Sean writes, 'The approach of asking — “in the name of what alternative would we condemn...” — is not new.
Perhaps not but in the original article he did not answer this question. He said he did not advocate such an attack but would not condemn it. A strange position and hard to understand really- even though he claims that anyone who does not understand it is an 'idiot'. Not really I'd have thought- it is the duty of socialists and democrats to oppose imperialist or proxy attacks on Iran and to organise against them. This in no way implies supporting the Iranian dictatorship- in fact; imperialist threats against Iran aid the dictatorship and make the job of opposition harder.
The confusion of Sean's politics perhaps becomes clearer in this passage:
"In 1999 the AWL said the Serbian army, which was engaged in a giant pogrom against the Albanian population there, should get out of Kosova, but we did not back NATO’s war. Specifically we did not give political confidence or trust to those who controlled the NATO forces. (We did not join in the calls to “stop the bombing” because in the circumstances that call implicitly sided with the Serb would-be genocidalists)."
Here is a very confused position. In the 1999 Balkans conflict socialists should not only have been for the Serb army and paramilitary to get out of Kosova but for the rights of Kosovars to defend themselves against Serb pogroms, for their right to arms and for Kosovan self-determination and independence. None of this in any way contradicts being against the bombing- Sean incredibly says 'we do not join in calls to "stop the bombing"'
NATO bombed Kosovan refugees and Serb civilians as well as perhaps occasionally Serb paramilitaries. NATO blocked Kosovan independence and occupied both Kosova and Serbia as well as other parts of the Balkans to impose political hegemony. It made the job of Serbian democrats and Kosovan democrats much harder. We should have said-"Stop the Bombings! NATO Out of the Balkans! Self-determination for Kosova!" The idea that this is implicitly siding with Serb genocide is offensive as well as nonsensical.
However, it perhaps shows why Sean and the AWL can't formulate serious politics on these issues. It is the old fallacy of my enemy's enemy is my friend. It is nonsense.
It leads some such as the SWP to condemn HOPI because they see any criticism of the Iranian government as support for US imperialism (as they sidelined and stayed silent on Kosovan independence during that conflict) whilst the AWL, or at least some of them such as Sean, refuses to condemn Imperialism or Israel because they believe it would involve implicit support for the Iranian dictatorship.
It is false logic and bad politics.
The alternative is to argue for the Iranian working class against all its enemies both at home and abroad. It is not too hard to understand but it does mean breaking form the false logic of my enemy's enemy= my friend.