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UK Intelligence

Written By: - Date published: 10:50 am, January 7th, 2018 - 43 comments
Categories: International, interview, labour, Politics, Propaganda, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , , , ,

For quite some time now, there has been what I’d term an enforced consensus across “the west” on foreign events and situations. That enforced consensus is bolstered by consigning anyone proposing a critical analysis; one that runs counter to officially endorsed narratives, as being somehow complicit with who-ever today’s ‘agreed’  enemy is. And that consensus gorges itself on endlessly repeated innuendo, rumour and purportedly solid conclusions based on nought but previously reported bullshit and nonsense. Anyone with the temerity to engage their brain is dismissed as a “Putinbot” or similar, and anyone of note who raises their head is either roundly ignored by “our” media, or subjected to some degree of personal ridicule or character assassination by “our” media.

It’s against that backdrop that Emily Thornberry, UK Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, has stepped up with the following in response to a thinly veiled attempt at a  “gotcha” aimed at Jeremy Corbyn. Nick Robertson was conducting the interview on BBC Radio 4:- (from 33.00 min)

Our approach now is one of extreme caution when it comes to Iran and a recognition that the society in Iran is an immensely complex one, and seemingly contradictory. For example, with these current riots, sometimes they are calling to reinstate the monarchy, sometimes they’re calling out against [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei, sometimes they’re calling for Khamenei, sometimes they’re calling for the price of eggs. It’s very difficult, in those circumstances, to actually come to a conclusion as to what political forces are behind the current disputes on the streets of Iran. So we take a cautious approach to Iran and we don’t want to leap to judgment and say: “Well, we don’t like the regime in Iran, these people are against it, they must be the guys with white hats.”

Because it doesn’t work like that.

We’ve seen that in Syria, we’ve seen it in Libya, we see it time and time again, in Egypt – actually as westerners we cannot simply impose our views on people who are fighting against Mubarak, who we don’t like.

May her voice be the first of many prominent voices talking sense. It won’t be easy. The Guardian piece that provided most of the above quote, reported her words in a piece that was (yet again) simply “running the lines”, and links in the piece went to similar pieces of uncritical anti-Iranian reporting.

It’s going to be a long, hard and probably thankless row to hoe.

43 comments on “UK Intelligence ”

  1. andrew murray 1

    Stand by for a ‘Psycho 90’ attack from ‘Mars’

  2. Brewer 2

    “Why there won’t be a revolution in Iran
    Regime change is unlikely but what is in play is setting the scene for a further renewal of economic sanctions ”
    http://www.atimes.com/article/wont-revolution-iran/

    • Bill 2.1

      The video link in your Asia Times piece includes an interview with Mohammad Marandi. The interview was (how to say?) “interesting”. So I had a wee search for further commentary by him.

      I found this doozy from the BBCs Hardtalk (Feb 2017). Introducing an academic as “a supporter of the Iranian government” by way of shoving him off into “that” box was kind of ludicrous (ie – would an American academic be introduced as “a supporter of the US government?)

      Anyway. He serves up the antagonistic Hardtalk interviewer rather well with hard, well sourced facts. Well worth the 20 odd minutes.

      • Brewer 2.1.1

        Marandi is, like most Iranians of my acquaintance, rational and realistic. The interviewer comes across as a schill, a proponent of Western propaganda.

      • Stuart Munro 2.1.2

        With the possible exception of Bill English, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so far out of their depth.

    • SPC 2.2

      The USA would need partners, they are not in the UNSC or EU/NATO, they do not have any.

  3. francesca 3

    I think the Europeans are keen to maintain the Iran nuclear deal, avoid any more refugee crises,and maybe finally have developed the backbone to defy the US
    I think Syria has broken the mold

  4. roy cartland 4

    “May her voice be the first of many prominent voices talking sense. It won’t be easy. ”

    Too right, because ‘sense’ implies that one is sensible – i.e. is at least making an effort to understand – what is going on. Which, as well as taking longer, is never going to be easier than lazily parroting.

    Viva la thinking!

  5. adam 5

    I wonder if some on the left are getting that we have to talk about capitalism, and its role in all of these problems.

    These simple arguments of us ‘good’, the other ‘bad’ – helps no one but those in power, and those looking for profit.

    I’m sick of it, the dominant ideology is what the left traditionally was against, and for really good reasons. The problem, over and over is when it comes to international politics, so many so called leftist submit to the dominant ideology framework in a situation, faster than you can say boo.

