November 4 2008
Barack Obama’s victory has enthused millions of people across the globe. But anti-war activists should be careful not to cheer him too loudly.
Much was made of his claim to want to meet Iran’s president Ahmadinejad “without preconditions” to sort out the ‘disagreements’. And, after all, both have quite a lot in common: they want to see the Shia government succeed in Iraq and are strong opponents of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But Obama has also made clear that he will do “anything” to stop Iran from developing the facility to produce nuclear weapons. He has “not ruled out” the prospect of war.
Furthermore, “If Iran continues its troubling behaviour, Obama and Biden will step up our economic pressure and political isolation”, it says on Barack Obama’s campaigning website. So, even harsher sanctions and economic warfare are likely to be introduced by new US President – which will hit the poor and the working class the hardest.
Much has been made of Obama’s announcement to “withdraw American troops from Iraq by 2010” – less well known is the fact that 30,000 soldiers will remain in Iraq after that, to protect foreign businesses and diplomats and to train the Iraqi security forces. He also wants more troops in Afghanistan and extend the so-called ‘war on terror’ to Pakistan: another 10,000 soldiers will be sent there.
A quick look at his advisers and potential cabinet members he is currently assembling also tells us a lot about his views on the future of the Middle East:
– There is speculation that Hillary Clinton might become his Secretary of State. She has, of course, voted for the war on Iraq and has threatened to “obliterate” Iran if it uses nuclear weapons against Israel.
– Madeleine Albright (appointed by Barack Obama to represent him at the G20 meeting last weekend) was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State and as such responsible for Clinton’s Nato-war on Yugoslavia and imposing the horrific sanctions on Iraq. In her now infamous TV interview on the programme ‘60 minutes’ in 1996, she said of the estimated 500,000 deaths resulting from the sanctions: “We think the price is worth it”. She also couldn’t rule out a war against Iran: “This last resort can never be given up”, she told Prague-based CT1 television.
– The Republican Colin Powell, rumoured to be given the post as Education Secretary, was George W. Bush’s Secretary of State during the 2003 Iraq invasion and the head of the US armed forces during the 1991 Gulf war.
While President Obama might suspend the sable-rattling against Iran for a while, it is clear that he will not bring war in the Middle East to an end. And the threat of an attack on Iran has certainly not gone away. Quite the opposite: the global financial crisis is making imperialism more belligerent, not less.