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The Great Divide-Iran and Leftists

Gary Sudborough | 28.06.2009 18:40 | Anti-militarism | World

A discussion of the possible reasons for the great divergence of opinion among leftists about the situation in Iran

There seems to be a great divergence of opinion among liberals and leftists about what is really happening in Iran. There are those who think Iran is in somewhat of a vacuum and is only trying to have a democratic election against theocracy and a repressive attitude to women's rights. Other leftists think because the Bush administration in the past had contemplated military action and also covert actions by the CIA against Iran that these facts, among others, argue for an attempted coup taking place, especially given the enormous number of successful and unsuccessful CIA coups which have occurred in the past 60 years. I have an excellent book entitled Killing Hope-US military and CIA interventions since World War 2 by William Blum. I would say that the only countries or continents not to have at least CIA spies in them would be places like Greenland or Antarctica that have little interest for multinational corporations because they are covered with huge ice sheets. Of course, this could change with global warming. You might be served a burger and fries by an Eskimo at the grand opening of McDonalds in Greenland.

Noam Chomsky seems to want to take a middle ground and say that no elections in the US or Iran are really democratic because in the United States only the very wealthy get to choose those candidates who are to run and in Iran it is the clerics who decide the question. He is correct, of course, but that does not solve the problem of whether the CIA and US covert actions are being used in Iran.

Norman Solomon, a leftist writer for Common Dreams and other publications, had an article titled "Full Spectrum Idiocy- the GOP and Hugo Chavez." One of the points of his article is that anyone who thinks like Hugo Chavez and suspects a CIA-instigated attempt to overthrow the Iranian government is an idiot. This is somewhat belligerent. When I wrote my article about Iran entitled: " Iran- Amnesia, Ignorance or Stupidity," and gave my reasons why I suspected CIA involvement in Iran, I at least didn't call those with differing ideas idiots, but gave them three choices, all of which are better than idiot. Hugo Chavez has already suffered one CIA -backed coup in April 2002 in which a portion of the Venezuelan military arrested him, imprisoned him on a military base and installed a Chamber of Commerce man named Pedro Carmona as President of Venezuela. Pro-Chavez supporters in the thousands stormed the Presidential Palace, removed Pedro Carmona and in a while Hugo Chavez was released from military custody, during which he said two uniformed military men from the United States took part. Is Hugo Chavez an idiot or paranoid for suspecting that CIA coups have been perpetrated or are presently taking place in other countries, having experienced one himself? I think he is being perfectly rational, especially since Ahmadinejad is a man like himself in certain respects. Both Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez are spending the profits from the sale of oil to improve the lives of the poor in their respective countries.The ruling class of the United States hate this situation. They would rather have the rich in power in other countries so that American corporations can move in, privatize the oil and all other corporations, privatize health care and any benefits like Social Security for the poor and establish sweatshops with no recognition of worker's rights, unions, safety regulations in the workplace or product quality and safety. In other words, they want what Michael Parenti calls a client state government. I call it a puppet government. As Michael Parenti has said: "There is only one thing the rich have always wanted and that is everything."

I have discovered a very interesting thing about Venezuela. The CIA is still organizing coups against Hugo Chavez. The Cato Institute, a right wing think tank in the United States, recently paid an anti-Chavez student organizer a half a million dollars to stir up trouble against Chavez. It is called the Milton Friedman Award, but let's get real. This is nothing more than a bribe to help overthrow a democratically elected government. The student's name is Yon Goicoechea. I couldn't get a break in remembering this name by having him called Juan Gonzalez or some other easy name. If I had accepted money from a foreign government, let us say the Soviet Union when it was in existence, to overthrow the government of the United States, I would be classed as a traitor and either executed or would be spending a lot of time behind bars, probably in solitary confinement. However, Yon Goicoechea is now in Mexico from certain reports and probably spending his half an million dollars and enjoying himself immensely. Is Hugo Chavez an idiot for thinking that perhaps Iranian students, like Venezuelan students in Venezuela, are being paid money by US institutions to foment revolution in Iran? I think not and believe the real idiot to be Norman Solomon.

Another very prominent leftist in the United States is Michael Moore. He is a man who has done great work with movies like Roger and Me, Fahrenheit 9-11, and Sicko, with a new movie coming out in October on all the thefts and frauds committed by the banks and financial institutions of the United States that have contributed to the present world-wide depression. I give him enormous credit for at least keeping track of the carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan and posting on his web site the news of the latest US drone strikes that have killed numerous civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, he is another who sees the situation in Iran in isolation and thinks it is all about democracy. Michael Moore has long been a union man and I believe it was his father or another relative who was involved in the famous sit down strike at General Motors in the 1930s. I, too, have long held a passionate affinity for unions. Some of the earliest books I read were about the IWW in the United States and their heroes like Joe Hill, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Big Bill Haywood. I am just speculating here, but I think one of the things which swayed Michael's opinion on Iran was that the bus drivers union came out in support of the protesters and threatened a strike. The real tragedy here is that unions in other countries have often been infiltrated by the CIA.
In Latin America there was an organization called The American Institute for Free Labor Development. It was ostensibly run by the AFL-CIO, but was funded almost exclusively by the Agency for International Development and was an instrument of the CIA. One of its missions was to teach the unions in Latin America to be virulently anti-communist and to help with strikes any coups that the CIA was organizing in Latin America. Consequently, it is a big mistake to think that unions are always on the moral, just and democratic side of an issue.

