GEOFF MILLER. Iran: No bombing until…..

It’s a relief that last week’s story has been hosed down both here and in the US, but causes for concern remain.

The ABC story, that “senior people in the Federal government” believed that the US might well bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities as early as next month, and that Australia could be involved in targeting, caused a lot of concern. It was a relief to hear the Prime Minister describe it as simply speculation, and stress that it had not been based on any discussions with him, Julie Bishop, Marise Payne or the Chief of the Defence Force. In later news reports US Secretary of Defense Mattis describing the report as “fiction”.

Indeed it would be the height of absurdity, and of contradictory policies, for the US to bomb Iran to attack its nuclear facilities, given that the US has just imperilled the continued existence of an agreement specifically designed to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, an agreement which the IAEA has said is working effectively.  But there remain reasons for concern, some to do with Iran and the situation around it, and some to do with American domestic politics.  As regards reasons more to do with Iran, it is a fact that there are a lot of highly placed people in the US who are intensely suspicious of Iran and its role and ambitions in the Middle East, and who always thought that the nuclear deal with Iran was too soft.  Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, is one of them.  He is quoted in the “Sydney Morning Herald” as saying that “President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid”.  Israel, always influential in the United States and particularly so with the current government, has been active in seeking to establish Iran’s untrustworthiness in regard to nuclear matters.

Other reasons are more to do with US domestic politics, and the increasing pressure Trump is under, over scandals to do with women, Russian money going into his businesses, and Russian “collusion” with his campaign during the 2016 election.  It’s a truism in international relations that a leader in domestic trouble may turn to a foreign adventure as a way of diverting attention from circumstances at home.  Trump is known as a master of diversion, and in the enormously powerful US military he has a very potent instrument to use if he decides to take that course.

Geoff Miller is a former Australian diplomat and government official.

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4 Responses to GEOFF MILLER. Iran: No bombing until…..

  1. Hal Duell says:

    What I see here is a repeat of the lead-up to the Singapore summit. In that case, first we had the “little rocket man” insult and an argument over whose button was bigger. This was then followed by a meeting in which the threats of war between North Korea and the USA were hosed down. The two presidents left that meeting holding hands!
    In this case, threats of another fire and fury onslaught countered by threats to close the Persian Gulf to oil and gas tankers could be the build-up to a meeting to strike another “deal”. It seems to be Trump’s way.
    Where could they meet? Qatar? Already reports of a meeting in a hotel there between the US and the Taliban are emerging. How must that irk the Saudis! And with Israel momentarily confined to west of the Golan, it is possible.
    Throughout all this drama we are continually told that Trump is a clueless clown. I admit that he does little to endear himself to the world at large, but I question the assertion that he is a fool. Consider this: He has taken centre stage. All the world is waiting to learn what he will do next. He wants history to remember him as a great man. He won’t get that by incinerating us.

  2. David Macilwain says:

    I don’t share the author’s relief that the ABC story has been “hosed down”, as the attitude of the Australian government towards Iran, based on verifiably false assertions, remains the same – and as reported in this story. The problem we face was summarised nicely by Mattis at the meeting of defence and foreign ministers last week – an attitude and position which Bishop and Payne clearly have no problem with, and which is reflected in real actions of Australian forces in Syria. The ABC reported:
    Mattis said Iran had been a destabilising influence throughout the region.
    “The only reason that the murderer Assad is still in power [in Syria] — the primary reason — is because Iran has stuck by him, reinforced him, funded him,” he said.

    For Mattis to now say that the report – including his own completely delusional and malicious attack on both Syria and Iran – is “fiction”, only goes to reassure us of the continuing real and present danger of our alliance with the Rogue States and their whimsical leader.

  3. Michael McKinley says:

    The concerns outlined by Geoff Miller are real and serious. Perhaps the grounds for them might be extended to the statement found in an article on this subject by Andrew Probyn and Andrew Greene, and attributed to “a senior [Australian] security source:” this source, apparently, emphasised there was a big difference between providing accurate intelligence and analysis on Iran’s facilities and being part of a “kinetic” mission. “Developing a picture is very different to actually participating in a strike,” the source said. They continued: “Providing intelligence and understanding as to what is happening on the ground so that the Government and allied governments are fully informed to make decisions is different to active targeting.” Quite apart from the tawdry use of an euphemism for killing and destroying (“kinetic”), the whole response is one of evasion: given the recent history of the US cherry-picking intelligence in order to justify illegal and unethical wars, the resort to casuistry at thew higher levels of the Australian security establishment is an cause for concern.

  4. Tony Kevin says:

    I wonder if Geoff Miller would care to speculate who the “senior people in the federal government’ might be, and what might have been their motive? The ABC would not make up a story as important as this . It must have had a pretty good source. Of course, it will not reveal them but could Geoff offer a shrewd guess as to who and why?

    I note Turnbull saId nothing about asking the AFP to investivate the source of this false story. He did not seem too concerned.

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