By Stuart Littlewood
Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague has written a widely acclaimed 576-page biography of William Pitt the Younger, who became prime minister in 1783 at the tender age of 24. Pitt was the war leader during Britain’s running battles with Napoleon, but it is said that he was uncomfortable in such a role and considered war got in the way of trade and prosperity.
It is a pity that Pitt’s abhorrence of war and preference for trade has not, apparently, rubbed off on Hague. We see our foreign secretary rushing around the international stage drumming up support for sanctions intended to cripple another country – a country that could and should have been a strong trading partner and valuable ally – on the mere suspicion of some nuclear skulduggery. And he does this without adequate debate, sensible explanation or popular mandate.
Mr Hague said last week’s ransacking of the embassy in Tehran was carried out "with regime consent". But I read that US Vice President Joe Biden told Reuters that he had no indication the attack was orchestrated by the Iranian authorities.
Whatever the truth of the matter, the incident was clearly in retaliation for Britain’s leading part in orchestrating sanctions that will damage the Iranian economy and collectively punish the country’s civilian population. To this is added a burning resentment of Britain’s past sins.
Perhaps Mr Hague should pause to reflect and answer a few questions…
(1) Have we so easily forgotten the cruel and devastating effect of sanctions on civil society, especially children, before we reduced Iraq to rubble?
(2) Would the Foreign Secretary kindly explain the reasons for his hostility towards Iran?
(3) What concrete proof is there of Iran’s military application of nuclear technology?
(4) Why is he not more concerned about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the threat it poses to the region and beyond, and the mental attitude of the Israeli regime?
(5) Why is he not seeking sanctions against Israel for its refusal to sign up to the NPT or engage constructively on the issue of its nuclear and other WMD programmes, not to mention its repeated defiance of international and humanitarian laws in the Holy Land?
(6) How many times has a British foreign secretary visited Tehran in the 32 years since the Islamic Revolution?
(7) Did Mr Hague make the effort before embarking on his punitive programme?
(8) Britain’s abominable conduct towards the Iranians in 1951-53 when a previous Conservative government, in cahoots with the USA, snuffed out Iran’s democracy and reinstated a cruel dictator, the Shah, was largely responsible for bringing about the Islamic Revolution and setting the pattern of future relationships. Is it not shameful that this Conservative government is spoiling for another fight? Shouldn’t the Foreign Office focus on exerting influence through trade and co-operation?
(9) Iran’s administration, like many others, may not be to our liking but nor was Dr Mossadeq’s democracy 60 years ago. In any event, what threat is Iran to Britain? And why is Mr Hague leading the charge?
(10) By pulling our people out of Tehran and kicking Iran’s people out of London Mr Hague has shut the door on diplomacy. How can he now communicate effectively and build bridges with a nation he seems determined to goad into becoming an implacable enemy?
It is difficult to understand how this escalation against Iran is in the British national interest. Do the British people want it? If Mr Hague’s purpose is to help preserve the balance of power in the Middle East so that a lawless, racist regime – Israel – remains the dominant threatening military force, he must be called to explain the wisdom of it.
Messrs Hague and Cameron both voted enthusiastically for the Iraq war, a supremely irresponsible decision based on neo-con lies. It has cost well over a million lives and caused utter ruination for the survivors and the destruction of much of their heritage. What possessed us to go to war on shoddy intelligence and inflict shock and awe on good people?
We want no repetition.
William Hague, according to the Jewish Chronicle, told David Cameron when he became Conservative party leader in 2005 that a deep understanding of the Middle East would be crucial if he wished to be taken seriously as a statesman. "We have to be steeped in the Middle East, way back to historical matters. Because you can’t understand it without the history. That’s been one of the failings sometimes with the Western governments."
In which case the pair of them ought to know better.
A reminder to the foreign secretary seems appropriate. Most people realise that Westminster’s neo-con friends in Washington have war with Iran on their agenda. But Mr Hague’s job is to make friends for Britain not enemies. Genuine friends in the Middle East are becoming scarce, millions more innocent people may die and the cost of oil is likely to rocket if the West’s aggressive tactics and double standards continue.
– Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine can now be read on the internet by visiting www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.