One of the greatest problems that I perceive confuses many Americans, including many leftists, is a separation in their brain between domestic and foreign events. Most Americans realize the effects of capitalism at home. After all, in just the last 30 years there have been the scandals of the sub prime mortgage swindle by the banks, the Enron debacle where some people in California actually lost their lives due to planned blackouts, the accounting crimes of Arthur Andersen and others, which caused stocks to be greatly overvalued and led to a stock market crash and finally to the great savings and loan theft, which cost every American family approximately 5,000 dollars to remedy. They, also, realize that a great deal of their tax money is going to the very rich people who robbed them in the first place. The amazing thing is that these same Americans often believe that their foreign policy is motivated by humanitarian and democratic concerns, instead of the greed and avarice they experience at home. They point to the humanitarian aid given to other countries. Incidentally, much of this so-called humanitarian aid is actually money to build the roads and ports so that American corporations can make even more profit by not having to pay for these expenses. What American aid there is in terms of food, medicine and other things which are truly humanitarian is very miserly, especially since the demise of the Soviet Union, when there was obviously a competition between the countries. Now, US humanitarian aid is near the bottom in terms of that aid given by the other industrialized countries. Americans, also, point to the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe. That was obviously meant to prevent all the countries of western Europe from going communist because most of the resistance movements against German fascism in those countries were lead by communists. Finally, there is the American fascination with the "good war." I am speaking of World War 2, when American forces actually did fight on the right side against German and Japanese fascism. They relate that to other wars and think the United States is always correct when it decides to intervene in other countries.

Finally, let us return to the question of why if domestic policy in the United States is determined by very wealthy capitalists, why that same greed and desire for profits and power should not also extend to foreign countries? Those who own a country also control the repressive apparatus of the state. In other words, the police, army and the national security apparatus are in the control of the capitalists. If one doubts this fact, look at the history of Europe. Weren't nearly all the wars caused by the territorial and monetary aspirations of the rich nobles and kings? Does one notice any massive demonstrations by the poor for a war which does not benefit them in the least? Consequently, if the ruling class of the United States control the armed forces would they not use that army to satisfy the same hunger for wealth and power which they exhibit at home? I believe the answer is an emphatic yes, and all those leftists who believe the United States is not involved in the least in Iran are dead wrong.

Going to very popular leftist web sites and finding myself seemingly all alone in this opinion, I was very despairing that people who understood capitalism could not understand its consequences, namely imperialism. Now, I see that Paul Craig Roberts, Phil Wilayto, James Petras and others have joined me in my opinion. Michael Parenti once called the CIA, "Capitalism's International Army," and I couldn't express the situation any better.

Gary Sudborough
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Hide the following 7 comments

all very well put

28.06.2009 20:40

however there is one point that is overlooked at the end of a cohesive and well presented argument that even if the CIA is involved in Iran -and as you have said there are very few countries in the world where they are not operating - doe that mean that the people on the street do not have a case against the theocracy? Iran is not a leftist state it is a religious state with a limited degree of democracy as allowed by the ruling clique of priests - populist measures and state control in some areas do not make it socialist - the ruling group have been consistently anti worker anti left anti democratic from the outset- yes teh CIA are proably trying to destabilise Iran but yes the people of Iran are oppressed and have a right to express their right to political freedom - the Moussavi vs Ahmadinejad stand off may just be a reshuffle of the elite but it has opened up a space for political expression

to argue that there are only two views on this is weak

to argue that because the CIA may be involved the entire movement is a front is facile


The gatekeepers: Foundations fund phony 'left' media

29.06.2009 07:24

The gatekeepers: Foundations fund phony 'left' media (published in 2005)
The gatekeepers: Foundations fund phony 'left' media (published in 2005)


"The causes of the Left gatekeeper phenomenon are, no doubt, complex. It may be that, because of their political marginalization, writers on the Left tend to be more defensive about their credibility. Furthermore, many Left publications are dependent on foundation funding, and those relationships may compromise objectivity on conscious and unconscious levels. It is also probable that many left icons are co-opted by covert disinformation programs such as Operation Mockingbird that target the Left media precisely because people expect challenges to the official story to come from that quarter."

