Crippling Iran: Questions for Mr Hague

Crippling Iran: Questions for Mr Hague

by Stuart Littlewood

Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague has written a widely acclaimed 576-page biography of William Pitt the Younger, who became prime minister in 1783 at the tender age of 24. Pitt was the war leader during Britain’s running battles with Napoleon, but it is said that he was uncomfortable in such a role and considered war got in the way of trade and prosperity.

It is a pity that Pitt’s abhorrence of war and preference for trade has not, apparently, rubbed off on Hague.

We see our foreign secretary rushing around the international stage drumming up support for sanctions intended to cripple another country – a country that could and should have been a strong trading partner and valuable ally – on the mere suspicion of some nuclear skullduggery.

And he does this without adequate debate, sensible explanation or popular mandate.

Mr Hague said last week’s ransacking of the embassy in Tehran was carried out “with regime consent”. But I read that US Vice President Joe Biden told Reuters that he had no indication the attack was orchestrated by the Iranian authorities.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the incident was clearly in retaliation for Britain’s leading part in orchestrating sanctions that will damage the Iranian economy and collectively punish the country’s civilian population.

To this is added a burning resentment of Britain’s past sins.

Perhaps Mr Hague should pause to reflect and answer a few questions…

(1) Have we so easily forgotten the cruel and devastating effect of sanctions on civil society, especially children, before we reduced Iraq to rubble?

(2) Would the Foreign Secretary kindly explain the reasons for his hostility towards Iran?

(3) What concrete proof is there of Iran’s military application of nuclear technology?

(4) Why is he not more concerned about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the threat it poses to the region and beyond, and the mental attitude of the Israeli regime?

(5) Why is he not seeking sanctions against Israel for its refusal to sign up to the NPT or engage constructively on the issue of its nuclear and otherWMDprogrammes, not to mention its repeated defiance of international and humanitarian laws in the Holy Land?

(6) How many times has a British foreign secretary visited Tehran in the 32 years since the Islamic Revolution?

(7) Did Mr Hague make the effort before embarking on his punitive programme?

(8) Britain’s abominable conduct towards the Iranians in 1951-53 when a previous Conservative government, in cahoots with the USA, snuffed out Iran’s democracy and reinstated a cruel dictator, the Shah, was largely responsible for bringing about the Islamic Revolution and setting the pattern of future relationships. Is it not shameful that this Conservative government is spoiling for another fight? Shouldn’t the Foreign Office focus on exerting influence through trade and co-operation?

(9) Iran’s administration, like many others, may not be to our liking but nor was Dr Mossadeq’s democracy 60 years ago. In any event, what threat is Iran to Britain? And why is Mr Hague leading the charge?

(10) By pulling our people out of Tehran and kicking Iran’s people out of London Mr Hague has shut the door on diplomacy. How can he now communicate effectively and build bridges with a nation he seems determined to goad into becoming an implacable enemy?

It is difficult to understand how this escalation against Iran is in the British national interest. Do the British people want it? If Mr Hague’s purpose is to help preserve the balance of power in the Middle East so that a lawless, racist regime – Israel – remains the dominant threatening military force, he must be called to explain the wisdom of it.

Messrs Hague and Cameron both voted enthusiastically for the Iraq war, a supremely irresponsible decision based on neo-con lies. It has cost well over a million lives and caused utter ruination for the survivors and the destruction of much of their heritage. What possessed us to go to war on shoddy intelligence and inflict ‘shock and awe’ on good people?

We want no repetition.

William Hague, according to the Jewish Chronicle, told David Cameron when he became Conservative party leader in 2005 that a deep understanding of the Middle East would be crucial if he wished to be taken seriously as a statesman. “We have to be steeped in the Middle East, way back to historical matters. Because you can’t understand it without the history. That’s been one of the failings sometimes with the Western governments.”

In which case the pair of them ought to know better.

Mr. Cameron and William Hague took in New York’s Christmas lights with mayor Michael Bloomberg

A reminder to the foreign secretary seems appropriate. Most people realise that Westminster’s neo-con friends in Washington have war with Iran on their agenda. But Mr Hague’s job is to make friends for Britain not enemies. Genuine friends in the Middle East are becoming scarce, millions more innocent people may die and the cost of oil is likely to rocket if the West’s aggressive tactics and double standards continue .

More from Littlewood
UK Government Spoiling For A Fight With Iran
Something’s Rotten in the Heart of Western Governments
Why West is Demonizing Iran
Playground Bullying of Palestine and Iran Must Stop…

Debbie Menon
December 7, 2011 – 4:51 am
UAE PM: US Lying about Iran’s N. Program

Iran is not at all a threat either to the Persian Gulf states or to anybody else, and is not seeking a nuclear weapon, the United Arab Emirates’ Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum stressed, implying that the US and Israeli claims about Iran’s nuclear drives are nothing but lies.

“What can Iran do with a nuclear weapon?” Al Maktoum was quoted as saying in the CNN interview Monday. “I don’t believe that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon.”

“Will they hit Israel? How many Palestinians will die? And you think if Iran hits Israel, their cities will be safe? They will be gone the next day,” he told CNN.

While Western powers have increased their pressure on Iran because of Tehran’s nuclear energy project, the UAE leader said his country does not regard the Islamic republic as a threat, neither to the Persian Gulf region nor to anybody else.

Al Maktoum said his country aims at a diplomatic solution to the tensions between Tehran and the West.

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.



