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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Three Stooges on the 'threat' from Iran

Half close one's eyes and we could have been back in Bush-time, amid the ripest hours of the propaganda barrage for the US-led onslaught on Iraq. The familiar backdrop: the UN General Assembly, in this instance migrating to the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. The theme: disclosure of fresh, chilling evidence of the duplicity of a pariah nation and of the threat it poses to the civilised world.
Then it was GW Bush's Secretary of State, Colin Powell, enthusiastically relaying a string of lies and blatant forgeries. Last week it was President Barack Obama, flanked by his Euro-puppets, dispensing an equally mendacious press release that was swallowed without a hiccup by the Western press.

writes Sasha Cockburn in his brilliant First Post piece about the Iranian nuclear 'bombshell' that wasn't.

I don’t know about you, but what Obama, Brown and Sarkozy reminded me of last week when they made their ludicrous statements about Iran was the 1940s comedy trio The Three Stooges.

Three supposedly grown-up men, trying to convince us that Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons programme poses a threat to the peace and security of the world. It would be quite hilarious- if the repercussions of their actions- the imposition of even more draconian sanctions on the Islamic Republic which will adversely affect the lives of millions of ordinary Iranians- were not so serious.

Make no mistake, the Iranian nuclear ‘crisis’ is as contrived as the Kosovo ‘crisis’ of 1999 and the Iraq WMD ‘crisis‘.

As I wrote in 2006:
'Leaders meet to discuss Iran crisis." It all sounds rather familiar. In 1999,"leaders" met to discuss the Kosovo "crisis"; we now know there was no genocide in Kosovo. In 2003, "leaders" met to discuss Iraq's weapons of mass destruction crisis; we now know there were no WMD in Iraq. Now it's Iran nuclear ambitions that represent the "crisis". If past form is anything to go by, we can be fairly sure that once again this is a crisis of the Western powers' making.

UPDATE: Mehdi Hasan has an excellent post on media propaganda on Iran.

As commenter ‘Just Observer’ says:

I can't believe this is turning into a repeat of what happened in Iraq and the world is again accepting it blindly. Why?.

FURTHER UPDATE: If, like me, you are opposed to both sanctions and military intervention against Iran, then please consider lending this excellent campaign your support.

From today's Guardian:

The UN's chief weapons inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei, said today he had seen "no credible evidence" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, rejecting British intelligence allegations that a weapons programme has been going on for at least four years.


Aristocles said...


Whilst they are being silly, I do think that Obama and Brown (to a lesser extent Sarkozy) have to make daft gestures because of the rabid Murdochite media. However, I doubt very much if they will invade Iran.

Sweeping this trio aside, I would like to nominate Tanya Gold as wally of the week, for her stupid attack on the Pope in today's Guardian. I am not a Roman Catholic (and she is largely right about the paedophile scandal), but it is the most idiotic stuff, blaming the Pope for the AIDS epidemic in Africa whilst the epidemic is a result of not listening to the Vatican. Furthermore she thinks that the Pope should ordain women and applaud homosexuality despite the Bible’s message on both these things.

It is a depressing indication of what the left has turned into. Instead of making social democratic arguments about how sincerely awful (and ironically enough, economically inefficient) neo-liberalism has been in Britain, they make illogical attacks on ‘conservative’ figures, who ironically enough are more critical of capitalist exploitation than the narcissistic ‘left’ that we now have.

I previously wanted to nominate Ian Dale and Brian Brivati for their list of the 100 most influential leftwingers. Though sadly seeing today’s Guardian, I do not think it is a savage conservative attack on the left but a fairly accurate summary of how New Labour, The Guardian and The Independent have sold out to become the neo-liberal ‘good cop’ to Murdoch’s neo-liberal ‘bad cop’.

I think the conservatives have wised up to the fact that politicians and journalists have little impact on the cultural values of the time. They focus on making Hayekian arguments that don't hold much water but are appealing. The left by contrast squanders what little voice it has on political correctness whilst Britain reverts to Victorian wealth divisions.

Neil Clark said...

"It is a depressing indication of what the left has turned into. Instead of making social democratic arguments about how sincerely awful (and ironically enough, economically inefficient) neo-liberalism has been in Britain, they make illogical attacks on ‘conservative’ figures, who ironically enough are more critical of capitalist exploitation than the narcissistic ‘left’ that we now have."

I couldn't agree more. The narcissistic faux-left define their leftism not in economic terms but where they stand on 'lifestyle' issues. So they prefer to attack socially 'conservative' figures, like the Pope, who criticise the excesses of global capitalism, and the cult of materialism, rather than attack predatory international capitalists like George Soros, who espouse socially 'liberal' views.
The biggest enemy of the genuine socialist left in 2009 is not the Catholic Church, but international capital.

