This week, it was announced that Iran’s GDP will increase nearly 4% in 2018. Woohoo!
Also this week, unrest gripped the country, with massive protests against the existing power structure.
Despite a rising GDP, unemployment and underemployment are rampant in Iran, corruption is all-encompassing, and the government has announced plans to further reduce services to the poor and middle class.
It calls to mind what I wrote in Week 51, when President Trump was receiving lavish mainstream praise after an announcement that the GDP of the United States was, despite the apparently calamitous Trump presidency, on the rise.
“GDP almost seems like a unit of measurement created by predatory capitalist corporations for predatory capitalist corporations — one which defines societal progress through indicators which benefit them and ignore the general population.”
The eyes of the world have been on the protests in Iran, particularly in the mainstream of the United States, where a revolt against an enemy government would be most welcomed.
In an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council “requested” by the United States, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley ominously warned, “The Iranian regime is now on notice,” before adding, “Freedom and human dignity cannot be separated from peace and security. When the rights of the people are denied, the people rightly resist. If the concerns are not acknowledged, then peace and security are inevitably threatened.”
Some countries, perhaps remembering previous lofty statements which served as American precursors to war, were unimpressed by these actions and statements, like French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who commented:
“It is up to the Iranians, and to the Iranians alone, to pursue the path of peaceful dialogue, a dialogue based on full respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Iranian people. However worrying the events of the last few days in Iran may be, they do not constitute, per se, a threat to international peace and security.”
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia suggested, “Let Iran deal with its own problems,” and asked whether the Security Council should have held meetings about protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Not a terrible point.
More ironic, however, is the way in which the U.S. is trying to utilize the UN apparatus, especially considering the other ongoing storyline of Middle-Eastern unrest — Israel/Palestine; this time stirred by Trump’s stated desire to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Time and time again, the United Nations has tried to reprimand Israel for gross violations of human rights and international law in their dealings with the Palestinians. Time and time again, the U.S. has blocked this from happening.
When the United States has an enemy to condemn, the UN is a holy pulpit from which to proselytize. When the international community seeks to censure the United States, the UN is irrelevant.
As Bloomberg professed this week, “double standards are commonplace in geopolitics and often justified by individual circumstances.”
President Trump, always first in line at the cotton candy factory, was quick to offer his support for the protesters in a barrage of tweets.
Ignore for a moment the unintentional comedy of a man who has actively subverted free speech and the right to peaceably assemble at home, now proposing to support these rights across the globe. Instead, ask: what is it that the Iranians are protesting?
Certainly, their government is saturated with corruption and other despotic tendencies. But what has moved the people from discontent to disobedience are the results brought about by this government — unemployment, inflation, the dismantling of social services.
One of the selling points of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran was the claim that it would address these problems. The theory was that by loosening sanctions on Iran, and moving the country away from the “rogue state” list, companies would feel safe enough to invest, creating jobs for the people and tax revenue for the government. With Trump constantly threatening to cancel the deal, this “safety” has not had a chance to materialize, and neither have the results.
Admittedly, Trump is an Olympic level doublethinker. To profess support for protesters while at the same time contributing to their plight… well done.
In a certain way, the American empire is really quite brilliant. The combination of military engagement, covert operations, and economic warfare, alongside superficial constructs like the United Nations and GDP as a unit of societal success, creates something truly unique.
Don’t you wish you could go a few hundred years into the future and see what it says in the history books of the superpower-of-the-day about “America”?