The West isn’t wrong, John Baron MP is

John Baron MP has attempted to paper over the cracks of Iran's loathing toward Israel and the threat to the West. Here's the reality

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Peace, or two fingers up to the West?
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Raheem Kassam
On 1 December 2011 13:27

Over on Conservative Home, John Baron MP has seen fit, despite his slap down by the Foreign Secretary to wax lyrical on Iran and the IAEA report that recently pricked up the ears of the news media around the world.

The declaration on Iran’s escalating nuclear ambitions should come as little surprise, but Mr. Baron attempts to paper over some cracks in what can only be described as a piece worthy of Mehdi Hasan.

To be clear from the outset, the IAEA report notes the acquisition of “nuclear weapons development information and documentation from clandestine nuclear supply network” and “the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components”.

But John Baron, as the only Conservative MP to vote against the successful intervention to oust the murderous dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has taken another opportunity to cement his ‘dovish’ credentials, despite a renewed resurgence of the ‘muscular liberalism’ ideology done proper.

Foreign Secretary William Hague put Baron’s claims of ‘overhyping’ to bed in the House of Commons chamber yesterday. Readers should note the following exchange:

Mr John Baron: The Foreign Secretary is absolutely right to condemn the sacking of our embassy, which can only serve to inflame tensions generally. Given recent remarks by Israel, and the fact that there was no smoking gun from the recent International Atomic Energy Agency report, will he do what he can to restrain Israel from conducting any form of military strike, which would be catastrophic for the region? If Iran has set its mind on nuclear weapons, it will not be scared away, and if it has not, a military strike will encourage it.

Mr Hague: Clearly, from what I have said, we are not advocating a military strike by anybody. I have often said in the past that although the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran would be a calamity for the world, it is quite possible that military action against Iran would be calamitous. I absolutely stand by that. I do not think that my hon. Friend should dismiss so lightly the IAEA report, which referred to the agency’s serious concerns regarding credible evidence about the military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme. My hon. Friend should weigh that a little more heavily.

Hague is correct, of course. Iran’s nuclear aspirations are acknowledged by almost all leading think tanks and experts in this area – and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s defiant language, holocaust denial and curious choice of bedfellows reaffirms the man’s hostility to Great Britain and her allies.

This week, the British Embassy was ransacked and looted while the Iranian government cast international protocols asunder to remain ambivalent to the intrusion. Make no mistake about it – an Iran with the bomb is the nightmare scenario.

And yet John Baron has gone to extreme lengths to defend the rationale and even the public relations image of Ahmadinejad and his cronies. Of course in truest form, he levies the implied ad-hominem attack of ‘neo-con’ at those who critique his perspective. In doing this he ironically offers his own pre-emptive strike.

He makes an incredible effort to exculpate the Iranian President for his remark that Israel should be “wiped off the map”. Despite this being a translation offered by Iranian state television, Baron attempts to invoke alternative translations and inferences that are not considered wholly canon – and yet I’ll play on his terms.

Even using Baron’s translation, which he insists is not about ‘wiping Israel off the map’ but ‘eliminating the regime occupying Jerusalem’ – it is clear to see that Ahmadinejad requires an end to the Jewish state.

The ‘regime’ he discussed is not the same as when we in the West offer the term to describe a government led by an individual or group, but rather a slight at the Zionist nature of the state of Israel. This is what he means by ‘eliminating the regime’. This is still a call to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ or as another translation put it, make it ‘vanish from the pages of time’.

Baron even details how ‘Jew-friendly’ Iran is, ignoring the subtleties in the country – one you will often find me arguing. The Iranian people are not anti-Western or anti-Semitic. The regime (our use) however, is.

He’s right about one thing. A military strike out of the blue would indeed galvanise support behind the regime and resolve Iran to try harder to develop advanced weaponry, faster.

But this is not an ‘all or nothing’ game and Baron embarrasses himself by presenting it as such. If it were, Britain would not have taken the incremental measures such as stopping Iranian banks operating in this country, but rather asked our generals to ready the troops. This is not the case.

And so we conclude on the haunting spectre of British diplomacy. Baron finishes on the idea that Iranian grievances need to be acknowledged, dealt with as a ‘major power’ and that Iran should be offered a ‘new relationship with the West’. This is Foreign and Commonwealth Office talk for moral equivalence and relativism – it all sounds very Colonel Gaddafi and Tony Blair.

One would hope that this member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee would know that President Obama was rebuffed when he spoke to Iran, hat in hand and olive twig in mouth in 2009. Or what happened to Libya subsequent to her ‘new deal’ with the West, circa 2004.

Alas events seem lost on this man, unless of course you’re discussing Vietnam or Iraq using endless platitudes.

Iran cannot have the bomb, and Britain, Israel and the United States should be the enforcers of this diktat.

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator and Director of Campaigns at the Henry Jackson Society. He tweets at @RaheemJKassam

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