Barry Gibson: Who are the US and Israel to say Iran cannot have nuclear weapons?

THERE you are sitting quietly in the pub, enjoying your first pint of the evening, minding your own business, no bother to anyone.

THERE you are sitting quietly in the pub, enjoying your first pint of the evening, minding your own business, no bother to anyone.

Up comes a drunk, a big man – much bigger than you – itching for a fight. He’s been on the sauce since the pub opened at lunchtime and now he’s looking for trouble.

Crack. Before you can say anything, the drunk smashes you in the face sending you sprawling across the room.

You collect your teeth from the floor, look at your attacker and demand “why did you do that?”

The big man, pointing to the pint you were quietly enjoying, replies “drinking alcohol is morally wrong”.

In this situation, everyone would agree that the attacker is not just a drunken thug, he’s also an appalling hypocrite. It’s not complicated, it’s plain to see.

Yet we see a similar level of hypocrisy on our TV screens nearly every day now, and hardly anyone thinks to point it out.

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is in Washington this week drumming up support for an attack on Iran, a country which he alleges is developing nuclear weapons.

US presidential candidates fall over each other to back him up. Mitt Romney warns of “crippling sanctions” against Iran and says military options are “on the table”. His opponent Rick Santorum goes further, promising to send the bombers over Tehran.

Even the more moderate Barack Obama tells us he “will not hesitate to use force” if he thinks it’s the only way to stop Iran from getting the Big One.

The US stance is mirrored by Britain and France, whose leaders warn of the disaster which would come if the mullahs ever got their mitts on a nuke.

Listening to all this, an alien from outer space might assume that these Western countries are long-standing opponents of weapons of mass destruction.

But, like my alcohol-hating drunk, the US and her allies believe Iran should do as they say, not as they do.

Iran may at some stage announce that it has built a nuclear weapon – that’s as in one nuclear weapon. Who knows, after a while they might get this up to 10 or 20.

The US, just for a bit of comparison, has 8,500 nuclear weapons, France has 300 and Britain 225. Israel, though it never acknowledges the fact, is widely believed to have up to 200 nukes.

Yet I don’t ever recall reading a news report about the Iranian nuclear issue which included these relevant numbers.

Somewhere, on some unspoken level, most people believe it’s OK for Western countries to have nukes because they’re not violent.

But for the violent Iranians to have similar weapons is a threat to world peace which must be stopped no matter what the cost in lives – or petrol prices.

I am no fan of the women-hating religious fundamentalists who run Iran. I wish that country was run by saner people who didn’t make absurd comments about the Holocaust.

The mullahs are definitely vile, but history shows they are not reckless.

Let’s look at the record here. Iran has been involved in one war since the ayatollahs seized power in 1979.

This was the conflict with Iraq from 1980 to 1988. On that occasion, Iran went to war on the not unreasonable grounds that a massive army had invaded its country. It’s no more aggressive than you or I punching a burglar who breaks into our house.

Yet these are the war-like, crazed men who must be kept from getting a nuke at all costs.

Now let’s compare and contrast with one of the countries which is determined to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Since 1979, the US has invaded Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, Iraq in 1991 and 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001. The Americans have also bombed Libya in 1986 and 2011 as well as Serbia in 1999 and Iraq for much of the 1990s.

US drones have been killing people in Pakistan for years. In 1998 the Americans blew up a chemical factory in Sudan.

And back in 1988, in an episode which is long forgotten in the West, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian passenger jet killing all 290 people on board – including 66 children.

To be fair to the Americans, they were so disgusted with the captain of the ship which fired those fatal missiles that they gave him a medal.

You may notice one of Uncle Sam’s enemies is missing from this hit list, even though thousands of US troops are stationed next to its hotly-contested border.

Funnily enough, while America is happy to take on Sudanese factory owners and Iranian children in armed combat, the world’s only superpower has held back from bombing fellow nuclear state North Korea.

Now ask yourself this. If you knew that someone with a history of violence was making their way to your table with the intention of scattering your teeth all over the pub floor, wouldn’t you want to get your hands on a weapon that would make him think twice before taking a swing at you?

 
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