12 years ago yesterday, Tony Blair “liberated” Iraq

In this clip from the BBC News at 10 – 9th of April 2003 – political editor Andrew Marr tells the public that Tony Blair has been vindicated in his decision to invade Iraq. Marr also states that Blair’s critics will not now turn around and thank him for having been right all along, because “they’re only human.” The editor notes that nobody will be able to say that Tony Blair is the type of person who is driven by opinion polls and “the drift of public opinion.” However isn’t a leader who will listen to public opinion exactly what we expect our PM to do?  In fact isn’t that what democracy is all about? A Guardian article from January 2003 notes:

The results of the tracker question on an Iraq war shows that opposition to a war has risen steadily from 37% in October to 47% now. Over the same period support for military action has fallen from a peak of 42% to only 30% now.

British public opinion is never consulted before going to war, or in fact before deciding to covertly build a mercenary force, and provide them with money and weapons, as has been going on in Syria since 2011. On issues of war the public are a liability, as if given a vote, it is unlikely that we would have voted yes to British involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Thanks to Ed Miliband’s revolt we were saved from entering another conflict – and on the wrong side – but our covert operations against the Syrian government continue.

It is ironic how Marr says that on that night of April 9th 2003, Blair “stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result” of not having listened to his critics, but in 2015 he is now so, pretty much universally, reviled, that he can’t go out in public here for fear of attack, or of someone trying to make a citizens arrest.

Reference:

Support for war falls to new low
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/jan/21/uk.iraq2

Feigning Ignorance: Operation Ajax

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Last month, David Cameron held a ‘historic’ meeting with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in New York; the first such engagement to take place between the two nations since before the Islamic Revolution in 1979. It was reported that Cameron had requested the meeting, and was going to use the opportunity to attempt to convince Rouhani to give up his support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

It seems like he did not get what he was looking for, as he went on to criticise Iran only hours later – stating in his speech to the general assembly:

“Iran should also be given the chance to show it can be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We have severe disagreements. Iran’s support for terrorist organisations, its nuclear programme, its treatment of its people. All these need to change.

Iran’s leaders could help in defeating the threat from Isil. They could help secure a more stable, inclusive Iraq, and a more stable and inclusive Syria. And if they are prepared to do this, then we should welcome their engagement.”

These statements are deeply humiliating, and obviously utterly hypocritical; in fact all of these points could equally be applied – if not more than equally – to the UK government. Unlike Iran, we actually have a nuclear weapons programme, and have been funding terrorist organisations in Syria for years now, not to mention our unwavering support for Israel. Our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (both share borders with Iran) have caused devastating instability and violence for these countries, as well as having knock on effects on the region as a whole. Unlike the UK, Iran is actually in the Middle East, and therefore it is they who should be dictating to us how we participate in their affairs. This made me think, does Cameron actually know about Britain’s past ‘meddling’ in Iran, which is responsible for our untrustworthy reputation there? This seems unlikely; it’s difficult to understand how he could make such arrogant statements if he held some basic knowledge of recent Iranian history.

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For those who don’t know: in 1953 the UK and United States orchestrated the overthrow of the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran,  Mohammad Mossadegh, and installed the Shah of Iran as an absolute monarch. Mossadegh’s election was a symbol of the deep discontent within Persian society of Britain’s exploitation of Iranian resources: the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP) was profiting from the country’s oil and denying any of the profits its people, and in 1951 Mossadegh – with almost full parliamentary support – voted to nationalise the company’s assets and expel the Brits from Iran. Following this, the UK government sought to convince the Americans to assist them in conducting a coup, eventually succeeding with the election of Eisenhower, who was convinced by the CIA that Mossadegh was a Communist threat. As a condition for their participation in reinstating the AIOC, Britain had to end its monopoly over Iran’s oil and allow room for several American petroleum companies. The BBC was a key propaganda tool of the operation, as its BBC Persia service (funded by the Foreign Office) was directed to ‘destroy Persian confidence in the present policy of the Persian government’. The Shah ruled with an iron fist and large US support from 1953 until 1979, when he was deposed by the Islamic Revolution led by the philosopher Ayatollah Khomeini.

