[Documents menu] Documents menu

U.S. Gov’t Steps Up Anti-Iran Drive

By Laura Garza, The Militant, Vol.60, no.6, 12 February 1996

The U.S. government is stepping up its attacks on Iran and pressing to compel other competing imperialist governments to go along with its campaign.

On December 31 the U.S. Congress passed a bill that included authorization for an $18 million covert action campaign to be run by the Central Intelligence Agency against the government of Iran. Spearheaded by Rep. Newt Gingrich, the program is included in a secret bill for $28 billion in so-called intelligence spending.

Gingrich explained it as part of a strategy designed to force the replacement of the regime in Iran. The White House arranged to have the language authorize actions that would cultivate opponents of Iran’s government and seek to force changes in Tehran’s behavior, but not directly sanction a program to overthrow the government.

The history of the U.S. government’s attempts to dominate Iran include a 1953 CIA-sponsored coup that put in place the hated dictatorial regime of Shah Reza Pahlevi. The overthrow of the shah’s bloody rule in 1979 by a powerful revolutionary upsurge dealt a blow to U.S. imperialism from which it has never recovered. The massive U.S. military presence ensconced in Iran during the Shah’s reign was ousted. Washington has been unable to impose a similar setup elsewhere in the region, despite its attempt to open the door for establishing a U.S. protectorate in Iraq with its bloody assault against that nation five years ago.

Citing the well-known history of Washington’s intervention, an opponent of Tehran and former diplomat in the shah’s government told the New York Times he didn’t think the CIA program was the most effective strategy. After the `53 coup Iranians have become very suspicious of covert operations by C.I.A, he noted.

At the same time, the White House has agreed to help push through a bill approved by the U.S. Senate to tighten sanctions against Iran and squeeze companies that do business there. The measure would allow sanctions against any foreign corporation or bank investing $40 million or more in Iran’s oil and gas industry. The measure is designed to aim directly at Iran’s life, its oil industry, said Senator Alphonse D’Amato, its sponsor. It also aims at limiting development of projects that imperialist competitors are pursuing.

Last year, responding to a pending deal between Tehran and Conoco, Washington barred U.S. companies from deals to develop oil and gas projects in Iran. But it was unable to compel other governments to adopt a similar stance. One of France’s big oil refiners took over the deal Conoco had to relinquish. Tokyo, one of Iran’s biggest customers, has balked at measures that would mean cutting off a major oil supplier.

Passage of the bill would mean the U.S. government could impose sanctions against a foreign company such as denying export licenses for products that require them, barring U.S. financial institutions from making any loan for more than $10 million, barring a bank from being designated by the Federal Reserve as a primary dealer in U.S. government debt, and excluding any such bank from being a repository for U.S. government funds. The Senate also voted to penalize companies that invest in Libya.

The European Community’s mission in Washington, D.C., sent the U.S. State Department a formal protest after the bill was introduced in December, saying it maintains its strong and unequivocal opposition to the extraterritorial application of U.S. measures that would restrict EC trade with third countries as a matter of law and policy.

The stepped-up moves against Iran are accompanied by a high-pitch campaign to label it a terrorist nation and justify more aggressive action against the population there.

Gingrich stated that Iran is the most dangerous country in the world and a permanent, long-term threat to civilized life on this planet. Clinton joined the effort to demonize Iran, saying the trade embargo would demonstrate our resolve to compel Tehran to pay a price for continuing its threatening activities.

A January 31 article in the New York Times cited senior Pentagon officials who said the Iranian government has increased its military power in the Persian Gulf within the last year and a major U.S. military presence in the gulf would continue to be necessary to deal with possible threats.

The officials reported that Tehran had tested a Chinese- built cruise missile and raised the specter of Iran gaining the capability to close the gateway to the Persian Gulf—the Strait of Hormuz.

Last August, U.S. military cargo ships carrying arms for 20,000 soldiers were sent to the gulf. The U.S. government already has more than 20,000 troops stationed in the Middle East, along with tanks and heavy armor for 5,000 soldiers stored in Kuwait.