"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Scott of the common sense

Dear Ms Kennedy (Editor - The Irish Times),

I would like to draw your attention to a talk held by the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in London last week [1]. The topic under discussion was, 'Is Iran heading ineluctably towards military confrontation with the US military?' The guest speakers were Scott Ritter, Fred Halliday, Dan Plesch and the talk was chaired by the Guardian's diplomatic editor Ewan MacAskill.

Dan Plesch began by rephrasing the question. He asked, "is the US heading towards military confrontation with Iran?" War it seems will be similarly based on the existence or as in the case of Iraq the non-existence of a nuclear threat. Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter then spelled out how he believes the case for war will proceed, "First, the deception, based around talk of a security threat...Second, confrontation in the field of international diplomacy...When the impasse reaches the UN the US will challenge the international community to act. When the non-existent case is rejected, as the US hopes it will be, the air strikes will follow."[2]

Ritter continued, stating that planning for war is underway "right now." When asked whether he believes the coalition's credibility has been sufficiently damaged so as to undermine any future accusations of WMD proliferation he responded, "Bush has been exonerated in several inquiries on the subject."

Given that neither Tony Blair nor George Bush have suffered major political or popular losses since the truths about Iraq's alleged nuclear potential were revealed, both men were re-elected, is it fair to say that Mr. Ritter's informed opinion is with basis? It is noteworthy that neither Dan Plesch nor Fred Halliday vocalised any discomfort with Mr. Ritter's remarks.

The lead up to war is not, however, an eventuality. The press will play a massive role in either creating a perception gap or choosing, this time, to inform the same public hood winked by the 45 minute rule of the realities so often kept from them.

The Guardian reports "UK accuses Iran over killing of soldiers," "a senior British official directly accused Tehran of supplying Iraqi insurgents with sophisticated roadside bombs that have killed eight British soldiers and two security guards since May."[3]

The Times reports "Iran Blamed for the Death of Eight Britons," "The British official refused to be drawn on whether the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had been acting on the orders of the Tehran Government or operating independently." [4]

Jeremy Paxman comments on the British government's allegations of Iranian involvement in Iraqi insurgency, " If Iran is doing this to us what should we do to Iran?"

British anti-war group Justice Not Vengeance (JNV) points out the gaping holes in the Guardian's very own reporting; 'no hard evidence that the explosives technology came from Iran,' 'Defence sources suggested that blaming the IRGC for supplying the explosives technology was going too far' and 'military officials said there was "so much expertise in Iraq" the bombs could have been made by former members of Saddam Hussein's security forces.' Enough to question the choice of headline?[5]

Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari stated "Such accusations are baseless and we do not agree with them at all," when asked to comment on the UK government allegations, continuing "Relations between Iran and Iraq are currently very friendly and strong and expanding. We are proud of the situation."[6]

In light of the very obvious support for those in government by the British press will The Irish Times be following suit in aiding the 'softening up' of public opposition to war or will it take an independent stance? Will you be printing the cautions made by Scott Ritter?

Yours sincerely,

1. http://www.ica.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=14377
2. www.democratsdiary.co.uk.
3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1585931,00.html
4. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1813246_2,00.html
5. http://www.j-n-v.org/London_Blasts/London_Blasts_index.htm
6. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L06709304.htm