THURSDAY 20 JUNE 2019
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE LONDON
On Thursday 20 June in response to the suggestion of war with Iran members of Veterans for Peace deployed outside the Ministry of Defence building on Whitehall and displayed the banner “War is not the solution to the problems we face in the 21st Century“.
Since 2001 the United Kingdom has chosen to initiate and or particpate in a number of disastrous military interventions; Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. These interventions have cost untold billions of pounds and lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, life changing injuries to countless thousands, torture, the destruction of homes, infrastrutcture and the environment.
With politicians and the media now ramping up the ongoing tension between the USA/UK and Iran we say that the UK should in no way participate in another futile and destructive intervention in the Middle East.
Ramping up for war?
This week there have been two polar opposite statements from British politicians on the tanker attacks in the Straits of Hormuz which have been attributed to Iran by the USA and the UK:
“….Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation that began with the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement…….”
The response from the Foreign Secretary: “Pathetic and predictable. From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”
As for the motivation for the attacks on tankers in the Straits of Hormuz – former senior diplomats have questioned as to why Iran would attack a Japanese oil tanker at the very moment that the Japanese Prime Minister was sitting down to friendly talks in Tehran on economic cooperation that could help Iran survive the effects of US economic sanctions. Or damage a Norwegian, largely Russian-crewed, vessel owned by a firm that has a specific record of being helpful to Iran in continuing to ship oil despite sanctions?
These tankers are, however, very much the targets that USA allies in the region – the Saudis, and their Gulf Cooperation Council colleagues, and Israel might select for a convenient ‘false flag’ incident to divert attention from reports such as recently provided by the United Nations Development Programme on the humanitarian disaster in Yemen; “The current conflict in Yemen is one of the greatest preventable disasters facing humanity, and the conflict has turned into a war on children, with a Yemeni child dying every 12 minutes.” This is a war which Saudi Arabia could not wage without US & UK weapons, command and control and logistical support.
Guardian article 18th June – “Britain does not merely supply the bombs that fall on Yemen; they couldn’t do it without us – the UK supplies the personnel and expertise to keep the war going”
In 2017, John Bolton, now US National Security Advisor, publicly briefed leaders of the Iranian exiled dissident group, MEK, that the Trump administration should support their goal of immediate regime change in Iran and recognize the MEK as a viable alternative. Bolton said “the declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. The behaviour and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself. And that’s why, before 2019, we, here, will celebrate in Tehran!”
When questioned about regime change in Iraq he stated “I think the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein was a resounding success. The chaos that followed in Iraq, he said, was caused by a poorly executed occupation that ended too soon. On the bright side, the mistakes the U.S. made in Iraq offered lessons about what to do after a regime is overthrown in the future.”
And from Trump, even before the tanker incidents, a tweet : “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again”
In 2015, after years of painstaking international efforts to build trust, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with the group of world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. Under the accord, Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear activities and to allow rigorous international monitoring, verification, and inspection in return for the lifting of many years of crippling economic sanctions which had led to the near collapse of Iran’s economy and privation for its people.
Then on 7 July 2017, an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a global agreement to ban nuclear weapons, which has legal force once 50 nations have signed and ratified it. Already 23 have ratified it and 70 signed it.
The USA (6,800 nukes) and United Kingdom (215), did not even participate in the negotiation of the Treaty. Neither intends to join the treaty. Both voted against the UN General Assembly resolution in 2016 that established the mandate for nations to negotiate the treaty. Both failed to fulfil legally binding disarmament obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In contrast, Iran participated in the negotiation of the Treaty and on 7 July 2017 voted in favour of its adoption.
Yet in May 2018, US President Donald Trump reneged on the Iran Nuclear agreement, reinstated sanctions on Iran and threatened severe economic reprisals on states that continued to trade with that country.
Ironically Iran’s nuclear programme is a creation of the US, which in 1967 built a reactor on the campus of Tehran University, including the comprehensive transfer of nuclear technology, the supply of weapons-grade enriched uranium fuel and the training of Iranian scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Iran’s subsequent interest in developing nuclear weapons, as its defence of last resort, is hardly surprising given its historic experience of aggressive interference by the US and UK. From 1901 onwards the UK has invaded and repeatedly plundered Iranian oil, firstly for its own use in two world wars, and afterwards by means of a UK/US coup in 1953 deposing the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh and installing Shah Reza Pahlavi.
Following the demise of the Shah in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, initial US aggression towards the new government was muted because of the hiatus created by the detention in Teheran of US diplomats for 15 months. However in 1980, as a convenient proxy, the then friend of the West, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, was encouraged to invade Iran to annex oilfields, while Iran was largely isolated without support from other states. The ensuing war has been compared to WW1 in terms of its crude tactics and trench warfare which resulted in over 500,000 deaths and ended after 8 years of futile conflict without any reparations or any settlement of border changes or disputes.
Returning to the statements made by US Secretary of State John Bolton in 2017 it looks as though his 2017 decision to go to war with Iran is merely waiting for a reason. In which case there is a dynamic either to invent or to amplify convenient incidents which convey fear in the population, in this case the interruption of oil supplies. An unstoppable chain of events may then unfold, increasing public fear of an imminent threat and eventually narrowing choices for a resolution to one single option: WAR
We therefore urge the UK to adopt the diplomatic option that “….Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation that began with the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement…….”
War is not the solution to the problems
we face in the 21st Century.
Analysis by Veteran for Peace, David Collins.