‘Operation Ajax’ is a large reason why Tehran is today being run by mullahs, and their anti-Western stance is due to America’s propping up of the Shah’s authoritarian regime. While Obama has admitted his country’s role in the coup – the CIA recently released previously classified documents regarding its role – after doing some brief research, it appears that the UK government has not been as publicly self-reflective.

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In 2005 the Foreign Office refused to release documents under the Freedom of Information Act pertaining to the UK’s involvement, and the Foreign Secretary at the time – Jack Straw – denied the BBC’s request for an interview on the subject. A year later however, Straw revealed that the first time he met conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian’s first words to him were about the coup. In 2006, prime minister Tony Blair admitted during an interview with Jon Snow on Channel 4 that he had never even heard of Mohammad Mossadegh. Then in 2009, he made the following statements to Fareed Zakaria on CNN:

ZAKARIA: The supreme leader singled out Britain for special condemnation, interfering with Iranian affairs. Why do you think that is? Is the British embassy in Iran — I mean, you were in effect running it for 10 years, running the whole British government — do you fund espionage activities? Do you do things that — why are the Iranians so focused on you guys?

BLAIR: This is nonsense. I mean, they know it’s nonsense. I guess they’ve got to choose somebody to go after, so they choose us.
And, you know, I have been very clear, obviously, in the statements that I’ve made, both as prime minister and afterwards, that nuclear weapons capability of Iran is the red line, and that Iran should stop exporting terrorism, destabilizing people within the region. I mean, I think that’s pretty obvious to say.

And let me make one thing very clear. For us in Britain, we greatly value Iran as a country, its people as a people, its civilization, which is an ancient and proud civilization, as indeed just that.

But the fact is that there are elements within the Iranian system that do cause genuine instability, and worse, around the Middle East. And what we hope very much, whatever happens over these next weeks in Iran, is that over the time to come that we can have a relationship with Iran in which they are trying to be helpful and constructive and conciliatory.

Our Middle East ‘peace envoy’ peddling the “they hate us for our freedoms” rhetoric in 2013:

Whether Cameron is also genuinely ignorant about this matter is unclear; there is perhaps a sense of embarrassment that Eisenhower was essentially duped into approving this operation on Britain’s behalf – this factor was a later source of anger for Washington.

What is evident is that for any meaningful attempt at peace in the Middle East to be achieved, our leaders must be willing to accept and admit our role in its destabilisation, rather than continue with the current hypocritical and self-righteous attitude. As the spokeswoman (Marzieh Afkham) for Iran’s foreign minister said following Cameron’s speech:

“The speech by the British prime minister at the UN general assembly shows the perpetuation of the egocentric attitude of a government which has a history of [causing] trouble in our region.”

Sources:

GPS: Tony Blair on Iran
http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2009/06/28/gps.tony.blair.iran.cnn?iref=videosearch

1953 Iranian coup d’état
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d’état

The Mossadegh Project
http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/

Rouhani criticizes Cameron’s anti-Iran remarks
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/380488.html

Leo Strauss, Neo-Cons, Religion and the Middle East

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In his book Petrodollar Warfare, William R. Clark discusses the influence of nineteenth century Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss on neoconservative thinking. Strauss stated that societies were divided into three types of people:

There are indeed three types of men: the wise, the gentlemen, and the vulgar. The wise are the lovers of the harsh, unadulterated truth. They are capable of looking into the abyss without fear and trembling. They recognise neither God nor moral imperatives. They are devoted above all to their own pursuit of the “higher” pleasures.

The second type, the gentlemen, are lovers of honour and glory. They are the most ingratiating towards the conventions of their society – that is, the illusions of the cave. They are true believers in God, honour, and moral imperatives. They are ready and willing to embark on acts of great courage and self-sacrifice at a moment’s notice.

The third type, the vulgar many, are lovers of wealth and pleasure. They are selfish, slothful, and indolent. They can be inspired to rise above their brutish existence only by fear of impending death or catastrophe.

