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Without the I Word, Beware B and P

11 3 0

As Nancy Pelosi struggles to contain increasing demands for the Congress to impeach President Trump, his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo ratchets up tensions in the Gulf of Oman, as it has done in countless other historical circumstances, making war with Iran look imminent. Now more than ever, Americans need to know that beyond oil, the Middle East, like the rest of the world, is divided between right and left. Iran is the leader of the left-oriented Shia version of Islam, while Saudi Arabia leads the right oriented Arab world. Meanwhile, Israel, as it continues to occupy Palestinian territory for over seventy years, has gone from being a left-oriented society in which the kibbutz played a central role, so far to the right that it often agrees with fascists. Across the Middle East as elsewhere,“Follow the money”, corresponds to the left-right divide.

Unlike American ignorance of current foreign affairs, few people across the world have a false idea of the French Revolution of 1789: driven by popular hardship, the sans culottes got rid of a monarch, opening the way for an organized left that carried out the Russian Revolution of 1917, followed, in due course, by the Chinese Revolution of 1949. These three revolutions duly claimed their place in history and in the popular imagination, however, after the defeat of Nazi Germany, the US installed ‘liberal’ parties in Western Europe, Eastern Europe modernized under a Soviet controlled authoritarian form of social democracy, while Iran was still a relatively poor country whose population was in need of everything from health care to education and housing. In 1953, when Iranians elected a lawyer named Mohammed Mossadegh to lead the country, the nationalization of their oil bonanza was a no-brainer. Alas, this coincided with the growing realization by the US of the crucial role of ‘black gold’, as American automobile ownership tripled, and petroleum became the magic fluid that generated prodigious development in the West. In what was to become a pattern, the CIA and M16 worked in tandem to overthrow the Iranian popular government and put the exiled Shah back in power.

Twenty-six years later, in 1979, popular forces carried out a revolution against the Shah’s iron rule that has never been understood by the West, which saw the new leaders exclusively as religious fanatics. In reality, when Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in France, he was accompanied by a socialist theoretician. Ali Shariati had been in and out of jail while teaching high school and campaigning........

© New Eastern Outlook