Friday, April 30, 2010

Why I owe Gillian Duffy an apology - and Murdoch owes us all one

Today it's been revealed that the entire Gillian Duffy incident was created by Murdoch, who has switched from backing New Labour back to backing the Conservatives, just as he did under Thatcher.

It's normal in an interview by a TV station for them to remove their mike from the lapel of the interviewee at the end of it. Sky News - owned by News International, a Murdoch company, didn't do that with Gordon Brown.

Murdoch used to back Thatcher in elections in return for getting her to allow tax avoidance and tax cuts benefitting him and his firms and deregulation of media ownership so he could expand his business empire.

Then he allied to Blair and New Labour with the same deal. Now he's gone back to the Conservatives again - and his TV stations and newspapers have followed suit.

It also transpires that the Sun newspaper offered Mrs Duffy tens of thousands of pounds to say she hated Gordon Brown and would vote Conservative. She turned down the bribe and stuck to her principles. While I'm standing as an independent candidate because i've little time for most of 'New Labour's policies I can only admire her for that - and I used to be a Labour voter, like her.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Time to end the hysteria about "them immigrants" and deal with the reality

Much is being made in the media of a Mrs Duffy's hurt feelings over Gordon Brown saying she was a bigot after she complained about 'the immigrants'.

It looks a lot like the Blairites have set Brown up here, but apart from that what about the feelings (not to mention the lives) of "the immigrants", many of them genuine refugees fleeing torture or death or people who lived in dire poverty and came here to work hard and earn a living?

I doubt they’ll feel good that people in Britain frequently talk about being sick of all immigrants.

If anyone thinks that prejudice against all immigrants and refugees is any better than prejudice against all black or Asian people, or all people of a particular religion they’re wrong.

In the 1920s and 1930s unthinking hatred of Jews was considered normal and rational. Refugees and migrant workers are the Jews of today. Unthinking hatred of them is considered acceptable by too many people.

Mrs Duffy has a point on free immigration from Eastern Europe to the UK, but then there are also a million British immigrant workers in other EU countries; and Poles come here partly because they have a surplus of skilled trades-people - plumbers, carpenters, joiners and electricians - and we have a shortage of them as our government hasn't made companies and tradespeople take on apprentices.

I'm not opposed to a referendum on whether to leave the EU either. I'd vote to stay in, but would accept whatever the majority decided.

I disagree with many of the things Gordon Brown has done and said, on PFIs and PPPs, rail privatisation, Iraq, unfair taxes, Afghanistan and many other issues, not least sending genuine refugees back to torture or death to pander to unthinking hatred of ‘immigrants’. On this he was right though. Mrs Duffy’s comment was unthinking prejudice, probably based on ignorance and endless rants containing completely made up “facts” from the Daily Mail, the Sun, the News of the World and too many politicians of both the main parties who have fed the hysteria about immigrants which has boosted the pathetic BNP.

It’s time to end this hysteria and deal with reality. Other than within the EU, Britain already has one of the harshest immigration policies in the world. Immigration is caused by mass poverty and mass hunger caused by ‘free’ rather than fair trade, by natural disasters, by dictatorships (often backed by our own governments) and by wars.

Scotland, with a low birth rate and ageing population, would not have enough people of working age to pay the pensions of its pensioners if it wasn’t for immigration.

Most refugees and migrant workers don’t live on benefits either – they work. People applying for refugee status (asylum seekers) aren't allowed to work while waiting for their claim to be heard, are deported if it's rejected and mostly work if it isn't. While waiting for their claim to be heard they get much lower benefits than unemployed British citizens do.

For some of the sources on these facts and more details see and Thirteen Myths about Asylum Seekers

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The future business, the big society and efficiency savings – political euphemisms and what they actually mean

Morlocks - Is Gordon Brown's policy of only travelling forwards through time ignoring the seriousness of the Morlock menace?

Listening to the party leaders’ election campaign speeches reminds me of great euphemisms from the near and distant past, like “strategic interrogation” and “tactical questioning” (both used as euphemisms for torture by Coalition forces’ press officers in briefings to journalists in Iraq).

