill to transfer the power to declare war from the Congress to the President.

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“Abolish ICE”?

Some members of the “Democratic” Party are now saying “abolish ICE”. When ICE was established in 2003 as a part of Homeland Security in response to the 9-11 shock, the “Democratic” Party leadership/congresscreatures did not oppose it. The Homeland Security Dept. was established through Congress. And in fact the Patriarch Act was the medium to change the American government vis-a-vis its own people, taking rights from American citizens. There was some hue and cry there, but it became the American law and continued under the implementation of the Patriarch Act domestically and internationally and ICE is a small part of the huge Homeland Security, which the organization implementing the Patriarch Act against the American people. The enforcement of border security has always been one of the duties of the American administration, whether prior to or after the Act. The “Democrats” have been involved in the various aspects of the regulations that have been passed regarding border protection. In 2003, INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) was the agency facilitating the legal process of immigration for anyone who wanted to become an immigrant in the US on the route to naturalization. But after the passage in the wake of 9-11 of the Patriarch Act and the organization of Homeland Security, the INS was changed into ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). So it seems that the message emphasized by its name changed from facilitating legal immigration and naturalization to emphasizing enforcement of border security. Again, this was agreed upon by the “Democrats” as well as the Republicans and also was the law for eight years under President Obama. Now, if with Mr. Trump’s position that he’s going to enforce the law to the maximum with zero tolerance, some people have come to see some problems with the implementation of the law, they should logically and calmly go through the process of changing the law instead of creating hysteria. In fact, “zero tolerance” is a phrase introduced to not just the US not “justice” system but also to American society in general, where it has received acceptance. People developed “zero tolerance” for behaviors of children in schools. How can we have no compassion for our children behaving badly in school but become hysterical over a zero-tolerance policy at the border. People have been subjected to “zero tolerance” at their workplace, at their schools, and definitely in the criminal justice system. Now the “Democrats” and their followers have raised a slogan of “Abolish ICE”, which is meaningless. What’s the process of abolishing an agency in the executive branch? Why aren’t the “Democrats” coming up with a specific plan for reforming ICE, maybe changing it back into something like IRS? But it has to be an organized plan and it may or may not win votes. If you are going to “Abolish ICE”, what are you going to do with the workers? And if you are going to abolish ICE, who’s going to take care of all the legal immigrants, hundreds of thousands of them, waiting in line for the processing of their applications? And who’s going to take care of the undocumented immigrant children who cross the border unaccompanied? It’s the ICE that takes care of them. You may not like the way ICE does it — then correct it. That’s why the slogan is again empty, meaningless, and just another rhetoric in their partisan politics to get some more votes in the next congressional elections. It has no content, validity, or meaning in improving the conditions of American people or the immigrants.

“Abolish ICE”? How about “Abolish Patriarch Act”?

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The Supreme Court’s Decision Against the Unions

Today, Monday, July 2nd, 2018, the New York Times reports on the most recent Supreme Court decision “striking down mandatory union fees for government workers”. Obama, who had promised the unions, did not implement the “Card Check” (whereby the union dues and fees would be directly deducted from the workers’ paycheck and remitted to unions) and did not support any of the demands of the unions, while the unions had contributed tremendously to his campaign and the majority of the members had voted for him and other Democrats. The attack on unions has been continually increasing since 1980. And now this pro-market, anti-worker, anti-union Supreme Court has struck another blow to the survival of unions.

