Iran and Chilcot

Will we learn the lessons of Iraq?

I find it ironic, if not frustrating, to see Gordon Brown, in Trinidad, pontificating on Iran's alleged breach of its international obligations and repeating insinuations, if not outright claims, from leaders in the west that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, in the very same week that the Chilcot inquiry is reminding us of the lies, distortions and exaggerations fed to us by those same leaders about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Will we never learn the lessons of the Iraq debacle? Why are the media repeating these mistakes, misrepresenting and hyping an imagined threat?

Here are the facts: in September 2009, the outgoing IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei -- who got Iraq right, not wrong, unlike Blair, Brown et al -- said in an interview that there was "no credible evidence" of an Iranian weapons attempt. He said: "I do not think based on what we see that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons programme."

There is one country in the Middle East that does have nuclear weapons and it does begin with the letter "I", but it's not Iran, or Iraq. It is, of course, Israel. When are we going to have an inquiry about that?

 

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Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Fight: Arron Banks versus Mary Beard on the fall of Rome

On the one hand: one of Britain's most respected classicists. On the other: Nigel Farage's sugar daddy. 

Tom Lehrer once said that he would quit satire after Henry Kissinger – him of napalm strikes and the Nixon administration – received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Your mole is likewise minded to hand in hat, glasses and pen after the latest clash of the titans.

In the blue corner: Arron Banks, insurance millionaire and Nigel Farage’s sugar daddy.

In the red corner: Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge, documentarian, author, historian of the ancient world.

It all started when Banks suggested that the fall of the Roman Empire was down to…you guessed it, immigration:

To which Beard responded:

Now, some might back down at this point. But not Banks, the only bank that never suffers from a loss of confidence.

Did Banks have another life as a classical scholar, perhaps? Twitter users were intrigued as to where he learnt so much about the ancient world. To which Banks revealed all:

I, Claudius is a novel. It was written in 1934, and concerns events approximately three centuries from the fall of Rome. But that wasn't the end of Banks' expertise:

Gladiator is a 2000 film. It is set 200 years before the fall of Rome.

Your mole rests. 

I'm a mole, innit.