Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Let's Invade Iran

The British government has accused Iran of supplying explosives to insurgents in the south of Iraq. Even though I'm a self confessed cynic in all matters, I'm inclined to believe that this accusation is true. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if the Iranians did have some involvement with the Shia insurgency in the south of Iraq.* It's yet another complication to add to an already very difficult situation.

Of course, the Iranians might argue that since Iran shares a border with Iraq, and since Iraq has invaded Iran in the not to distant past, Iraq is clearly within Iran's sphere of influence. As such, they might maintain that their interference in Iraq is considerably more justified (on the grounds of national security) than the unprovoked interference of the "coalition of the willing". But two wrongs don't make a right and the Iranians should keep their noses out if Iraq, in my opinion. I don't see that happening though. I suspect they'll continue to interfere in surreptitious and unpleasant ways, most probably by continuing to support al-Sadr and his band of loons. This is clearly not good news.

There was something odd about today's announcement:
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the technology had come from Hezbollah in Lebanon via Iran and produced an "explosively shaped projectile".
Anonymity? So is this an official government announcement or an unauthorised leak or what? Is an anonymous statement the best way to make public an accusation of this nature? It's hardly what you'd call open government. And I just don't get the point. Is there no-one in the government with the courage to put their name to this? You do it. No, you do it. No, you, I don't wanna...
I guess the straw man at the Foreign Office is the one absent without leave, or perhaps big John Reid at Defence. What's the matter boys, chickens again?

Can anyone explain what's going on with this? I'm afraid I still struggle to understand some of the bizarre machinations of this government.

* Given the recent history, it's extremely unlikely that the Iranians would have anything to do with the Sunni violence which dominates much of the rest of Iraq.

It appears that the mysterious official has not actually accused the Iranian government of direct involvement in any of this.
The official said the explosives had come from Iran's Revolutionary Guard but refused to be drawn on whether the corps were acting on the orders of the government in Tehran or were operating independently.
That's quite a significant distinction.

He also said "There is some evidence that the Iranians are in contact with Sunni groups. I don't think it is for a benign purpose". Hmm, I'm no expert but I really don't think many Iranians are likely to be collaborating with Sunnis in any meaningful way. It's surely not likely that they would support ex-Baathists and they're certainly not going to be aiding al Zarqawi with his "kill all Shias" strategy. My first instinct is that this particular claim is another example of the dreaded "45 minutes" syndrome.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of all this is that I've just seen Dr. Nile Gardiner on Newsnight seriously suggesting that we should use the threat of force against Iran. Strategic missile attacks against suspected nuclear weapons facilities are apparently his weapon of choice. He argued that the US and UK should adopt the position that "the use of force may be necessary if the Iranians do not disarm, as a very last resort" (about 24 mins in). Extraordinary. You'd think they could have at least written a new script.

And I don't think this is just one man's view. Dr. Gardiner works for the Heritage Foundation, a right wing Washington think tank with strong links to the Reagan administration. I hope I'm wrong but this may be the start of a very troubling development.

For the record, I'm firmly of the belief that any kind of military action against Iran would be extremely foolhardy. It would almost certainly increase the determination of the Iranian government to aquire nuclear weapons. Unless the Iranians conduct overtly hostile and unprovoked military actions, I don't see any benefit in the threat of, or actual use of, force against Iran.

Oh and Dr Gardiner also wants more aggressive military operations in Iraq to track down insurgents. What is wrong with these people? Why not just cut to the chase and advocate killing all Muslims? Good grief. I suggest shipping Dr Gardiner to Iraq so can get a fuller understanding of the consequences of the policies he's advocating.

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