Patrick Kennedy, the former Congressman from Rhode Island who has made something of a second career for himself by writing a memoir about his own depression and addiction issues of late, took to the pages of the Providence Journal on April 14, 2016 to bang the drums of war against Iran in a conflict his children will never fight. How typical.
“It’s embarrassing”, said policy analyst Eric Draitser, a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, the founder of Stop Imperialism and currently the host of the CounterPunch Radio podcast whose work can be found on TeleSur, RT and PressTV. “He should be embarrassed, he should be ashamed of himself for war-mongering in this way.”
Like his forebears, Kennedy is playing the public in the name of Cold War geopolitics. Since they overthrew the Western puppet Shah in the Iranian revolution, the Islamists in Tehran have been engaged in a Cold War with those blessed neo-suffragettes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the international alliances have shifted to western Asia. China, Russia, and Iran are on one side of a divide while Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, and the United States are on the other, with the rest of the states in the region left in the crossfire of the two camps. The various wars that have taken place in the region since the Iranian revolution have been hot spots in this new Cold War, most recently exemplified in Syria and Yemen.
“I think it’s laughable, to be perfectly honest,” says Draitser. “It’s sort of superficial in a sense because it’s, I think, emotionally manipulative. He wrote it in the wake of the tragic attacks in Belgium and it is sort of tugging at the heart strings of readers and people who follow him and trying to create this narrative that, actually, if you really examine it, is pretty much the same narrative that George W. Bush and the neocons pushed for the War on Terror. Basically what he is suggesting is that there is a global war against terrorism and radical Islamic extremism and that all countries that fit under the umbrella of Islamic extremism, as he defines it, are targets.”
To best understand this Levantine Cold War, one should look back over a decade to the destruction and pillage of Iraq. After the removal of Saddam Hussein, Iraqis turned to Islamism as a form of governance to replace Baathism. In geopolitical terms, nature abhors a vacuum, ergo Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, not on great terms to begin with, began to vie for dominance, with Sunni extremists preferring a Saudi-aligned vision and Shiites preferring a more moderate Iranian-aligned one. Consider this quote from Muneer Hashim al-Obaidi, a professor of law at the Iraqiya University in Baghdad:
Iran is using Iraq’s Shiites to achieve the political goal of increasing their power in the region. IS is using the cover of protecting Sunnis to achieve their political goals of establishing control over lands in Iraq and Syria. Iraq is part of a regional war – it could even be described as a world war. We can see the West – by which I mean the US and Europe – fighting against Russia and China. The Russians and Chinese are supporting Iran while the Americans and Europeans back Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Iran has a lot of issues but also has a rich social safety net financed by their oil sales. By contrast, the Saudi economy is made up of a 1% of royal princelings, funded by their petro-dollars income, while the vast majority of workers are living in terrible conditions and the women exist in gender apartheid. “I think that this is deeply manipulative because, while he paints a picture that is almost 100% identical to that painted by neocons like John Bolton and Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol and Richard Perle and all of the rest of them, saying that Iran is the great center of state sponsorship of terrorism and all of the rest of this… he is actually making a case for war against Iran.”
Throughout Kennedy’s recent writings, he has consistently referred to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Draitser says “The NCRI, this is basically an expatriate organization that claims to be for religious freedoms and social freedoms and cultural freedoms against the regime in Tehran, but actually this is an organization that is founded by terrorist organization, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, MEK or the MKO [translated as People’s Mojahedin of Iran]. They have been listed as a well-known sponsor of terrorism by the United States, by the State Department. This is an organization that waged war against the civilian population of Iran during the 1980’s, during the Iran-Iraq War.”
National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a broad coalition of democratic Iranian organizations, groups and personalities, was founded in 1981 in Tehran upon the initiative of Massoud Rajavi, the Leader of the Iranian Resistance… Five organizations are also members of the NCRI, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the largest and most popular resistance group inside Iran. [Emphasis added]
Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders. The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980. [Emphasis added]
“Let us not forget that the United States was backing Saddam Hussein in a vicious war against Iran at that time and this organization was carrying out tremendous crimes against the people of Iran. And so then to frame it as Iran being the kind of singular threat in the world and this little old organization that we have to support, this is the future of Iran, this actually puts Kennedy not only squarely in the neocon camp, this puts him basically…shoulder-to-shoulder with John McCain, with some of the most reactionary Republican forces in Congress, this basically puts him directly in the neocon camp, there’s no other way to say that.”
The United States has always been on the wrong side of history when it comes to Saudi Arabia. For close to a century now, the West has propped up the reactionary, ultra-Right Wahhabist House of Saud, a hive of scum and villainy that, as we learned on 60 Minutes several weeks ago, probably actively aided and abetted the terrorists on 9/11.
“In 2002-2003, Ted Kennedy vocally opposed George W. Bush, opposed the war in Iraq and opposed a lot of the kind of framing of the issue that [Patrick] Kennedy is now pushing and, like I said, it’s embarrassing. If I were somebody trying to uphold the tradition of some kind of dovish Liberalism, I would be deeply concerned about this sort of war-mongering rhetoric.”
Did Kennedy, while serving in Congress, know about the redacted pages from the 9/11 commission report that implicated the Saudis? Does he understand that the Iranians actively tried to reach out to the Bush White House after the attacks both through signs of solidarity, including candlelight marches through the streets of Tehran, as well as actively helping American troops fight against al Queda terrorists? I would put things at 50-50 for the former but absolute certainty for the latter.
On whether Kennedy’s verbiage is akin to that used by his uncles and father about the old Soviet Union as Cold War Liberals: “In a sense it is, although actually I would say that…to a large extent, he’s way to the right of that.”
“The reality is that there is a double manipulation happening here. On the one hand, he’s distorting the truth about Iran. That is to say, Iran does have a theocratic system, there’s no doubt about that, there are definitely problems that exist there. But Iran is not sponsoring global terrorism.”