We are so accustomed to decoding the unstructured and invariably ungrammatical ramblings of the manifestly deluded incumbent at the White House that the Iranian claim that a late night tweet by POTUS claiming to have shot down an Iranian drone was an example of Trump’s delusional state of mind carries a certain credibility.
If the midnight hour social media obsessive had himself claimed to have guided the missile it would have scarcely deepened our conviction that the whole episode is a bizarre provocation.
The Iranian suggestion that the US may have accidentally shot down one of its own aircraft contradicts the heavily mediated image of technological efficiency that the US military promotes.
But then we remember that it was a missile “expertly” fired from the guided missile destroyer USS Vincennes which brought down Iran Air flight 655 in Iranian airspace — while it was flying on its scheduled route in July 1988 — killing all 290 people on board including 66 children.
The then POTUS, Ronald Reagan — another fantasist — gave a grudging apology and, without admitting liability, the US government paid out $68.1 million in compensation.
That was 30 years ago and the US is still a massive threat to peace in the region.
Iran’s possession of immense oil reserves is both that unfortunate country’s blessing and its curse. But Trump’s sabre-rattling is not an example of his irrationality. It serves the strategic interests of big capital. The US fossil fuel industry is on a roll with huge gas reserves coming on stream and oil extraction on the up.
It is no accident that the energy producing states of Libya, Venezuela and Iran are on the US hit-list. This is not because the US contemplates an easy military conquest of these spaces or seeks a rerun of the not-so-distant past when it sought political control of such states either through war or proxies like the late and unlamented Shah of Persia but because it wants to blunt their competitiveness in the international energy market.
In Trump’s White House National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo front the pressure for military strikes against Iran.
This latest incident with the real or imaginary drone fits into this pattern of provocation which is designed to give cover for an intervention in a region already in a state of great tension.
The waters around the Persian Gulf are infested with foreign warships including from the Royal Navy while the various regional proxies of the US all have powerful reasons for limiting Iran’s influence.
To Britain’s shame our part-time Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has given what little credibility his name carries to support the entirely unsubstantiated US intelligence allegations that Iran is responsible for the attacks on shipping.
His attack on Jeremy Corbyn — who demonstrated a clear grasp of regional realities by calling for credible evidence that Iran is the perpetrator — is not simply electioneering in the Tory leadership contest but gives voice to the fear that a Labour government would change the geopolitical geometry of the region in favour of peaceful solutions to its various conflicts and would be a barrier to untrammelled imperial aggression.
We know from the bitter experience of the Iraq war what the human and political cost of failing to resist a war on Iran would be.
The Parliamentary Labour Party is infested with people who voted for Blair’s war and if their voices are somewhat muted their attachment to the imperial mindset in the Middle East is still manifest in constant attempts to damn or deflect criticism of Britain’s cosy relationships with Israel and Saudi Arabia and their resentment of a leader committed to peace.
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