The Curmudgeon


Sunday, February 12, 2006

More Serious Than Iraq Was Wrongly Claimed To Be

The former foreign secretary, former defence secretary and failed candidate for the leadership of the Conservative parliamentary rabble, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, has given us the benefit of his wisdom on the forthcoming war with Iran. "This is far more serious than North Korea, or Iraq was claimed to be, wrongly, by the Americans some years ago," he said. Far more serious than the possibility of a mushroom cloud over New York; well gosh, that does sound serious. Still, the claim was made "a few years ago", and nobody much got hurt; doubtless the appropriate lessons have been learned.

Confirming this, Sir Malcolm said he would be "astonished" if the US and its Middle East attack dog were not looking at "limited military strikes against Iran". The reason the strikes would be limited is that "Everyone knows Israel would never contemplate using a nuclear weapon except to protect its very existence." Everyone knows it, even Sir Malcolm Rifkind; so it must be true. The thought might be more reassuring if Israel and its defenders were not in the habit of claiming "existential threat" as an excuse for every crime the Righteous State commits.

Nevertheless, a spark of self-interest is in there somewhere: "The idea that Israel would launch a nuclear war when it itself could be annihilated by a nuclear response is absurd." By contrast, in Iran there is "a disposition amongst Islamic extremists, a willingness to die as martyrs and be regardless as to whether they themselves suffer as well as their victims". Islamic extremists are like that, you see. You would never see American troops, much less British troops, dying and being regardless. As for western civilians, they are practically a byword for lack of regardlessness. It's a pity the Iranians are so different. I wonder how they got that way. Do you think they're altogether human?

Sir Malcolm concluded that there was a "genuine fear" (presumably in that "everyone" for whom he is mysteriously empowered to speak) because "many Islamic extremists are prepared to kill themselves in order to advance their political cause", including, apparently, the entire government of Iran. Because many Islamic extremists are suicide bombers, "that could happen potentially at the national level in a nuclear exchange". By contrast, the governments of America and Britain are homicide bombers, something which evidently could not happen potentially at the national level in a nuclear exchange.

The former foreign secretary, former defence secretary and failed leadership candidate cited President Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be wiped off the map, saying it was "impossible to dismiss as 'pure rhetoric'". When a country full of Islamic extremists is "widely believed", at least by George Bush and Tony Blair, "to be preparing for nuclear weapon capability", you get, "in terms of the next five, ten years", according to Sir Malcolm, "a very combustible situation". The Middle East is a tinderbox, you see. The smallest spark could cause a catastrophic explosion in as little as five years. That must be why the US and Israel are preparing lightning strikes right now.


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