Monday, January 30, 2012

Eight current and former heads of Mossad and Shin Bet are against attacking Iran – the dangerous, aggressive nuclear armed government is in Israel

Warnings from current and former Israeli intelligence chiefs and statements by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak suggest the biggest danger from a rogue government armed with nuclear weapons comes not from Iran, but from Israel. The intelligence and history show that Iran would not use nuclear weapons except as a deterrent even if it developed them and that Israel’s fear is not a nuclear strike but Iranian political influence and it’s conventional military alliance with Israel’s Arab enemies. Even Barak admitted in a speech in 2010 that Iran’s nuclear programme does not threaten to destroy Israel which is a regional “superpower” which won't be destroyed(1).

Barak and Netanyahu have been trying to persuade other Israeli government ministers to support their plan for military attacks on Iran and have already persuaded their Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman (2).

Barak recently cited India not responding militarily to Pakistani military intelligence involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attacks because Pakistan has nuclear weapons as evidence that Iran’s response to Israeli attacks would be ‘muted’, as Israel has nuclear weapons already (3).

Barak’s bizarre reasoning ignores the fact that if Iran would be deterred from responding to Israeli attacks by Israel’s nuclear arsenal, then it would also be deterred from using any nuclear weapons it developed itself against Israel for fear of a massive nuclear or conventional response from the much stronger forces of Israel or the US and it’s allies, making the planned attack pointless.

That's unless the aim of the plan to bomb Iran isn't to avert a threat to Israel, but so Iran can't prevent Israel bombing it or threatening to bomb it in future by getting it's own nuclear deterrent.

My last post quoted the current head of Mossad, Tamir Pardo, saying Iran developing nuclear weapons would not be an ‘existential threat’ to Israel (4). Pardo and the current head of Shin Bet Yoram Cohen are against attacking Iran, as is the Israeli military’s Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (5). Pardo and Cohen were appointed by Netanyahu because of opposition to his plan to go to war on Iran from the previous heads of Mossad and Shin Bet (Israeli Military Intelligence) Meir Dagan and Yuval Diskin, who were sacked for leaking those plans to the media (6).

Dagan (pictured in the photo at the top of this post) says Iran won’t have nuclear weapons till 2015 (partly due to sanctions and Israeli assassination campaigns), assuming it wants them; and that bombing Iran would lead to retaliation, by both Iran and Iranian armed Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria, costing many Israeli lives, so should be a last resort if all other pressure fails (7) – (8). Dagan is no soft-line liberal. He was appointed as head of Mossad under serial war criminal and hard liner Ariel Sharon and also served under Olmert during the brutal ‘Gaza War’– neither Prime Minister had any complaints about him.

A third former head of Mossad, Efraim Halevy, says Iran is “far from posing an existential threat” to Israel and has also warned military attacks on Iran would result in heavy casualties in Israel, as has former Shin Bet (Israeli military intelligence) head Shlomo Gazit, who says Israel would likely be greatly weakened by such a war. They estimate that Israel would lose at least a third of whatever air forces it sent to attack Iran and would take further losses in Israel itself from retaliatory missile attacks (9) – (10).

Dagan, Halevy, Gazit and another former Shin Bet head Yakov Perry all warn that air strikes or threatening to attack Iran can’t prevent it eventually getting nuclear weapons – and may even make them decide to make nuclear weapons and put more resources into making them more quickly even if they weren’t planning to make them already. Perry has said that the Iranian and US governments should be talking directly with the Iranian government but so far haven’t done so (11).

Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld and former US commander in the Middle East General John Abizaid both say Iran would only want nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attack (12) – (13).

Retired Major General Uzi Dayan, another former head of Shin Bet and a former adviser to Ariel Sharon has also said that "While not an existential threat, Tehran's nuclear program is an unacceptable threat,”, but believes sanctions can dissuade the Iranians from building nuclear weapons (14).

