Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Iran and Venezuela: Strange Bedfellows

by joe sims

I wrote with some enthusiasm a few days ago about Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez’s proposals about reducing the cost of oil to developing countries. As a long admirer of Venezuela’s revolutionary process, a process that is writing a new chapter in the book of socialist theory and practice, I always take delight in Chavez’s propensity to “stick-it-to" US imperialism (even while sometimes cringing at the tactics) and the boldness with which he carries on the fight to champion the world’s wretched of the earth. His idea about the lowering the price of oil made on the eve of the OPEC summit, was such a moment, brilliantly conceived and executed. It took the moral and political high ground.

That said, I must admit after reading reports of the OPEC summit and the united front stance of Venezuela and Iran on anumber of key points with growing sense of unease. It seems not just a coincidence of views. Chavez it appears visited Teheran after the OPEC meet, the fourth such visit in two years. Readers might recall that Iran’s president visited Venezuela after the UN General Assembly in September. Confronted by a common enemy in US imperialism, it seems the two countries are practicing a variety of “ the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

As a US citizen, internationalist and defender of Venezuela’s revolution against US imperialist intrigue I would in no way, shape or form, presume to tell them how to make their revolution or choose who to associate with in the international anti-imperialist and peace movement. It must be recognized that were it not for Bush White House’s attempt to run roughshod over both countries such alliances, even unseemly ones, would not obtain. The US peace movement – which no doubt must include the broad movement against the extreme right as expressed in the 2008 presidential contest – despite its growing strength and sophistication, has not been able to compel a redirection of US foreign policy.

Still as partisan of the left and working-class movement, I cannot help but shudder at how an Iran/Venezuela scenario might play out and be used to the disadvantage of the progressive movements of both countries and by US imperialism to the detriment of all. Iran certainly is no friend of democracy. And while one must stand completely against any attempt by extreme right in the US to invade its shores and occupy its oil fields, under the guise of a “nuclear threat,” no one should have any illusions about the nature of the regime ruling that great country. It should be recalled that Iran’s president during his recent NY visit claimed incredibly that there were no homosexuals in Iran. It should be further recalled that the Teheran government recently hosted a motley conference of Holocaust Denial chief among who were Ku Kluxers and US Nazis. Not surprising in a country that bans its left and communist forces and still does not afford women equal rights.

All this in sharp and glaring contrast to people’s Venezuela whose new constitution promises to outlaw discrimination against lesbians and gays along with legally acknowledging its important African ancestry and population, items that must make the right-wing extremists of the world froth at the mouth. One doesn’t have to reach far to conjure what portends from an alliance of the left with Teheran: 20th century history abounds. The right-wing propaganda machine will have a field day with this one. And that’s what concerns me. At the end of the day, it makes our fight harder here and I don’t care what anyone says, but it is here that the battle must be won. Is anybody listening?

1 comment:

Warren Greer said...

Where is the comment I left here a
couple of days ago? I wanted to
start a discussion. I wrote:

A good and timely article about a complex situation.
I knew a U.S. citizen, a 60's new left radical, who went to Iran as a teacher while the shah was in power. When he came back, I was telling how bad the shah and Savak were. His response was, "They are fascists, but their alternative in the bazaars is just as bad." In this, he referred to the petty bourgeois merchants who are the power behind the Muslim fundies' reactionary control of the country now. We must't forget, Mossadegh was a popularly elected head, and the Tudeh is one of the oldest left parties in that region. This element of support has been finessed by the right-wing's being able to present themselves as the defenders of the nation against U.S. imperialism, just as the right-wing in the U.S. was strengthened by Al Queda's attack on 9/11. They need one another. Al Queda grow without bush; bush couldn't claim to defendthe 'home' land if it weren't menaced by murderous religious fanatics. By refusing to fall into the trap of confusing the rulers with the people, Chavez will make it much more difficult for bush to justify a war on Iran. Chavez is solidly based in the working class of Venezuela, and bush's "hick act" won't be able to make Hugo a Ku Kluxer. The Iranian left will benefit from Chavez' keeping his eye on the ball.