Anonymous said...

Very good post by Aristocles.

Today's pious but irrelevant liberal-left are an amalgam of fudgers, backsliders, pragmatic jobsworth bureaucrats, directionless progressives, radical feminist loons, narcissistic counter-cultural anarchists, New Age hippy charlatans, self-interested Zionists, warmongering Eustonistas, postmodernist poseurs, gutless politically correct liberals and other useful idiots who have eviscerated the left throughout the 20th Century and brought it to its knees.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989 it simply gave these groups the excuse they had been waiting for, and one could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when they realised that they would not be required to actually do anything that required any personal sacrifices. That the road to renewal would be a hard one was once an old socialist cliche, but it looks even harder now. Like Humpty-Dumpty, we jumped off the wall and shattered into a thousand fragments. We lost our common purpose - democratic ownership and control of the major aspects of the means of production, including banking and finance. It was such a modest ambition compared to the silly totalitarian culturalist dreams of the liberal-left, the abolition of everything and the bringing of discursive closure on modernity and all its institutions. What idiocy. What failure. What destruction. All the Right had to do was step into the vacuum.

Now we have to start all over again from the ethical Imaginary, moving on to the Symbolic, and then to the Real, to use Alain Badiou's Lacanian schema of political history.

- questionnaire

jock mctrousers said...

Anonymous. I agree up to:

" Now we have to start all over again from the ethical Imaginary, moving on to the Symbolic, and then to the Real, to use Alain Badiou's Lacanian schema of political history. "

Or was that a joke?

Robin Carmody said...

Some good comments here. Especially from Aristocles (if there is one thing I despise about the Guardian today it is its obsessive support of American-led pop culture, which is a far greater enemy of even its supposed fairly moderate social democracy than the Pope, or any of the meaningless "traditional conservatives", ever could be again).

Michael Ledeen, of course, is the man who proclaimed that "creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace ... We must destroy them to advance our historic mission."

If ever you needed absolute proof of what neoconservatism is really about - and how inexorably bound up it is with the pop culture industry, and how tainted pop itself now is - there it is in cold print. Those of us in Britain who don't live precisely as American big business want us too - who recoil in horror, as I did earlier this evening, at the sight of pumpkins on the Co-Op windows with *one whole month* to go - should be every bit as afraid as the Iranian people: we may not want the same thing in opposition to it, but at some level we share a common enemy.

Neil Clark said...

great post, Robin. 100% agreed.
if you see my latest post, you see I mention Ledeen there. The Israel Project are citing him as an 'expert source' on Iran.

Robin Carmody said...

Yes. I'd read that and I sort of got the two posts confused - but I think it's better to have my comments on this matter in one place.

Over on my old livejournal last year I suggested to you that you might do a piece about how a lot of the atmosphere and feeling has gone from autumn in this country since the Americanised version of Hallowe'en came in. Perhaps you didn't notice this - I wonder if you could try and get one published this year?

Gregor said...


You are largely right about Soros. The way that his pet Goldfarb and the vile Berezovsky teamed up to concoct an absurd story about Litvinenko the ‘heroic dissident’ (which of course was swallowed by the ‘left wing’ press) was a very dark moment which really made me understand how neo-liberal much of the British ‘left’ really is. Litvinenko had links to organised crime in THREE countries, but whilst I would not wish his death on anyone, he was not a dissident. Nor could most of these people care at all about Putin’s real flaws (which are far less than Yeltsin’s) but solely hate him for stopping the Oligarch’s party.

A not-really-left-leftist Johann Hari wrote an obituary calling Litvinenko by his first name, even though he never even claimed that they met.

Yet this seems typical of where the mainstream left is heading. For me Johann Hari sums it up perfectly. He describes Britain’s nationalised industries as ‘disastrous’ (without justifying this in any way) but he is a lefty because… he thinks gay couples should be allowed to adopt children?! Really, I dislike the state snooping on people or discriminating due to sexuality. But it is ridiculous to suggest that a gay couple could bring a normal child up.

Still, from what I’ve seen of The Guardian and The Independent, blaming the Pope for the AIDS pandemic and writing in favour of gay adoption are what really counts as ‘left’ now. Ironically enough, making bigoted comments on Russians, Serbs and Greeks (all of whom I’ve found to be lovely people) is fairly common in ‘liberal’ left circles because these nations are ‘patriarchal’, ‘nationalist’, ‘Eastern’ etc.

