Till now, what has prevented the crisis in Iraq from becoming a total debacle for the United States has been the open collaboration of the Iranian clerics. Iranian foreign policy – fragmentary and opportunist – has always been determined by the needs and interests of the clerical state rather than any principled anti-imperialist strategy. In the past, this has led to a de facto collaboration with Washington in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war, the clerics had no hesitation in buying arms from the Israeli regime to fight Iraq, then backed by Britain and the US. In the wake of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq – hoping, no doubt, that clearing the path for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and Mullah Omar might have won them a respite – the regime took a tougher stance on the nuclear question.
The Bush administration appears to be psyching itself up for a safe strike against Iran either by itself or via the Israelis, whose new leaders have referred to the Iranian president as a psychopath and a new Hitler. Why has Washington manufactured this crisis? The hypocrisy of Bush, Blair, Chirac or Olmert – their own states armed with thousands of nuclear weapons – making a casus belli of what are, by all accounts, primitive gropings on Iran’s part towards the technology necessary for the lowest grade of nuclear self-defence, hardly needs to be spelled out. So long as these powers are allowed to enlarge their nuclear armouries unimpeded, why should Tehran not?