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A Short Aside on Iran and the Nuclear Deal

There’s been much talk around Iran, the United States, and the role of the two in the continuing instability in the Middle East of late, and I felt that perhaps it was time to have a little look into the wider context of the current drama and extricate some key points for consideration.

Iran, like the overwhelming majority of countries in the world including our own, has human rights issues. These are worth noting, as without awareness of them we are liable to form an inaccurate image of the country.

Of course, our images of the country will be inaccurate regardless of how we approach forming them, so we must be careful not to confuse our talking here with the actuality of life in Iran and the wider context of complex political manoeuvring.

Iran’s government is comprised largely of what we would term Islamic extremists, effectively theocrats with extremely conservative moral and social ideological positions. These repressive elements within the judiciary, security and intelligence forces retain much wider powers than equivalent positions in our country. 

In 2014, Iran executed more people than any other nation barring China, and executed the largest number of juvenile offenders. The country is one of the biggest jailers of journalists, bloggers and social media activists in the world. Their treatment of women is despicable in many cases, in keeping with other Islamic theocracies such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

While Iran has not directly attacked another nation, the quality and amount of their military equipment has been undergoing a steady increase since the 1960’s. This is likely due to US influence after the coup of ’53, the reason being that after the Shah was overturned in ’79, there was a 60% desertion from the military.

Iran now supports various armed military groups in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and various Kurdish groups. Interestingly enough, Iran had been at loggerheads with the Taliban long before the United States, supporting the Northern Alliance for over a decade against the group and nearly declaring war on them in 1998.

Now, on to the coup. In 1953, the then democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh was deposed in a plot by the CIA. Mossadegh had sought to audit the books of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP, British Petroleum) and to change the terms of the company’s access to Iranian petroleum reserves. As with most acts of socialism by small developing nations, the United States saw its role to step in, as Noam Chomsky puts it, destroying the virus before it can spread. It’s worth noting that the virus is democracy in this case, and in most others.

In August 2013, 60 years after, the CIA admitted that it was involved in both the planning and the execution of the coup, including the bribing of Iranian politicians, security and army high-ranking officials, as well as pro-coup propaganda. The CIA is quoted acknowledging the coup was carried out “under CIA direction” and “as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.”

The coup involved assassinations and the use of Nazi and Muslim military groups in the area.

The result of this contemptuous behaviour towards a newly democratic nation coming to grips with what that meant, practically, for its citizenry, was to seed a deep anti-American sentiment in the public mind. It is noted as being instrumental in the 1979 revolution, which replaced the “pro-Western” government with an “anti-Western” Islamic republic.

The current prevalence of human rights abuses in Iran, and the relationship thereof to extreme interpretations of Islam, can be seen as an almost direct result of US foreign policy. It’s almost daft to see it otherwise, when you consider the above factors. To believe that this is more a religious or “Iranian” issue is to greatly exaggerate the power of religious and political life in Iran pre-intervention.

Now why would the United States bother to set up an elaborate coup in the first place? What do they have to gain from the political and social destabilisation of Iran? Well, it seems pretty obvious. Iran had traditionally been one of the strongest and most progressive of the Arab nations, and was increasingly moving towards socialist policy, democratic governance and the kind of nationhood that sees the natural resources of the land as belonging to the people of the nation, rather than foreign moneyed interests.

Iran was in the position, through its actions, to symbolise the independence of the Arab people. If this were allowed to play out unchecked, it’s highly likely that Iran would have pulled trade with many of the foreign owned oil companies harvesting its resources, and that neighbouring nations would follow suit. It’s not unlikely that a unified Middle East, somewhat similar in form to the EU, could have occurred if the democratic and socialist processes at work in Iran were encouraged and allowed to thrive, as opposed to being violently cut short.

I think the nuclear deal with Iran is a positive outcome, especially for the people of Iran and surrounding countries, insofar as it is what it claims to be. If the deal is as it is written, then we should see a slow movement of the Iranian zeitgeist back towards their upstart democratic tendencies. It’s also worth noting that this deal is not, as some have suggested, a United States ultimatum but rather the dissolution of an existing one; namely that the United States was, insofar as I can tell, veto-ing any application to the wider community of nations, by Iran, to embark upon a nuclear program.

We also must distinguish a “nuclear program” from a “nuclear weapons program”, the two are not mutually exclusive and a country can have one without the other. The former is what Iran has been pushing for to meet their energy needs, and like any other sovereign nation, they have a right to work to provide for their people.

One other possibility, and one worth considering, is that the deal is pretext for military intervention in Iran. By allowing Iran to develop nuclear capability, the US can make a pseudo-moral argument based on effectively falsifying some form of panic about what *might* be around the corner now that Iran could arm itself with nuclear weapons.

The history of the the West and Arab nationalism is one fraught with misunderstanding, exploitation and greed, and it has its roots deep in the past. The decline of the Ottomans and the subsequent division of the Middle East along the economic preferences of Russia and Britain were formative developments in the creation of the current forms of radicalised Islam and the theocracies in the region. We can also look to the Grand Area Planning conducted by the US State Department during the war years to give us an outline of the intent of US interaction with the Middle East.