“The Future Business”

Good to hear that Gordon Brown is “in the future business”. That’s lucky because as yet no means of travelling backwards in time has been discovered, though it may risk losing him the Dr. Who vote.

I also have a policy of travelling linearly through time - and solely in a forwards direction.

It’s hard to imagine that any candidate or party leader is likely to say “No – i disagree – we should go backwards into the past as fast and as far as possible and damn the inconvenience, the dangers, the costs and the sheer impossibility of doing so –it’s the only way to counter the Morlock menace, which the other parties and candidates are dangerously complacent about”.

What Gordon is really saying is “don’t judge us on our record in government, judge us on what we promise we’ll do in future.”

“The Big Society”

David Cameron’s Big Society policy of encouraging volunteer work would be great if he was suggesting it as an addition to well funded public services rather than as a replacement for them. (Volunteers do some amazing work and are often as good as professionals at it – sometimes better).

The reality of the Conservative ‘encourage volunteering’ policy though is that the wealthy and well educated will be allowed to set up their own schools and run their own local services. Having done so are they likely to be willing to pay enough tax to fund public services for others which they won’t use themselves, but are for people who aren’t so fortunate? I doubt it. The usual conservative ideology is to ask why those struggling in poverty or on low incomes don’t do everything for themselves.

As a result state schools and hospitals will become hugely over-stretched and under-funded – like those in America, while those who can afford it get private care or run their own schools – a two tier health service and a two tier education system.

‘Big society’ in this case is just a euphemism for ‘small, underfunded public services, which most of the well-off but selfish people i represent don’t want to pay for so unwashed oiks can use them’.

To be fair Alastair Darling has also said that if Labour are re-elected there will be a 25% cut in public spending, cuts, in his own words, bigger than those under Thatcher. So neither main party can be trusted not to cut vital public services.

“Efficiency Savings”

While talking a great deal about necessary cuts and efficiency savings none of the leaders of the three biggest parties – Labour , Conservatives or Liberal Democrats – have said a word about scrapping Private Finance Initiatives or Public Private Partnerships, which are the equivalent of hugely over-priced hire purchase schemes, resulting in increased costs along with service cuts.

None of them have suggested renationalising the railways, nor even ending massive public subsidies to the privatised rail companies.

Nor has there been any suggestion of cracking down on huge cost over-runs on British Aerospace contracts for the Ministry of Defence, nor of ending the ‘Export Credit Guarantees’ which ensure that if BAE sells arms to a foreign dictatorship which then doesn’t pay for them taxpayers foot the bill.

No “efficiency savings” in the world could save taxpayers as much money as scrapping these three main areas of waste. Every government and opposition in history has claimed it could save huge amounts of money but running public services more efficiently – what happens in practice is some cuts and un-necessary reorganisation which merely causes temporary chaos.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Groundhog Day of Fear of Iran and its nuclear programme – Part II

Obama administration and Israeli government plans to destroy Iran with sanctions and bombing &ndash

including depleted uranium bunker busters and tactical nuclear weapons

‘Tell every child in the arms of it’s mother

The F-15 is a homicide bomber’

Michael Franti – Yell Fire

An early tactical nuclear weapon designed to be dropped as a bomb from a plane in the 1960s - photos of more recent versions remain hard to come by

In my last post on the Iranian nuclear issue I focused on the risks of the US developing an effective means of defending itself against long range nuclear missiles – and so being able to consider using nuclear weapons on other countries without fear of nuclear counter-attack, as it did against Japan at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

This of course misses out the evidence for the much more immediate risk of deaths from sanctions and air strikes against Iran by the US and Israel (their plans being to use ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons dropped by planes).

