Sunday, April 15, 2007

[wvns] Iran: Greatest Crisis of Modern Times

Iran May Be The Greatest Crisis Of Modern Times
Written by John Pilger
Friday, 13 April 2007
New Statesman

In a cover piece for the New Statesman, John Pilger evokes the memory
of Germans 'looking from the side' at Bergen-Belsen to describe the
challenge facing us in the West as the Bush/Blair 'long war' becomes
'perhaps the greatest crisis of modern times'.

The Israeli journalist Amira Hass describes the moment her mother,
Hannah, was marched from a cattle train to the Nazi concentration camp
at Bergen-Belsen. "They were sick and some were dying," she says.
"Then my mother saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just
looking. This image became very formative in my upbringing, this
despicable 'looking from the side'."

It is time we in Britain and other Western countries stopped looking
from the side. We are being led towards perhaps the most serious
crisis in modern history as the Bush-Cheney-Blair "long war" edges
closer to Iran for no reason other than that nation's independence
from rapacious America. The safe delivery of the 15 British sailors
into the hands of Rupert Murdoch and his rivals (with tales of their
"ordeal" almost certainly authored by the Ministry of Defence -
until it got the wind up) is both a farce and a distraction. The Bush
administration, in secret connivance with Blair, has spent four years
preparing for "Operation Iranian Freedom". Forty-five cruise missiles
are primed to strike. According to Russia's leading strategic thinker
General Leonid Ivashov: "Nuclear facilities will be secondary
targets... at least 20 such facilities need to be destroyed. Combat
nuclear weapons may be used. This will result in the radioactive
contamination of all the Iranian territory, and beyond."

And yet there is a surreal silence, save for the noise of "news" in
which our powerful broadcasters gesture cryptically at the obvious but
dare not make sense of it, lest the one-way moral screen erected
between us and the consequences of an imperial foreign policy collapse
and the truth be revealed. John Bolton, formerly Bush's man at the
United Nations, recently spelled out the truth: that the
Bush-Cheney-Blair plan for the Middle East is "an agenda to maintain
division and ethnic tension". In other words, bloodshed and chaos
equals control. He was referring to Iraq, but he also meant Iran.

One million Iraqis fill the streets of Najaf demanding that Bush and
Blair get out of their homeland - that is the real news: not our
nabbed sailor-spies, nor the political danse macabre of the pretenders
to Blair's Duce delusions. Whether it is treasurer Gordon Brown, the
paymaster of the Iraq bloodbath, or John Reid, who sent British troops
to pointless deaths in Afghanistan, or any of the others who sat
through cabinet meetings knowing that Blair and his acolytes were
lying through their teeth, only mutual distrust separates them now.
They knew about Blair's plotting with Bush. They knew about the fake
45-minute "warning". They knew about the fitting up of Iran as the
next "enemy".

Declared Brown to the Daily Mail: "The days of Britain having to
apologise for its colonial history are over. We should celebrate much
of our past rather than apologise for it." In Late Victorian
Holocausts, the historian Mike Davis documents that as many as 21
million Indians died unnecessarily in famines criminally imposed by
British colonial policies. Moreover, since the formal demise of that
glorious imperium, declassified files make it clear that British
governments have borne "significant responsibility" for the direct or
indirect deaths of between 8.6 million and 13.5 million people
throughout the world from military interventions and at the hands of
regimes strongly supported by Britain. The historian Mark Curtis calls
these victims "unpeople". Rejoice! said Margaret Thatcher. Celebrate!
says Brown. Spot the difference.

Brown is no different from Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and the other
warmongering Democrats he admires and who support an unprovoked attack
on Iran and the subjugation of the Middle East to "our interests" -
and Israel's, of course.

Nothing has changed since the US and Britain destroyed Iran's
democratic government in 1953 and installed Reza Shah Pahlavi, whose
regime had "the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid
system of civilian courts and a history of torture" that was "beyond
belief" (Amnesty).

Look behind the one-way moral screen and you will distinguish the
Blairite elite by its loathing of the humane principles that mark a
real democracy. They used to be discreet about this, but no more. Two
examples spring to mind. In 2004, Blair used the secretive "royal
prerogative" to overturn a high court judgment that had restored the
very principle of human rights set out in Magna Carta to the people of
the Chagos Islands, a British colony in the Indian Ocean. There was no
debate. As ruthless as any dictator, Blair dealt his coup de grace
with the lawless expulsion of the islanders from their homeland, now a
US military base, from which Bush has bombed Iraq and Afghanistan and
will bomb Iran.

In the second example, only the degree of suffering is different. Last
October, the Lancet published research by Johns Hopkins University in
the US and al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad which calculated that
655,000 Iraqis had died as a direct result of the Anglo-American
invasion. Downing Street officials derided the study as "flawed". They
were lying. They knew that the chief scientific adviser to the
Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson, had backed the survey,
describing its methods as "robust" and "close to best practice", and
other government officials had secretly approved the "tried and tested
way of measuring mortality in conflict zones". The figure for Iraqi
deaths is now estimated at close to a million - carnage equivalent
to that caused by the Anglo-American economic siege of Iraq in the
1990s, which produced the deaths of half a million infants under the
age of five, verified by Unicef. That, too, was dismissed
contemptuously by Blair.

