the war in Iraq has greatly increased the threat of terrorist attacks in this country and across the world
the dominant power in Iraq is Iran
Iranians have made [the US] look like complete idiots
We must not let Bush wage war against Iran
No, no, let’s be fair. Let’s show the iron logic for which this column is famed. It is time to set on one side the catastrophic record of Bush, Cheney and the neocons, and look dispassionately at what they are now proposing. In considering the case for an attack on Iran, let us try to ignore the results of the demented adventure in Iraq.
It is not easy. The Iraq war has led to the deaths of more than 3,000 US service personnel, about 133 British troops, and anything between 50,000 and 655,000 Iraqis, most of them innocent civilians. There are about 100 Iraqis dying every day, or being hideously maimed, in the course of suicide-bomb attacks. It is undeniable – or at least it is undeniable by anyone except Tony Blair – that the war in Iraq has greatly increased the threat of terrorist attacks in this country and across the world.
But let us momentarily shut our eyes to those truths, and let us decide whether the warmongers are right this time.
A second American aircraft-carrier battle group will soon be in position. The US special forces are apparently on the border, or even operating in Iran itself. Some time this month, we are told, the US administration will ratchet up the pressure by the usual means: the UN will be asked to agree a resolution on the use of force, and failing that, the Israelis will simply go ahead with the bombing, and the US will pile in behind them.
Is it possible that this time, unlike last time, they will get it right? Can we really exclude the possibility that Dubya knows what he is doing? Just because he got it so disastrously wrong in Iraq is no reason to think he is always wrong. Perhaps he is like a brilliant brain surgeon who happens to have made one tragic slip of the knife. Perhaps he is a Nijinsky who launched his career with one bad pratfall. Perhaps there really is a good, solid case to be made for following him into battle again.
Perhaps Cheney and co are right to say that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a new Hitler, and that he could pass his weapons to terrorists, and so on. Indeed, on the face of it, Washington is absolutely correct to be alarmed.
In an ideal world, a man like Ahmadinejad would not have access to nuclear weapons. In an ideal world, the Israelis would find a way of doing one of their lightning raids and depriving Iran of its nuclear capability – and given that the Iranian leader has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, they would have every justification.
Frankly, I would be thrilled if the Americans were really able to knock out the Iranian nukes, if they were able to do it quickly, efficiently and with minimum bloodshed, and to do it in such a way as to stop the hydra regrowing its heads.
And, yet, even if I blot out all memories of past performance, I doubt the wisdom of this administration in taking on any such mission.
These Iranian nuclear-processing plants are not only dotted all over the country; they are also buried under up to 18 metres of concrete. Are the Americans or the Israelis really going to use bunker-busting nuclear weapons to get at them? Are they going to launch a nuclear first strike against a country that still claims its purposes are entirely peaceful?
Put yourself in Iranian shoes, and you will see that any such action would be even more cataclysmic in its consequences than the attack on Iraq. A nuclear attack by America on a sovereign country – and a country that is offering no violence against America – would instantly and globally legitimise reprisals against America, Americans, American interests and American allies.
It is utter madness, and it must not be allowed to happen. As for a conventional attack, it would be much less likely to succeed, and its consequences for the region would be scarcely less baleful – above all in Iraq.
What is the real reason for American rage with Teheran, apart from the nuclear programme? It is the knowledge that the Iranians have made them look like complete idiots, like orang-utans playing chess against a grandmaster.
The Shia exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi were instrumental in bamboozling the Americans to go to war in Iraq. They conned the administration into removing Iran’s most ferocious opponent in the region, and the net result of the whole exercise is that neither Saddam Hussein nor George Bush is the dominant power in Iraq. The dominant power in Iraq is Iran.
Never mind the Iranian-backed Shia militias who are causing such carnage. Look at the composition of the Iraqi parliament, the democratically elected body that Blair occasionally holds up in pathetic vindication of his policy. The single largest group is the 32 Shias who are, again, loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr and who control several of the ministries, while being directly linked to the militias.
If you want a flavour of the nightmare and anarchy in Iraq, the Americans were forced, the other day, to arrest a junior health minister called Hakim al-Zamili because he saw no reason why Iraqi ambulances should not be used to transport weapons for the al-Sadr Mahdi Army!
As anybody who has been to Basra soon observes, the people in charge are the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, whose military wing was trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Any attack on Iran, in other words, would be answered by yet more viciousness in Iraq, yet more slaughter. Isn’t that obvious?
By all means let us tighten the noose on Ahmadinejad. He is a grotesquely incompetent and socialistic buffoon who is already in deep political trouble. Let us target measures against him and his regime. I don’t even mind a spot of sabre-rattling, if that will really help deter them from their nuclear programme. But for heaven’s sake don’t let Dubya draw that sabre again.
I look at these people in Washington, and I ask myself whether I trust them to embark on such a lunatically risky venture, and in the words of Amy Winehouse I say no, no, no.
Join me now. Say no to Dubya and a war on Iran.