Sunday, February 25, 2007


In an earlier post on a gem of a Guardian hit piece here, I wrote, "The Guardian is the leading far left newspaper in Britain. . . . Much of its straight reporting is some of the finest out there. The really whacky stuff comes in the Opinion pieces, . . ." And here is one of them -- "Why Can't MP's See The Folly of Trident" by Mary Riddell. The secondary heading is "Britain can have no moral authority over Iran's nuclear crusade while we are hellbent on upgrading our fleet." You can read the opinion piece here.

The story is nominally about whether Britain can and should upgrade its Trident nuclear weapons systems. It quickly morphs into an argument about Iran, invoking the British left's cherished doctrine of multiculturalism and its intertwined concept of moral equivalency -- embraced by both the author and, apparently the head of the IAEA:

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN nuclear watchdog, warned that Britain cannot expect other countries to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons if it upgrades Trident.
The author not only adopts this position whole, she further argues that "the idea that we merit the means of mass annihilation because we are 'good' and other countries are 'bad' is seen as risible throughout the non-nuclear world."

As an aside, some of the arguments I raise here I have already raised in other posts. Nonetheless, I will repeat them here for clarity.

In terms of logic, reason, facts and factual accuracy, this Guardian opinion piece is fairly typical -- it fails miserably in all four areas. Let’s start with the moral equivalency argument – a truly suicidal aspect of multicultural philosophy.

Britain and Iran do not inhabit the same moral plane. State sanctioned murder on a grand scale is not something in which Britain normally engages. No one on this earth is worried that the U.K. will decide to smuggle a nuclear bomb into Delhi and then either ignite it or otherwise use it as a form of nuclear blackmail. Britain does not open its meetings of parliament each week by asking for death to all of the people who inhabit Israel and America. Britain does not pay terrorist groups on a varying scale dependent on how much death and destruction they cause in Israel or elsewhere as needed. Britain does not use real physical torture as an state sanctioned instrument of its policies. Britain does not glorify suicide and suicidal cults. Britain has never sent tens of thousands of teenagers to their death by sending them unarmed to clear minefields or to charge machine gun nests in time of war. And Britain is not a theocracy founded upon an incredibly aggressive and triumphalist religion. As the preeminent American scholar on the Middle East, Bernard Lewis wrote a few months ago:

A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead--hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.

The ultimate truth is this -- moral equivalency is always a utopian canard. Britain and Iran do not inhabit the same moral plane. There is no hypocrisy in Britain's retaining or improving its nuclear arsenal in this imperfect and dangerous world even as it demands that a truly dangerous theocracy cease and desist in its own drive for nuclear weapons. And the assertion that the U.K. "merit[s] the means of mass annihilation because [they] are 'good' and other countries are 'bad' is seen as risible throughout the non-nuclear world" is meaningless. When any country predicates its defense on polls taken in other countries . . . Do I need to finish?

To continue, the Khomeiniist mullahs have a saying – roughly translated, “the West can’t do a damn thing [against or to stop the Iranian theocracy]. It has shown through in their intransigence in complying with the IAEA. Not only have they have flatly refused to come to the negotiating table, they have increased the speed at which their nuclear program is advancing. Having said that, we know that they are also feeling the pinch of the first round of sanctions, mild as they were, because of the the incredible mess of their command driven economy (see here and here).

The author suggests that we not only jump at this offer, but that we go do away with sanctions altogether while talks are ongoing. According to the author, to the contrary, Europe must act to help "strengthen the Iranian economy." Does the author have a death wish? Does she have any clue as to the nature of Khoemeinism or the bloodthirsty aggressiveness of Iran's theocracy? Or is she just, on a fundamental level, disconnected from reality?

Europe has had years of talks with Iran, which the U.S. fully supported, including with an offer of a package of economic incentives that was rejected only because Iran’s true objective is a nuclear arsenal. Further talks with Iran, absent significant punitive actions, would be not only useless, but counterproductive. What Iran seeks at this point is to buy time – time to complete their weapons program; time to patch the numerous leaks in the dam of their floundering economy; time to wait until George Bush leaves office; and, ultimately, time to gain a position of advantage over the West. The author would give it to them and more.

And so would Russia and China. But they are allies of Iran in this matter – and have no doubt it is with the intention of weakening the United States and the West strategically while gaining a financial advantage. Thus, any realistic sanctions will have to take place outside of the U.N. security council. I have no doubt that the U.K. will join the U.S. in seeking more sanctions – the question will be whether the rest of Europe, as they often do, seek a free ride at the expense of the U.S. and U.K.

Sanctions, coupled with an aggressive covert action campaign to disrupt the theocracy are by far the most palatable options to address Iran. However, they must be coupled with a credible threat of military action. The author paints a view of an apocalypse if the U.S. were to overtly attack Iran. While the Iranians do have the potential to create havoc, I do not believe the author has any clue just how much havoc the West can create for Iran if it becomes absolutely necessary. Nonetheless, for a host of reasons -- not emotions, but reasons -- military force must be the last option, not the least of which is because a military strike would galvanize an Iranian populace that is disenchanted with its own regime and becoming increasingly restive and pro-American.

I will not address all of the Bushisms or other anti-American comments save for one that concerns a matter of fact. The author makes a bald assertion that the U.K.'s nuclear deterrent is "signed over to America," -- in essence, that the U.S. controls Britain's nukes. The author needs a fact checker. Britain's nuclear deterrent is assigned by agreement to NATO control with the written caveat that U.K. may exert independent command over such assets should they "decide that supreme national interests are at stake". See here.

As to the author's take on upgrading the U.K.'s nuclear deterrent, her arguments are a hollow shell. Unfortunately, she does not give us enough information to do what absolutely needs to be done -- to come to a reasoned decision after assessing all of the available facts. A typical Guardian opinion piece. Emotional left wing arguments with lots of labels but bereft of fact.

1 comment:

MrSmith said...

Typically, though, Guardianistas have a tendency to believe fervently in the potential for evil from right-wing, 'nazi' or 'hate' groups, but will dismiss with a knowing chuckle any idea that the real enemy, such as Iran is just that, a real enemy. God save us from fifth-columnists masquerading as intellectuals.


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