Israeli and western media are filled with stories about the collapse of Iran’s currency over the past week. The articles contain a strong element of Schadenfreude, gloating at the suffering of others. Specifically when those others are the Iranian “enemy.” But are they? More on this later in this post.
John Dickerson pointed me to a most interesting 2009 Truthout article which presciently noted that the then-new Pres. Obama had not renounced George Bush’s massive campaign of covert black ops directed against the Iranian regime. One of the specific elements of subversion involved manipulation of Iran’s currency. So one has to ask: in addition to strangling economic and financial sanctions which may be causing this nose dive, what other covert manipulations may be occurring?
For all those who cheer any pain inflicted on Iran, ask yourself who’s being hurt? Is it the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, the generals, ayatollahs, etc.? Or is it the workers, the children, the poor? Who will suffer first and most under these conditions? Look at what we did to Iraq. Sanctions there didn’t harm Saddam or his Baathist nomenklatura. It starved the babies, the sick, the underclass. They absorbed this blow and died in the hundreds of thousands.
There is little doubt that Obama, Netanyahu and western nations will have the cries of starving babies as a part of their political legacy. These sanctions will likely not bring Iran to heel and not achieve their stated aim. But they will kill real people.
We also have another parallel to invoke: Israel’s siege against Gaza, now six years old. Though it is less severe than in the past, it still stymies economic development in Gaza. Who did the siege hurt? Hamas? No. The Islamist group smuggled all its needs into the enclave using tunnels. Did it stymie terrorists? No again. They too brought in weapons via the tunnels. It DID hurt the pregnant mothers and newborns for whom there was little nourishment to be found.
Another important parallel between the Iran and Gaza blockades is that their goal is unclear. Israel claims it laid siege to Gaza to prevent importing weapons for terror attacks, a bogus argument. The U.S. claims its sanctions are designed to get Iran to renounce its entirely legal nuclear program.
But the Truthout article notes that the U.S. intensively destabilized another regime in the same way we’re now undermining Iran: the Salvador Allende government in Chile. Which brings us around to the issue of regime change. Clearly, Israel wants to topple the Iranian government. It appears that the U.S. has a similar goal. Or at least it’s offering that regime an either/or proposition: either you renounce your nuclear program or we bring you to your knees in hopes that your own people will topple you.
The question to consider is this: will Iranians blame their leaders for their hunger or the western nations strangling it? That’s a no-brainer. Countries under attack always unite against their foreign oppressors. This makes the leaders stronger and less likely to fall.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.