Another “Mad“ Mehdi Hasan howler on Iran, Israel and the bomb

Senior New Statesman editor Mehdi Hasan again displays more laugh-out-loud ignorance of foreign affairs, this time in the Guardian

Mehdi Hasan appearing on the Iranian state's 'Press TV'
The Commentator
On 26 March 2012 10:34

Anyone who followed the debate on Iran and the bomb between the New Statesman’s Mehdi Hasan and Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) will remember Hasan making perhaps the stupidest mistake to have appeared in a British media outlet for years.  

Having been put through the shredder by Staines in an article here on the Commentator about the precedent set by Israel’s attack on Iraq’s Osiraq reactor in 1981, Hasan went back to the New Statesman for an attempted rebuttal.

He wanted to argue that Osiraq provided no positive precedent for dealing with Iran’s nuclear programme and that you’d have to be a fool to think it had.


What had really sent Hasan into a frenzy was the fact that Staines was able to quote Bill Clinton’s assessment in 2005 that “everybody talks about what the Israelis did at Osiraq, in 1981, which, I think, in retrospect, was a really good thing. You know, it kept Saddam from developing nuclear power." Game, set and match to Staines.

But that’s not the point at issue, which is that Mehdi Hasan then described Clinton as the “sitting“ US president in 2005. When we’d stopped laughing, we pointed out that that honour belonged to George W. Bush. Tail between his legs, Hasan was then forced to put out an embarrassing correction.

But how embarrassing? How embarrassing really is it to reveal that you thought Bill Clinton was the President of the United States in 2005? How embarrassing is it to confuse Clinton with Bush?

This wasn’t a typo. Nor was it like not knowing the names of obscure US presidents in the 1830 or 1840s. For crying out loud, these were two of the most controversial American presidents in decades. One would be disappointed in a 14 year old politics student who got them confused.

Think about it. How much credibility would you attach to an American writer passing himself off as an expert on British politics who in all seriousness told you that the last British Prime Minister was Margaret Thatcher and not Gordon Brown?

If you think we’re being a bit hard on what is obviously an easy target, then you don’t appreciate the sheer spite and arrogance with which Hasan treats his opponents.

Having already told Staines that he should “stay away from foreign affairs“ he then went on to attempt to denigrate him with reference to his having attended “The Humberside College of Higer [sic] Education“ as opposed, it is implied, to a more respectable establishment where supposedly the brighter types tend to go.

It’s excruciating stuff given Hasan’s total ignorance of US politics revealed in his Bush-Clinton mix up. But it’s also deeply unpleasant.

But “Mad“ Mehdi is at it again. He has a piece in the Guardian where his obsession with Osiraq has brought his reputation on foreign affairs down even further (if indeed that is humanly possible after the Bush-Clinton mix up).

Following a piece that went up late Sunday in which Hasan makes a desperate plea to policy makers not to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, yet another howler was revealed with the following correction now displayed at the bottom:

“This article was amended on 26 March 2012. It originally stated that the 1981 [Israeli] attack was the world's first air strike on a nuclear facility. It was the first successful strike, but the Iranian air force had also tried (and failed) to destroy Osirak a year before. This has now been corrected.“

Good grief, now he’s getting Israel confused with Iran!

Of course, it is possible (indeed probable, we concede) that Hasan does in fact know the difference since it is pretty clear where his preferences lie between liberal-democratic Israel and the Islamist tyranny in Tehran.

The crime here is not confusion, it’s ignorance. While purporting to know what he is talking about on Iran, Israel, Osiraq and the bomb, it’s abundantly clear that he doesn’t.

Staines had actually pointed out that Iran had been the first country to attack the Osiraq facility. That matters because it shows that it was not just Israel that was concerned about Iraq’s nuclear programme. It also highlights the fact that it was none other than Iran that set the precedent for attacking another country’s nuclear programme. How terribly embarrassing.

We think it’s time Mehdi Hasan followed the “advice“ he sought to give Staines: just go do something else Mehdi, you’re beginning continuing to make a fool of yourself.

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