Cutting through the bullshit.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

A little help from your friends

Anticipating a US or US-UK attack on Iran, the Guardian’s Seamas Milne observes,

What is becoming clearer is that the likely pretext for aggression against Iran has shifted from the possibility that Tehran might develop nuclear weapons to its role in supporting and allegedly arming the resistance in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan. The administration is increasingly convinced that it will be far easier to convince the American public of the case for war on Iran if it's seen as being about the protection of US troops rather than nuclear scaremongering from the people who brought you Saddam Hussein's WMD.

In recent times, the doctors of spin have enjoyed some stunning triumphs, including the remarkable feat of erecting the downright silly straw man that Israel’s critics single Israel out for criticism, and keeping it standing. And now, it would seem, they have another up their sleeve.

Milne is probably right that allegations of Iranian support for the Iraqi resistance will form at least one of the pretexts for any attack on Iran. I hasten to interject that I am not predicting an attack anymore, although I do consider bombing a plausible scenario. But sometimes they just beat the drums of war because they like the way people react to the noise. And people like Kolko, and Milne, have pointed out plenty of good reasons why it would be a bad idea.

Accusations of Iranian interference have formed a part of the propaganda surrounding the US adventure in Iraq all along and came to a head with the advent of Explosively Formed Projectiles. These were obviously Iranian imports, since, the media told us, the Iraqis are too stupid to develop such a fiendishly clever device. That was actually after Iraqi workshops manufacturing EFPs were discovered by US troops, if memory serves. And there was the abduction of several Iranian diplomatic staff in January.

So, what if the Iranians really were supporting Iraqi resistance to US occupation? Is that a casus belli? The standard spin on the occupation these days is that the poor old US going to extraordinary lengths to help the struggling fledgling democratic government of Iraq overcome Iraq’s deepseated millennia of communal strife even though the government seems unwilling to rise to the challenge of running a democracy under American tutelage. As the toddling government is beleaguered by deadenders, Ba’athists, foreign fighters, jihadis, and of course al Qa’ida, the US provides not only munitions, but many tens of thousands of its finest young people. It’s an expression of the generous spirit of the American people that their government has invested so much in supporting its Iraqi friends.

By the same token, if it’s ok for the US to offer military support to its friends in Iraq, what principle would preclude the Iranian people from offering military support to its friends in Iraq? They might think, with some reason, that the Americans invaded and occupied Iraq with a view to gaining control over the world’s second largest proven reserves of oil and establishing a military presence in the heart of the principal oil producing region in pursuit of their stated objective of full spectrum dominance. They could be forgiven for believing that the US has been cavalier in its respect for Iraqi life, slaughtering over a million, displacing a further four million, and thoroughly immiserating the rest. They could even entertain a reasonably well founded apprehension that the US has its eye on their own third largest proven oil reserves and harbours designs on Iranian sovereignty. That would justify supporting the resistance, wouldn’t it?

But if Iran is supplying copper plates for EFPs, that’s a blatant violation of International law – the law that says, ‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists’.


  1. ernie:

    i just can't figure out why Iran has not entered into a mutual defense treat with, say, Russia, or any other country which could "cook" the US mainland in the event of a preventive attack by them. any suggestions?

  2. that should be "treaty", of course.

  3. Nope. I wouldn't know that. I suspect the US would regard such a pact as grounds for preemption. In accordance with international law, as defined, explicit threats from the US and Israel against Iran do not constitute grounds for preemption.