The Sunday Herald’s Neil Mackay has an intriguing story that perhaps sheds some light on the issues I’ve been debating here with Terry Teague recently:
Senior Mod official claims Iran duped UK intelligence
ONE of the highest-ranking officials in the British Ministry of Defence has launched a devastating attack on the Blair government over lies told publicly about Iraq, the UK’s subservient relationship to America and the disastrous results of the invasion and occupation of Iraq…
…One of the most sensational revelations by the source is that Iranian intelligence helped manipulate Britain and America into removing Saddam Hussein – the sworn enemy of the Iranian regime. The claim has been supported on both sides of the Atlantic by former US and UK intelligence officials. (Sunday Herald)
There are a couple of points that need to be made about this story.
One is that now the situation in Iraq has gone so obviously pear-shaped, we should be wary of the search for easy scapegoats. If material from the Iranians or their Iraqi allies made its way into US and UK intelligence analyses, It was probably because that material supported the policy Washington and London had already determined on.
There is good evidence that US Government were aware of the nature of some of the material they were using to justify the war. As some of Mackay’s sources interviewees point out, It’s not necessarily a case of the Iranians manipulating western Governments, so much as being in a better position to provide western Governments with the material to manipulate their own public.
Before the Iraq war, there was something of a community of interests between the US and Iran in the downfall of Saddam Hussein. That ended with the fall of Baghdad and the beginning of the struggle for influence between the victors, much like the community of interests between the US and the Soviet Union in 1945.
The other point about the story is that along with General Dannatt’s comments, the emergence of Mackay’s MOD source suggests that some of the highest echelons of the permanent Government are turning on Blair.
This is something I feel profoundly ambivalent about. The Iraq war has been such a disaster that it was probably inevitable that this kind of thing would happen eventually, especially now that it has reduced Blair to lame duck status.
Nevertheless, for anyone who has read about the machinations of the permanent government against previous Labour administrations, (especially the army’s role in undermining the Sunningdale agreement in Northern Ireland), such episodes leave a nasty taste in the mouth.
The irony is that unlike Harold Wilson, Blair is being attacked by the permanent government for following a policy founded on establishment assumptions, a view of Britain’s place in the world and the importance of the alliance with the US that has been unchanged since the Suez crisis.
Failure in Iraq represents a challenge to those assumptions that will require a more substantial rethink than just jettisoning a Prime Minister. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this story is the suggestion that rethink may be happening:
The source is clear that there can be no more wars fought by the UK for some considerable time.
in the armed forces means the UK could not handle another conflict, and
the scepticism of parliament and the public towards government means
there would be no support for further wars. The MoD now favours
diplomacy as a route to global stability.