Many see the US-Russian strategic nuclear weapons reduction treaty as promoting peace and avoiding the risk of unnecessary wars and deaths –yet it’s also being used as propaganda for sanctions or war on Iran (if it seeks a single nuclear deterrent weapon compared to the reduced complement of over 1,500 each for the US and Russia (1) – (2))

I covered the likely effects of Obama’s plans for “stronger” sanctions on Iran, comparable to those previously enforced against Iraq, in my last post – large numbers of civilian deaths due to hunger and lack of medical supplies. However, as with Iraq sanctions may also be a softening up process for another invasion and ‘regime change’ (3) – (4).

The Obama administration’s new policy on nuclear first strikes has been widely praised, yet it permits nuclear strikes on countries which the US deems to have breached the non-proliferation treaty – like Iran – the exact wording being:

The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.”(5)

Of course the US alleges that Iran is not in compliance with the Treaty (though Iran was one of the first countries to sign it).

According to the renowned American journalist Seymour Hersh, Obama’s Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who served in the same position under Bush, travelled to Europe in 2007 to try to persuade the British government and other NATO allies to back the idea of tactical nuclear air-strikes on Iran, targeting suspected nuclear programme sites (6).

Former CIA counter-terrorism officer Phillip Giraldi told journalists that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had opposed the idea, but that the plan includeda large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons”(6)

Israel has similarly had plans for using tactical nuclear weapons in airstrikes on Iran since at least 2007 (7).

A US tactical nuclear missile in Germany

In March this year President Obama ordered large quantities of bunker buster bombs delivered to the US air base at Diego Garcia in the Chagos Islands (8). The Chagos Islands are British dependencies (former colonies) in the Indian Ocean, previously inhabited by the Chagos Islanders, but the US and British militaries forcibly deported them from their homes in the 1950s to make way for the US military, navy and air-force bases.

If the ‘bunker busters’ are anything like the ones the US supplied to Israel during the 2006 Lebanon war they’ll also include Depleted Uranium, dust from which causes high rates of cancers for decades afterwards – and so effectively ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (9) (more on this later).

Diego Garcia was one of the staging posts for the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq.

Some see this as preparation for US airstrikes on Iran, others claim the original destination for the bombs was Israel, with Obama sending them to Diego Garcia a sign that he wouldn’t back Israeli airstrikes on Iran (10), (11).

It could mean that Obama plans to make the operation an American one though.

Dan Plesch, the Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at London University, told reporters
They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran...US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours” (12).

A US F117 Nighthawk stealth bomber drops a 'bunker buster bomb' in military tests in Utah

During the 2008 Presidential election Obama made a campaign pledge in a speech to AIPAC (the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee):

I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That starts with aggressive, principled diplomacy without self-defeating preconditions... we cannot unconditionally rule out an approach that could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” (13)

In other words it starts with “aggressive principled diplomacy” and then goes on to sanctions, then military action.

Like Bush before him he made clear in his AIPAC speech that the main function of diplomacy is to get international support for “action” against Iran :

Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to mobilize others to join our cause. If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States

Obama’s description of Iran in his speech could have come from Bush or Cheney :

The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.

The false claims are identical to the ones made by the Bush administration. First that there is definitive proof that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. There isn’t any. Second that if Iran got nuclear weapons it would give them to terrorist groups, which is as ludicrous as Bush administration claims that Saddam would give nuclear weapons to Al Qa’ida or Palestinian terrorist groups if he had them. In fact when Saddam did have WMDs in the form of chemical warheads for his Scud missiles - and was at war with the US in 1991 - he neither used them on other countries nor gave them to terrorist groups, because the first would have been personal and national suicide and the second would have been national suicide by proxy. His only attacks on Israel and Kuwait with scuds used conventional warheads. (14).

The same holds for Iran’s government. It’s current top officials – Supreme Leader Khameini, Guardian Council chairman Rafsanjani and then Revolutionary Guard Officer Ahmadinejad, were all involved in persuading Ayatollah Khomeini (not noted as a great moderate either) to make peace with Iraq in 1988 rather than risk total defeat if the US joined the war directly on the Iraqi side (15) - (16).