The only former Mossad or Shin Bet head believing that if Iran got nuclear weapons it might destroy Israel and supporting attacking Iran is Danny Yatom, who was only head of Mossad for two years under Netanyahu from 1996 to 1998 and had a long political career as a hardliner. Yatom is working with his mentors and allies Barak (who he was an adviser and spokesman for for several years after having served under him in the Israeli army) and Netanyahu, to try to blackmail the US and its allies into attacking Iran on Israel’s behalf (15) – (19).

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami also says Iran would only want nuclear weapons to deter attacks from the US and Israel – and that if Israel wants to reduce growing Iranian influence in the Middle East the best way to do it would be to make a comprehensive peace with it’s Arab enemies – especially the Palestinians (including Hamas) , Hezbollah and Syria, so that they will no longer look to Iran for arms, funding and support against Israel (20).

Even Ehud Barak himself admitted in a speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2010 that “We are a strong country to which the whole world attributes nuclear capabilities, and in regional terms we are a superpower.” He also said he disliked people comparing Iran’s nuclear programme to the Holocaust , “because it cheapens the Holocaust and stretches current challenges beyond their proper place. There is none that will dare to destroy Israel.” (21)

Yet the Obama administration are so influenced or cowed by the Israel lobby in the US that they have repeatedly said that “no option is off the table” on preventing Iran getting nuclear weapons and that this “includes military action”.  British Foreign Secretary William Hague has dutifully parroted the American line, saying in mid-January that the UK may go to war on Iran too (22) – (24). As in Iraq sanctions may well be not an alternative to war but part of the propaganda to prepare for it, by saying ‘we tried sanctions and they didn’t work’.

We should make it clear that the UK will take no part in any military attack on Iran and will not give political approval for an Israeli or US attack either. Even most of those Israeli intelligence heads and former heads who support military strikes to try to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons do not believe Iran would risk it’s own destruction by Israeli or US forces by using nuclear weapons on Israel. They fear a shift in the balance of power in the Middle East that would make it impossible for Israel to make direct attacks on Iran in future and might make Iran less worried about supporting proxy wars on Israel through further arming Hezbollah or Hamas with conventional weapons.  

If some hot-headed, trigger happy, Israeli politicians want to attack Iran for their own ends, which are about Israeli power in the Middle East, not Israel’s survival which is guaranteed by it’s own military and economic strength and it’s ally the US, they must be made to realise that they will be left to deal with the disaster that would result themselves and must take full blame for it.

They should not be allowed to blackmail the US, the UK and France into attacking Iran out of fear that Israel will if they don’t. British soldiers and British civilians should not die to help Israel and the US dominate the Middle East, nor to secure profits for oil or arms firms or to get control of oil reserves we could buy anyway if we lifted sanctions on Iran.

(1) = Project Syndicate 03 May 2010 ‘The Abuse of History and the Iranian Bomb’ by Shlomo Ben-Ami’,

(2) Haaretz 02 Nov 2011 ‘Netanyahu trying to persuade cabinet to support attack on Iran’,

(3) = Independent 28 Jan 2012 ‘Israel warns time is running out before it launches strike on Iran’,

(4) = Israel National News 29 Dec 2011 ‘Mossad Chief: Nuclear Iran Not an Existential Threat’,

(5) = Ynet News (Israel) 28 Oct 2011 ‘Amos Gilad: Iran is massive threat that must be dealt with’,,7340,L-4140625,00.html , ‘According to a Nahum Barnea article in Yedioth Ahronoth, published on Friday, the heads of the armed forces – Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo, Military Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Shin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen share the opinion of their predecessors and are opposed to taking action against Iran at this time.