Published 21:38 18.11.09
Latest update 14:15 19.11.09
Britain’s Channel 4 exposes ‘power’ of pro-Israel lobby
U.K. Jews lambaste televsion ‘exposé’, says report stokes anti-Semitism.

A television program purporting to expose the unknown power and influence Britain’s pro-Israel lobby has triggered a wave of condemnation by British Jews, some of whom accused the report of stoking anti-Semitism.

The report, Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, was aired on Monday evening by the British broadcaster Channel 4 on its flagship investigative program, Dispatches.

The Community Security Trust, an anti-Semitism watchdog, issued a blistering attack on the program on its blog, which warned that the presenter’s stern admonition that “there is no conspiracy” was a case of shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted.

This was after, the CST said, “one hour of innuendo about ‘pro-Israeli’ moneybags controlling the Conservative and Labour Parties; ‘pro-Israeli’ intimidation of British media; premeditated ‘pro-Israeli’ abuse of anti-Semitism; and sinister music accompanying photos of ‘pro-Israelis’ blurred across Israeli and British flags.”

The co-vice chairman of Britain’s Zionist Federation, Jonathan Hoffman, said the program employed the tropes of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

“What did the program say?” Hoffman wrote on the Web site CiF Watch. “Well there were the allegations about money of course – no conspiracy is complete without some filthy lucre and if there is an Israel connection – so much the better.”



Latest update 10:52 07.12.11
Obama administration in the dark on Israel’s Iran plans, U.S. officials say

Senators John McCain and Carl Levin say uncertainty stokes concern in Washington, where preferred course for now is sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

The Obama administration does not know Israel’s intentions regarding potential military action against Iran, and the uncertainty is stoking concern in Washington, where the preferred course for now is sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

Although Israel remains one of the United States’ closest allies and the two countries’ officials are in regular contact, U.S. officials have a “sense of opacity” regarding what might prompt an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear sites, and about when such an attack might occur, according to a senior U.S. national security official.

U.S. Senator John McCain gives a speech at the World Economic Forum annual meeting on the Middle East at the Dead Sea, October 23, 2011.

Photo by: Reuters
Two key U.S. senators acknowledged on Tuesday that there are gaps in U.S. knowledge about Israeli leaders’ thinking and intentions.

“I don’t think the administration knows what Israel is going to do. I’m not sure Israel knows what Israel is going to do … That’s why they want to keep the other guys guessing. Keep the bad guys guessing,” said Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senator John McCain, the senior Republican on the committee, echoed Levin’s view: “I’m sure (administration officials) don’t know what the Israelis are going to do. They didn’t know when the Israelis hit the reactor in Syria. But the Israelis usually know what we’re going to do.”

In one way, the ambiguity is an advantage for the United States, because Washington could claim it had no foreknowledge of any Israeli attack, which would almost certainly increase anti-American sentiment among many Muslims in the Middle East.

Israeli leaders have not suggested an attack on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons sites is imminent. But neither have they – or U.S. President Barack Obama, for that matter – ruled it out.

Israel, widely believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, says a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten its existence. Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and denies Western accusations it is seeking an atomic bomb.

‘Unintended consequences’

The uncertainty comes amid extraordinarily sharp public warnings in the last few weeks by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the potential “unintended consequences” of military action against Iran.

Panetta told a forum in Washington last week that an attack on Iran would risk “an escalation” that could “consume the Middle East in confrontation and conflict that we would regret.”

It could disrupt the fragile economies of the United States and Europe, spark a popular backlash in Iran bolstering its rulers and put U.S. forces in the region in the firing line, he said. “The United States would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases,” Panetta said.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters in an interview he did not know whether the Jewish state would give the United States notice ahead of time if it decided to act.

An Israeli government official said, “Israel and the United States are in close and continuous communication on the threat posed to world security by the Iranian nuclear program. We appreciate President Obama’s determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” The official declined to comment further.

At the same time, however, Obama’s relations with Israeli leaders have not been particularly warm. He has not visited the country as president.

A former U.S. government official said: “There are plenty of instances when the Israelis have undertaken action without informing the United States first. So not always should we assume a level of coordination (between Washington and Israel) in advance on all issues.”

Repeat performance?

Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA expert on the Middle East who has advised Obama, said, “Israel has a long history of conducting military operations from Baghdad to Tunis without giving Washington advance notice.”

Riedel said the White House wants to send Israel a strong message that the United States does not expect to be blindsided by its ally. “Obama wants Bibi to understand unequivocally he does not want a repeat performance in Iran,” he said, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his nickname.

The Obama administration suspects that Israeli leaders have marked out for themselves certain “red lines” related to Iranian nuclear progress which could trigger Israeli military action if they are crossed, one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But Obama administration policymakers are plagued by a “sense of opacity” in their understanding of where the Israeli red lines are drawn, the official added.

Two other U.S. officials, also speaking on condition they not be named, said Washington is deeply concerned Israel, unconvinced sanctions and diplomatic pressure will halt Iran’s nuclear program, could eventually decide to take action on its own.

By the same token, one of the U.S. officials said, speeches and statements by Israeli leaders, like an address by Netanyahu on Sunday in which he talked about making “the right decision at the right moment” even if allies object, could be politically motivated.

Under this interpretation, Netanyahu and other Israeli officials may be playing to domestic audiences or trying to put pressure on the international community to do more on Iran.




3 responses to “Crippling Iran: Questions for Mr Hague


    ‘there is
    no such thing as society’
    “I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

    Prime minister Margaret Thatcher, talking to Women’s Own magazine, October 31 1987



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