If some in Iran’s government want a nuclear weapon it’s almost certainly for the same reason most countries want one – to possess a deterrent in order to deter attack from countries with stronger conventional forces – and to avoid being in the situation Japan faced in 1945 when it couldn’t deter the US attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, massacres of civilians exceeded only by the Holocaust itself, the Turkish genocide of the Armenians and the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Michael Axworthy, a former British diplomat who was in Iran many times from the 1970s till 2000 and is an expert on the country’s politics, agrees:

Important Iranian religious leaders have declared that nuclear weapons, and all weapons of mass destruction, are immoral and unacceptable, and this matters. We should take those statements seriously (not least because, during the Iran/Iraq war, Iran refrained from retaliating with chemical weapons when Saddam Hussein used those weapons against Iranian troops, and against civilians. Many Iranian veterans are still suffering the after-effects of those weapons).

The NIE [US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran] concluded last November that Iran had not been pursuing a nuclear weapon program since 2003. But western governments have good reason to believe that at various points they have pursued a nuclear weapon program. The explanation for this apparent contradiction could be that the Iranian leadership has wanted to develop a capability, short of an actual weapon, that would still serve as a deterrent. In other words, to have all the elements ready to produce a weapon if necessary, but not the weapon itself. The only practical value of nuclear weapons is as a deterrent, as is well known.” (17)

Michael Axworthy, a former diplomat and expert on Iran

Ahmadinejad did not say he would “wipe Israel off the map” either. He made the same speech Khomeini had made every year since the Islamic Revolution against the Shah’s dictatorship in 1979, in which he said that he hoped that the “illegal regime which rules over Quods [in Jerusalem] will be erased from the pages of history” (18) – (20).

That is fairly clearly a call for “regime change” rather than a threat of nuclear Holocaust – and Ahmadinejad in interviews with French television channels compared Israel to the former Soviet Union, pointing out that the people of the Soviet Union had overthrown their government and the country no longer exists as a result. Israel and the US, both of which actually have nuclear weapons and actually plan to use them to attack Iran, are never accused of calling for a “nuclear Holocaust” against Iran when they talk of nuclear air strikes or “regime change” (18) – (20).

Even foreign policy hawks like Michael O. Hanlon and former CIA officer and adviser to the US government Bruce Reidel say airstrikes could not stop Iran developing nuclear weapons and would set back support for reformists (though they don’t make the obvious comparison of September 11th boosting the Bush administration and weakening support for progressives in the US for several years) (21).

They don’t point out that air strikes (especially nuclear ones) might well end any divisions in Iranian politics over whether to build a nuclear deterrent or not and ensure that they produce them as a deterrent to further attacks if they weren’t making them before.

Admittedly they go on to call for wider sanctions but “focusing on high-technology goods and weapons transfers”, which sounds less bad than those on Iraq – but then US governments frequently misrepresented how extreme sanctions on Iraq were.

O’Hanlon and Reidel say that “the option of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities...has nonetheless survived the U.S. presidential transition as a last resort should diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to persuade Tehran to put its nuclear programme back under proper restrictions and inspections.”

They also point out that if the US or Israel attacked Iran then Iran could increase training and supplies to America’s opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan – and to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza to target Israel.

If, as seems to be the case, nothing will be accepted by the Israeli government , US Republicans or many right wing Democratic members of congress as evidence that Iran is not trying to develop nuclear weapons, this policy, if followed to it’s logical conclusion, can only result in bombing Iran, just as the Bush administration’s demand that Iraq give up its WMD programmes while refusing to accept the mountain of evidence from UN inspectors and others that it largely had inevitably led to war.

Nor is there any reason to believe, from the past behaviour of the Iranian government, that it would risk a nuclear counter-strike by initiating nuclear war on Israel or any other ally of the US directly or by proxy through terrorist groups, any more than Saddam would have.

If air strikes targeting suspected nuclear facilities go ahead civilian ‘collateral damage’ is guaranteed, both due to missing targets – and more commonly due to wrongly identifying civilian targets as military or nuclear programme facilities. In the 1991 Gulf War the US dropped ‘bunker buster’ bombs like the ones Obama is storing at Diego Garcia. One took out what US commanders believed to be a ‘command and control centre’ that might contain Saddam Hussein. In fact the Al Ameriyeh bunker in Baghdad contained hundreds of civilians, using it as an air raid shelter – and 408 were killed.

