Exclusive: Teletubbies to write political analysis for CiF

O.K. – that’s not true (as far as I know), but to be frank, were Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po and Tinky Winky to rise to the challenge, they certainly could not have come up with anything less puerile than the ‘analysis’ of the U.S. Embassy cables  leaked by WikiFlops which appeared on CiF on November 29th.

A gaggle of commentators, including some of the most prominent conspiracy theorists around, produced a collection of absolute comedy gems which the Guardian apparently hopes to pass off as serious political analysis to readers it obviously considers to be both ill-informed and gullible.

Thus we have Seumas Milne trying to persuade us that the Arab leaders whom the leaked cables show as having expressed deep concern regarding the Iranian nuclear program don’t really want to take Tehran to task. According to Milne, they’re only saying so because they get money from America, and even if they do really mean it, they don’t count in his book because they’re lacking in proletariat credentials.

“The relentless global mobilisation of US power against Iran – and of Washington-backed Arab autocracies and dictatorships for an American attack on Tehran – is an ominous thread that runs through thousands of the leaked state department WikiLeaks cables published in the Guardian.”

As familiar as we are with Milne’s monochrome anti-Americanism which taints his view of almost everything going on in the world, even for him it is quite an achievement to reach the conclusion that “the majority of their people support Iran’s nuclear programme and believe it would be “positive” for the region if Iran did develop nuclear weapons” on the basis of one poll and in total ( and apparently willful) ignorance of the limitations of any poll which takes place in societies subject to relentless propaganda, high levels of illiteracy and low levels of freedom of information. Even if the average Egyptian or Saudi Arabian really does believe that the world will be a better place if Iran has nuclear weapons, that hardly seems like a good reason for Western analysts to jump on the bandwagon driven by people who, if asked, would probably also tell Milne that thieves should have their hands chopped off and adulteresses be stoned to death.

Next we have the rather colorful figure of Craig Murray with his contribution to the analysis.

“There is therefore a huge amount about Iran’s putative nuclear arsenal and an exaggeration of Iran’s warhead delivery capability. But there is nothing about Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal. That is not because WikiLeaks has censored criticism of Israel. It is because any US diplomat who made an honest and open assessment of Israeli crimes would very quickly be an unemployed ex-diplomat.”

Putative of course is defined as ‘accepted as true on inconclusive grounds’, so apparently we can gather from the use of this term that Murray, to put it mildly, is trying to sow doubts in the mind of his readers about the gravity of any Iranian threat. From there, it’s straight into typical Murray-style conspiracy theories. Of course few are more familiar than Murray himself with the trials and tribulations of being an ‘unemployed ex-diplomat’, but do the Guardian editors really consider it appropriate to invite a man who is so obviously afflicted by anti-Semitic views and publicly promotes apartheid and Nazi analogies as well as BDS (with a liberal dose of ‘Jewish power’ conspiracy theories) in relation to Israel to contribute serious political analysis? Or does the ability to write an entire paragraph about a subject which does not appear in the leaked cables (as long as it slams Israel) in an article supposedly about….the leaked cables…. merely make Murray a prime candidate for more regular slots on CiF?

Star of the show, however, has to be the long-since divorced from reality Michigan professor, Juan Cole with this truly amazing one-liner:

“There is no evidence that the Iranians have a nuclear weapons program”

Mind you, Cole also subscribes to such fantasies as “Saddam Hussein never gave any real support to the Palestinian cause, and he did not pay suicide bombers to blow themselves up.”

Equally fantastical was Cole’s interpretation of the causes of increased and increasing Iranian influence throughout the Middle East, indicating just how deep his lack of comprehension of the ongoing changes in the regional power balance actually is, as well as his grasp on actual facts such as the initiation of the 2006 hostilities by Iran’s proxy in Lebanon.

“ It is no secret that the Sunni Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf have been alarmed by the rise of Iran as a regional power. That rise has taken place for three reasons. First, the worrisome deterioration in the condition of stateless Palestinians under rightwing governments of Israel since 2001, and that country’s increasing belligerence toward neighbours, as with the 2006 Lebanon war, have inflamed passions throughout the region…”

For dessert, the Guardian wheeled on two members of the ‘Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran’ – Abbas Edalat and Phil Wilayto. The latter is apparently still stuck in some undergraduate-style world of class struggles; his analysis of the unrest in Iran after the 2009 elections boiled down to this:

“ Why is there so little discussion of the issue of class in this election? Is it because so many professional and semi-professional commentators on Iran are themselves from the same class as Mousavi’s supporters, and so instinctively identify with them? Myself, I’m a worker, and a former union organizer. When I watched the videos and viewed the photos of the pro-Mousavi rallies in Tehran and other cities, I didn’t feel elated – I felt a chill. To me, this didn’t look like a liberal reform movement, it felt like a movement whose real target is a government that exercises a “preferential option for the poor,” to use the words of Christian liberation theology.”

One wonders if there is any sense of disappointment over at Guardian HQ; after all, they appear to have invested considerable resources in trying to promote the WikiLeaks story, only to have the majority of the world utter a big yawn. Maybe this is not quite the accounts sheet-saving scoop that they were hoping for, but that is still no excuse for trying to ‘sex up’ the rather limp story by means of ‘analysis’ from a bunch of largely mullah-sympathetic subscribers to weird and wonderful conspiracy theories and distorted views of the Middle East.

If the WikiLeaks affair has shown us anything, it is that most of the world appears to assess the Iranian issue in a manner which leaves the Guardian and its fellow travelers on the very fringe of majority opinion and understanding and that their analysis of world affairs is therefore about as relevant as the opinions of those rather sinister Teletubbies.

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