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After Iraq, Iran?

CND is deluding itself if it thinks that a capitalism free from nuclear weapons is possible.

CND are in support of a Nuclear Weapons-Free Middle East and the future UN conference on this matter. On 13October they will be holding a special International Conference – 'Building towards a Nuclear Weapons-Free Middle East: Civil Society input for a new Helsinki Process'. At which Professor Abbas Edalat of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) has been invited.

Professor Edalat was the main speaker at a CND  public meeting at Conway Hall in Central London in July on the question; 'Iran – Why is the West preparing it's public for a new war in the Middle East?’ His organisation, CASMII, is said to support the Iranian Reform Movement which was in power in Tehran 1997-2005 and has a bourgeois 'middle class' base. But where do Professor Edalat and CND stand in relation to capitalism and war?

Edalat began with the quote “the road to Tehran goes via Baghdad” which is that regime change is the goal of the West, that oil resources are the reason but the pretext is that Iran's nuclear programme is a threat. He identified the USA and Israel as the real threat in the region. It appears Edalat understands that wars in capitalism are about competition over sources of energy. Even capitalist economist Keynes recognised that “the competitive struggle for markets” was the major factor in “the economic causes of war”.

Edalat spoke of the economic sanctions against Iran which he said hit the “pro-western middle classes” whereas the “poor and lower classes” are looked after by handouts and subsidies from the state. It is understandable that the leftist exile group Hands Off the People of Iran criticise CASMII for being opposed to the interests of “workers, progressives and democrats”. It is interesting that Hands Off were excluded from the Stop the War Coalition, and that Stop the War have adopted CASMII's resolution on Iran.lat pointed out that Iran's breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty was “minor” in that it was a failure to disclose a single receipt of low emission uranium purchased from China. He concluded that military intervention in Iran would mean that the Iranian people would lose out, there would be an oil price rise, disastrous effects for the world economy, and that there was an urgent need to debunk the western media discourse about Iran.

CND are developing a campaign against the threat of war against Iran. CND opposed UK involvement in the nuclear-armed NATO wars of 'liberal interventionism' such as Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. This attitude raises the question: do CND support some wars within capitalism? What about UK intervention in the civil war in Sierra Leone? Kate Hudson at CND identifies that US intervention in the Middle East is a “brazen pursuit of national interests”. In fact these are western capitalist interests.

Can international co-operation take place within capitalism? The 1946 Baruch Plan initiated by the US for all nuclear fuel production to be under the control of an international agency was not realised because of USSR opposition. CND have identified that the “preventative military intervention” against Iran for not meeting NPT obligations is a smokescreen for US desires for regime change in Iran. They see the parallels with the build-up to the Iraq War. Kate Hudson at CND believes that “concerted, transparent and productive diplomatic negotiations” will lead to a solution. Within capitalism this really seems quite unlikely. Western capitalist interests want regime change in Iran in order to open the country up to free market capitalism. Edalat would like a liberal bourgeois capitalist Iran in the western mould.

In the pursuit of the interests of the capitalist class, the state will in Brecht's note to Mother Courage, “make war as a continuation of business by other means” which is a variation on Clausewitz's “War is the continuation of politics by other means”. Interestingly Sun Tzu 6th century BC book The Art of War is used today in western capitalism as a handbook for corporate strategy in achieving profits.

War existed in the class societies before capitalism where they were caused by absolute shortages and scarcities. In capitalism there are artificial scarcities, and overproduction which cause competitive accumulation and leads to war. War in capitalism is an inevitable result of the quest for profit and competition between capitalist interests for markets, raw materials, energy supplies, trade routes, and exploitable peoples. The cause of wars in the Middle East has been the oil-importing countries' need to have dependable oil supplies.

Recently the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) published a study which shows the link between capitalism and war by identifying 322 banks and financial institutions that are funding nuclear weapons development and manufacture such as Barclays, Lloyd’s, HSBC, and RBS.

CND, Stop the War, ICAN, and CASMII do not identify capitalism as the cause of war but believe certain types of wars and weapons should be opposed and that reforms to capitalism by abolishing nuclear weapons will make the world a nicer place in which to do business and make profits. It is ironic that CND used footage from the film The War Game in its recruitment campaign when the footage was of the Allied 'conventional' bombing of Dresden which was more destructive in terms of fatalities than the atom bomb at Nagasaki.

All wars in capitalism are in the interests of the capitalist class and the working class are the victims and cannon fodder of capitalist war. The abolition of global capitalism and the transformation to world socialism will remove the causes of war.