The African World
What are We to Make of The USA, Israeli, Iranian Dance
By Bill Fletcher, Jr. BlackCommentator.com
Editorial Board BC
January 13, 2012
In watching the USA/Israeli vs. Iranian tensions play
out, I found myself thinking about the similarities
with the British/Argentine war in the early 1980s over
the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. Talk about a useless,
purposeless war.except for one thing. The ruling
elites of both countries needed it.
In the early 1980s the Argentine military government
was in trouble and they knew it. Their regime was
unraveling and they desperately needed a means to hold
things together. Presto!! They began a pseudo-
nationalist campaign to regain control over the
desolate Falkland/Malvinas Islands that were occupied
by Britain (since 1833). Hoping to distract the
Argentine population from the economic crisis that
combined with the savagery of the military
dictatorship, the junta carried out a military
operation that under other circumstances would have
been the basis of a comedy. Unfortunately the loss of
life that accompanied this war was nothing to laugh at.
Britain, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, needed
its own distractions. The Falklands/Malvinas Islands
did not possess any strategic importance to Britain but
a nice little war did hold importance. A quick, dirty,
little war could, and did, distract the British
population from its own political and economic
difficulties. It also represented an opportunity for
the citizens of a dying empire to reassert themselves,
much in the way that a bully picks on a weak neighbor
in order to reinforce their own feelings of
There were no good-guys in that war. It was a war that
should never have happened.
In today's situation the USA, Israel and Iran all need
distractions. All three countries have been in the
midst of severe economic crises. Hundreds of thousands
of Israelis have protested economic conditions in an
unprecedented display of antipathy toward the Israeli
political establishment. Iran has been unsettled ever
since the emergence of the massive opposition "Green
Movement," that followed the questionable elections of
2009. The political challenges faced by the Iranian
theocracy accompany growing economic challenges which
preceded Western-imposed sanctions (though have been
accelerated by those sanctions). And, of course, we in
the USA are in the midst of the worst economic crisis
since the Great Depression.
The USA cannot really afford a war with Iran (though
this will not necessarily stop the US from initiating
one), a point demonstrated just this past week with
Obama's announced cuts to the Pentagon, the clear
result of the impact of the aggressive US wars against
Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel, which claims an
existential threat from Iran, knows full well that such
a threat does not exist. The only nuclear power in the
Middle East is Israel, and any threat to Israel from
Iran would be met by a terrible response from both
Israel and the USA. But carrying out an attack or
encouraging the USA to carry out an attack on Iran
would both distract the Israeli population from
domestic concerns as well as provide a cover for
Israeli military operations closer to home, such as
against Hezbollah in Lebanon or against Hamas in the
A war with Iran would be a disaster for everyone. For
the Iranians, war would be used, much as with the
Argentine junta thirty years ago, to clamp down on
dissent and wrap everyone in the flag of nationalism.
It would be a chance to breathe more life into what
appears to be a dying, reactionary theocratic regime
that has carried out brutal repression for years, all
the while claiming to be an anti-imperialist force.
A war would create greater instability in the Middle
East and more than likely encourage some countries that
currently do not possess nuclear weapons to seek
them.in a hurry!
Such a war could very likely lead to an even deeper
global economic crisis if the Straits of Hormuz are
blocked by the Iranians, thereby cutting off about 20%
of the world's oil. It would also be a war that the
West cannot, literally, afford to conduct.
There are many reasons to believe that a war will not
happen precisely due to the potential catastrophe.
That said, there are elements in all three countries
that wish to militarily settle accounts with someone on
the other side and/or find an opportunity to use
"patriotism"-the last refuge of scoundrels, according
to 18thcentury British author Samuel Johnson-as a means
of suppressing domestic conflicts, particularly the
growing demands for political and economic justice.
Let's not get hood-winked.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill
Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute
for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of
TransAfricaForum and co-author of Solidarity Divided:
The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward
Social Justice (University of California Press), which
examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA.
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