Why is it that the Democratic Party leaders and their supporters are not making the defense of the unions and American workers one of the most important topics of the day? Why aren’t there huge demonstrations by these bleading-heart liberals in support of the American workers? Why are all of them following the dictate of the Democratic Party leadership in defining what is the important issue of the day? Why are all the big demonstrations formed for defense of the right of undocumented immigrants, but not one word about the rights of the poor American citizens? I believe that the ruling class, whether in the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, are united in defeating the unions and reducing the rights of the American workers while supporting the 1%. The majority of the Democrats in power, for example in the Congress, belong to the 1%. So, without offering any tangible solution for the plight of the undocumented immigrants, Democrats and their apologists use the crocodile tears for the poor Latin American people crossing the American border as a smokescreen diverting the attention of the American people from all the atrocities that are happening in the Supreme Court and the American congress against the American peoples’ rights and livelihood. They are redefining the meaning of freedom of speech, granting it to the corporations and denying it to the unions. Citing freedom of religion, they have granted to corporations and other organizations a right of refusal of health services to women. And they have mounted many other attacks on the rights that the American workers, American women, and American minorities have won, sometimes at the expense of their lives, in their movements in the 20th Century. American workers were killed in the Haymarket uprising in Chicago and in the West Virginia mining towns and in the textile factories all over America to win the right to unionize. Where are the tears for the blood of the American worker?

It is an undeniable fact that since the victory of the Reagan Revolution in the 80’s and the implementation of the neoliberal economic policies, and the rise in the power of the religious right, which is economically in cahoots with the neoliberal policies, many rights won by the American people in the workplace and in their private lives (e. g. the right of women to legal abortion and coverage of their family planning by their health insurance), have been restricted. For example, the rise of the power of corporations has imposed contracts of employment that deny the workers some of their basic constitutional rights, such as their access to the courts by imposing mediation and excluding class actions. American workers are increasingly subjected to drug tests in professions where drugs are not related to their performance (public transport drivers and pilots subjected to drug testing is required for the security of the public). Many employers these days require a good credit rating for job applicants, while the unemployed may not have a good credit rating because they have been unemployed and poor. And why is it the Equifax firm, which violates the privacy of vital information of 140 million Americans, has the right to determine the creditworthiness of an American worker and affect the employment opportunity of that American worker?

The Supreme Court decision that gives the right to the American employee to choose not to pay fees for a contract that he benefits from weakens the union by reducing its revenue, which is already minuscule compared to the wealth of the corporations fighting against such employee. In an environment where a worker who accepts an employment contract gives up many of his rights, the Supreme Court says that if that same contract includes benefits negotiated by a union, the employee can refuse to pay the union fee. The Supreme Court has recently used the American constitution’s First Amendment in defense of corporations, such as in the Citizen’s United decision, while on the other hand using that same First Amendment to limit the power of unions, which represent the American workers.

Another danger that I see in this most recent Supreme Court decision is that it is another step in the process of eliminating all safety nets for the poor working-class Americans. There has been a long history of the powers on the Right to push for restricting Social Security and Medicare by privatizing them and in the final analysis, killing them. While for a long time, they warn us that Social Security may become bankrupt, yet they take absolutely no steps to prevent the bankruptcy so that the poor Americans would at least have the small Social Security benefits in their old age. Up to now, when a person accepted employment in a unionized workplace, they would accept as part of their employment contract, the payment of union fees. But the new decision has given them a right to reject that portion of their contract while benefiting from the result of it. The political Right will hold that if the constitution gives the American employee the right to not pay fees for services received under a union contract as a part of their employment contract, they will extend that logic to the imposition of payment of FICA (Social Security and Medicare). This compulsory fee is imposed by Federal law across the country on workers in private industry and those who work for states and municipalities. So what is it to prevent them from challenging that in the Supreme Court?

Despite this tremendous danger facing the majority of Americans, who depend on their day-to-day paycheck to live, and whose paycheck has been decreasing over the last forty years, I do not see an outcry or huge demonstrations by the liberals and “progressives”. And I don’t see the so-called “liberal” media (e. g. NPR) spending much time on the issues of the working Americans. Again, I want to emphasize that these so-called liberals and “progressives” always follow the agenda set by the leaders of the Democratic Party. Since the Democratic Party sees the issue of undocumented immigrants as a tool to use against the Trump administration, they raise cries and voices and demonstrations and accusations about this one topic while completely ignoring all the draconian attacks on the great majority of Americans, who are working Americans. Why do the liberals and the “progressive” activists follow the agenda of the ruling class? Why is it that they have no strategic plan in defense of the poor and the working Americans?

