Labeling The Iranian Revolutionary Guard ‘Terrorists’ Is A Step Toward War

| Educate!

Why refusing to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terror organization keeps us out of war

A “Twitter-stamp” by Secretary of State Pompeo made it official. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is now designated as a foreign terrorist organization. “We must help the people of Iran get back their freedom” is a diplomatic tweet of an alternative reality. ISIS, Boko Haram, and Iran, all in one place.

This move is not a measured foreign policy decision that should be up for debate between more diplomacy-minded versus more hawkish policy-makers. This move is a step toward war that should be condemned by all sides. Whether we like it or not, the IRGC is much more than a branch of the Iranian armed forces. It has also been a part of the Iranian governmental, industrial, economic, and social system ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution with now potentially 11 million affiliated people.

Fact: Labeling the IRGC as a terrorist organization is dangerous and leads us on a path to war.

When we allow the IRGC to be viewed as a terrorist organization, we allow for the commonly known steps of dealing with terrorists to follow: Terrorists are not within our scope of morality. We don’t negotiate with them, we fight them, we destroy them until there aren’t any left. And since 9/11, the US has been in an endless global war on terror (with changing names), fought by the US military on foreign soils.

Seriously and it bears grim repetition, the terrorist designation of the IRGC is a long step toward war with Iran.

By refusing to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terror organization we are refusing to create an enemy image of Iranians as a whole. Holly Dagres, editor of the Atlantic Council’s IranSource blog, stated on the BBC Newshour that designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization is problematic because of the complexity of an entity with which 11 million out of 80 million people in Iran are to some extent affiliated with. Making general claims about an entity and its affiliates as a terror organization suggests that we are threatened by “the other” and allows us to easier legitimize violence against “them.” That’s the nature of dehumanization and it is one of the most common forms of propaganda before and during warfare. Combining this psychology with the politics of a global war on terror is worse than unnecessary; it is a classic lose-lose slip that will cost us all.

Targeting the Revolutionary Guard is nothing new. In October 2017, the US Treasury already sanctioned  the IRGC under terrorism authority and as Barbara Slavin, director of the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative notes, this new designation as a terror organization is gratuitous and provocative. We are in an extremely dangerous moment of the US-Iran conflict. Trump’s unwarranted pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the additional sanctions already increased the tensions. This step is yet another escalation moving us closer to a war that the US should not risk and that has no upside.

Critics rightfully point to the role the IRGC’s reprehensible actions at home and abroad. They are indeed involved in human rights abuses against their own people as well as supporting violent conflict abroad. Designating them as a terror organization, however, plays into their hands.

I’ve been to Iran. One thing that the highly educated Iranian people know for sure is that Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton don’t care about their freedom or suffering. Instead, this designation will more likely lead Iranians to rally around the flag against the American government which once again has shown it cannot be trusted. As Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif told our delegation, Iran’s biggest crime in relation to the US was its decision to be independent.

It is not necessary to get fully caught up in the highly complex conflicts of the Middle East and the US role in those to advocate for a different approach with Iran. For now, one thing we can to do prevent another war is to push back against the creation of enemy images for propaganda purposes. Iranian people have every right to determine their own path. The Revolutionary Guard, for better or for worse is part of it. Iranians have national pride that goes beyond the religious regime.

Iranians generally hold complex views, unhelped by the US government telling them what to believe. Michael Axworthy, author of Revolutionary Iran, tells us that Iranians still regard the IRGC as heroes of the Iran-Iraq war and guarantors of independence, but also as repressive and corrupt. Iranians are highly educated, proud, warm, and welcoming people who are very aware of their own government’s often bad behavior. The last thing they want is the help of the US to “get back their freedom.” I know, because I just returned from Iran where I was part of a citizen peace delegation.

The actions by the Trump administration are arguably an attack on Iran’s sovereignty and independence as a nation and will be seen that way. Iranians know their history and the role of outsiders in trying to determine their path for them. The best thing Americans can do for the freedoms of Iranian people is to prevent Trump, Pompeo and Bolton from their ham-handed meddling. The latter comes with war, and I have 80 million reasons there, and 328 million reasons here, not to go to war with the Iranian people.

Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., syndicated by PeaceVoiceis a Conflict Transformation scholar, professor, served on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association (2012-2016), is a member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, and is Director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation.

  • Infarction

    At the end of the George HW Bush administration when the first Cold War ended and Bill Clinton became president the CIA and the rest of the military-industrial complex discovered that no enemy remained where it could focus its warmongering. Early in his administration, Clinton was apathetic toward foreign affairs as he and Congress declared a “peace dividend.” The peace dividend that never occurred was supposed to include great social welfare benefits, infrastructure improvements and so forth. But there were massive cuts in defense spending and the CIA was shrunk to levels not seen in decades as morale in the spy agency plummeted.

    By the time that W Bush connived with the US Supreme Court to rig the election in 2000, the PNAC crowd and the military-industrial complex realized that the only way that they could crank up the gravy train of the resplendent Cold War days was to create new enemies. Thus the war on terrorism was born. Indeed, it has been the gift that keeps on giving to the intelligence agencies and its evil twin the military. As far as the deep state was concerned, all was right in the world and the US government had finally straightened out its priorities.

    But still, the torrents of money flowing into the Pentagon, to the war profiteers and to their toadies in politics was not enough. Hillary Clinton lost the election to a buffoonish conman in 2016. She along with the Democrats blamed the Russians for her ignoble defeat to the clownish Donald Trump. Thus, the new era of McCarthyite paranoia ignited another massive spending spree as both corporate parties in the thrall of huge contributions from warmonger corporations revived the endless flood of money.

    Meanwhile, the endless lust for more money and more power has blinded this cabal of fools to the destruction of the planet they are reaping. Their testosterone-fueled lizard brains continue to create more wars that they and their spawn will never fight. The fighting will be left to the working class.

  • Jon

    I am wondering if the Iranian government will declare the CIA a terrorist organization and initiate “sanctions” on it as well.

  • kevinzeese

    Iran did label the US military a terrorist organization in response.

  • Jon

    Kevin, If you have that wording, it would be useful to see it posted here on PR.

  • kevinzeese
  • kevinzeese

    Here the Russia Today version to compare it with:

  • Jon

    OK, Nice to see if this gets some traction.

  • chetdude

    In case folks are in too much of a hurry to check out the article at RT:

    ‘The (Iranian designation of it as a terrorist organization) blamed CENTCOM for harming Iran’s national security as well as ruining the lives of “innocent Iranian and non-Iranian individuals” to promote the US’ “aggressive policies” in Western Asia. It also specifically mentioned that the US is “involved” in the killing of people in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition wages a brutal military campaign against the Shia Houthi rebels. Washington has long provided intelligence and logistic support to the Saudis, and also sold them weapons as part of arms deals worth billions of dollars.

    ‘The US and its allies “have always been advocates of extremist groups and terrorists in the Western Asian region,” the council said, adding that Washington has to take responsibility for “the dangerous consequences of its adventures.”’

    We won’t be hearing any of that on USAmerican corporate media so here it is…