An attack on Iran will most likely lead to great carnage in the Middle East, and beyond, as supporters of Iran resort to suicide-bombings in retaliation. There might well be large scale Iranian civilian “collateral” casualties. An attack would strengthen the Iranian regime and license a smash down on its critics, including working class critics, inside Iran. It would throw Iraq back into the worst chaos.
Yet the plain fact is that nuclear bombs in the hands of a regime which openly declares its desire to destroy Israel are not something Israel will peacefully tolerate. They will act to stop it while it can still be stopped without the risk of a nuclear strike against Israel.
Unless work on an Iranian nuclear bomb has definitively ended Israel will bomb Iran, with or without the agreement of the USA and NATO.
In the last reckoning here, Israel is no state’s puppet. It has pressing concerns of it’s own, and will act on them.
In 2007, Israel attacked a nuclear weapons site in Syria. It attacked nuclear installations in Iraq in the 1980s, when the US was backing Saddam against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war, eliminating Saddam’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons.
In Israeli eyes the facts and alternatives here are stark.
Recall what the Iranian leader Ahmedinejad said in December 2006:
“Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will, the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is [going] downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want. Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out”.
Israel, the Jewish state as such, is clearly what “Zionist regime” means here. In the context of Iran being close to having nuclear weapons, he is talking about the nuclear obliteration of Israel. That is how most Israelis took it.
Israel will act to stop this Muslim fundamentalist regime acquiring the possiblilty of inflicting nuclear death on the Jewish nation (and the Israeli Arab minority which would also be victims of a nuclear attack).
We as socialists want Ahmedinejad to be sent to hell not by the Israeli and American armies and airforces, but by the Iranian working class and the oppressed nations in the Iranian state. We would like to see the Israeli ruling class go on the same trip as Ahmedinejad.
We do not advocate an Israeli attack on Iran, nor will we endorse it or take political responsibility for it. But if the Israeli airforce attempts to stop Iran developing the capacity to wipe it out with a nuclear bomb, in the name of what alternative would we condemn Israel?
- The inalienable right of every state to have nuclear weapons — and here a state whose clerical fascist rulers might see a nuclear armageddon, involving a retaliatory Israeli nuclear strike against Iran in the way a God-crazed suicide bomber sees blowing himself to pieces —?
- Because Israel has nuclear weapons, and therefore the Arab and Islamic states should have them too —?
- Because we are unconditional pacifists? We think military action is never justified, and therefore Israel has no right to attack Iran, not even to stop it acquiring the nuclear means to mount the ultimate suicide bomb attack on Israel —?
- Because we would prefer to live in a world where such choices would not be posed, where relations between states and peoples are governed by reason, and strictly peaceful means —?
- Because for choice we would live in a world where the workers of Israel, Iran, Iraq were united in opposition to all their rulers, and strong enough to get rid of them and bring to the region an era of socialist and democratic peace and understanding —?
- Because Israel would in attacking Iran be only an American imperialist tool, against a mere regional power; and that cancels out the genuine self-defence element in pre-emptive Israeli military action against Iranian nuclear weapons —?
- Because Israel has no right to exist anyway, and therefore no right to defend itself —? (This will in fact be the underlying attitude of most of the kitsch left.)
- Because the Iranian government, Islamic clerical fascist though it is, is an “anti-imperialist” power and must be unconditionally supported against the US, NATO, Israel —?
- Because Israel refuses to dismantle the Jewish national state peacefully and agree to an Arab Palestinian state in which Jews would have religious but not Israeli-national rights, and therefore socialists, “anti-racists”, and anti-imperialists must be on the side of those who would conquer and destroy it, even, in this case, with nuclear weapons —?
- Because we don’t deal in vulgar practical choices but in pure historical essences such as “anti-imperialism” —?
The harsh truth is that there is good reason for Israel to make a precipitate strike at Iranian nuclear capacity.
Socialists should not want that and can not support it. Our point of view is not that of Israeli or any other nationalism. We want Israeli, Palestinian, Iranian and other workers to unite and fight for a socialist Middle East.
However, least of all should we back Ahmedinejad, or argue, implicitly or openly, that homicidal religious lunatics have a right to arm themselves with nuclear weapons — and that those they say they want to destroy should be condemned for refusing to stand idly by while they arm themselves to do the job.
The latter, expressed in duff “anti-imperialism”, pretend, one-sided, pacifism and hysterical appeals to “international law” and “the UN”, will be the response of the kitsch left to an Israeli attack. International socialists should have no truck with it.
The left needs to discuss these issues in advance, while a, comparitively, calm discussion may still be possible ...