Despite what is well-known about the destabilising effect of wars - or perhaps because they happen elsewhere, and someone else has to pick up the pieces afterwards - the ease with which so many otherwise rational human beings can be whipped up into not merely partisan, but baying, screaming, and utterly irrational jingoism is deeply troubling.
This has been demonstrated yet again in the wake of two attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The USA says the Goddam I-ranians did it. The official UK line is to support the view from Washington DC. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the US claim comes after much sabre-rattling from the Trump Gang, which inevitably raises suspicions that a re-run of the Iraq war is being contemplated.
Into this febrile climate has come an intervention from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has urged restraint in the rush to judgment, telling “Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation that began with US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement. Without credible evidence about the tanker attacks, the government’s rhetoric will only increase the threat of war”. And with that, all hell has broken loose.
He should keep quiet, according to Prof Colin Talbot. “Jeremy Corbyn challenges UK government's Iran accusations on oil tanker attacks … Jeremy Corbyn took money from state owned Iran TV … (PS not saying it was the Iranians, just that Corbyn would do better to keep his mouth shut on this issue?)”. Yeah, right. He’s the leader of the opposition.
Former soldier Richard Kemp, meanwhile, went full screaming batshit at the news. “Threat from Iran far greater than mining oil tankers … EU including UK should follow my suggestion & join US sanctions. That would be effective means of pushing Iran back & as Corbyn says ‘easing tensions’”. It would also probably kick off World War 3. What a clown.
Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture Secretary) wrapped himself in the flag. “Pathetic and predictable. From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?” Oh I dunno, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and on and on all the way back to Suez, maybe? Just a thought.
Meanwhile, Desperate Dan Hodges was keen to reinterpret “asking for verifiable evidence”: “On one level I know we shouldn't be surprised. But it really is staggering the way Corbyn is bending over backwards to defend the Iranian regime”. Not wanting the region to erupt into a full-on shooting war is defending Iran! Who knew?
Hodges moved swiftly to ridiculing Emily Thornberry, which will earn him brownie points at the Northcliffe House bunker, prompting an intervention from self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Dooda: “Well, let’s just be grateful she didn’t blame Israel, eh?” Yeah, they’re all blaming Israel, cos, cos, er, cos we should take her on trust. Like heck.
As with the Iraq war, those voices advocating restraint are being loudly denounced in the march to inevitable conflict, helped by another social media phenomenon, which Mike Hind has picked up on. “Remarkable number of inauthentic Twitter accounts gunning for Corbyn over Iran. Successfully injecting their talking points into the centrist & commentariat milieu”. Media Lens has, meanwhile, viewed the unfolding shit-show with regret.
“We're living in such a crazed, war-hungry culture, that even a mild, anti-war sentiment is shocking and makes the headlines”. So many people who should know better have learned nothing from the Iraq débâcle. Few are old enough to remember the national humiliation of Suez. Many missed Libya and Afghanistan. After all, it’s abroad, innit?
Why should Jezza not ask that we demonstrate conclusively that Iran did it before ramping up the rhetoric yet further? Why does there always have to be the threat of war hanging over the Middle East? And why is it, inevitably, the West making those threats?
Our Government should quit the howling denunciation and make with an explanation. We made a big enough mistake with Iraq. Maybe not a good idea to repeat the error.
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