Footnotes for “Conspiracies, Enemies, and Friends”

[1] David Miller is a regular contributor to Chris Williamson’s current affairs show, Palestine Declassified, a program that is hosted by Press TV – which is a conspiratorial propaganda outlet run by the Iranian regime. On October 9 Miller was one of two Al Mayadeen writers featured on Williamson’s show discussing the uprising in Iran (see “Israel and Mahsa Amini deception”). Another commentator who has recently starred on Press TV to discuss the CIA’s role in Iran is the senior editor of the right-wing anti-semitic media outlet Veterans Today (see clips here: “Riots in Iran: Another CIA coup attempt?” as featured on Press TV’s Spotlight show on October 3).

[2] Jeremy Kuzmarov is the author of four books that scrutinize various aspects of US power. In the acknowledgements section of his most recent book, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Clarity Press, 2019), Kuzmarov thanks “Peter Dale Scott, the guru of deep politics who advised a young graduate student to ‘read everything’ with a critical but open mind no matter what the background or viewpoint of the author.” This is fine advice, but it appears that in contrast to the good analysis presented in his first two books, Kuzmarov is not just reading everything, but is also incorporating knowledge gained from extremely unreliable sources which he does when he accuses the NED of funding Uyghur terrorist groups in China. Authors he quotes to back up this claim include a book written by the far-right conspiracist Webster Griffin Tarpley titled Obama: The Post-Modern Coup (Progressive Press, 2008), and conspiratorial articles authored by Tony Cartalucci and Wayne Madsen. Another right-wing NED-obsessive who Kuzmarov cites regularly throughout his Obama book is F. William Engdahl and his deeply paranoid book Target China: How Washington and Wall Street Plan to Cage the Asian Dragon (Progressive Press, 2014). Among the bizarre accusations made in Target China are that AIDS is not real and that Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution was “planned in Washington” by the likes of the NED — apparently in the same way that the CIA orchestrated the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Here it is important to highlight that in Kuzmarov’s generally well-received third book, Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce (Monthly Review Press, 2018) while the book does provide much useful analysis it has major shortcomings. Thus, in the opening chapter, Kuzmarov promotes the overstated regime change arguments held by the once well-respected journalist Robert Parry. Thus, Kuzmarov writes: “Robert Parry of Consortium News suggests that the broad demonization of Putin has set the groundwork for a potential ‘regime change’ and program of isolation designed to punish Putin for blocking American machinations in Syria and Iran and to ensure control over the Eurasian heartland. The first phase of this plan was the [2014] Ukraine coup where Victoria Nuland ‘was caught on an unsecure phone line telling U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt’ how they ‘would “midwife” a change in government that would put Nuland’s choice . . . in power.’” (pp.30-1) In an earlier dissection of such confusing NED-related narratives (see “Misreporting Ukraine: The scourge of conspiracies) I explained how, “The substitution of such conspiratorial nonsense as a progressive alternative to the even more nonsensical output of the mainstream media is inexcusable.”

[3] Abrahamian concludes his book, The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations (New Press, 2013) by suggesting: “The paranoid style [of the Iranian regime] reached a new peak in 2009. When more than two million took to the streets to protest the rigging of the presidential elections, the regime’s automatic reaction was to hold show trials and accuse opposition leaders of plotting a ‘velvet revolution’ in the style of the ‘colored’ ones that had recently swept through Eastern Europe. They were accused of working in cahoots not only with the CIA and MI6 but also with an elaborate international web, including the BBC, the Voice of America, Columbia University, Harvard University, the Hoover Institution, the Ford Foundation, PEN, Freedom House, Chatham House, the Council on Foreign Relations, and, of course, the omnipresent and ominous Soros Foundation.”

[4] Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, p.322. Following the Tudeh’s Second Party Congress (which was held in April 1948), it is worth noting that despite the communists’ huge successes in building upon growing working-class militancy the Tudeh now “worked to form a broad alliance of antiroyalist forces and to regain the freedom to create mass organizations, especially trade unions. Thus they espoused support for liberal democracy in general and for the Iranian constitution in particular. They stressed that the CCFTU [Central Council of United Trade Unions] was a nonpolitical organization separate from the Tudeh. And they shunned street demonstrations, industrial strikes, and other direct confrontations with the state.” (Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, p.315)

The following year the Tudeh Party then moved to embrace their ultra-left policies which put them in opposition to Mosaddegh’s efforts to nationalize their country’s oil industry. Reflecting upon this political failure some years later, a leading communist who was active during this time (Iraj Iskandari) explained how: “During the struggle for the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry we did not support Mossadeq, who undoubtedly represented the interests of the national bourgeoisie. We thought along these lines: Mossadeq is fighting for the nationalization of Iranian oil, but the American imperialists are backing his movement, which means that they are guiding it. And so we drew the incorrect conclusion that the communists should not support the nationalist movement.” Iraj Iskandari, “What do we mean by the national bourgeoisie?”, World Marxist Review, September 1959, quoted in Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, p.323.

