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Submitted by martin on Fri, 12/09/2008 - 20:33

It is just "imperialist lies" that Iran wants to keep the option of developing nuclear weapons, and might use them against Israel? The only way to be anti-imperialist is to devote yourself to assuring the world of how benign or at least harmless the Iranian regime is?

I could refer you to Yassmine Mather, who unfortunately has now got caught up in the concocted outcry against the AWL, but knows something about Iran, and only a couple of years ago could write candidly: "It is quite clear that Iran’s nuclear programme has only one aim: the development of nuclear weapons" (WW 611 Thursday February 9 2006); Iran is "committed to nuclear weapons" (WW 660 Thursday February 15 2007). Was she then an "imperialist liar"?

Or do you think that an Iran with nuclear weapons would be guaranteed not to use them against Israel? When "Death to Israel" has been one of the regime's chief slogans for decades? Why?

These are the actual issues here: whether we think that being "left-wing" obliges us to be defence-lawyers for the Iranian regime, and whether we are therefore going to respond to an Israeli raid by demonising Israel and presenting the raid as a pure emanation of the innate aggressiveness of "Zionism" or a proxy action for the USA.

We should debate that - not the concocted smokescreen thrown up on the issue of whether Sean's choice of words in his original article to express opposition to an Israeli raid was "strong" enough for your taste.

As Sean writes above: "I stated my opposition to an attack, in terms of both principle — my basic viewpoint, which is that not of an Israeli nationalist but of an international socialist — and of the immediate likely consequences in the Middle East."

The "immediate likely consequences" were those spelled out in the first para of the original article: Iranian civilian casualties; further bloodshed as pro-Iranian suicide bombers attack Israeli targets and Israel responds, as usual, with heavy retaliation reckless of Palestinian civilian casualties; throwing Iraq back towards civil war. The "basic viewpoint" thing is this: from an Israeli nationalist point of view you might not mind too much about those broader consequences so long as you thought Israel came out of the whole thing with net gain; from an internationalist point of view, you do mind, very much.

That's unequivocal enough. And so is the point of the original article - that such opposition should distinguish itself from root-and-branch condemnation of Israel as such, based on the notion that any raid on Iranian nuclear installations would just be an expression of the innate "imperialist" and "Zionist" drives of Israel as such.

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