(6) = 03 Nov 2011 ‘Israeli PM orders investigation into Iran leak’,

(7) =  Reuters 7 Jan 2015 ‘Israel: No Iran bomb before 2015’, , ‘Israel believes Iran will not be able to produce a nuclear bomb before 2015 and a top Israeli official has counseled against pre-emptive military strikes, intelligence assessments published on Friday said…."Iran will not achieve a nuclear bomb before 2015, if that," Dagan said ….Dagan, who in June 2009 told Israeli lawmakers that Iran could have its first nuclear warhead by 2014, attributed his valedictory timeline to a variety of factors including domestic ferment in Iran and the bite of international sanctions….Iran's enrichment drive has also suffered...foreign sabotage in incidents such as …the Stuxnet computer worm….Western intelligence agencies similarly say Iran could make a bomb by the middle of the decade, should it choose to…..Dagan, a former general whose eight-year tenure as spymaster ….said any Israeli military action against Iran should be last-ditch only…..Such attacks could spur Iran to pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and pursue its program entirely free of U.N. inspections, he said."’

(8) = Ha’aretz (Israel) 01 Dec 2011 ‘Former Mossad chief: Israeli attack on Iran must be stopped to avert catastrophe’, ; ‘Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned Thursday against an Israeli attack on Iran, saying such a move would likely lead to a regional war involving Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria.." …."I have to assume that the level of destruction, paralysis of every-day life, and Israeli death toll would be high." ….Dagan said he was worried about Barak's past comments on Iran, saying Barak believes Israel has less than a year to carry out an military strike. …"I am very concerned," he said. "My understanding of Barak's comments is that Israel must act within this timeframe, but I don't believe this is accurate."

(9) = Ynet news (Israel) 04 Nov 2011 ‘'Iran far from posing existential threat'’,,7340,L-4143909,00.html, ‘Former Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevy warned against an Israeli strike on Iran, saying that the results of a confrontation could be devastating for the Mideast. "The State of Israel cannot be destroyed," he told Ynet on Friday. "An attack on Iran could affect not only Israel, but the entire region for 100 years."… The former head of the Israeli secret service said Thursday during an army boarding school reunion that while Iran should be prevented from becoming a nuclear power, its capabilities are still "far from posing an existential threat to Israel."

(10) = Maariv (Israel, Hebrew) 10/06/2011 ‘What will Israel look like the day after an attack on Iran?’ , Ephraim Halevy, former head of the organisation [Mossad…In an interview with the magazine "Time" in July 2008, he held a military strike will result in devastating consequences in the long run. "It can affect us in a hundred years, it will have a negative impact on the Arab world opinion. We need to attack only as a last resort." … This week he says to Mosfsbt that "my opinion has not changed. You may quote my remarks to Time magazine as if it were made ​​today. ..such an attack would impact for generations rather than a hundred years. " ….Shlomo Gazit, former head of Military Intelligence, agrees with Halevy. "Attacking Iran's nuclear reactors will bring the destruction of Israel. We cease to exist after such an attack. The result we were hoping to achieve such an attack, sabotage of Iran's nuclear program, would be exactly the opposite. …."Iran will publicly a nuclear state, and we will be victims of missiles coming at us from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran even switch the oil weapon to the UN Security Council would impose on us a decision to return to the '67 borders, and the Security Council will have to impose on us such a decision would include, of course, Jerusalem ". ,  Translated version in English via Google Translate at

(11) = Jerusalem Post 20 Dec 2012 ‘Talk of Iran strike may speed-up nuclear program’, , ‘Dagan said that…“With the threat of a military attack, they may opt to cross all the red lines and instead of going carefully [toward nuclear capability], go very swiftly to obtain nuclear potential,” he said…. former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yaakov Perry, said Israel should try to open up some kind of lines of communications with Iran. Perry bemoaned that neither Israel nor the US have a channel of communications with Tehran, something he said could increase the chances of a tragic miscalculation.’