Shiu Hung
- Homepage:

a couple of points

29.06.2009 08:42

You wouldn't be served in a restaurant in Greenland if you referred to the waiter as an eskimo, that is considered a pejorative term there by the Inuit, akin to calling everyone from the Indian subcontinent as 'pakis'. Self-labelled leftists should aspire to avoid unwitting racism.

The CIA are in Greenland, the US had a cold war listening base there. Recently they've been using the Narsarsuaq airport for rendition flights.

The CIA are in Iran, we don't have to speculate about that from other similar destabilisations, the 2007 $400 million Presidential Finding was leaked both to ABC and Seymour Hersh in detail.

I agree with Snomans "to argue that because the CIA may be involved the entire movement is a front is facile", however no one has argued that, so it is more strawman than snowman. Recognising the fact that the CIA +are+ involved in Iran means we are able to better able to deconstruct some of the obvious propaganda.


So Craig Murray is a CIA stooge?

29.06.2009 09:31

"June 14, 2009

For me, any sensible discussion of Iran must accept a number of facts. I will set these out as Set A and Set B. Both sets are true. But ideologues of the right routinely discount Set A, while ideologues of the left routinely discount Set B. That is why most debate on Iran is inane.

Set A

Iranian Islamic fundamentalism allied to fierce anti-Americanism was born from CIA intervention to topple democracy and keep in power a ruthless murdering despot for decades, in the interests of US oil and gas companies

Iranian anti-Americanism was fuelled further by US support for US friend and ally Saddam Hussein who was armed to wage a murderous war against Iran, again in the hope of US access to Iran's oil and gas

The US committed a terrible atrocity against civilians by shooting down an Iranian passenger jet

Iran is surrounded by US military forces and has been repeatedly threatened to the extent that the desire to develop a nuclear weapon is a reflex

There is monumental hypocrisy in condemning Iran's nuclear programme while overlooking Israel's nuclear weapons

Set B

Iran is governed by an appalling set of vicious theocratic nutters

Iran is not any kind of democracy. It fails the first hurdle of candidates being allowed to put forward meaningful alternatives

Hanging of gays, stoning of adulterers, floggings, censorship and pervasive control are not fine because of cultural relativism. Iran's whole legislative basis is inimical to universal ideals of human rights.

Iran really is trying to develop a nuclear weapons programme, though with some years still to go.

There are two very good articles on the current situation in Iran. One from the ever excellent Juan Cole. I would accept his judgement on the elections being rigged.

The other from Yasamine Mather, which puts it in another perspective.

I am not optimistic about the outcome of the popular protest."

Or is it just the case that too many saddos on this site reach automatically for the CIA/MI5 smear, because they can't defend their emotional response in any logical manner... let alone resolve the hypocrisy created by defending one tyranny over another.

From the Politburo

Who mentioned Murray?

29.06.2009 14:39

I'd disagree with Craig Murrays summary there, as it seems to be missing important points and is mostly supposition, but since no one mentioned Murray then how do you draw the conclusion 'saddos' here think he is a stooge?


want to know more

29.06.2009 20:40

i'm trying to find out more about this whole thing - I thought Craig Murray's argument was plausible but someone says it is missing key points and is mostly supposition- please tell me what points he is missing and which bits are the supposition ? or is this just for those "in the know"?


Why Murray was lacking and why you were trolling

29.06.2009 21:24

I called a poster going under the name of HOPOI a fascist for telling someone else they couldn't be an anarchist unless they agreed with them. Telling anarchists what they have to believe is fascistic not anarchist. Pretending to represent the opinions of an entire group is fascistic. I've never called anyone Mossad in my life, so that is another smear.

"I thought Craig Murray's argument was plausible but someone says it is missing key points and is mostly supposition- please tell me what points he is missing and which bits are the supposition ?"

The main point Murrays article is missing is the fact that we know the CIA have just spent $400 million dollars destablising Iran. It is hardly an irrelevant or unknown point, having been broadcast on prime-time US TV news soon after without any denial.

The main supposition, without supporting evidence is Murrays assurance that "Iran really is trying to develop a nuclear weapons programme". Since the IAEA have no evidence of that then I am not taking Murray word for that - that is his uninformed opinion, nothing more.

Another major flaw in his article is the "
Iran is not any kind of democracy. It fails the first hurdle of candidates being allowed to put forward meaningful alternatives. Hanging of gays, stoning of adulterers, floggings, censorship and pervasive control are not fine because of cultural relativism. Iran's whole legislative basis is inimical to universal ideals of human rights."

That is arguable philosophically, since at various times the Islamic world has led the world in terms of human rights and decency, plus it is negligent in failing to compare vilified Iran with the far worse behaviour and far less democratic allies of the UK and US like Saudi Arabian monarchy, the UAE monarchies etc.


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