(Strauss quoted in Clark, pp. 100-101)

 Strauss claims that only those who realise that there is no such thing as morality – only the right of the superior to rule over the inferior – are fit to govern. However, he also stressed that religion is an essential tool for imposing moral law on the masses, but the wise should not be bound to religion themselves. Which religion is of little consequence. Clark writes that Straussian theory was highly influential on those in the Bush Administration in 2001, and this was apparent in the web of lies concocted in order to wage war on Iraq in 2003. He says:

While the elite are capable of absorbing the absence of any moral truth, Strauss thought, the masses could not be exposed to the truth or they would fall into nihilism or anarchy. His ideology of governing via secrecy, deception, and the imperative of a broad external threat to “inspire the vulgar many” provides a tragic parallel to the neoconservative strategy regarding Iraq.

(Clark, p. 101)

Ex-Deputy Secretary of Defense and prime architect of the Bush Doctrine, Paul Wolfowitz studied under Strauss’ tutorship as a graduate student, and his philosophy is also evident when looking at the careers of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld etc.

Strauss’ principles and their influence on Washington policy-makers are worth bearing in mind when thinking about America’s foreign policy in the Middle East today, specifically its readiness to topple secular governments. Despite Barack Obama being a Democrat president, his administration’s abroad policies continue to toe the neo-con line.

Iraq After the Fall of Saddam Hussein

When Bush and Blair invaded and destroyed Iraq, the war was sold to the public as a preventative measure to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s (non-existent) stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, because of the dictator’s (non-existent) ties to al-Qaeda, and – perhaps most insulting of all – to liberate the Iraqi people. When Obama assumed the presidency in 2008, he promised to be the kind of leader to end wars rather than start them, and to seek solutions based on diplomacy and soft power rather than military might. However, while the current administration maintains this friendly facade, it has in reality gone further than ever before to establish American hegemony, covertly using religion as a tool to achieve this.

The toppling of Saddam Hussein converted Iraq from a secular state into a hornet’s nest of sectarian strife and a breeding ground for militant Islam. While this is often considered to be an unintended consequence of the war, in reality this was the desired outcome for the American elite. A unified, secular country may lead to aspirations which do not conform with US interests (meaning those of Wall Street and the energy sector); religious fanaticism is preferable to nationalism.

This reasoning explains why NATO had to intervene in Libya, in the guise of a ‘humanitarian intervention’. Libya’s secular leader Muammar Gaddafi had transformed the once colonised country into the pearl of Africa, and not long before his death had discussed proposals to create an African gold Dinar currency. Today Libya is a failed state, and its gold reserves have been plundered. Contrary to the western media’s narrative of country-wide protests by the Libyan people that were violently repressed by the Gaddafi regime, such atrocities were in reality committed by violent jihadists in order to sow chaos. Battle-hardened fighters whom had killed American and British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were now receiving NATO air cover in order to overthrow the country’s leadership. Three years later, Libya has two parliaments rivaling for power, and Islamist militias refuse to disarm.

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 After the ‘successful’ removal of Gadaffi, weapons and al-Qaeda aligned fighters began flowing from Benghazi to Syria, all with the backing of the CIA – in order to destroy the last remaining secular country in the Middle East. As Strauss dictates, the American (and British) public are deceived into believing that our government’s intentions are altruistic. Thus our now open (where it had previously been covert) funding and arming of “moderate” Islamists the Free Syrian Army is portrayed as a move to bring western-style democracy to the Syrian people, rather than continuing to prolong their suffering and fanning the flames of Sunni/Shia sectarianism. Once this operation has been completed, Washington will be well and truly on their Path to Persia. Despite Iran being an Islamic Republic, it remains ambitious, and – compared to say, its regional rival Saudi Arabia – is much more secular in nature; the majority of citizens see themselves as Iranians first, and Muslim second.

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Syria and Iran are two of the world’s remaining nations to have a state-run banking system and gold reserves which fall outside of the global private central banking syndicate; once the removal of their current anti-imperial/anti-Western regimes are removed, the long-term geopolitical goals of America’s neo-cons will be almost complete. By maintaining its covert support for violent jihadism and religious fundamentalism in the Middle East, the US ensures that the vulgar many continue to fight among themselves rather than the corporate interests plundering their wealth and resources, and most importantly of all: prevent the Arab states from uniting and turning their attention to the Zionist occupiers – a simple strategy of divide and conquer.

SOURCES:

Project for the New American Century
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century

Brookings’ “Which Path to Persia?”
http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/brookings-which-path-to-persia.html