    Good to see an MP taking a broader view, and indeed calling into question the official narrative.

    • francesca 5.1

      And courageous too.Witness the times that Corbyn has been excoriated in so called leftwing newspapers like the Guardian for taking a principled stand against imperialism and war

  6. SPC 6

    The thing about Iran is that this is about an economic problem (growing population and unemployment).

    There is the urban liberal middle class who supported the nuclear deal and who claimed it would improve their economic position (they voted in the current President), and there are those less well off who are generally more nationalist and socially conservative (the former President represented them).

    While we in the west may prefer the current President to the former one, he is of the middle class and places the economy before the needs of the poor – who are not seeing much gain from the end of sanctions, certainly not in trickle down to meet their needs. Thus protest at the lack of benefit to many of the poor (the still unemployed) promised by the current President.

    The American belief, that this is a rebellion against the theocratic regime under which the Presidency and parliament operate, is self-delusion. Those suffering economically are more often social conservatives. And despite American hopes that economic protests could undermine support for the regimes foreign policy activism, polls still show support for this foreign policy (basically Iranians are not linking their economic difficulty to the cost of their foreign activism, or if they do they do not mind).

    • Bill 6.1

      It’s not a theocratic regime. Sanctions have economic consequences. And it can be argued that Iran has stemmed the spread of ISIS and Al Qaeda (Syria and Yemen).

      I can’t see how it can be sensibly argued that “economic difficulty” is down to Iran’s “foreign activism” as though there is no sanction regime. But hey.

      • SPC 6.1.1

        Yeah it is.

        1. An unelected Ayatollah in office for life with more real power than the President
        2. The vetting of candidates for elected office for compliance with the revolutions continuance
        3. The Revolutionary Guard serve the regime, not the elected President.

        Interesting that you blame NOW ENDED sanctions for their economic problems – when that is just supporting the line of the government and its middle class market economics policy.

        The issue on the ground is a challenge to Rouhani’s economic programme. His policies advantage the middle class for the good of the economy (less support to those in need after the end of sanctions than during sanctions). He campaigned for re-election on the basis that the end of sanctions would improve things, but part of the problem has been the dismantling of support to the poor since sanctions ended – classic let the market trickle down help them in the markets own good time mantra of the middle class everywhere.

        >I can’t see how it can be sensibly argued that “economic difficulty” is down to Iran’s “foreign activism”<

        Never said it was – the underlying issue is a high youth demographic and lack of jobs – a problem whether there was economic sanctions or not, or an activist and costly foreign activism or not.

        It seems your own analysis is based on support for Iran's foreign policy and opposition to America's – no more based on reality than the American's position.

        PS The Russians should have cited the Occupy Wall Street protests when the UNSC looked at the Iran issue …

        • Brewer 6.1.1.1

          “1. An unelected Ayatollah in office for life with more real power than the President”
          Simply not true.
          The Spiritual Leader is elected by and can be removed by the eighty eight member Assembly of Experts (a sort of constitutional watchdog body), elected by public vote for eight-year terms.

          If you believe that Western systems do not vet candidates there is a bridge in Tehran I can sell you.

          The Revolutionary Guard has its equivalents in Western systems – National Guard, Dept of Homeland Security, SIS etc.

          Close study of the Iranian system reveals a democratic, albeit pyramidical structure consisting of a series of competing power centres reminiscent of the British system – local Councils, the Majlis (Parliament), Guardian Council (a bit like the House of Lords), Assembly of experts (The Law Lords). In the 2016 elections more than 12,000 people ran for office. Voter turnout is around 75%.

          Most Westerners object to the Iranian system because of our dedication to separation of Church and State. This reflects a misunderstanding of the political nature of Islam – a Mosque is a community centre, not a church, an Imam is appointed by the community, not the Church. It is also worth remembering that Iran is 90 – 95% Shiite Muslim so separation of Church and State is simplly not an issue. Minority sects (Judaics, Armenians, Zoroastrians etc) have guaranteed representation in the Government (except, for some reason I have never been able to figure out, Bahai).

          • SPC 6.1.1.1.1

            So its a theist regime which has its own procedural order to imply mandate to its continuance.

            But given no living Ayatollah has ever been voted out of office … and the lack of practicality of running as a challenger … .

            The Revolutionary Guard exist to protect the theist regime.

            Those challenging the continuance of the theist regime (not the only ones) are banned from contesting elections.

            Any party can form and contest elections in a real democracy. Even to promote constitutional change.

