Pointless ‘tough talk’….

LabourList has this rather appalling post by Luke Bozier who seems to have mistaken the traditional festive season emblem as not being doves and partridges but in fact hawks. Bozier’s cause for concern is a report in The Times which claims to have received confidential information showing that Iran has plans to test a neutron initiator.

Now, regardless of the state of play in Iran’s nuclear game of poker with the West we can make a couple of immediate comments about Bozier’s article. Firstly, there is no acknowledgement that non-proliferation is a spectacular failure as a policy because that would automatically lead onto the conclusion that either the proliferation of nuclear weapons must be accepted or the only way forward is radical disarmament. Secondly, the point of the article is called into question by the patently unrealistic nature of his own demands as is tacitly acknowledged;

So far it would seem, the Iranians have been skilful in taking advantage of relative weakness in the US, the UK and other major powers, due to the collective reluctance to intervene so soon after tiring efforts in Afghanistan & Iraq, and with an ongoing war in Afghanistan drawing on the resources of Western armed forces and finance ministries.

You also have to remember the massive credibility problem that this government would have persuading the British people to accept anything like a new military escapade; frankly, I think this is so bad that even if Iran were to admit it had a nuclear weapons programme the level of support the government could count on would still be questionable. It might also be reasonably argued that the interventions in both countries have not just been ‘skillfully manipulated’ but have, in fact, been instrumental in allowing Iran’s rise as a regional power and one able to put itself in this position.

Thirdly, nowhere are the Iranian people mentioned which is a shame because they are by far the best hope we have of a new regime in Tehran. Significantly, doom-laden though Bozier’s article is it does not consider the consequences a military strike by either the West or Israel would have on this movement because it would most likely doom this movement and entrench the power of Iran’s ruling elite.

Bozier’s article shows how the internationalism that is considered key to the Labour Party’s identity can mutate in a totally chauvinistic way into the creed which we call ‘liberal interventionism’ but in many instances has come to mean campaigns of careless conquest. This is what enabled Tony Blair to sleep-walk the Party into war as he successfully steamrolled opponents by presenting them (largely falsely) as appeasers of what is admittedly a barbarous regime.

I doubt Gordon Brown could repeat a similar trick; indeed, as Mike Smithson points out he will have his hands full with convincing a rightly sceptical public that we should still be in Afghanistan but if he did then I doubt he would find the British people ready, willing or able to entertain the idea of more ‘interventionism’ in Iran.


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About darrellgoodliffe


2 responses to “Pointless ‘tough talk’….”

  1. Luke Bozier says :

    Were you also against the interventions in Sierra Leone & Kosovo, when it meant protecting the lives of millions of people? Sometimes, action is needed. For Iran, what’s needed is a serious warning shot, because the regime has obviously gotten used to the impact that sanctions have had. Also, I’m not suggesting we launch a full invasion.

    Many Iranians believe that their Government’s programme on nuclear expansion has harmed their relations with the West. Action against Iran now would strengthen that opinion, and wouldn’t necessarily strengthen the Government’s hand politically. Besides, the Iranians are already very effective at suppressing political uprisings as we saw in this year’s “election”.

    And where I stand on proliferation is this: the US, Russia, UK and other P5 countries are working in concert to reduce their nuclear weapons capabilities. We’ve heard Obama talking about a full reduction as soon as is possible. I think the world would be better without weapons. So as we are working towards reducing these weapons in the hands of stable, democratic countries, it would make sense to ensure that no other countries get new nuclear weapons, particularly those countries like Iran who would actually potentially use them.

    How would you feel when the world finds out that Iran has just tested a nuclear weapon?

    Finally, you spelled my name wrong several times 😉


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Thanks for the reply. Sorry also about the misspelling of your name. Many humble apologies; I will go through and correct now 🙂

    The two interventions you mention were of a fundementally different character; indeed, in the case of Kosovo there was no direct intervention for regime change, this was left to the Serbian people. All the intervention did was provide support to an indigenious movement, the KLA, and belatedly spur the Serbian people on to effect change democratically off their own back. Therefore an anologous intervention in Iran would support the students but given the hatred for powers like Israel and different circumstances I feel an attack along these lines would strengthen what at the moment is a faltering regime.

    As regards your comments on proliferation I think your being a tad naive because what happens when, as in the case of Israel, these nations decide to make exceptions to the rules? Also, I hardly regard Russia as either stable or democratic. I appreciate that you want the same end-game as me but the fact is that the only demand to acheive that end is disarmament and that has to start in the countries you name.


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