(12) = CNN 18 Jun 2007 ‘Retired general: U.S. can live with a nuclear Iran’,

(13) = Forward (Jewish Daily) 24 Sep 2007 ‘The World Can Live With a Nuclear Iran’ by Martin Van Creveld,

(14) = Israel National News (Arutz Sheva 7) 25 Nov 2011 ‘Former Mossad Head Yatom: Israel Can't Afford Not to Strike Iran’, ; ‘Yatom also doubted that sanctions or covert operations could stop the Iranians. "We have only two options: to let Iran get the bomb, or to use military force against their military nuclear program. I think that force will have to be used. But I don't think Israel should lead. This is, after all, a global problem’

(15) = McGeough, Paul (2009) ‘Kill Khalid - The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas’. Quartet Books, p 229.  (Yatom was head of Mossad from 1996 to 1998 under Netanyahu’s Prime Ministership and resigned over the Netanyahu government’s failed attempt to assassinate Khaled Meshal, a senior member of Hamas, in Jordan)

(16) = Jerusalem Post 30 June 2008 ‘Barak loses another ally as Yatom quits politics’,

(17) = BBC News 29 Jan 2001 ‘Barak election hopes fade’, , ‘Mr Barak's security adviser, Danny Yatom, called Mr Arafat's speech "bellicose, inflammatory and intolerable".’

(18) = Haaretz 30 June 2008 ‘Labor MK Danny Yatom slams government, resigns from politics’, , ‘Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Labor Party suffered a blow on Monday when MK Danny Yatom resigned from the Knesset due to Barak's decision last week not to quit Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition….Yatom, 63, served under Barak in the army and then as his chief of staff during the latter's tenure as prime minister.

(19) = Independent 28 Jan 2012 ‘Israel warns time is running out before it launches strike on Iran’,

(20) = Project Syndicate 09 April 2007 ‘A Grand Bargain with Iran’ by Shlomo Ben-Ami,

(21) = Project Syndicate 03 May 2010 ‘The Abuse of History and the Iranian Bomb’ by Shlomo Ben-Ami’,

(22) = ABC News 18 Nov 2011 ‘Clinton on GOP Criticism on Iran Policy: ‘Iran Cannot Be Permitted to Have a Nuclear Weapon; No Option Is Off the Table’,

(23) = The Hill (Washington D.C, US) 08 Jan 2012 ‘Panetta says all options are on the table for dealing with Iran’ , United States is not ruling anything out when it comes to dealing with Iran, including military options, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.’

(24) = 15 Jan 2012 ‘Iran could face UK military action over nuclear programme, says Hague’,

Friday, January 27, 2012

When even the head of Mossad doesn't believe Iran would use nuclear weapons on Israel , will we fall for the same lies as on Iraq all over again?

The rhetoric coming from the US, British and Israeli governments is that all the sanctions being imposed are about bringing Iran to the negotiating table, because we supposedly could not risk the “threat” that Iran would pose if it developed nuclear weapons, despite the fact that not even the head of Mossad believes Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel if it developed them.

(Map of US military bases and allies around Iran from The Peoples Voice blog)

Apart from US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta saying Iran is not currently developing a nuclear weapon ; and the fact that we’ve been being told Iran was about to develop a nuclear weapon for 20 years, including among many, many others, some CIA claims in 1992 and Israeli intelligence claims in 1995 that Iran would have them in 5 years and US State Department claims that they’d have one within 16 days in December 2006; not even the current head of Mossad thinks Iran would use nuclear weapons on Israel if it developed them (1) – (5).

Last month he told ambassadors that Iran developing nuclear weapons would not be an “existential threat” to Israel (6). Former US General John Abizaid, US Central Command (Middle East) commander under Bush agrees with Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld that if Iran does develop nuclear weapons it will be as a deterrent against attack, not to launch nuclear Armageddon (7) – (8).

As Condoleezza Rice wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2000, before she began participating in war propaganda, ‘if they ["rogue states"]do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration’ (9).

This is certainly the case, as even if Iran wiped out Israel in a sudden nuclear strike (the supposed threat), it would then face either a counter-strike or a massive invasion from the US and it’s allies which no senior Ayatollahs or Revolutionary Guard commanders would survive.

The past decisions of the Ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard commanders also show they don’t wish to commit national suicide. In 1988, fearing the US military was joining the Iran-Iraq war on Saddam’s side, they persuaded Khomeini to negotiate peace (10) – (11).