A modern 'bunker buster'

Hundreds more cases of civilian deaths due to wrongly identified targets (and even targeting of civilian targets) took place in the Gulf war and continued in ‘patrolling the No-Fly Zones’ between 1991 and 2003, resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths caused directly and indirectly by bombing (22) – (24). They continued in Kosovo and Serbia in 1999, in the Iraq war and in airstrikes in Afghanistan from October 2001 to present.

If tactical nuclear weapons are used then a legacy of radiation sickness, still births, illnesses, high rates of fatal cancers among infants and deformities may result for decades, as for decades after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and in the years since US and British forces used depleted uranium (DU), napalm and compounds with similar effects and white phosphorus in Iraq from 1991 on (24) – (32).

The most recent examples have come from Fallujah where the rates of birth defects among newborn babies have increased massively since the April and November 2004 assaults by coalition forces employing DU and white phosphorus (33) – (36).

A girl in Fallujah , Iraq , who was born without a left hand - one of the less distressing of the huge number of birth defects among children born there since the 2004 Coalition assaults

Given Obama’s own words and his retention of Gates as Defence Secretary plus another extremely aggressive Israeli government – and their plans for tactical nuclear strikes on Iran - there is much more risk of Iranians being the victims of a nuclear attack than of them initiating one.

As the number 10 petitions website is down for the period of the election i’ve created an international online petition calling for no wide ranging sanctions, military strikes or war on Iran, to be delivered to the US, British and Israeli governments if it gets a decent number of signatures. Please take a moment to sign it if you agree.

 (1) = BBC News 26 Mar 2010 ‘US and Russia announce deal to cut nuclear weapons’,

(2) = BBC News 04 Apr 2010 ‘Global map of nuclear arsenals’,

(3) = CNN 30 Mar 2010 ‘Obama, Sarkozy discuss Iran sanctions, global economy’,

(4) = BBC News 30 Sep 1998 ‘'UN official blasts Iraq sanctions',

 (5) = Guardian 06 Apr 2010 ‘Barack Obama's radical review on nuclear weapons reverses Bush policies’,

(6) = Independent 02 Oct 2007 ‘US plan for air strikes on Iran 'backed by Brown'’,

(7) = Sunday Times 07 Jan 2007 ‘Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran’,

(8) = Sunday Herald 14 Mar 2010 ‘Final destination Iran?’,

(9) = Independent 28 Oct 2006 ‘Robert Fisk: Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb’,

(10) = See (8) above

(11) = DEBKAfile 08 Apr 2010 ‘Obama recalls bunker-buster bomb kits to bar Israeli strike on Iran’,

(12) = See (8) above

(13) = US National Public Radio 04 Jun 2008 ‘Transcript: Obama's Speech at AIPAC’,

(14) = Nye , Joseph S. & Smith , Robert K. (1992), ‘After the Storm' , Madison Books , London , 1992 , - pages 211-216 (Nye is a former CIA officer)

(15) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006, hardback edition - pages 170-174

(16) = Pollack, Kenneth M.(2004), ‘The Persian Puzzle', Random House, New York, 2005, paperback edition - pages 231-233

(17) = Los Angeles Times 05 Jun 2008 ‘IRAN: Writer says war won't stop nuclear program’,

(18) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006, (hardback edition)

(19) = Guardian Comment Is Free14 Jun 2006, ‘Lost in Translation’,

(20) = Iranian Television Broadcasts President Ahmadinezhad's Interview With French TV "Exclusive interview" with Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad by David Pujadas of French TV's TF2 Channel on 22 March 2007 – recorded Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 Sunday, March 25, 2007 (reproduced as second item below article on Professor Juan Cole’s website at

“(Ahmadinezad) Let me ask you this question: where is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics now? Was it not wiped off (the map)? How was it wiped off? We have a totally humanitarian solution for Palestine. We have said that all the Palestinians should take part in a free referendum so as to end the 60 year old war. The outcome is clear from now. It is because of the same outcome that America and Britain are refusing to yield.