The sad irony is that this is a good opportunity to defend dirigisme, given the unfolding disaster of neo-liberalism. And also because the Anglo-American capitalist nations are not Ayn-Rand/ Friedrich Hayek wonderlands ([347]=x-347-559597) but deeply repressive and often unhappy societies.

Gregor said...

I agree about the cultural totalitarianism of the ‘liberal’ left. Their bigotry against different cultures is quite astounding and would be considered racist were it not for their humanistic terminology. Also the ‘political correctness’ thing is getting ridiculous and frightening.

I don’t blame Americans so much as the way that our own politicians and media figures think that the profit motive and marketing take cultural priority over giving intelligent people free reign. One thing I have noticed is that older British films were far more interesting and intelligent than the awful, awful ‘profit’ focussed films we have now (Neil wrote a very interesting article on the seventies once, but didn't mention that many interesting films were made then). Things have really been going downhill. Lesbian Vampire Killers V A Shot in the Dark?

(perhaps should add, I am Aristocles; I usually comment under a different name in case of attracting trolls, but noticed this automatically resets to blogger).

Anonymous said...

The shabby behavior of obama, sarkozy and brown only shows the power and reach of the israeli lobby.
These three talk the talk, but cant walk the walk.
Compare with the more enlightened behavior of latin american leaders like Chavez and Zelaya, and you wont have any difficulty in understanding that your friends are an indication of who you are.


Anonymous said...

'Whilst they are being silly, I do think that Obama and Brown (to a lesser extent Sarkozy) have to make daft gestures because of the rabid Murdochite media.'

wrong...thats not the basis of their behaviour. to know why, youd need to investigate the steps leading to their decisions.

Actually, these attacks on Ahmadinejad only serve to elevate his stature, because they come across as servants of a foreign govt...

While on the topic, Chavez is constantly attacked by left wing persons for associating with people like Ahmadinejad and Iran..Witness Richard Seymour of Lenins Blog:

' don't think this is so terrible, but there is a problem when Chavez openly praises the leaders of countries where Venezuela does business - China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Belorussia, etc. You may say he has no choice in this respect, which is debatable.'

who does he prefer Chavez and venezuela do business? The US UK and EU? People like Lenin find themselves not that far removed from sarkozy, Brown and Obama!

I'd criticise him for the above comment, but hes banned me from his blog...




Anonymous said...

'Michael Ledeen, of course, is the man who proclaimed that "creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day,'

i shouldnt be at all surprised if Ledeen had a hand in 9-11!

The 'creative destruction' comment would not be out of place sitting besides the PNACs: New Pearl Harbor comment in their infamous manifesto.


Anonymous said...

Michael Ledeen, now latches his fangs onto Iran, was also involved in the niger uranium fraud story that helped launch the war on iraq...
why is he allowed to walk around with his mouth open dripping bombs?


Robin Carmody said...


I've thought for years that there is an almost fundamentalist pro-pop-culture prejudice in the Guardian, certainly every bit as intolerant as anything from the old order. Those who don't conform to a fixed cultural agenda - Murdoch as ally of convenience because he has broken a "paternalistic" cultural model, the Beatles as Gods of democratisation and equality, etc. (funny how they have been pushed again at the precise time the class their myth wrongly dictates that they laughed out of power in 1964 are about to make a gloating return) - are victimised in Guardianworld every bit as cruelly as those who challenged what one might call "the Beethoven consensus" were in the public schools of 40 or 50 years ago (which are where Rusbridger learnt the overgrown-adolescent posturing that he still thinks is "rebellious"). And so, as you say, they end up taunting the very same people who are demonised by the US military-industrial complex they pretend to oppose ...

I think Neil's tastes are sufficiently middlebrow that he wouldn't really grasp a lot of the *really* challenging work in the 1970s: I can't really imagine him getting early Greenaway, 'Jubilee', 'The Shout' or 'Radio On', all of which were made possible by the existence of spaces not controlled by the market (and the last of which makes its own conflicted protest at the end of the Butskellite era, specifically in its response to the role of rock music - Petit's childhood neoliberal fantasy - in that process). Like you, I don't blame the mass of American people, the majority of whom deserve far better than what they get - ultimately, our own servile rulers must take the blame.

It is also true that the societies considered to be beacons of "freedom" and "libertarianism" have far more highly-developed and ruthless security states now than many of the mainland European societies often denounced as "autocratic" and "repressive" (but which nonetheless get by with far fewer CCTV cameras). People say that the continent doesn't believe in trial by jury, and repeat things like that as a mantra so as to avoid discussing whether we ourselves are actually any better.

