Date: Thu, 2 Oct 97 09:29:47 CDT
From: Workers World <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: D’Amato f Iran
Article: 19061

D’Amato & Iran

Editorial, Workers World, 9 October 1997

It’s fitting to call it the D’Amato law. After all, the new U.S. law authorizing sanctions against companies that do large-scale business with Iran or Libya is based on lies. It’s narrow-minded, petty, racist toward oppressed peoples and arrogant toward all foreigners. In other words, much like the junior senator from New York himself.

The law is getting its first real test. The French-based Total oil group has just signed a $2-billion contract to explore natural-gas fields in Iran.

The U.S. law tells capitalists everywhere in the world that they can invest no more than $40 million in Iran. Clinton is reportedly poised to target Total. But French Premier Lionel Jospin isn’t going along. Saying I personally rejoice in the contract signing, Jospin added: American laws apply in the United States. They do not apply in France. This may seem obvious, but the U.S. ruling class has been acting lately like it expects no less than obedience from foes and allies alike.

Earlier this year Washington managed to twist enough European arms to slow down their business deals with Cuba. The financial stakes were small compared to those in the Middle East. When it comes to getting together to squeeze a small socialist country, the imperialists can compromise. But when you’re talking about billions of energy dollars, the competition gets more serious. European Commission spokesperson Peter Guilford has already called possible U.S. sanctions against Total illegal and unacceptable.

When they were allies against the Soviet Union and together oppressing Vietnam, the French and U.S. rulers kept their competition under wraps. To maintain a strategic alliance at that time, Washington might have cut the French bosses a deal. Now Washington and Wall Street want it all. They don’t want France developing Iranian energy sources that might bring down the price of U.S.-controlled oil and gas. And they certainly don’t want French companies taking advantage of the absence of U.S. competitors—due to the U.S. sanctions on Iran—to pick up a share of the business.

Driven by the capitalist compulsion to seek out profits— and to seek superprofits at whatever cost—the U.S. ruling class winds up risking long-term alliances. On their side, the French capitalists see a big enough stake in Iran to risk challenging the United States. And this after Washington had warned earlier that it would apply sanctions.

This is all further proof of capitalism’s instability. At a time when the capitalists appear to be riding high in the world arena, they are nevertheless impelled into bitter conflict with each other. Thoughtful workers won’t follow their bosses’ lead but will take advantage of the situation to build working-class solidarity among all the countries involved.