The issue can’t be democracy or “Iranian aggression” either, when our governments continue to support and sell arms to the Saudi monarchy whose troops have invaded Bahrain in British Aerospace Systems vehicles to ensure there are no concessions to democracy protesters; only jail, torture or death for them (12). Saudi forces killed their first ‘Arab Spring’ protester in their own country earlier this month (13). Bahrain and Saudi were still invited to arms fairs in London. Hyping up the Iranian “threat” may be helping boost western arms sales to the gulf emirates though.

The Iran “nuclear threat” is as phony as the Iraq “WMD threat”. Saddam was not prepared to risk nuclear retaliation or being overthrown by a US invasion by using WMD when he did have them, in 1991 , either. His chemical warheads for his scuds were never used in attacks on Israel or Kuwait – only conventional warheads. (14).

The current campaign of sanctions and ‘covert action’ including assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists may well be designed to try to provoke Iran’s rulers into retaliation that can be used as a pretext for war (15) – (17).

The huge cost in lives of sanctions and war against non-existent threats

The story that sanctions or war will do less harm and carry less risks than maybe letting Iran get it’s own nuclear deterrent is the opposite of the truth. Sanctions on Iraq killed millions due to shortages of food and medicines, including over 500,000 children, according to the two heads of the sanctions programme who resigned in protest (18) – (19).

Iraq is now full of not only Al Qa’ida terrorists, but also US trained police commando and ‘counter terrorist’ death squads, ( modelled on the notorious ones trained by US forces in El Salvador in the 1980s), using the same torture methods as under Saddam – rape, electrocution, beatings, breaking bones, pulling out nails – and additionally kidnapping people to torture to extort money from their families (20) – (25). Arab Spring demonstrations against the government led to protesters being shot dead (26).

War on Iran would lead to the kind of chaos there has been in Iraq since the invasion (and the same massive increase in terrorism ) or the kind of chaotic civil war that is going into it’s second round already in Libya, as rebels imprison, torture or kill many thousands of people on suspicion based on the colour of their skin or what tribe they belong to, leading to renewed fighting in Bani Walid  (27) – (29).

In Iraq, far from securing arms dumps or suspected WMD sites the US invasion and occupation allowed huge amounts of conventional weapons and ammunition, hundreds of tonnes of explosives and machinery which could potentially be used to make chemical weapons or nuclear components to be looted. Much of the conventional arms and explosives likely used by insurgents and terrorists afterwards (30) – (34).

In Libya Gaddafi’s armouries weren’t secured either in an “intervention” which supposedly “would not repeat the mistakes made in Iraq” - and Al Qa’ida may now have it’s hands on surface to air missiles as a result (35) – (36).

By far the most likely way terrorists could get their hands on nuclear material would be if Iran was collapsed into chaos by war or civil war, Iraq or Libya style. No government, religious (e.g Pakistani military, military fundamentalist since General Zia) or secular, democracy or dictatorship(e.g China and North Korea as one party states with nuclear weapons), has ever given WMDs to terrorist groups, because it would have lost control of incredibly dangerous weapons by doing so.

The threat of WMD attacks by terrorist groups is also greatly exaggerated though. Massive amounts of nuclear material went onto the black market when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 – and smaller amounts in the chaos in Iraq after the invasion. Yet no terrorist group has used any of this material in any attack in the 21 years since the USSR collapsed or the 8 years since the invasion of Iraq.

Same Old Lies – To the Same Old Tune ‘It’s different this time’

We’re seeing a re-run of the sanctions and UN resolutions on Iraq, on Iran – a combination of a means of weakening a country with a lot of oil reserves that won’t obey orders; and for show to say that we tried sanctions and diplomacy, but they didn’t work, so we have “no choice” but to go to war against a non-existent threat from a minor power. Iran is supposedly threatening Israel, the strongest military (and nuclear) power in the Middle East, which has the greatest military and nuclear power in the world (the US) as it’s ally, plus the rest of NATO (the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Canada), by getting it’s own nuclear deterrent to deter those powers from attacking it (37).