I just wish Elvis - or someone else of comparable impact - had been Swedish. We'd be a far happier and healthier society if he had been. Seriously.

Gregor said...

'I think Neil's tastes are sufficiently middlebrow that he wouldn't really grasp a lot of the *really* challenging work in the 1970s'

I was thinking of fairly 'middle-brow' films myself, Robin: The Wicker Man, Sleuth, A Clockwork Orange, Get Carter etc. Maybe not art films or even 'great' films, but they certainly stick in the mind and were made with sincerity. Whenever I read the review of a British film or see posters for them, I feel ashamed of my country. They seem to fall into the following categories.

1) Chav Cinema. As a leftist I have no qualms about using the word chav, but I do think it's use should also apply to middle class vulgarity as well: especially the British wannabeAmerican film-makers. So Guy Ritchie can certainly fit into this category. These make up the vast bulk of cinematic productions and probably absorb the vast majority of funding but are infallibly bad. You can judge a book by its cover, and a film by its pink, neon green and sky blue poster
2) Biographies/ period pieces. Can be well-enough made but not memorable or inventive
3) Depressing kitchen sink dramas 4)Rom Coms, bleurgh

Being honest, I liked Hot Fuzz, though it wasn't as clever as it thought it was and the ending was awful. I wouldn't go to the cinema to see any of Pegg/Wright films. I did laugh at Borat, even though it was infantile and often nasty. Aside from that, I think neo-liberal Britain has a studio system that is very gifted at making films no-one would want to see.

As for European civil liberties, I found the Greeks a far more free people than the Brits. I think their slightly unsavoury government is actually preferable to here where we have 'nice guys' who are actually very dark people with authoritarian tendencies.

Robin Carmody said...

Oh, those are also very good films - just not the *absolute* best, to me.

There is something obnoxious about Jimmy Carr or Marcus Brigstocke sneering at the underclass in the way they do, especially because they themselves are as cultureless and devoid of any wider knowledge as the actual underclass (I actually think comedians like that secretly envy the underclass, not having the skeletons in their closet of having been taken to classical concerts as children), and of course it is not the underclass's fault that they are as they are (I recall an enraging trendy-leftie article suggesting that chavs could be a positive antidote to UKIP, whereas in reality the underclass's state of cultural existence is merely a different form of pretence that they are American and refusal to admit that they are European). But nor should we sentimentalise the underclass and pretend they represent some mythical left-wing nobility - they are instead *precisely* as counterrevolutionary as the term "lumpenproletariat" was meant to mean - and we must never be afraid to say that Guy Ritchie, in particular, represents pretty much all the worst tendencies in British culture of the last 15 years.

Robin Carmody said...

Oh, and also in today's Guardian, above any actual news: "a free Starbucks coffee for every reader".

As I keep saying: where do people like me now turn? Before the doctrine of "choice" (a neoliberal fiction) became the norm we had at least one newspaper clearly aimed at us. In the name of "choice" we have actually lost ours.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism eats liberal-cultural radicalism for breakfast and uses it as fuel throughout its day. The staple diet. Martin Heidegger put it best; 'capitalism is unbearably radical'. In my darkest moments I can't see a way out of it.

Jock, it wasn't a joke. Read Badiou's 'The Century'

Robin Carmody said...

Exactly. This is why it was *always* a natural trendy-leftie ally of convenience, going right back to the early days of Cultural Studies. And this is why, when I look back to my old pro-pop posturing, I feel deeply riddled with embarrassment and shame. I threw away much of value, and didn't understand the full meaning of what I was waving through. I thought it was progressive. I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Robin.

You have warmed my heart. I went through the same ascetic purging process my self, but in the 70s when the whole thing was in full swing. That made me Mr. Popular with the 'rock against racism' crew, as you can imagine. Nevertheless, I feel vindicated by the indisputable fact that group-singing Tom Robinson songs changed nothing. Things were getting worse as we sang, I seem to remember, and you're right, we were destroying traditonal discourses that were vital to the art and politics of opposition; any opposition.

Now we need everyone on the left to shake off that baggage, dissolve its pernicious anti-political liberal-left wing and once again begin making connections between the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real.

This will take time. The first task is to criticise the whole liberal-left cult-studs edifice out of existence. 'Resistance at the point of consumption' my arse.

Robin Carmody said...

