The UN Secretary General and the One Percent

It’s clear whose side UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is on.

On August 17, Ban denounced Iran’s supreme leader Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei‘s condemnation of Zionism as a political system. Khamenei’s remarks were “offensive and inflammatory,” Ban cautioned, adding that the UN Charter prohibits member states from threatening one another.

Iran’s “threats” against Israel, including president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s alleged threat to “wipe Israel off the map” have the appearance, though not the substance, of threats. They’re predictions about the inevitable collapse of a morally indefensible political system. Zionism will eventually fade from the pages of history, the Iranian president augured, not in a hail of nuclear missiles, but because its racial exclusion and ethnic cleansing are the rotten timbers upon which it rests.

Anyone who had prophesied that the days of Apartheid—another morally indefensible political system—were numbered, would hardly have been accused of threatening to bomb South Africa. But Ahmadinejad, as president of an economically nationalist state that exhibits little enthusiasm for hitching its wagon economically and politically to Wall Street and Washington, gets special treatment.

Khamenei’s prediction, and Ahmadinejad’s rendering of it, was soon turned into a canard about Iran threatening to bomb Israel, which demagogues in Tel Aviv and Washington have been using since to sanitize Israel’s threats to wage war on Iran. Use bombs, sanctions, isolation, and a foreign-trained domestic overthrow movement to usher Khamenei and Ahmadinejad off the stage of history, install pliant local rulers, and Iran’s back in the Wall Street camp.

While Iran’s leaders predict Zionism’s downfall under the weight of its own injustices, Israel has been making real threats–and not predictions about the collapse of the Islamic state, but promises to rain death and destruction on Iran from the air. All the same, Ban has been silent. Some UN member states, it seems, are afforded the privilege of threatening other member states, without a dressing down by the Secretary General.

Israel’s “entire existence is premised on the forced removal of Palestinians from their land,” Mazda Majidi points out in a recent Liberation article. Israel’s origins in ethnic cleansing might have led Ban to denounce Zionism as “offensive and inflammatory,” rather than Khamenei’s screed against it. Israel has amassed a robust record of serial aggressions, invading “every single one of its neighbors: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.” And much “of the territory it has occupied it has refused to ever return.”

What’s more, its aggressions have “gone beyond its borders, including its bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq in 1981 and its military assistance to reactionary states around the globe, including apartheid South Africa.”

So how could Ban miss the pimple on Israel’s face, considering the country was born with it, and that it has once again become red and angry? More to the point, how could he play to Israel’s modus operandi, which goes back to Israel’s founding in 1948, of justifying its aggressions on the wholly laughable grounds of being under an existential threat? Iran, a non-nuclear-arms country without superpower patronage, no more poses an existential threat to the US-backed, nuclear-arms-wielding Israel, than Canada does to the United States.

Ban’s bias is inevitable. Like all UN secretaries general, he’s simply an extension of the countries that make up the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council–the most important of which, of course, is the United States.

Washington and its other extensions, which include Tel Aviv and the Western mass media, have been engaged in a long-running campaign of manipulating public opinion to make Iran loom large in the minds of the public as a major threat to Israel—all in the service of building a pretext for war. There’s a broader campaign of which this is only a part: to eliminate every state that refuses to subordinate itself economically and politically to the profit-making interests of the banks, corporations and major investors of the United States and its major allies—the one (or more precisely, the fraction of the one) percent.

Milosevic’s Yugoslavia was sanctioned and bombed because it was a social democracy that resisted a free-market take-over, not because—as the story goes—ethnic Albanians were ill-treated. Libyan leader Muamar Gadaffi’s sin, according to a leaked US State Department cable, was that he practiced “resource nationalism”, insisting his country’s resources be used to benefit Libyans, not because he was allegedly about to unleash a genocide. The US State Department complains that Syria has “failed to join an increasingly interconnected global economy,” which is to say, has failed to turn over its state-owned enterprises to private investors, and that “ideological reasons” continue to prevent the Asad government from liberalizing Syria’s economy, not that the country’s president, Bashar al-Asad, hates democracy and tramples human rights. (Were this the reason Washington opposes Asad’s government, how would we explain US support for the monarchical, misogynist, opposition-jailing, democracy-abominating tyrannies of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain?)

Iran, too, has committed its share of transgressions against free-market, free-enterprise, free-trade theology. The country’s constitution defines the public sector as primary, and “the private sector as the means of furnishing the government’s needs rather than responding to market requirements.” Democratic socialists will be shocked to discover that this is the very same economic model that such New Left socialists as Ralph Miliband defined as emblematic of what a democratic socialism ought to be (which isn’t to say that Iran is a democratic socialist state, only that economically it is very close to what many socialist thinkers have envisaged for Western socialism.)

Needless to say, countries that limit room for foreign investors, and subordinate the private sector to public policy goals, rather than Wall Street’s goals, are an anathema in Washington, and must be eliminated. The UN General Secretary is on board.

6 thoughts on “The UN Secretary General and the One Percent

  1. hhmm ted,in not sure you get what im saying and I dont see a connection with the massacre at Marikana.In this country[Australia]we have had and still have several ex trade union leaders in very prominent positions of government,one was Bob Hawke in the 80s.This man was the leader of the trade union movement called the ACTU,when he became prime minister he launched a series of ”reforms”that deregulated banking and interest rates,opened up the Australian economy to foreign ownership and competition,including its public sector, stripped away industry wide awards and floated the dollar,he signed several”free trade agreements” with his good friend george shultz of the US that were not in the interests of the working class,Much of the trade union movement signed up to his”wages and prices accord”wich was a disaster for the working class that saw wages and conditions fall and prices sky rocket as well as the introduction of foreign banks and massive take overs by finace capital’all in the name of a labour goverment,wich was and still is the prefered government of much of the trade union leadership.I as a communist and trade union member am still fighting the effects of these policies today that come in the form of privatisation of public hospitals,schools and housing.If you look at the current struggle in Greece you will see a trade union and labour movement that is divided basically into 2 camps,one being in favour of revolutionary change the other in favour of reformism and seeking crumbs from the table of the capitalist class.I believe it would be fair to say that the trade union movement relies upon the continued existence of capitalism,wich is definetly not in the interests of the working class.Further,the state is an organ of repression of one class over another,it will serve the interest of the dominant class in society and its production modes and methods,in a capitalist state,wich the above mentioned political figure/s represent,the state will take what ever its ruling class see as vital to protecting the interests of the dominant capitalist class,be that here or in South Africa.

  2. To mark h:
    Oh no say it isn’t so that not all trade unions have the interests of workers at the core of their political philosophy.
    So who decides this? The state?
    Your rationale leads to the Marikana Massacre.

  3. Gday Ted,The relationship of the Iranian state to the labor unions in that country is not relevant to Irans relations with the west in general,Israel and even the UN,save the propaganda rhetoric of these hypocritical entities in their attacks on the sovereign country that is Iran,i can assure you as an active trade unionist that the business and political elite of the US or Australia couldnt give a shit about workers rights here let alone in Iran,this is a class phenomona,you know the differing interests of labor verses capital.It would be worth noting also that not all labor unions have the interests of workers at the core of their political philosophy and hence can be used to achieve differing political aims,including ones that support the interests of a foreign power and a class of interests not conducive to its own working class,I think its called opportunism.In the end,it is up to the working class of Iran to sort out what it needs to do to win political power and not the likes of israel,the US or the UN.

  4. Most of this is true but Iran has a, to say the least, “spotty” record when it comes to its treatment of labour unions and trade unionists.

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