Of course it also provides a useful distraction from mass unemployment, made worse by austerity policies at home, which take jobs and benefit money from the majority, the poor, the disabled and the unemployed, but never result in an end of government subsidies for the wealthiest or arms companies.

Whether Iran is actually developing nuclear weapons or not does not matter to the Israeli or US or British governments, let alone whether they would actually use them or not.

With Iraq we were told that if it allowed inspections and disarmament, there would be no war. In fact when UNMOVIC head Hans Blix reported twice to the UN Security Council that weapons inspectors that they were making more and more progress in destroying what little WMD remained (relatively small quantities of nerve gas and chemical mortar rounds) along with destroying those of Saddam’s missiles which had a range of over 150 kilometres  (38) – (39).

Bush invaded anyway, because whether Saddam had WMDs and whether he would use them were only ever pretexts designed to fool the gullible and those who wanted to believe their country and it’s government must be in the right.

Will we really fall for exactly the same lies twice, played to the same old tune of ‘it’s different this time’?


(1) = USA Today 08 Jan 2012 ‘Panetta: Iran not building bombs yet’,

(2) = NYT 21 Aug 2004 ‘Sharon on the warpath : Is Israel planning to attack Iran?’ by Martin Van Creveld, ‘On the other hand, the claim that Iran is working on nuclear weapons and would have them within three years has now been floating about for almost a decade and a half and, so far, has always proved false.’

(3) = Forward (Jewish Daily) 19 Aug 2009 ‘With Each New Assessment, Iran’s Nuclear Clock Is Reset’ , ‘The senior Israeli official’s tone was dire. In only a few years, the Iranians would be ready to launch a nuclear bomb. He minced no words. “If Iran is not interrupted in this program by some foreign power, it will have the device in more or less five years.”......The year this apocalyptic prediction was made: 1995. …. In 1992, Robert Gates, then director of the CIA, pointedly upended conventional thinking about Iran’s nuclear progress when he gave a much shorter time span for attainment of the bomb. “Is it a problem today?” he asked at the time, “probably not. But three, four, five years from now it could be a serious problem.”’

(4) = Bloomberg 12 Apr 2006 ‘Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says (Update2)’,

(5) = Haaretz (Israel) 29 Dec 2011 ‘Mossad chief: Nuclear Iran not necessarily existential threat to Israel’,

(6) = Israel National News 29 Dec 2011 ‘Mossad Chief: Nuclear Iran Not an Existential Threat’,

(7) = CNN 18 Jun 2007 ‘Retired general: U.S. can live with a nuclear Iran’,

(8) = Forward (Jewish Daily) 24 Sep 2007 ‘The World Can Live With a Nuclear Iran’ by Martin Van Creveld,

(9) = Rice, Condoleeza (2000) in Foreign Affairs January/February 2000‘ - 'Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest' - cited in Chomsky, Noam (2003) 'Hegemony or Survival' , Penguin Books , London & NY 2004, pages 34 & 260 citing Mearsheimer, John & Walt, Stephen (2003) in Foreign Policy Jan/Feb 2003

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

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

(12) = Financial Times ( 12 Sep 2011 ‘Bahrain and Saudi offered slots at arms fair’, and Saudi Arabia have both been invited to the UK’s largest arms fair this week, in spite of the two countries’ roles in suppressing pro-democracy movements earlier this year…..This year Saudi Arabia used Tactica armoured vehicles made by BAE to send its National Guard into Bahrain to suppress pro-democracy protests.

(13) = BBC News 13 Jan 2012 ‘ Shia protester 'shot dead' in Saudi Arabia’, ‘At least one person has been killed and three others injured in clashes between security forces and Shia protesters in eastern Saudi Arabia, activists say.Issam Mohammed, 22, reportedly died when troops fired live ammunition after demonstrators threw stones at them in al-Awamiya, a town in the Qatif region.’