The thing is that the New Left / Cultural Studies defence of popular culture, as a form of unconscious anti-establishment radicalism, could only make sense as long as a) the mass media in Britain was sufficiently regulated to ensure that it was not *completely* in the control of multinationals, and b) the old establishment culture of "betterment", with its attendant wariness of mass pop culture, had not been wholly abandoned in the face of the profit motive. I can understand trendy-lefties defending ITV in the 70s, when the independence of Granada from the London establishment generally, and specifically from the practice of MI5 vetting at the BBC, enabled it to show to a mass audience (via 'World in Action') more radical and anti-establishment investigative journalism than the BBC could ever have shown. It's only when you get the same people now making excuses for the *modern* ITV, or Five, or (least excusable of all) Sky, that it becomes a serious problem, where what was once an attempt to recognise that, under the old structure, the establishment *could* be criticised from within the mass media becomes nothing more than a justification of a neoliberal, inherently right-wing method of organisation where such criticism is simply never allowed, replaced by the tabloid whines and moral panics of 'Tonight with Trev'.

Likewise you still get Guardian hacks talking about those who believe in the primacy of high culture *as if they still had power* - that's pretty much what G2 and the Film & Music supplement still thrive on, and Rusbridger's justification for those sections would be only one step away from justifying something by its opposition to mediaeval witch-burners. It was all very well for Julian Petley to defend docu-drama against right-wing criticism in 1981 by saying that "like any popular new medium, television is under criticism from cultural conservatives and elitists for its 'trivialising' effects and so on" - I might well have agreed with him then, because there was nothing as morally degraded as most "reality" shows, and for every 3-2-1 there was a TV Eye. The problem comes when some of the same people (I don't *think* Petley would, though I'm not sure) defend The X Factor on the same terms ...

The other thing that has been deeply discredited with time is the belief in NME circles - and other walks of life where people believed that rock music could somehow be converted from what it essentially is and has been since the 1950s, the cultural backup movement for neoliberalism - that "Rock Against Communism" (the counter-movement to RAR set up by the far-right in the late 70s / early 80s) was somehow an unnatural use of rock music, even a distortion of its essence. Within a decade we'd have seen it was the most natural use of rock music imaginable (this all comes back to Neil's alternative history of a west-east convergence had Callaghan not bottled a '78 election: that could actually have been genuine freedom for those who had lived under Communism, rather than just slavery to *another* distant system). Similarly, I wish Bill Cash had succeeded in organising the "Rock Against Maastricht" concerts he planned in the mid-1990s: had he done so, we might not have had to suffer so many deluded whinges from those who protest that Cameron has "stolen their culture", rather than recognise that he is just the sort of person to inherit something based so heavily on the profit motive and the erosion of methods of resistance, especially in Europe.

Gregor said...

Maybe I was too quick to condemn modern British films. I just watched In the Loop: very well acted and written. A superb satire on our vulgar and stupid politicians. When the idiot minister says 'there's a saying: difficult, difficult, lemony... difficult', I was reminded of Tony Blair's 'It's not Watergate, it's garbage gate' comment.

Still, don't know how well it will age... and the lack of original, intelligent drama is still notable.

Interesting comments Robin, though politics seems to have changed so suddenly since the fall of Communism and the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. Being born in the early 80s, I always feel nostalgic when I see older current affairs programs. It seemed that the presenters were more objective, better educated, more polite (in short, more mature) and had a duty to the British people.

On that note, whilst I think the Falklands war could and should have been avoided, even seeing Maggie debate this is a bit of a shock for those of us who are brought up to think she was a mad neo-liberal. At least she made plain her convictions it was in Britain's interest: not Tony droning on about humanitarian universalist values that lead us to bomb nations half-way across the globe. Of course, if we had 'humanitarian intervention' back in the 80s, we would probably have carpet bombed Buenos Aires with white phosphorus so that they'd give up on fascism.

Robin Carmody said...

"more objective, better educated, more polite (in short, more mature) and had a duty to the British people" - amen.

The thing about the Falklands War (I'm of a similar vintage to you, btw, so I'm speaking from the impression I get from others) is that, when it happened, it seemed like a reassertion of Britain Alone, of earlier ideas of nationalism. Full-on neoliberalism and desperate copying of the USA came a little later, and though they were only able to happen in the way they did *because* of the Falklands Spirit crushing any chance of a One Nation Tory internal coup (which had seemed quite likely in late '81 / early '82) they disconnected people from that sort of blatant, full-on nationalism every bit as much as from the questioning left-liberalism of 'World in Action' (whose crushing in British TV began with the government's pressure on broadcasters, especially the BBC, whose Falklands coverage it considered insufficiently patriotic). It's a strange moment in our history, really - the political process it set in motion allowed atomised consumerism to happen, but that atomised consumerism pretty much ensured that future outbreaks of jingoism would only be as junior partner to the epicentre of that very consumerism ...