[5] In the dark years between 1953 and 1979, the shah was backed to the hilt by his ruling-class admirers in the West, while the Tudeh Party, informed by dictates from their ultimate political masters in the Soviet Union, dropped any ambitions of overthrowing the shah. It is important to note that the shah’s regime had “systematically destroyed all secular opposition parties. Whereas the clergy were permitted to go to the poor, the opposition parties were constantly prevented from establishing any form of labor unions, local clubs, or neighborhood organizations. Twenty-five years of repression placed a heavy handicap on the secular opposition.” Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, p.536.

[6] Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, p.505, p.508, p.523. It was only at this late stage of the revolutionary struggle that Western intelligence agencies were belatedly reporting to Washington that the shah’s days were now coming to an end. As Abrahamian wrote:foreign intelligence agencies now explained that “the shah could not possibly survive, and that the West could work with Khomeini, since the latter was deeply anticommunist in general and anti-Russian in particular. For his part, Khomeini began a propaganda campaign against the left. He claimed that the Tudeh was cooperating with the shah, accused Marxists of wanting to stab Muslims in the back, and denounced Russia as a greedy superpower. He also declared that once the shah was overthrown Iran would become a reliable oil supplier to the West, would not ally with the East, and would be willing to have friendly relations with the United States.” (p.524)

[7] Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, pp.531-2. “On January 27-28 [1979], twenty-eight people were killed in Tehran protesting the closure of the airport to prevent Khomeini’s return. And on February 1, some three million turned out into the streets of Tehran to hail Khomeini’s triumphant return. Khomeini, the prophet and strategist of the revolution, had come home to take personal command of his revolution.” (p.526)

[8] Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, p.532. In another telling twist, the Tudeh party, “which for thirty-eight years had opposed armed adventures, changed policy in mid-January 1979.” (p.528)

[9] Tariq Ali, The Clash of Fundamentalisms (Verso, 2002), p.130. Ali had been active in the Fourth International between 1968 and 1981. For internal criticism of the leadership of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International in Iran, see Saber Nikbeen’s 1983 document “Revolution and counter-revolution in Iran: A Marxist view.”

“[A]mong the foreign Left scholars who sympathized not just with the Iranian Revolution but with Islamic discourse and the anti-imperialist, anti-systemic or post-modernist character of the new regime were Michel Foucault, Ernest Mandel, Immanuel Wallerstein, Nikki Keddie, Eqbal Ahmad, and Anouar Abdel-Malek.” Val Moghadam, “Socialism or anti-imperialism? The Left and Revolution in Iran,” New Left Review, November/December 1987. For a more detailed discussion of the Left’s shortcoming, see Azar Tabari and Nahid Yeganeh’s In the Shadow of Islam: The Women’s Movement in Iran (Zed Press, 1982); and also see Peyman Vahabzadeh’s review of Ali Rahnema’s book, Call to Arms: Iran’s Marxist Revolutionaries (OneWorld, 2021); and my chapter “Black power philanthropy” in The Givers That Take (2021).

[10] In another article published by the Militant in July 1979, Bob Labi added: “Not one of the main ‘left’ organisations were prepared or able to give a socialist lead [to the revolutionary uprising]. The Tudeh (‘Communist’) party trailed behind Khomeini, urging him to join with them in a ’United Popular Front‘. The ’Marxist’ guerrilla group, the Fedayeen-e-Khalq, while putting forward general ‘leftist’ slogans did not advance any rounded out socialist programme and petitioned Bazargan for a place in his capitalist government! The Islamic based Mojaheddin guerrilla leader Massoud Rajavi went further when he said that ‘ownership by industrialists faithful to the nation was in no danger’. In reality, the policies of all these groups have trailed behind the masses demands, which have forced Khomeini to go further than any of these tendencies called for after the old regime’s collapse.” Bob Labi, “Iran: New stage in the Revolution,” Militant International Review, July 1979.

Written in the heat of the struggle, Ted Grant’s February 1979 article still maintained a hope that any Islamic government that came to power would be short-lived, a point made when he wrote: “Support for Khomeini will melt away after he forms a government.” But this proved to be false, and shortly after assuming power Iran was dragged into the devastating Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) that the new Islamic regime was able to use to consolidate its grip on state power. On the roots of this new war, Tariq Ali explained: “The West had not favoured a direct military intervention, but it was irritated by the destabilising effects of the Tehran regime. It turned to an unfriendly neighbour. Saddam Hussein was regarded as a semi-reliable relay in a volatile region. Internally he had helped to wipe out the Iraqi Communist Party and marginalised the more radical elements in the Ba’ath. He was happy to talk business with the United States and Britain. Since the fall of the shah, he had begun to receive most-favoured-nation treatment from Washington and London.” The Clash of Fundamentalisms, p.138.

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