(14) = Nye , Joseph S. & Smith , Robert K. (1992), ‘After the Storm, Madison Books , London , 1992 , hardback edition, pages 211-216

(15) = BBC News 11 Jan 2012 ‘Iran car explosion kills nuclear scientist in Tehran’,

(16) = 11 Jan 2012 ‘Iran nuclear scientist killed in Tehran motorbike bomb attack’,

(17) = Haaretz (Israel) 29 Dec 2011 ‘Mossad chief: Nuclear Iran not necessarily existential threat to Israel’,  ‘According to three ambassadors present at the briefing, the intelligence chief said that Israel was using various means to foil Iran's nuclear program and would continue to do so, but if Iran actually obtained nuclear weapons, it would not mean the destruction of the State of Israel.’

(18) = BBC News 30 Sep 1998 ‘UN official blasts Iraq sanctions’,

(19) = Guardian 29 Nov 2001 ‘The hostage nation’,

(20) = NYT magazine 01 May 2005 ‘the way of the commandos’,

(21) = The Nation 22 Jun 2009 ‘Iraq's New Death Squad’,

(22) = BBC News 27 Jan 2005 'Salvador Option' mooted for Iraq’,

(23) = Times 08 Aug 2005 ‘West turns blind eye as police put Saddam's torturers back to work’,

(24) = Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 – Iran,

(25) = Guardian 16 Jan 2012 ‘Corruption in Iraq: 'Your son is being tortured. He will die if you don't pay'’,

(26) = BBC News 25 Feb 2011 ‘Protesters killed in Iraqi 'day of rage'’,

(27) = Independent 24 Jun 2011 ‘Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war’, ; ‘Rebels have repeatedly charged that mercenary troops from Central and West Africa have been used against them. The Amnesty investigation found there was no evidence for this. "Those shown to journalists as foreign mercenaries were later quietly released," says Ms Rovera. "Most were sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya without documents."….Others were not so lucky and were lynched or executed. Ms Rovera found two bodies of migrants in the Benghazi morgue and others were dumped on the outskirts of the city. She says: "The politicians kept talking about mercenaries, which inflamed public opinion and the myth has continued because they were released without publicity."’

(28) = Guardian 24 Nov 2011 ‘Libyan rebels detaining thousands illegally, Ban Ki-moon reports - An estimated 7,000 detainees being held, including women, children and black Africans tortured for skin colour’,

(29) = Independent 27 Jan 2012 ‘'Free' Libya shamed by new torture claims’,

(30) = Times 28 Oct 2004 ‘350 tonnes of high explosive looted in Iraq’,

(31) = AP 31 Oct 2004 ‘2nd Site With U.N.-Sealed Arms Was Looted, Inspectors Report’,

(32) = Washington Post 11 May 2003 ‘Iraq nuclear sites reportedly looted’,

(33) = AP Worldstream 31 Oct 2004 ‘Iraq Looted Chemical Site’,

(34) = NYT 13 Mar 2005 'Looting at Weapons Plants Was Systematic, Iraqi Says',

(35) NPR 27 Jan 2012 ‘U.S. Fears Terrorists Could Acquire Looted Weapons’,

(36) = CNN 07 Sep 2011 ‘Missiles looted from Tripoli arms warehouse’,

(37) = Arms Control Association – ‘Nuclear Weapons : who has what at a glance’,

(38) = Briefing of the Security Council, 14 February 2003: An update on inspections, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr. Hans Blix,

(39) = Briefing of the Security Council, 7 March 2003: Oral introduction of the 12th quarterly report of UNMOVIC, Executive Chairman Dr. Hans Blix,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A non-binding consultative referendum on independence or increased devolution for Scotland would still have democratic legitimacy

David Cameron and the UK government can certainly refuse to make the results of any referendum including increased devolution legally binding under UK law, but they can’t prevent the Scottish government holding a consultative, non-binding, referendum. It would be impossible to deny the democratic legitimacy of the result.

