Pilger: Iran: the war ahead


Richard Moore

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Iran: the war ahead
John Pilger
Published 16 April 2007

The sailors' ordeal was a diversion from the bigger danger. The US and UK 
identified their new enemy long ago and are preparing the propaganda for the war

Plus Rageh Omaar on how the Iran affair has weakened Britain's hand

The Israeli journalist Amira Hass describes the moment her mother, Hannah, was 
marched from a cattle train to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. 
"They were sick and some were dying," she says. "Then my mother saw these German
women looking at the prisoners, just looking. This image became very formative 
in my upbringing, this despicable 'looking from the side'."

It is time we in Britain stopped looking from the side. We are being led towards
perhaps the most serious crisis in modern history as the Bush-Cheney-Blair "long
war" edges closer to Iran for no reason other than that nation's independence 
from rapacious America. The safe delivery of the 15 British sailors into the 
hands of Rupert Murdoch and his rivals (with tales of their "ordeal" almost 
certainly authored by the Ministry of Defence - until it got the wind up) is 
both a farce and a distraction. The Bush administration, in secret connivance 
with Blair, has spent four years preparing for "Operation Iranian Freedom". 
Forty-five cruise missiles are primed to strike. According to Russia's leading 
strategic thinker General Leonid Ivashov: "Nuclear facilities will be secondary 
targets . . . at least 20 such facilities need to be destroyed. Combat nuclear 
weapons may be used. This will result in the radioactive contamination of all 
the Iranian territory, and beyond."

And yet there is a surreal silence in Britain, save for the noise of "news" in 
which our powerful broadcasters gesture cryptically at the obvious but dare not 
make sense of it, lest the one-way moral screen erected between us and the 
consequences of an imperial foreign policy collapse and the truth be revealed. 
John Bolton, formerly Bush's man at the United Nations, recently spelled out the
truth: that the Bush-Cheney-Blair plan for the Middle East is "an agenda to 
maintain division and ethnic tension and the only way to finally capture and 
enslave a country that has historically thrown out its occupiers on every 
occasion". He was referring to Iraq, but he also meant Iran, which would be 
next. That is the news.

One million Iraqis fill the streets of Najaf demanding that Bush and Blair get 
out of their homeland - that is the news: not our nabbed sailor-spies, nor the 
political danse macabre of the pretenders to Blair's Duce delusions. Whether it 
is Gordon Brown, the paymaster of the Iraq bloodbath, or John Reid, who sent 
British troops to pointless deaths in Afghanistan, or any of the others who sat 
through cabinet meetings knowing that Blair and his acolytes were lying through 
their teeth, only mutual distrust separates them now. They knew about Blair's 
plotting with Bush. They knew about the fake 45-minute "warning". They knew 
about the fitting up of Iran as the next "enemy".

Declared Brown to the Daily Mail: "The days of Britain having to apo logise for 
its colonial history are over. We should celebrate much of our past rather than 
apologise for it." In Late Victorian Holocausts, the historian Mike Davis 
documents that as many as 21 million Indians died unnecessarily in famines 
criminally imposed by British colonial policies. Moreover, since the formal 
demise of that glorious imperium, declassified files make it clear that British 
governments have borne "significant responsibility" for the direct or indirect 
deaths of between 8.6 million and 13.5 million people throughout the world from 
military interventions and at the hands of regimes strongly supported by 
Britain. The historian Mark Curtis calls these victims "unpeople". Rejoice! said
Margaret Thatcher. Celebrate! says Brown. Spot the difference.

Brown is no different from Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and the other 
warmongering Democrats he admires and who support an unprovoked attack on Iran 
and the subjugation of the Middle East to "our interests" - and Israel's, of 
course. Nothing has changed since the US and Britain destroyed Iran's democratic
government in 1953 and installed Reza Shah Pahlavi, whose regime had "the 
highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts
and a history of torture" that was "beyond belief" (Amnesty).

True carnage

Look behind the one-way moral screen and you will dis tinguish the Blairite 
elite by its loathing of real democracy. They used to be discreet about this, 
but no more. Two examples spring to mind. In 2004, Blair used the secretive 
"royal prerogative" to overturn a high court judgment that had restored the very
principle of human rights set out in Magna Carta to the people of the Chagos 
Islands, a British colony in the Indian Ocean. There was no debate. As ruthless 
as any dictator, Blair dealt his coup de grâce with the lawless expulsion of the
islanders from their homeland, now a US military base, from which Bush has 
bombed Iraq and Afghanistan and will bomb Iran.

In the second example, only the degree of suffering is dif ferent. Last October,
the Lancet published research by Johns Hopkins University in the US and 
al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad which calculated that 655,000 Iraqis had 
died as a direct result of the Anglo-American invasion. Downing Street officials
derided the study as "flawed". They were lying. In fact, the chief scientific 
adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson, had backed the survey, 
describing its methods as "robust" and "close to best practice", and other 
government officials had secretly approved the "tried and tested way of 
measuring mortality in conflict zones". The figure for Iraqi deaths is now 
estimated at close to a million - carnage equivalent to that caused by the 
Anglo-American economic siege of Iraq in the 1990s, which produced the deaths of
half a million infants under the age of five, verified by Unicef. That, too, was
dismissed contemptuously by Blair.