What we won’t find is an individual to bring us through this unscathed. Many are looking to world leaders to mitigate the situation in the Middle East, but I feel this is misguided. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is in an unprecedented position within the United States, having mass grassroots support for a platform of simple, direct socialism, and many see him as being potentially instrumental in reforming the conflict, however he’s just a man. There have been countless great men and women throughout history, reformers and revolutionaries who have changed somewhat the course of history, but the main problems of humanity remain: our callousness, our violence, out hatred, our pettiness.

These are not problems to be fixed by an individual, but symptoms of a crisis in consciousness. We have dulled ourselves, become robotic, conditioned, frivolous, and rarely do we really look within ourselves to clarify the nature of these characteristics, or our relation to them.

So then, to place the responsibility for change onto another we are effectively giving life to stasis, we are creating a resistance to change and binding it to time. How do we extricate ourselves from this following mind, and find the state of being from which genuine change can grow?

I want to put a question from Krishnamurti to you to consider while we discuss this issue:

How is it possible to bring about the creative release of the individual, not only at the beginning of his existence, but throughout life? 

That is, how is the individual to have abundant energy rightly directed so that his life will have expansive and profound significance? 

Heres his answer:

Our thinking at present is merely a reaction, the response of a conditioned mind, and any action based on such thinking is bound to result in catastrophe. 

To discover what is truth, there must be a mind that has understood itself, which means going into the whole problem of self-knowledge. Only then is there the total revolution which alone brings about a creative release, and that creative release is the perception of what is truth.


For those interested in further study, Noam Chomsky has many talks on the subject which I’ve drawn the majority of my understanding from. Wikipedia, as always, is invaluable if you follow the sourcing. Jiddu Krishnamurti was an Indian philosopher who contributed perhaps one of the most lucid explorations of human thought in history, and spoke frequently on the problems of violence and inhumanity in the modern era.


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  1. Frederik Lips

    Please note that iranians ( Persians) are not Arabs but were invaded by them and converted Islam in the 7 th century.

  2. mark delmege

    Yes Frederik quite so, and Bernie is no saint with a long record of support for wars of empire. I would like to think Iran could rejoin the world community peacefully like…. but I doubt that regime change is off the table and they (the US) will use this opportunity to continue the destabilisation by other means. Fortunately it is not small like Libya – who once it gave up its weapons was annihilated – and outright invasion is impossible but empire has a long memory and a long game to match.

  3. Rob Marsh

    Frederik, thanks for the clarification.

    Mark, can you give some more background information on Sanders’ support for these wars?

  4. mark delmege

    just a very quick web search – these were the first two links I found

    In Short forget the Democrats their record is no better than the Republicans when it comes to war – and the big issue coming up in the next US election will be which countries will the next President destroy. After Syria I’d put my money on somewhere in Africa.

  5. Harquebus

    When Noam Chomsky speaks, I listen.

  6. Rob Marsh

    Interesting points on Bernie Sanders, I figured he was too good to be true haha 🙂

  7. stephentardrew

    Bernie Sanders is only as good as the will of progressives to support him to move the US to he left. This sudden “oh he is not our man” is just stupid ignorance. Give up supporting him at your peril unless you have the will and conviction to do what he is doing. The right unify while the left fracture into super critical groups of ignorance an stupidity simply because they cannot unify behind a real change agent and accept that you will only get part of what you want. Conservatives are pragmatic while progressive idealism often gets in the way of necessary pragmatism. I am as progressive as they come yet I am pragmatic enough to know that gradual change is much better than violent revolution.

    As for the reference to Krishnamurti. He was a great lateral thinker and taught how to get to know-your-self and give up attachment to habits and entrenched beliefs. A great place to start if you have the urge to understand how the mind is conditioned to its past.

    As for the Middle East we need to get the hell out of there and stop aligning ourselves with the US who are in decline and getting themselves well and truly disliked and hated by many countries. We should be non-aligned and show tolerance and understanding of our neighbours.

    Wake up Australia regardless of predominant European heritage you are now Asian and should respond and act as such. The US will not protect us. We need to rid ourselves of US spy facilities and develop our own individually focused independent foreign policy.

    Be warned if we don’t become non-aligned we will follow the US into another military quagmire of unprecedented suffering and brutality.

  8. mars08


    …if we don’t become non-aligned we will follow the US into another military quagmire of unprecedented suffering and brutality.

    Not really sure what the problem is here. The “suffering”, as usual will be done almost exclusively by civilians on the other side. So where’s the down side for Frank and Florence Fourex? As long as “the Voice” is on TV and our boys beat the poms at cricket…

  9. mars08

    At Nuremberg, the US and Britain headed the prosecution of Nazi leaders for planning and initiating aggressive war. US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the head of the American delegation stated “…launching a war of aggression is a crime and that no political or economic situation can justify it.” He also declared “if certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

    The actions of Bush, Blair and Howard brought tremendous suffering to Iraq and Syria… and allowed allowed the birth of ISIS. They should be on trial and our msm should be hanging it’s head in shame. Yet all we get is talk of even MORE aggression towards a fragile and volatile region!

  10. mark delmege

    No point us supporting Bernie, Andrew, we don’t get to vote in US elections. All we can do is watch with nervous laughter.

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