I dismissed Iraq war protesters as the ‘great unwashed’, but Iran war fears mean I’m ready to join them this time, says Jim Duffy.
I don’t want to go to war with Iran. I don’t particularly want to go there on holiday either mind you.
I couldn’t tell you much about its culture, albeit it is a Muslim country and a theocracy to boot. I do know that it has a capital city called Tehran. My dad named our first dog “Shah” after the Shah of Iran some 40-odd years ago, as he saw it as a powerful moniker. Iran, I know, is an oil producer, but we are barred from buying the black gold from it. I am sure there are a few pretty decent kebab shops down the local souk and that new-born babies will have their first day on earth there today, tomorrow and next week.
And I don’t want to see them killed by an American-made Tomahawk missile. No, I’m with Jeremy Corbyn on this one – let’s talk to them before we bomb them.
I recall the massive march in London to protest against the UK going to war in Iraq. I stood on the banks of the river Thames and watched them all promenade past me slowly. Many looked like hippies. Some like college lecturers. You know the type – cord jackets with leather elbow patches. It was a real eclectic mix of people. Some were walking, while others were on board colourful floats. There was music playing, chanting and the piercing screech of whistles being blown randomly.
At the time, I was a cop in Strathclyde Police, but just down for a weekend visit. I looked at this rag-tag bunch and labelled them as the ‘great unwashed’. In fact, I uttered the words under my breath. I was scathing about them. After all, Tony Blair, John Prescott et al knew the facts right? Our Government had first-class intelligence. Not only could Saddam Hussein launch missiles toute suite in the region, but at some point they may even hit the UK. How wrong they were. How wrong I was. And how right were the parading hippies.
And here we are again. This Republican US President and his administration are stoking up the rhetoric on Iran. But, this time there is no need for a dossier. No, this time no sooner had the oil tankers been hit, than the US had journalists and media on a boat to tour the damage and point the finger squarely at Iran. Yes, it won’t be long now till the West has brought chaos, bloodshed and dead babies to the shores of Iran.
After all, we have a terrific track record when it comes to completely screwing up the Middle East. One only has to ponder Iraq and see the maelstrom of darkness that has engulfed Libya. And guess what? Tony Blair has popped up again.
I am no fan of this man. I respect the fact that he led Labour or New Labour, as it was, to three general election victories. But, his track record within his tenure is dubious. A politician who has demanded regime change in Iran in the past, Mr Blair wants governments to be tougher with Iran. As soon as he gets involved, I always ask myself the question, who is paying him or whose villa is he staying at these days? The unfortunate outcome of his involvement is he has access to big players who still give him the time of day. And his words give the hawks in Washington more fuel for their regime change or war planning.
It is always easy to go straight to “bomb them” as we are spoon-fed this story and that piece of ‘evidence’. There is nothing like a good old war on the TV screen to get the juices going, especially in the UK and USA. Watching a tomahawk missile fly off the deck of a cruiser towards its “intended” target or the powerful whizz of fighter jets taking off from an aircraft carrier on bombing sorties makes many feel patriotic. But, for others it makes them feel sick to their stomach. Perhaps Iran already feels under attack, so it is on red alert to the world.
Look, I do get the feeling that the political elites in Iran are still of a closed mind and living somewhat in the past. I don’t care one bit for the policy, if that is what one can call it, of wiping Israel off the map. This is plain wrong. But, there is a whole new generation of millennial Iranians who, I would bet my last euro on, would rather look at other options. They have young children and families and hopes and dreams of Twitter, Instagram, Ben and Jerrys, Porsche Cayanne’s, Sonos and the opportunity to travel the world. The question is, how do we get to them and hear their voices before the bombs start flying?
It’s a tricky one for President Trump. America is booming. Its stockmarkets are near all-time highs. Life is good for the average American.
So, the last thing he wants is the price of oil to rocket, inflation to boom, the S&P 500 to tank and dead Americans coming home in body bags. But, he may feel he has to make a point in the region that any bad behaviour will not be tolerated all the same.
Maybe a show of power and might will be enough for now, but Iran is back on the world map and in our consciousness and I fear it may be in our sights.
And this time, if there is a march against war, I’ll be on it, instead of sneering from the sidelines.