            Jews and Christians before Islam – in their eyes final evolved stage, Zoroastrian as Iranian cultural – Bahai rejected for being post Islam – Islam rejects any conversion of Moslems to another faith.

            • Brewer 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Your reply indicates a one-dimensional view obviously gleaned from the popular press. The vast majority of Iranians are perfectly happy with their system of Government because they understand it and it delivers what most of them want. Reformists poll about 13-15%.
              No system is perfect but the Iranian seems to deliver better outcomes for voters than the U.S. for example:
              “After examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, the political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy………..In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover … even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”
              https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/is-america-an-oligarchy
              Sixty-five percent of Americans are dissatisfied with their nation’s system of government according to Gallup’s polling.

              You can cherry pick and issue unsupported statements about Iran all you want but the massive pro-government rallies in the last few days tell a different story.

              • SPC

                And yours is derived from various “dimensions” of the “unpopular” media … whatever. The mirror image on the right says fake news a lot to dismiss unwelcome challenge.

                It’s a theist regime, and like some others called revolutionary does not allow itself to be challenged by democratic means, actively marginalises opponents and manages the media – little wonder those involved as reformists are either participants in a form of bi-partisanship, or soon taken out of the process.

                Sure it has some engagement, to the level this is allowed. Including in voting. And the countrywide majority for the regime seems genuine. It appeals to identity, religious and national, and has successfully combined the two. But for the same reason that (in some part religious) pro Zionism in the USA results in a problematic involvement in the ME peace process, this is not something that informs a constructive
                involvement in the wider region.

                Which is the real issue here. Two nations doing harm to other nations, as two powers external to the Arab people and region imposing their will.

                And sure the American oligarchy uses religion and nationalism itself, to preserve its own primacy. And has a freer media so voices about this are heard and thus the greater level of discontent.

                Iran better, America worse is not a complex or nuanced position by the way …

                • Brewer

                  For someone with a demonstrated paucity of knowledge on the subject you have altogether too much to say in my opinion.
                  Complex matters require complex explanations, too complex to undertake with someone so obviously, chauvinistically wedded to the paradigms implanted by a limited life experience and imagination.
                  Feel free to ignore my contributions to this forum. They are intended to elicit informed discussion, not bald assertions.

                  • SPC

                    Flounce off then, convinced of your superior knowledge, life experience and imagination etc.

                    You were responding to my post by the way.

                    It was my response to your own post you ignored. If you missed it, it was that neither the UN or EU/NATO will join new sanctions on Iran. It is only in play in the Americans “imagination”.

                    We can agree regime change in “Iran” is unlikely.

        • Bill 6.1.1.2

          I’ll come back to this later SPC, because there’s a lot of inaccuracy in your comment. Short on time right now.

          But just a wee question for you to ponder. Who elected the Queen of England and what was the name of the last Catholic PM of the UK?

          • SPC 6.1.1.2.1

            Comparison between an apolitical head of state without any power and the regime in Teheran …seriously …

            Tony Blair.

            You could raise the issue of the throne being reserved for those of the Church of England, as there is a state church (more a symbol of national independence than a religious divide – I wrote to Blair and questioned the continuance of it way back in 1998 before he came out). But this has no impact on political governance and I suspect many Christians of other denominations like the idea of a Christian throne and prayer in parliament continuing (especially those of the morality in law, military alliances and mammon order to economic society aspect).

            • Bill 6.1.1.2.1.1

              I’ve no idea about the relative powers of the Queen/Royal Family and the Ayatollah. But one is hereditary while the other is elected and can be recalled.

              Tony Blair was not a Catholic PM. He converted after leaving office. There has not ever been a Catholic PM of the UK.

              • Blair considered himself a Catholic while he was Prime Minister (and apparently for many years before that). He took communion occasionally and attended services regularly while in No 10. While his formal conversion to Catholicism took place a few months after he left office, he apparently received Papal blessing while still PM.

                Blair was certainly widely known as a closet Catholic while PM. However, there’s no end of pedantry in religion and I guess it depends on whether one cares about the exact rules and rituals of the Vatican or the simpler doctrines of the heart. For mine, if Blair believed he was a Catholic, he was a Catholic. His conversion merely confirmed the fact.

                Ultimately, what is more important for the purposes of political discussion is assessing what affect his Catholicism had on his dodgy decision making while PM and, happily, also raises the interesting question of where Blair thinks he’s heading in the afterlife.