(David Pujadas) Let us clarify everything. Do you really wish to wipe Israel off the face of the earth? Do you have a plan for this job or are you in fact making such a prediction?

(Ahmadinezhad) Look, I told you the solution. I think the people of Palestine also have the right to determine their own fate. Let them choose for themselves, the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims. That is, all the Palestinians who belong to that land can participate in the referendum. I think the outcome of such a referendum is already clear. We saw what happened in last year's elections (when they voted for HAMAS).”

(21) = Financial Times 28 Feb 2010 ‘Do Not Even Think About Bombing Iran’, by Michael E. O'Hanlon, Director of Research and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy  & Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy,,
(an editorial for the Financial Times reproduced on the Brookings Institution’s website, as only registered members can read archived FT articles)

(22) = Bennis , Phyllis & Moushabeck  , Michael (Editors) (1992)  ‘Beyond the Storm’  ; Canongate Press , London , 1992, paperback, pages 326 – 355

(23) = Lee , Ian (1991) ‘Continuing Health Costs of the Gulf War’, Medical Educational Trust , London , 1991

(24) = Pilger , John (1998) ‘Hidden Agendas’ Vintage , London , 1998, pages 29-30 ,49-53 ,614

(25) = BBC News Online 30 Jul 1999 ‘Depleted Uranium ‘threatens Balkan cancer epidemic’’,

(26) = BBC News 27 Aug 1999 ‘Depleted uranium study 'shows clear damage'’,

(27) = Independent 25 Jan 2000 ‘The evidence lies dying in Basra’,

(28) = Independent 10 Jan 2001 ‘These children had cancer. Now they are dead. I believe they were killed by depleted uranium’,

(29) = BBC News 18 Mar 2003 ‘US to use depleted uranium’,

(30) = Independent 25 Mar 2003 ‘Robert Fisk: The shocking truth about 'shock and awe'’,

(31) = BBC News 01 Nov 2006 ‘Depleted uranium risk 'ignored'’, (confirms US and British forces in Iraq still using Depleted Uranium in 2006 despite WHO study finding link with high cancer rates, especially among children)

(32) = Independent On Sunday 10 Aug 2003 ‘US admits it used napalm bombs in Iraq’,

(33) = BBC News 04 Mar 2010 ‘Falluja doctors report rise in birth defects’,

(34) = CBS News 04 Mar 2010 ‘Docs Blame U.S. Weapons for Fallujah Birth Defects’,

(35) = 13 Nov 2009 ‘Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja’,

(36) = Today Programme 04 Mar 2010 ‘Child deformities 'increasing' in Falluja’,

Monday, April 05, 2010

The big threat of nuclear war is not from Iran but from US missile shields and anti-missile lasers

The real nuclear threat of nuclear war is not from Iran but from missile shields and laser systems that could allow a nuclear armed state to make a nuclear attack without fear of a nuclear counter-strike just as happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945

A US anti-missile laser test in February

While a ridiculous amount of attention is being paid to whether Iran might develop one nuclear weapon and so possess the same nuclear deterrent that the UK, France, the US ,Russia, China and Israel have had for decades there is  no discussion in the media of the much bigger risk of nuclear war posed by the advances in anti-missile technology being made by the US (such as the first successful test of plane mounted lasers which took down a ballistic missile in February). The assumption seems to be that projects like this and the ‘missile shield’ network across Europe are ‘purely defensive’, when in fact they could return the world to the situation at the time of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, when the US felt free to use nuclear weapons on Japan’s civilian population because it could do so without any fear of a nuclear counter-strike (1).

