A new chapter of world history was written when audacious Iranian militants backed by hundreds of thousands of cheering demonstrators, occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran, took 62 embassy personnel hostage, and demanded the extradition of the ex-Shah from the U.S.
With this stunning challenge hurled at world imperialism, decades of U.S. spying — and control over Iran — were brought to a shattering conclusion, and the Iranian revolution made an enormous leap forward.
President Jimmy Carter realized full well that the entrance of the Shah onto U. S. soil would be seen in Iran as a provocation and virtual act of war. Yet Carter deliberately welcomed the hated tyrant and sparked the crisis, which he used to launch a viciously racist campaign against Iranians here and in Iran.
The hostages could have been released at any time by simply returning the Shah to Iran. But Carter was willing to sacrifice them for the sake of justifying an attack on the Iranian revolution. Wall Street, the Pentagon and Carter are threatening economic blockade and “military options” against Iran.
The hostage hysteria has been carefully orchestrated to benefit Carter’s tarnished image and his reelection campaign. Rarely has political cynicism been employed in such a reckless fashion.
A dangerous standoff prevails at this writing. The crisis bristles with the hovering threat of a U.S. attack calculated to pulverize the Iranian revolution in a holocaust of blood and fire.
Dual power. Since the Shah’s government fell, the Iranian revolution has continued to advance.
Khomeini’s medieval persecution of women has been challenged by hundreds of thousands of women demonstrating for full emancipation. His demand that the masses disarm was defied by the Fedayeen, a Marxist mass organization, and millions kept their weapons. He is constantly challenged by national minorities demanding self-determination, and by the call of the Fedayeen and Iranian Socialist Workers Party for a workers’ and peasants’ government.
Separate poles of authority — dual power — have dominated the dynamic of Iranian events. Two differing governments have vied for power.
The revolutionary committees — created by the masses, endorsed by the workers and peasants, and reluctantly represented by Khomeini — were one government; the official government of Bazargan — representing the bourgeoisie and U.S. business, made up the other.
After the embassy takeover and ensuing crisis, the “moderate” Bazargan could no longer display even a semblance of authority, and his government simply collapsed.
At that point, polarization deepened between Khomeini and the masses. The ayatollah is forced ever further to the left by the masses, even to calling for the population to be armed. Yet he is desperately trying to save the bourgeois order, just as he did when he created the Bazargan government, and he wants a referendum on his proposed bourgeois constitution. But significant opposition exists to the constitution, particularly among national minorities who boycotted the referendum in Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Baluchistan, and Turkoman.
A prime example of leftward pressure was the action of the Mojahedeen in sparking the embassy seizure and the later participation in the occupation by the Fedayeen and the PLO.
This continuing leftward development, which cannot be stopped even by Khomeini, threatens capitalism the world over. The Iranian revolution has spurred anti-U.S. protests in the U.S. and throughout the Moslem world. U.S. embassies in Pakistan and Libya have been attacked.
New land of the Shah. In the U.S., anti-Iranian eruptions by super-patriots have featured flag-waving nationalism and racism, and chants like “Nuke Iran!” “Camel Jockeys go home!” and “Long Live the Shah!”
Iranians and all dark-skinned people are in danger of their lives. Beatings, threats and shootings multiply, and in Los Angeles an Iranian was handcuffed and murdered execution-style.
Carter ordered the Immigration and Naturalization Service to begin deportation hearings against Iranian students whose papers were not in order — a common state of affairs due to the bureaucratic red tape of the INS itself. This grave injustice against all Iranian students was halted as unconstitutional by a federal court on December 11, but the government has appealed the decision.
2,000 marched in New York on December 1, chanting, “Defend the Students, Deport the Shah!” In Seattle, 300 people picketed a fundraising dinner for vice president Mondale. They shouted, “Ship the Shah, Not the Students!” and “Madr Bar Carter, Madr Bar Shah!” (Farsi language for “Death to Carter, Death to the Shah!”)
Carter ordered all Iranian assets in the U.S. frozen, thereby cutting off student access to their own funds and making it impossible for Iran to move its funds. A large fleet of warships carrying planes and nuclear missiles was dispatched to the Persian Gulf. And the United Nations, true to its role of protector of Western capitalism, self-righteously denounced the taking of hostages.
The USSR, which earlier supported Iran, voted with the U.S. on this resolution, legalistically condemning the taking of hostages as a violation of international law. Sharing a 1300-mile border with Iran — and fearful of the Iranian revolution’s impact — the Soviet bureaucracy quashes any challenge from national minorities within its own borders.
The Chinese bureaucracy stood foursquare with the U.S., anxious to cement their economic/military alliance with imperialism.
Ship the Shah! On December 15, the U.S. flew the Shah to Panama. This deal was calculated to appear as a concession to Iran and to relieve Carter of immediate responsibility for the Shah. At least two major opposition parties in Panama swiftly denounced the transfer, and hundreds of angry students protested in Panama City.
In Iran, the militants occupying the embassy have resolutely refused to release the hostages and have said they would indeed be tried on charges of spying. Additionally, an international tribunal is being organized by the Revolutionary Council to expose the Shah’s crimes and American involvement in Iran.
Carter could still arrange for extradition of the Shah through the Panamanian government and thereby resolve the crisis. But he wants the crisis to continue and the atmosphere of impending war to remain.
All the elements of war are still present. American oil companies want to regain control of Iranian oil and Carter wants to reinstate the draft. The “loss” of Iran, moreover, has struck a major blow to the position of the U. S. vis-à-vis the USSR in the Middle East.
But there is no indication, in spite of rightwing furor, that all-out war would gain massive support. Even Teddy Kennedy, whose party worked overtime to keep the Shah in power, has seized on anti-Shah rhetoric to woo support for his presidential campaign.
The Iranians have repeatedly said they have no complaints against the American people but will no longer be ruled by the U.S. government. All Americans who have suffered under the same U.S. government should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their Iranian counterparts and prevent U.S. capitalism and its White House servants from smashing the Iranian revolution.
Deport the Shah, not the students!
No war against Iran!
Lift the freeze on Iranian funds!
Defend the Iranian revolution!