War on Iran has already begun. Act before it threatens all of us
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Dec 15 22:13:07 GMT 2011
Please - on this one - write to your MP,
attaching a copy of the son of the BBC DG who
Victor Rothschild ousted (according to Marmaduke
Hussey's autobiography) on Thursday 29th January 1987's latest article.
War on Iran has already begun. Act before it threatens all of us
Escalation of the covert US-Israeli campaign
against Tehran risks a global storm. Opposition has to get more serious
Seumas Milne - guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 7 December 2011 20.59 GMT
They don't give up. After a decade of
blood-drenched failure in Afghanistan and Iraq,
violent destabilisation of Pakistan and Yemen,
the devastation of Lebanon and slaughter in
Libya, you might hope the US and its friends had
had their fill of invasion and intervention in the Muslim world.
It seems not. For months the evidence has been
growing that a US-Israeli stealth war against
Iran has already begun, backed by Britain and
France. Covert support for armed opposition
groups has spread into a campaign of
assassinations of Iranian scientists, cyber
warfare, attacks on military and missile
installations, and the killing of an Iranian general, among others.
The attacks are not directly acknowledged, but
accompanied by intelligence-steered nods and
winks as the media are fed a stream of hostile
tales the most outlandish so far being an
alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador
to the US and the western powers ratchet up
pressure for yet more sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme.
The British government's decision to take the
lead in imposing sanctions on all Iranian banks
and pressing for an EU boycott of Iranian oil
triggered the trashing of its embassy in Tehran
by demonstrators last week and subsequent
expulsion of Iranian diplomats from London.
It's a taste of how the conflict can quickly
escalate, as was the downing of a US spyplane
over Iranian territory at the weekend. What one
Israeli official has called a "new kind of war"
has the potential to become a much more
old-fashioned one that would threaten us all.
Last month the Guardian was told by British
defence ministry officials that if the US brought
forward plans to attack Iran (as they believed it
might), it would "seek, and receive, UK military
help", including sea and air support and
permission to use the ethnically cleansed British
island colony of Diego Garcia.
Whether the officials' motive was to soften up
public opinion for war or warn against it, this
was an extraordinary admission: the Britain
military establishment fully expects to take part
in an unprovoked US attack on Iran just as it
did against Iraq eight years ago.
What was dismissed by the former foreign
secretary Jack Straw as "unthinkable", and for
David Cameron became an option not to be taken
"off the table", now turns out to be as good as a
done deal if the US decides to launch a war that
no one can seriously doubt would have disastrous
consequences. But there has been no debate in
parliament and no mainstream political challenge
to what Straw's successor, David Miliband, this
week called the danger of "sleepwalking into a
war with Iran". That's all the more shocking
because the case against Iran is so spectacularly flimsy.
There is in fact no reliable evidence that Iran
is engaged in a nuclear weapons programme. The
latest International Atomic Energy Agency report
once again failed to produce a smoking gun,
despite the best efforts of its new director
general, Yukiya Amano described in a WikiLeaks
cable as "solidly in the US court on every strategic decision".
As in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, the
strongest allegations are based on "secret
intelligence" from western governments. But even
the US national intelligence director, James
Clapper, has accepted that the evidence suggests
Iran suspended any weapons programme in 2003 and has not reactivated it.
The whole campaign has an Alice in Wonderland
quality about it. Iran, which says it doesn't
want nuclear weapons, is surrounded by
nuclear-weapon states: the US which also has
forces in neighbouring Afghanistan and Iraq, as
well as military bases across the region Israel, Russia, Pakistan and India.
Iran is of course an authoritarian state, though
not as repressive as western allies such as Saudi
Arabia. But it has invaded no one in 200 years.
It was itself invaded by Iraq with western
support in the 1980s, while the US and Israel
have attacked 10 countries or territories between
them in the past decade. Britain exploited,
occupied and overthrew governments in Iran for
over a century. So who threatens who exactly?
As Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, said
recently, if he were an Iranian leader he would
"probably" want nuclear weapons. Claims that Iran
poses an "existential threat" to Israel because
President Ahmadinejad said the state "must vanish
from the page of time" bear no relation to
reality. Even if Iran were to achieve a nuclear
threshold, as some suspect is its real ambition,
it would be in no position to attack a state with
upwards of 300 nuclear warheads, backed to the
hilt by the world's most powerful military force.
The real challenge posed by Iran to the US and
Israel has been as an independent regional power,
allied to Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah and
Palestinian Hamas movements. As US troops
withdraw from Iraq, Saudi Arabia fans
sectarianism, and Syrian opposition leaders
promise a break with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas,
the threat of proxy wars is growing across the region.
A US or Israeli attack on Iran would turn that
regional maelstrom into a global firestorm. Iran
would certainly retaliate directly and through
allies against Israel, the US and US Gulf client
states, and block the 20% of global oil supplies
shipped through the Strait of Hormuz. Quite apart
from death and destruction, the global economic impact would be incalculable.
All reason and common sense militate against such
an act of aggression. Meir Dagan, the former head
of Israel's Mossad, said last week it would be a
"catastrophe". Leon Panetta, the US defence
secretary, warned that it could "consume the
Middle East in confrontation and conflict that we would regret".
There seems little doubt that the US
administration is deeply wary of a direct attack
on Iran. But in Israel, Barak has spoken of
having less than a year to act; Binyamin
Netanyahu, the prime minister, has talked about
making the "right decision at the right moment";
and the prospects of drawing the US in behind an
Israeli attack have been widely debated in the media.
Maybe it won't happen. Maybe the war talk is more
about destabilisation than a full-scale attack.
But there are undoubtedly those in the US, Israel
and Britain who think otherwise. And the threat
of miscalculation and the logic of escalation
could tip the balance decisively. Unless
opposition to an attack on Iran gets serious,
this could become the most devastating Middle East war of all.
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