"This Labour government, which includes Gordon Brown as much as it does Tony 
Blair," wrote Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, "is party to a war crime of 
monstrous proportions. Yet our political consensus prevents any judicial or 
civil society response. Britain is paralysed by its own indifference."

Such is the scale of the crime and of our "looking from the side". According to 
the Observer of 8 April, the voters' "damning verdict" on the Blair regime is 
expressed by a majority who have "lost faith" in their government. No surprise 
there. Polls have long shown a widespread revulsion to Blair, demonstrated at 
the last general election, which produced the second lowest turnout since the 
franchise. No mention was made of the Observer's own contribution to this 
national loss of faith. Once celebrated as a bastion of liberalism that stood 
against Anthony Eden's lawless attack on Egypt in 1956, the new right-wing, 
lifestyle Observer enthusiastically backed Blair's lawless attack on Iraq, 
having helped lay the ground with major articles falsely linking Iraq with the 
9/11 attacks - claims now regarded even by the Pentagon as fake.

As hysteria is again fabricated, for Iraq, read Iran. According to the former US
treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, the Bush cabal decided to attack Iraq on "day 
one" of Bush's administration, long before 11 September 2001. The main reason 
was oil. O'Neill was shown a Pentagon document entitled "Foreign Suitors for 
Iraqi Oilfield Contracts", which outlined the carve-up of Iraq's oil wealth 
among the major Anglo-American companies. Under a law written by US and British 
officials, the Iraqi puppet regime is about to hand over the extraction of the 
largest concentration of oil on earth to Anglo-American companies.

Nothing like this piracy has happened before in the modern Middle East, where 
Opec has ensured that oil business is conducted between states. Across the Shatt
al-Arab waterway is another prize: Iran's vast oilfields. Just as non existent 
weapons of mass destruction or facile concerns for democracy had nothing to do 
with the invasion of Iraq, so non-existent nuclear weapons have nothing to do 
with the coming American onslaught on Iran. Unlike Israel and the United States,
Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which 
it was an original signatory, and has allowed routine inspections under its 
legal obligations. The International Atomic Energy Agency has never cited Iran 
for diverting its civilian programme to military use. For the past three years, 
IAEA inspectors have said they have been allowed to "go anywhere". The recent UN
Security Council sanctions against Iran are the result of Washington's bribery.

Until recently, the British were unaware that their government was one of the 
world's most consistent abusers of human rights and backers of state terrorism. 
Few Britons knew that the Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of al-Qaeda, was 
sponsored by British intelligence as a means of systematically destroying 
secular Arab nationalism, or that MI6 recruited young British Muslims in the 
1980s as part of a $4bn Anglo-American-backed jihad against the Soviet Union 
known as "Operation Cyclone". In 2001, few Britons knew that 3,000 innocent 
Afghan civilians were bombed to death as revenge for the attacks of 11 
September. No Afghans brought down the twin towers, only citizens of Saudi 
Arabia, Britain's biggest arms client, which was not bombed. Thanks to Bush and 
Blair, awareness in Britain and all over the world has risen as never before. 
When home-grown terrorists struck London in July 2005, few doubted that the 
attack on Iraq had provoked the atrocity and that the bombs which killed 52 
Londoners were, in effect, Blair's bombs.

In my experience, most people do not indulge the absurdity and cruelty of the 
"rules" of rampant power. They do not contort their morality and intellect to 
comply with double standards and the notion of approved evil, of worthy and 
unworthy victims. They would, if they knew, grieve for all the lives, families, 
careers, hopes and dreams destroyed by Blair and Bush. The sure evidence is the 
British public's wholehearted response to the 2004 tsunami, shaming that of the 

Certainly, they would agree wholeheartedly with Robert H Jackson, chief of 
counsel for the United States at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders at the end
of the Second World War. "Crimes are crimes," he said, "whether the United 
States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay 
down a rule of criminal conduct which we would not be willing to have invoked 
against us."

As with Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld, who dare not travel to certain 
countries for fear of being prosecuted as war criminals, Blair as a private 
citizen may no longer be untouchable. On 20 March, Baltasar Garzón, the 
tenacious Spanish judge who pursued Augusto Pinochet, called for indictments 
against those responsible for "one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes
in recent human history" - Iraq. Five days later, the chief prosecutor of the 
International Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory, said that Blair 
could one day face war-crimes charges.

These are critical changes in the way the sane world thinks - again, thanks to 
the Reich of Blair and Bush. However, we live in the most dangerous of times. On
6 April, Blair accused "elements of the Iranian regime" of "backing, financing, 
arming and supporting terrorism in Iraq". He offered no evidence, and the 
Ministry of Defence has none. This is the same Goebbels-like refrain with which 
he and his coterie, Gordon Brown included, brought an epic bloodletting to Iraq.
How long will the rest of us continue looking from the side?

John Pilger's new film "The War on Democracy" will be previewed at the National 
Film Theatre, London SE1, on 11 May. http://www.bfi.org.uk/nft


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