Thursday, February 4, 2010

The lessons of Iraq have been ignored. The target is now Iran

The US military buildup in the Gulf and Blair's promotion of war against Tehran are a warning of yet another catastrophe

Seumas Milne, Wednesday 3 February 2010

"We were ­supposed to have learned the lessons of the Iraq war. That's what Britain's ­Chilcot inquiry is meant to be all about. But the signs from the Middle East are that it could be happening all over again. The US is ­escalating the military build-up in the Gulf, officials revealed this week, boosting its naval presence and supplying tens of billions of dollars' worth of new weapons systems to allied Arab states......

But Blair remains the Middle East envoy of the Quartet – the US, UN, EU and Russia – even as he pockets £1m a year from a UAE investment fund currently negotiating a slice of the profits from the exploitation of Iraqi oil reserves.

Nor is he alone in pressing the case for war on Iran. Another neocon outrider from the Bush era, Daniel Pipes, wrote this week that the only way for Obama to save his presidency was to "bomb Iran" [posted below] and destroy the country's "nuclear-weapon capacity", entailing few politically troublesome US "boots on the ground" or casualties.....

For the US government, as during the Bush administration, the real problem is Iran's independent power in the most sensitive region in the world – heightened by the Iraq war. The signals coming out of Washington are mixed. The head of US National Intelligence implied on Tuesday there was nothing the US could do to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons if it chose to do so. Perhaps the military build-up in the Gulf is just sabre rattling. The preference is clearly for regime change rather than war.

But Israel is most unlikely to roll over if that option fails, and the risks of the US and its allies, including Britain, being drawn into the fallout from any attack would be high. As was discovered in the case of Iraq, the views of outriders like Blair and Pipes can quickly become mainstream. If we are to avoid a replay of that catastrophe, pressure to prevent war with Iran will have to start now. "

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