(Obama also offered last year to drop the European ‘Missile Defence Shield’ plan if the Russian government would help the US put pressure on Iran (2))

The US-Russian strategic warheads reduction deal has been part of Obama’s attempt to paint a rosy picture of a future without nuclear weapons, as an attempt to persuade the world to back sanctions and war on Iran to prevent it getting nuclear weapons, with the BBC reporting that it would allow Obama and Putin to take the “moral high ground” in taking action against Iran. Yet the treaty merely reduces the number of deployed nuclear warheads by about 30%, leaving the US and Russia with 1,550 deployed warheads each (and presumably an unspecified number of warheads which won’t be deployed – or else the word would be redundant) (3).

Yet they simultaneously claim Iran can’t be trusted with a single one – and make no mention of Israel’s arsenal – estimated at 80 deployed warheads. The risk of an accidental launch of one of the thousands of warheads which Russia and the US will still possess is greater than the risk of Iran starting a nuclear war. Despite the fear mongering Iran’s Ayatollahs and the commanders of the Revolutionary Guard have never shown much enthusiasm for national suicide – most of the current senior Ayatollahs and veteran Guard officers having been responsible for persuading Khomeini to negotiate an ignominious peace with Iraq in 1988 rather than risk direct US involvement and certain defeat (4) - (6).

Plans for ‘stronger’ sanctions on Iran are also being presented by the Obama admistration as if they were a ‘peaceful’ measure which would kill no-one. In fact, if they’re anything like the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq from 1991 till 2003 at the demand of the US government they’re likely to result in deaths in the millions. Two heads of the UN sanctions programme on Iraq - Dennis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck – resigned in disgust at the number of children who died as a result of sanctions over 12 years – at least 5,000 a month or over 700,000 over 12 years). In practice sanctions which aren’t targeted specifically on a small number of products or individuals kill people on a scale comparable to war (7) – (9).

Some supporters of the Iraq war continually claim the war was necessary in order to end the sanctions, which is not true ; the sanctions could have been lifted without any risk of Saddam ‘invading his neighbours’ or ‘gassing his own people’ (things he could only do when the entire world was arming and funding him against Iran) or using WMD on us or our allies (he had the chance in the 1991Gulf war and didn’t, because he knew the response would have been nuclear) , still less ‘giving them to Al Qa’ida or other terrorist groups’ (which would have been national suicide by proxy for Iraq even if Saddam and Al Qa’ida hadn’t been bitter enemies) (10).

What’s more the invasion has not led to an increase in food supplies for Iraqis but a reduction to a quarter of the food rations provided under sanctions and Saddam (and that’s the ones who aren’t refugees within their own country and so unable to get anything but aid from charities and the UN as they aren’t at the address they were at on the ration list) (11).

Sadly facts never get in the way of those hyping non-existent ‘threats’ for their own reasons – at the Iraq Inquiry Tony Blair spent half his time calling for ‘action’ against Iran, as oblivious to the risks of action being far greater than the risks of inaction in this situation, probably because he never has to suffer the effects of the actions he calls for.


(1) = 12 Feb 2010 ‘US 'Star Wars' lasers bring down ballistic missile’,

(2) = 03 Mar 2009 ‘Obama offers to drop missile project if Russian helps deal with Iran’,

(3) = BBC News 26 Mar 2010 ‘US and Russia announce deal to cut nuclear weapons’,

(4) = BBC News 04 Apr 2010 ‘Global map of nuclear arsenals’,

(5) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006 - pages 170-174

(6)  = Pollack, Kenneth M.(2004), ‘The Persian Puzzle', Random House, New York, 2005 paperback edition - pages 231-233

(7) = CNN 30 Mar 2010 ‘Obama, Sarkozy discuss Iran sanctions, global economy’,

(8) = BBC News 30 Sep 1998 ‘'UN official blasts Iraq sanctions',

(9) = Guardian 29 Nov 2001 ‘The hostage nation’, by Hans Von Sponeck & Dennis Halliday’,

(10) = Nye , Joseph S. & Smith , Robert K. (1992), ‘After the Storm' , Madison Books , London , 1992 , - pages 211-216 (Nye is a former CIA officer)

(11) = See sources 82 to 90 on this link