Iran, Islam and the ‘Axis of Evil’

Pak Bui, Hornbill Unleashed

Some Sarawakian non-Muslims are wary of PAS, and by extension, Pakatan Rakyat, because they see Islamic politics as violent and totalitarian. Indeed, PAS sees Islam as a way of life, inseparable from politics.

The party has engineered ambitious internal reforms and has progressed through the years, arguably further than any other political party in Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. PAS has come to choose to emphasise its commitment to the welfare state rather, than Islamic theocracy. PAS recognises that an all-encompassing Islamic theocracy is a far-fetched concept in multicultural Malaysia. Yet many Malaysians remain skeptical.

Some Malaysians even believe the story that Iran, for example, is a member of a so-called totalitarian ‘Axis of Evil’, together with Iraq and North Korea. This made-for-television soundbite was first trotted out in 2002, and then mumbled repeatedly by George W Bush, during his two catastrophic terms as president.

George W Bush used this ‘Avis of Evil’ propaganda, fabricated ‘evidence’ for weapons of mass destruction and pretended that Iraq had links to Al-Qaeda, in order to invade Iraq in 2003. Just as George Jr was continuing his father’s 1991 Gulf War, America’s military industrial complex still harbours dreams of invading Iran.

War on Iran ‘has begun’

Seumas Milne of the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in Britain argues that war in Iran has already begun.  Milne notes that spy drone flights, covert operations – including assassinations of scientists and an Iranian general – and cyberwarfare are already taking place. He urges citizens in Western countries to campaign against a full scale invasion.

America’s propaganda campaign against Iran has focused on Iran’s nuclear power programme. Iran has never denied an ambition to have a nuclear weapon one day, although it is a current signatory to the global nuclear non-proliferation treaty. This is unsurprising, since Russia, Pakistan and Israel, in its close vicinity, are all nuclear powers. Iran and other regional military powers will not give up this ambition – unless Israel and the superpowers renounce the nuclear threat too, in an ideal, though inconceivable, scenario.

Every American military expedition in the last half century has followed a similar pattern as this campaign against Iran. America’s leaders begin with righteous indignation over some enemy’s threat to an all-important ‘way of life’, wring their hands, rachet up pressure on the enemy, and finally set off fireworks (napalm in Indochina, cluster bombs in Afghanistan, ‘shock and awe’ in Iraq). Television images of military coffins draped in American flags follow shortly afterwards, accompanied by photo opportunities of solemn but determined presidents.

But who exactly is the enemy?

Mainstream American news networks concentrate on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a hate figure. Rightwing commentators claim the Iranian president is an Islamic fanatic. Ahmadinejad, they keep repeating, has denied the Holocaust ever took place, and has threatened to ‘wipe Israel off the map’. America, these pundits insist, must defend its ally Israel from attack.

Pro-war cheerleaders in both Washington and Tel Aviv are unimpressed by the argument that Iran has no nuclear weapons, and would face decimation by nuclear-armed Israel if Iran were to directly attack Israel.

The warmongers are urging yet another battle in a Muslim nation, the sixth in ten years, after Afghanistan in 2001 and Pakistan (by remote control), Iraq in 2003, Lebanon in 2003 (by Israeli troops) and Libya this year. The pro-war lobby is excited that US troops are being withdrawn from Iraq, allowing another potential front to be opened up.

The New York Times  painstakingly explained, five years ago, that Ahmadinejad had never declared war on Israel. Of course, that does not mean Iran supports Israel’s existence. After all, Iran does not hide its support for Hezbollah and Hamas, two militias dedicated to destroying Israel.

Even so, Iran has never invaded another country since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. When Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, Iranians did fight a desperate war against a Saddam Hussein aided by the American and Soviet superpowers at the time. Iran and Iraq fought to an exhausted standstill after eight years. At least 500,000 people had died, including many child soldiers – both nations lost the war.

Israel, on its part, has launched five recent wars in southern Lebanon alone, invading in 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996 and 2006.  Each time, civilians suffered the brunt of the killing. The sickening massacre of children and unarmed civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila in 1982 are an indelible stain on the history of the 20th century. Israel has claimed provocation each time, citing attacks on its civilians from Lebanese territory.