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America’s War on her Young

Originally published on William Waugh’s ‘blog, February 11, 2018.

The US is using student loans as a means to force its young people into a system of serfdom in the interest of global capital (corporations, 1%).

Since the 1980’s, the US Congress and various State legislatures have passed draconian rules that only apply to student loans and no other loans (such as business loans, mortgages, car, etc).

1- Student loans have been declared ineligible for inclusion in bankruptcy.

2- Student loans are systematically subject to higher interest rates than mortgages, car loans and such consumer loans. Currently, they are anywhere from 6% to 8%.

3- Students are limited in their ability to negotiate the conditions, interest rate, and refinancing of their loans. In some cases they are ineligible for refinancing.

4- In nineteen States, the government revokes professional licenses of students who fall behind on loan payments even when it is due to unemployment or disability. So, a student who has borrowed to study to become a nurse, and due to disability cannot pay her student loan, her nursing license is revoked.

The condition of the youth with student loans has become more dire over time due to the astronomical rise in higher-education tuition and other expenses.

The burden of a huge loan on an American in his early twenties, right out of college, and the draconian regulations against them and the falling availability of jobs with living wages and benefits, forces the young into a system of serfdom where they have to accept any job just to pay their loans to the banks. Due to this serfdom condition of the mixture of the job market and the loans, the young people cannot carry on a demand and struggle for their rights in the labor market. Since the 1980’s with the planned and systematic attacks of the neo-liberal economic and political policies on the working class, the youth, the middle class, and the unions, the student loan entrapment is the last nail in the coffin of workers’ rights in the market. The new generation of young Americans begin their economic lives in this serfdom labor market.

Theoretically, there are some labor laws on the books in the US, which have been undermined step by step. The workers have the right to unionize on paper, but the increase in monopoly and the unprecedented employers’ power such as Walmart and Amazon and a few giant tech companies, defeat any attempt at unionization. The labor laws require no more than 40 hours per week on regular pay, however, with the lack of unions or any power in the marketplace, the workers never complain. In fact in the tech industry and with the use of digital access to workers everywhere, all separation of working hours from nonworking hours has been eliminated. Workers are required to be accessible 24 hours a day.

With the increase in part-time jobs in the service industry, which is the industry with the highest growth, and with the encouragement of the gig economy, all the cost of providing place of work and working equipment has been transferred to the workers. And there is no unemployment insurance or on-the-job accident insurance for the worker anymore. All the risk is taken by the worker and the corporation pays the lowest it can for an hourly wage with no benefits or seniority increase in wages.

And so the young have to endure these working conditions in order to pay off their serfdom loan.

What Is To Be Done

I believe the only power these young Americans have lies in their unity and organization.

They need a civil-rights movement that should begin with a general strike by all who have student loans. They must stop paying these loans. If enough of them are united, the government and corporations cannot put them all in jail.

The strike should have clear demands:

1. Since loans are government guaranteed, the interest should be the lowest in the market for any loan. While students go to college, they produce huge benefits for the society at large. That is why, during most of the 20th century, America had decided to make higher education available to its citizens with expansive government subsidies. Since higher education is a communal and public benefit, its burdens must not fall on the youth.

2. Student loans must be included in bankruptcy like any other debt. America allows business, which makes millions in profits, to announce bankruptcy and escape paying their loans, while the American youth, forced to borrow for a public good, has no escape even if his education does not afford him a job due to market conditions.

3. Relief for disability and unemployment. When an American becomes disabled temporarily, all student loan payment must be postponed, and for long-term disability, student loans must be forgiven.

4. Under current regulations, students only get six-months postponement after graduation and irrespective of securing a job or not, they have to begin paying their loan. There should be a demand where so long as there is no job with a living wage, without any fault of the graduate, their loan must not come due.

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