 The only questionable part of the SNP’s plan is allowing 16 and 17 year olds to participate. This would give the Unionist parties an open goal to say the results of the referendum weren’t valid, since 16 and 17 year olds can’t vote in UK General elections.

Labour and the Lib Dems have joined with the Conservatives in insisting any referendum must be a straight choice between the status quo or independence, yet both parties supported devolution in the 1997 referendum. How can they argue that Scottish voters be entitled to choose to devolve some domestic powers, but not others, especially when polls show 67% want more powers devolved to the Scottish government including full powers to decide how taxes raised in Scotland are spent? (1) – (2)

Devolving more powers could reduce the amount of taxpayers’ money that Westminster parties could hand to billionaire and corporate patrons. If Scottish governments gained the powers to issue bonds, borrow money, or spend a higher share of taxes raised in Scotland, PFI gravy trains here might end.

If Scots are refused the increased devolution option, more will vote for independence. This would lose the UK revenues from oil and gas off Aberdeen and Shetland. UK governments fiddle the figures to pretend an independent Scotland would be bankrupt, by assuming oil revenues would be split proportionally to population. In fact under international law they would be split by proximity, giving Scotland far more than it’s 10% of the UK population.

An independent Scotland would be a small neutral country on the North-Western edge of Europe, so would not need a nuclear deterrent any more than Norway or Sweden, and would avoid the costs in money and lives of involvement in US-led wars. These costs would then be paid solely by the rest of the UK. So Scotland would be better off and the UK (unless it gets a much better government with better policies) much worse off.

We might even avoid future financial crises. Both Norway and Sweden avoided any crisis or recession and both of their economies are still growing, as they never de-regulated their financial sector to the degree that the Conservatives (from Thatcher’s 1986 ‘Big Bang’ on) or Labour governments in the UK have.

Is Cameron trying to provoke Scots into independence in the hope the Coalition will have a permanent majority if 50 Scottish Labour MPs are gone?

If so this is unlikely to work.

Labour’s last three majorities exceeded the number of Labour MPs elected in Scotland (3) – (8). Three quarters of Lib Dem voters surveyed at the time of the last election and again recently no longer support the party (9). Cameron should realise that independence will hurt his party far more than increased devolution would.

 (1) = The Politics Wire / British Future 10 Jan 2012 ‘Support for devolution across Britain is growing as ‘national’ identity outweighs feelings of ‘Britishness’ ’, , ‘During this period, support for independence in Scotland has grown. This is illustrated in recent Ipsos MORI polls and is reinforced by our latest survey for British Future, which shows around a third of Scots now backing a breakaway from the UK….At the moment, however, a majority of Scots prefer to remain part of the UK, albeit favouring substantial new powers for the Scottish Parliament. Ipsos MORI polling in Scotland shows that over two-thirds would vote in favour of giving Holyrood further legislative and tax-raising powers.’

(2) = STV News 21 Dec 2011 ‘Most Scots back complete revenue raising powers for Holyrood’,

(3) = BBC News Last updated Sep 2005 ‘Blair win historic third term – majority of 66’,

(4) = BBC News 23 May 2005 ‘Election 2005 – results: Scotland’, (shows 41 Labour MPs elected in Scotland)

(5) = BBC News ‘Vote2001: Results & Constituencies’ ; Labour majority 167

(6) = BBC News ‘Vote 2001 : Results & Constituencies UK Breakdown – Scotland’ , – shows 56 Labour MPs elected in Scotland in 2001 General Election

(7) = BBC News ‘Vote 2001: Election battles 1945-1997’, , ‘In 1997 Labour…Tony Blair's New Labour had gained a staggering 179-seat overall majority.’

(8) = Denver, David (1997) ‘THE 1997 GENERAL ELECTION IN SCOTLAND:AN ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS’ in Scottish Affairs, no.20, summer 1997 (table 1 on page 2 shows 56 Labour MPs were elected in Scotland in 1997),

(9) = Independent 06 Jan 2012 ‘Lib Dems lose three out of four of their voters ’,