"This Labour government, which includes Gordon Brown as much as it
does Tony Blair," wrote Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, "is
party to a war crime of monstrous proportions. Yet our political
consensus prevents any judicial or civil society response. Britain is
paralysed by its own indifference."

Such is the scale of the crime and of our "looking from the side".
According to the Observer of 8 April, the voters' "damning verdict" on
the Blair regime is expressed by a majority who have "lost faith" in
their government. No surprise there. Polls have long shown a
widespread revulsion to Blair, demonstrated at the last general
election, which produced the second lowest turnout since the
franchise. No mention was made of the Observer's own contribution to
this national loss of faith. Once celebrated as a bastion of
liberalism that stood against Anthony Eden's lawless attack on Egypt
in 1956, the new right-wing, lifestyle Observer enthusiastically
backed Blair's lawless attack on Iraq, having helped lay the ground
with major articles falsely linking Iraq with the 9/11 attacks â€"
claims now regarded even by the Pentagon as fake.

As hysteria is again fabricated, for Iraq, read Iran. According to the
former US treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, the Bush cabal decided to
attack Iraq on "day one" of Bush's administration, long before 11
September 2001. The main reason was oil. O'Neill was shown a Pentagon
document entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts",
which outlined the carve-up of Iraq's oil wealth among the major
Anglo-American companies. Under a law written by US and British
officials, the Iraqi puppet regime is about to hand over the
extraction of the largest concentration of oil on earth to
Anglo-American companies.

Nothing like this piracy has happened before in the modern Middle
East, where Opec has ensured that oil business is conducted between
states. Across the Shatt al-Arab waterway is another prize: Iran's
vast oilfields. Just as non-existent weapons of mass destruction or
facile concerns for democracy had nothing to do with the invasion of
Iraq, so non-existent nuclear weapons have nothing to do with the
coming American onslaught on Iran. Unlike Israel and the United
States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, of which it was an original signatory, and has allowed routine
inspections under its legal obligations. The International Atomic
Energy Agency has never cited Iran for diverting its civilian
programme to military use. For the past three years, IAEA inspectors
have said they have been allowed to "go anywhere". The recent UN
Security Council sanctions against Iran are the result of Washington's

Until recently, the British were unaware that their government was one
of the world's most consistent abusers of human rights and backers of
state terrorism. Few Britons knew that the Muslim Brotherhood, the
forerunner of al-Qaeda, was sponsored by British intelligence as a
means of systematically destroying secular Arab nationalism, or that
MI6 recruited young British Muslims in the 1980s as part of a $4bn
Anglo-American-backed jihad against the Soviet Union known as
"Operation Cyclone". In 2001, few Britons knew that 3,000 innocent
Afghan civilians were bombed to death as revenge for the attacks of 11
September. No Afghans brought down the twin towers. Thanks to Bush and
Blair, awareness in Britain and all over the world has risen as never
before. When home-grown terrorists struck London in July 2005, few
doubted that the attack on Iraq had provoked the atrocity and that the
bombs which killed 52 Londoners were, in effect, Blair's bombs.

In my experience, most people do not indulge the absurdity and cruelty
of the "rules" of rampant power. They do not contort their morality
and intellect to comply with double standards and the notion of
approved evil, of worthy and unworthy victims. They would, if they
knew, grieve for all the lives, families, careers, hopes and dreams
destroyed by Blair and Bush. The sure evidence is the British public's
wholehearted response to the 2004 tsunami, shaming that of the government.

Certainly, they would agree wholeheartedly with Robert H Jackson,
chief of counsel for the United States at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi
leaders at the end of the Second World War. "Crimes are crimes," he
said, "whether the United States does them or whether Germany does
them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct
which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

As with Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld, who dare not travel to
certain countries for fear of being prosecuted as war criminals, Blair
as a private citizen may no longer be untouchable. On 20 March,
Baltasar Garzan, the tenacious Spanish judge who pursued Augusto
Pinochet, called for indictments against those responsible for "one of
the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history"
- Iraq. Five days later, the chief prosecutor of the International
Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory, said that Blair could
one day face war-crimes charges.

These are critical changes in the way the sane world thinks - again,
thanks to the Reich of Blair and Bush. However, we live in the most
dangerous of times. On 6 April, Blair accused "elements of the Iranian
regime" of "backing, financing, arming and supporting terrorism in
Iraq". He offered no evidence, and the Ministry of Defence has none.
This is the same Goebbels-like refrain with which he and his coterie,
Gordon Brown included, brought an epic bloodletting to Iraq. How long
will the rest of us continue looking from the side?



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