    • spikeyboy 6.2

      Yes Rouhani appears to be your standard neoliberal leader engaged in austerity and slashing of social programs including raising the price of petrol by 50%. The protests that have started over there may be the beginnings of genuine class action. This is the same way that the Shah was overthrown when workers took over their workplaces.

      https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/01/04/pers-j04.html

      • SPC 6.2.1

        Rouhani is certainly going about uniting the opposition around a Presidential candidate with a different economic policy.

  7. reason 7

    Oliver Stones latest documentary is quite informative and details a new type of warfare …. ‘the color revolution’ …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAaMRAplJks

    Called “Ukraine is burning” …. it is mainly about the Ukraine … but details the new weapons used in this new warfare …. N.G.O’s …

    It compares the remarkable similarity of ‘color protest and their techniques across Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Iran etc …. plus the similar propaganda bullshit our ‘respectable’ media reports .

    With the Ukraine we are given a bit of history about the O.U.N with their ethnic purity goals which they undertook …. often as the SS Galizien division …. murdering between 150,000- 200,000 Jews … and huge numbers of Polish and gypsy people .

    The Ukraine Nazis were protected and shielded by the u.s.a and britian after world war II …. Stone shows the direct links of their ideology and beliefs…. and how this was utilized when they partnered up with the u.s.a in the violent illegal overthrow of Ukraine s elected Govt ….

    U.s.a war promoter Victoria Nuland …..”We’ve invested over 5 Billion Dollars to assist Ukraine in these and other goals” ….

    This is the second ‘color revolution that the Ukraine has been subjected to …. The first temporarily installed Victor Yushenko whose wife was a former u.s.a state department employee and worked at the white house under president Raygun ….

    Backed by the west but Lasting only one term in power, one of his last acts was to commemorate a mass murderer …….

    Victor Yushenko ….” I signed a decree ….For an unbreakable spirit, heroism and self sacrifice in the struggle for the independence of Ukraine …. I am granting a status of a hero of Ukraine along with the Order of state …. to Stepan Bandera …. Glory to Ukraine”

    New Zealand is participating in a economic siege (sanctions) against russia because of this pro fascist anti russian shit.

    We are literally,.. thanks to National … part of the fuckwits that have helped move the nuclear clock to three minutes to midnight ….. by encouraging and joining in this madness. https://thebulletin.org/timeline

    We are participating in war acts ……Just like we are by donating $ 600,000 Nz dollars to the Isis / Al Nusra first aid team … known as the white helmets …..

    We need to stop this sneaky dishonest warmongering legacy shit that John Key signed us up too ….. Its a barbaric disgrace.

    New Zealand needs to get some guts and stop running with war criminals ….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAaMRAplJks

    • SPC 7.1

      American backed Ukraine regime independent of Russia bad, Russian backed one remaining in power better for peace and security … .

      The language is a propaganda parody of the time there was a German occupied Ukraine before liberation by the Red Army.

      If condemning independence as nationalist fascism why not subordination to a more powerful neighbour as imperialist colonisation?

      • reason 7.1.1

        Simplistic white hat black hat shit SPC …. No one is calling independence fascism…… racial hygiene is though.

        And there is no denying OUN and Bandera is fascism …. the O.U.N with their ethnic purity goals which they undertook …. often as the SS Galizien division …. murdering between 150,000- 200,000 Jews … and huge numbers of Polish and gypsy people .

        The Ukraine Nazis were protected and shielded by the u.s.a and britian after world war II …. Stone shows the direct links of their ideology and beliefs…. and how this was utilized when they partnered up with the u.s.a in the violent illegal overthrow of Ukraine s elected Govt ….

    • reason 7.2

      U.s.a general Wesley Clark and what an insider told him … way back when bush was president and before the illegal invasions and mass killings in Iraq & Afghanistan & Libya etc …

      ” “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

      There s a yankee doodle bitcoin waiting for you SPC ….. 😉 🙂

      https://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166

      • SPC 7.2.1

        So you resort to a cartoonish association of those who disagree with you as American stooges – in that you are more alike them than different.

        The sort of person the FBI liked to place inside dissident groups … or just naturally tribal …

        FYI I was visited by the New Zealand police in 2002 because of faxes sent to the US embassy opposing their planned (by PNAC at that stage pre adoption by the White House policy) intervention in Iraq – one of many anti-American lefties investigated by them as threats to Tiger Woods (criticise American plans, get seen as anti-American, then seen as threats to the lives of Americans – sort of funny that they later had Obama who also opposed the Iraq regime change as POTUS).

