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IRAN: WHO'S KIDDING WHO*

29-03-2007

Amid all of the frothing outrage about the arrest of the British military "hostages" in Iran, including "mum of one" Faye Turner, no one seems to be asking whether the Iranians might actually have a point. Apart from Andy Goff, that is.

Nazi Germany's second-in-command, Hermann Goering, is quoted as having said:

“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. ...

“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

So it is with these words in mind that I now listen to Tony Blair and his cronies - the dodgy dossier, claiming not to seek regime change in Iraq, as that would be illegal; unfounded claims that Iraq was seeking supplies of Yellow Cake from Niger for it's nuclear programme, ‘voluntary' ID cards, “24 hours to save the NHS” and oh so many more including "We did not reveal Dr Kelly's name to the press".

No wonder even Gordon Brown apparently said to Tony Blair, "I can never believe another word you will ever say to me."

So the news yesterday, that the British Government was going to release “evidence” that the 15 British service personnel had been “kidnapped” by the Iranians while operating in Iraqi waters in the Shatt Al-Arab waterway, left me wondering who to believe.

What a tragically disloyal thought.

The MOD does have a penchant for being economical with the actualité - a seemingly pathological desire to leap to denial. We the public have a right to expect that in situations that could lead to a shooting war we are given honest information, but recent history can only make us doubt that this is now the case.

Maybe, in this particular instance, the Government have been honest and the Iranians were mistaken about positions on maps, but still the lingering doubt remains, predicated on the past performance of Blair and co.

After all, Blair has been under the tutelage of the Americans - past masters of creating situations in order to excuse their actions.

I'm old enough to remember the case of the USS Maddox operating in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964.

President Johnson lied about an attack by North Vietnamese forces on the Maddox using this as a justification to start large scale involvement of US Forces in Vietnam.

Maybe if the Americans and British had been less eager to remove the Western influenced and secular Mohammed Mosaddeq - the democratically elected former leader of Iran - for nationalising the oil supply we might well not have had this confrontation in the first place. And I might not be thinking that this could be just an organised operation to validate another “shooting” war.

Hermann Goring beat the hangman's noose by taking cyanide. Sadly, our current leaders won't need to make that choice.

(* Today's Sun has the headline "Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Ahmadinejad". To see their take on events click here )

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