Monday, March 12, 2007


The gig: write a review of Scott Ritter’s new book Target Iran. Con Coughlin, a big cheese at the Telegraph (and a foreign policy wonk in his own fevered imagination), is the man chosen. Con Coughlin’s fanatical cheerleading for the Iraq war made Blair’s jet-setting salesmanship look positively benign. Con Coughlin is aptly named. Being “economical with the actualite” doesn’t quite cover the Conning Cougher’ s oeuvre. He sets up the Con by coughing and spluttering a lot, irritating everyone around him and then covering you in verbal germs.

In a recent review entitled “The case for action against Iran” the big Con writes, if that is the word I’m after: “Consider, if you will [if you must insist, Con], the evidence of Iran’s involvement in international terrorism and nuclear proliferation over a period that has now spanned nearly three decades. It all started, of course, with the Ayatollahs’ revolution in 1979 when the Revolutionary Guards - the storm troopers of Iran’s Islamic revolution - came to prominence following their audacious takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran…” Nope, your eyes do not deceive you: “Iran’s involvement in… nuclear proliferation” “started” at the “American Embassy in Tehran”.

For those who know the big Con’s M.O., it is no surprise to learn that in a recent interview Ritter says the opposite of what the big Con claims of Ritter: “First of all, it’s true that [the] Iranian[s] have at times not been upfront about their peaceful use of nuclear energy. This goes back to the 1970s to the time of the Shah or Iran, where Iran’s need for nuclear energy was judged to be accurate by American think tanks. Iranians trying to required nuclear energy was something that was just and supportable by the United States. I need to point out also that Donald Rumsfeld was the Secretary of Defence and the White House chief of staff was Dick Cheney.” It was not the Ayatollahs but the Shah who sought nuclear technology. Furthermore, “so right from the start we see an admission by Iranian leaders that nuclear weapons were not going to be a part of our future. But they did attempt to restart their nuclear energy program.”

Finding the small cough incapable of doing the job, the big Con give it the big one: “In Target Iran, Scott Ritter’s examination of the latest stand-off between Washington and Tehran, the author provides a chilling account of Iran’s ruthless adoption of hard-core terrorism [something the big Con does not expand upon] to pursue its strategic objectives of regional domination and the acquisition of nuclear weapons while at the same time engaging in a cunning diplomatic ploy to keep the world confused about its true objectives” and that “…all the evidence about Iran suggests an entirely different scenario, one in which the Ayatollahs are utterly focused on developing nuclear weapons, irrespective of the various diplomatic efforts, whether through Europe or the United Nations, to persuade them not to.”

Except Ritter does not “provide” such a “chilling account”. Rather, he has something altogether different to say on the matter: “The majority of Iran’s refining capacity - located in Abadan and other areas along the Iraqi border - were destroyed in the fighting with Iraq. By the late 80’s when they started talking about restarting their nuclear energy program, there was a question as to what it would take to win the war against Iraq. There were three options: Increasing the size of the Iranian fighting force, acquisition of superior military technology and acquisition of nuclear weapons. The Ayatollah Khomeini said that all three were non-starters: The people were not ready to accept a massive increase of the army, there was no money to buy more weapons and nuclear weapons were not in the interest of Iran.”

Iran’s “diplomatic ploy” is a figment of the big Con’s imagination. As for the so-called “diplomatic efforts”, they are in fact illegal, claims Ritter: “…the IAEA has created an extra-legal Iran-only stance on this which says ‘It doesn’t matter what the NPT says, Iran must suspend enrichment.’ Then, it decided to transfer to the Security Council. The Security Council resolution formalized this position, that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment indefinitely, that Iran does not have the right to enrich uranium even though article IV of the NPT clearly states that it does have that right.”

The whooping Cough doubles up the big Con: “Even Ritter is forced to concede the extraordinary measures the Iranians have taken in pursuit of nuclear glory, from concealing the existence of key nuclear facilities, such as the controversial uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, to secretly acquiring a blueprint for manufacturing nuclear weapons from the notorious Pakistani scientist Dr A. Q. Khan, the so-called ‘father’ of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb.” Coughlin passes over the utterly bizarre and insane recent covert debacle in which the U.S. intelligence services sought to pass flawed nuclear blueprints for nuclear weapons-related technology as evidence that Iran was seeking to acquire such technology. Accidentally - and the mind boggles as top how this can happen - the bumbling spooks passed Iran real blueprints! Coughlin passes over the fact that A.Q. Khan’s nuclear pimping was known to the intelligence services. Coughlin passes over the reason Iran conducted its nuclear programme in secret.

Ritter, however, is not a simpleton or a warmonger when it comes to Iran’s secrecy: “Why did they keep it a secret? Because the United States would not accept it. If Iran went out and said, ‘Hey we want to acquire this,’ the United States would shut it down. Case in point is the Bushehr reactor where the Iranian government tried to get the German company Siemens to abide by its pre-revolution contract and Siemens was persuaded by the United States to withdraw. When Iran would look to the Russians and the Chinese, the United States would follow up and put pressure so that these contracts would be withdrawn. [Incidentally, the US is bound by law to help Iran develop nuclear technology.]

“As a result, in order for the Iranians to make any progress they had to continue their program in secret and they did so. At the time the information became public, I point out, that it’s always been a nuclear energy program; it has never been a nuclear weapons program.”

The big Con ends this “review” eyes glazed, red in face and wheezing: “his book nevertheless presents a compelling case for international action to prevent the Ayatollahs from achieving their truly terrifying objective.”

Yet this is the same Ritter who states: “…even though the program had been secret for 18 years, they could find no evidence of a weapons program. There is none.” According to the Whooping Cough, Ritter wants a war based on reasons for which he, Ritter, says there is no evidence!

Ritter sees Iraq as the reason the U.S. has turned its gaze to Iran: “We’re just against getting beat in Iraq. What happens when somebody who hates to lose is losing? They’re looking for victory. There is a real risk that the Bush administration might exploit this by pushing a policy that says victory in Iraq can only be achieved by victory in Tehran.”

Needless to say, Coughlin did not read Ritter’s book - unless Ritter says diametrically opposite things in interviews. The Telegraph will no doubt promote him further. So what gives with Coughlin? Other than being the new Chapman Pincher, Coughlin plainly wants war with Iran. To do so, he’ll Whoop and Cough up any big Con.

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