        • reason 7.2.1.1

          SPC to me …. “Is a gummy bear bit-coin now in cyberspace for you to collect?”

          me to SPC …. ” There s a yankee doodle bitcoin waiting for you SPC ….. 😉 🙂”

          SPCs head then explodes in a blaze of straw ….

          Although its Good to see you support peace SPC ……….. and I do mean that.

          War is the disease of sick adults …….. which kills and maims children.

          • SPC 7.2.1.1.1

            The comment was made after you called Ad’s position on Russia, Syria (Iran) and Israel in the ME as support from him to people giving Nazi salutes in the Ukraine – this deserved the line I used in response.

            I suspect that we on the left virtue signal against each other more than we do the right.

            • reason 7.2.1.1.1.1

              If I was kind I’d call Ad an enigma ………

              On certain subjects he sings from the song sheet ………. of power.

              regarding nazis …. I was specifically referring to the Ukraine where the ‘Govt’ soldiers can be seen dancing while doing the nazi salute.

              I’m not sure how Isis dance …

              And I prefer Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther kings statements on usa foreign policy … Which fits perfectly in regards to the dirty blood thirsty usa/Nato sponsored proxy war that Isis / Al Nusra are fighting against the Syrian people.

              Arguing about posters reputations in relation to the suffering inflicted is almost obscene ………

              Ad is not for peace or truth IMO ………….. and i was not making it up about the usa backed nazi dancers in Ukraine

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLzde8AbOCE

    • greywarshark 7.3

      While thinking about Ukraine and the changing borders and invasions in WW2 we should think of Belarus also. All round this area there was a lot of suffering from every force that went through the area.

      In 1939 Germany and USSR struck the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and divided lands between them, West Belarus and West Ukraine and Baltic States were occupied by the USSR.
      http://www.belarusguide.com/history1/WWII_partisan_resistance_in_Belarus.htm

  8. greywarshark 8

    Emily Thornberry makes an impact. Sounds cautious, not hot headed and jingoistic,
    sounds as if she and UK Labour are trying to understand the problem from the most practical perspective, not one that would have chosen to dash and bash into Iraq if they had their time again. She sounds good, she looks good, could we be seeing a future Deputy Prime Minister, with Jeremy Corbyn as PM (or indeed the other way round). And I like her name, has promises of sweet and sour being in balance.

    • SPC 8.1

      In just discussing some awareness of the protests and the complexity of the situation, she dismisses (without needing to actually say so), as quite simplistic, the characterisation that the Americans rushed to make.

  9. Ad 9

    Here’s the Foreign Policy journal’s summary of 10 big conflicts around the world for 2018, covering:

    – North Korea
    – US-Saudi Arabia – Iran
    – Myanmar-Bangladesh
    – Yemen
    – Afghanistan
    – Syria
    – Congo
    – Ukraine
    – Venezuela

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/02/10-conflicts-to-watch-in-2018/

    Plus a nice throwaway line on Israel-Palestine:
    “The Trump administration’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel for purely domestic political reasons, with no conceivable foreign-policy gain and a risk of explosion, must rank as a prime example of diplomatic malparactice.”

  10. Brewer 10

    Full coverage of the U.N. Security Council Emergency on Iran Jan. 5.

    https://youtu.be/2FHojWiUsuA

  11. greywarshark 11

    Concerning foreign relations – not good and what to be concerned about, or scared about this 2016 piece on fears held in the USA of an EMP – electro magnetic pulse – bomb had, and no doubt still has people edgy there.

    …an EMP, an electromagnetic pulse which could take down the entire electrical grid on the eastern seaboard, potentially killing millions.”…

    Back at the podium, Gilmore had massed evidence from all corners of the internet for his projections of disaster, including a 2011 video report from the Christian Broadcasting Network which claimed that Iran would have the capability of a missile-launched EMP attack by 2015.

    He was not just concerned about North Korea – “Iran, Russia and China” are capable of unleashing the same weapons, especially since Obama has been treating them with kid gloves. When it happens – and for him it’s not an “if” – he predicts the grid will be down for up to 10 years.

    “Life will go back to the 1850s” unless we prepare. But how? First with faith – “above all follow God” is Gilmore’s best advice.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/10/preppers-survivalists-survivalcon-expo-nuclear-bomb-republicans-mormons

    And we are in there as an escape route…
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/02/preppers-survivalist-summit-constitution-americas-midlife-crisis

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