War danger a cause for concern around the globe
Coffins of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike, are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners during a funeral procession at the Enqelab-e-Eslami (Islamic Revolution) square in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. The processions mark the first time Iran honored a single man with a multi-city ceremony. Not even Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic, received such a processional with his death in 1989. Soleimani on Monday will lie in state at Tehran's famed Musalla mosque as the revolutionary leader did before him. | Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Those who saw recent demonstrations against the theocratic regime ruling Iran as a good sign had their hopes set back yesterday when the funeral for the assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani drew millions into the streets of Tehran, that nation’s capital. A sea of humanity turned out to demonstrate its anger with the illegal U.S. killing of the number two person in their country’s government.

Likewise, where only weeks ago there were anti-Iranian protests in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, this weekend, thousands marched in unity there against the U.S. presence in that country.

The Iranians honored Soleimani for his work as leader of the country’s Quds Force, which has extended Iran’s influence in a number of Mideast countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria, and which has played a major role in battling ISIS.

Soleimani’s replacement, Esmail Ghaani, stood on the podium shoulder to shoulder with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, considered a moderate, and other leaders of Iran. While the country recently saw those nationwide demonstrations over gasoline prices and calling for more democracy, Soleimani’s killing has muted the protest movement as millions—from both pro-regime and anti-regime sectors of society—condemn the U.S. attack.

Effigies of Trump were displayed—and destroyed.

Mohammad Milad Rashidi, a 26-year-old university graduate, told the Associated Press that more tension and conflict was coming. “Trump demolished the chance for any sort of [possible agreement] between Tehran and Washington. There will be more conflict in the future for sure.”

In Baghdad yesterday, the parliament voted for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraq. As the action taken by the U.S. against Soleimani took place on Iraqi soil without permission, the country’s government sees the killing as a violation of its sovereignty.

A possible indicator of the source of at least some of the support for Trump’s march to war in the Mideast, however, was the increasing price of oil stocks in the world’s major markets the last few days, with the international benchmark Brent crude soaring above $90 a barrel and the price of gold reaching a seven-year high, according to the Associated Press.

The danger for war involves not just the possibility of direct military conflict between Iran and the U.S. but for conflicts that can break out between the U.S. and pro-Iranian forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and elsewhere.

In Lebanon, the leader of the Iran-supported Hezbollah said Trump’s action makes American military bases, warships, and service members across the Mideast fair game for attacks.

Trump, in violation of international law, has threatened to destroy cultural sites in Iran if the Iranians retaliate for the killing of Soleimani. The Iranians, in turn, have threatened “hard revenge” and even the flattening of the Israeli cites of Haifa and Tel Aviv.

In the wake of the assassination, Iran announced its immediate withdrawal from a nuclear deal with restrictions on fuel enrichment, on the size of its enriched uranium stockpile, and on its research and development. Iran said, however, that it remains open to negotiating with European countries over its nuclear program.

The current war danger precipitated by Trump stems from his unilateral decision in 2018 to withdraw from the international treaty concluded with Iran during the Obama administration and his decision to re-impose harsh sanctions against Iran last year.

Almost all the Democratic candidates for president in 2020 have questioned Trump’s moves, especially what they call his unconstitutional exclusion of Congress from the decision-making process in matters of war. Sen. Bernie Sanders has taken the strongest position and has announced the introduction of legislation that would prohibit the U.S. from going to war against Iran.

With Americans really worried now about the war danger, it is clear that Trump’s action will have a major effect on the 2020 elections. And so far, it doesn’t look like the “rally ‘round the flag” unconditional support for war for which he was hoping is materializing. Most see his move as being designed to deflect attention from his impeachment, with the latest polls showing now that 52% of Americans favor his removal from office.

Iran’s Tudeh Party, the left socialist party in that country persecuted by the theocratic government, has issued a statement saying that Trump’s action strengthens the hand of the theocracy in Iran and that persecution of left, trade union, and opposition forces can be expected to increase.

Many observers say attacks on Iran have been the intention of the Trump administration all along and that the Soleimani assassination was the type of move that could have been expected ever since Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal.

It should be noted that although no country with the exception of Israel has actually come out in support of the assassination, there are a number of Mideast countries that espouse policies with which Trump’s action is perfectly aligned. Those countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and, of course, Israel, backed Trump’s election in 2016 and are supporting his re-election now.

The U.S. and these countries have been focused on regime change in Iran ever since the ouster of the Shah decades ago and very openly so ever since President George W. Bush declared that Iran was part of the so called Axis of Evil in 2002. This particular and extreme neo-con policy has been advocated by Republicans and some Democrats, but it is not a united policy of the entire ruling class. There are significant sections even of big business in both the U.S. and Europe that prefer the integration of Iran, to one extent or the other, into the world economic and political community.

The situation is one in which it is almost impossible to predict outcomes. As with all dangerous moves in the direction of war, things can quickly spin out of control, with dire consequences. In this case, it could mean a wider war in the region and possibly the world. The presence of nuclear weapons must also be kept in mind. Destabilization of democratic countries and the strengthening of right-wing forces everywhere is very much a possibility when situations like this get out of control.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.