Iraq/Iran WMD myths, part 67

John Lloyd uses the “Iranian threat” to criticise Ed Miliband’s position on Iraq.

The former New Statesman journalist and "liberal interventionist" John Lloyd has a rather silly blog post up on the Prospect site entitled:

Ed Miliband's alarming attitude on Iraq

He says Miliband's declaration yesterday that the invasion of Iraq was "wrong" implies that the Labour leader does "not believe Saddam Hussein's regime posed a real threat to the world". Memo to John: it wasn't. He had no WMDs. He wasn't even a threat to his neighbours. The best — the very best! — that Tony Blair could come up with in the Iraq chapter of A Journey is that Saddam might have, one day, in the distant future, if all sanctions were lifted, and if all UN weapons inspectors pulled out, reconstituted WMD programmes (not WMDs).

Lloyd goes on to write:

Anyone in serious politics who now wishes to oppose, in retrospect, the Labour government's decision on Iraq, must give his party an account of how he sees a world in which one of the gravest strategic threats is the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Really? Did Obama? I'm always amused at how liberal and conservative hawks in Britain, who condemn those of who opposed the Iraq war and continue to denounce it, have so little to say about Barack Obama's opposition to, and denunciation of, the war (which, of course, helped him get elected too!).

Lloyd concludes:

A leader's maiden speech is not the place . . . to dismiss one of the central controversies of the past decade with a few glib phrases.

Hmm. Then how to explain Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in August 2008, in which he accepted his party's nomination for president and said:

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face . . . You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq.

Why pick on Ed M while giving Barack O a free pass?

But the real reason for this post is that I couldn't let Lloyd's claims vis-à-vis Iran go unchallenged. He writes:

Iran has taken the lead in threatening the region and the west with WMD, which it continues to attempt to acquire and make operational.

I have three responses to this nonsensical and disingenuous sentence:

1) "Threatening the region" with "WMDs"? Not even the most hawkish Israeli general or American spook has claimed that Iran possesses weapons of mass destruction.

2) He then claims that Iran "continues to attempt to acquire make operational" WMDs. Where's the evidence? The IAEA disagrees, as does the US intelligence community.

3) How can a "serious" journalist talk about the threat of WMDs in the "region" without making even a passing reference to the only country in the Middle East which actually has nukes — that is to say, the state of Israel? Ridiculous.

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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To stop Jeremy Corbyn, I am giving my second preference to Andy Burnham

The big question is whether Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper will face Jeremy in the final round of this election.

Voting is now underway in the Labour leadership election. There can be no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is the frontrunner, but the race isn't over yet.

I know from conversations across the country that many voters still haven't made up their mind.

Some are drawn to Jeremy's promises of a new Jerusalem and endless spending, but worried that these endless promises, with no credibility, will only serve to lose us the next general election.

Others are certain that a Jeremy victory is really a win for Cameron and Osborne, but don't know who is the best alternative to vote for.

I am supporting Liz Kendall and will give her my first preference. But polling data is brutally clear: the big question is whether Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper will face Jeremy in the final round of this election.

Andy can win. He can draw together support from across the party, motivated by his history of loyalty to the Labour movement, his passionate appeal for unity in fighting the Tories, and the findings of every poll of the general public in this campaign that he is best placed candidate to win the next general election.

Yvette, in contrast, would lose to Jeremy Corbyn and lose heavily. Evidence from data collected by all the campaigns – except (apparently) Yvette's own – shows this. All publicly available polling shows the same. If Andy drops out of the race, a large part of the broad coalition he attracts will vote for Jeremy. If Yvette is knocked out, her support firmly swings behind Andy.

We will all have our views about the different candidates, but the real choice for our country is between a Labour government and the ongoing rightwing agenda of the Tories.

I am in politics to make a real difference to the lives of my constituents. We are all in the Labour movement to get behind the beliefs that unite all in our party.

In the crucial choice we are making right now, I have no doubt that a vote for Jeremy would be the wrong choice – throwing away the next election, and with it hope for the next decade.

A vote for Yvette gets the same result – her defeat by Jeremy, and Jeremy's defeat to Cameron and Osborne.

In the crucial choice between Yvette and Andy, Andy will get my second preference so we can have the best hope of keeping the fight for our party alive, and the best hope for the future of our country too.

Tom Blenkinsop is the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland