David Cameron: misinformed or misleading?

What''s harder to understand is the apparently deliberate attempt to completely mislead our audience about the whole Ir

    This week, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron sat down with my colleague Kamahl Santamaria for "World View", a collaboration with Youtube in which the PM answered questions posed by the public.

    One of those questions involved Iran. (The link above takes you to the video. The exchange is around 12 minutes.)


    What is the wisdom of aggressively pursuing Iran for it's nuclear programme while Israel, the region's only rogue nuclear state, receives no comparable attention? And can you understand how this double standard may constitute a destabilising factor in the region?

    Here was Cameron's answer

    I can't think of another country anywhere in the world that has actually said that it wants to obliterate one of its neighbouring countries, and it has said that about Israel. That seems to me to make it materially different  from  other countries ... to make that statement, that it wants to wipe another country in its neighbourhood off the map, and it's pursuing to all intents and purposes a nuclear weapon, and that makes it a special case.

    Now Iran and Israel are not "neighbouring countries", but let's forgive the fuzzy geography and accept that the two are in roughly the same neighbourhood, in the same way that Britain and Italy are roughly in the same neighbourhood.

    What's harder to understand, however, is the apparently deliberate attempt to completely mislead our audience about the whole Iran/Israel issue.

    The word "obliterate" is not a subtle word, or nuanced, and for a politican as slick and as experienced as Cameron to use it in this context must surely have been purposeful, a deliberate attempt to plant as powerful a suggestion in the audience's mind as possible.

    Nowhere else, in the context of the ongoing myth about Iran's intention to "wipe Israel off the map" have I seen the word "obliterate" attributed to anyone in Iran in this context, and neither has Cameron.

    Equally puzzling is the phrase "pursuing to all intents and purposes a nuclear weapon". Is this a tacit admission that Cameron really thinks Iran is not actually building a nuclear weapon per se, but only pursuing the technological know-how? I.E. to put itself in the same position that Japan maintains with the blessing of the west?

    If the UK foreign policy towards Iran is indeed so simplistic and mis-informed, it's hardly any wonder that talks are going nowhere.

    In this context, it's also very interesting to note how the latest National Intelligence Estimate in the US has been largely ignored.

    This NIE, the combined best-guess of all of US intelligence agencies combined, declared in  2007 that Iran had stopped all work on nuclear weapons in 2003.

    As that finding completely contradicted the preferred narrative of the the Bush administration, the President ignored it, and demanded an immediate review.

    Well, that review took almost four years, and despite massive political pressure the intelligence community still can't bring itself to declare that there's any decisive evidence that Iran is building a bomb. The strongest assertion this study makes is that there is "renewed debate within the government over whether to build a bomb".

    Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr said:

    Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon in the next few years. Whether such a decision to do so has been made is unclear.




    Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

    Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

    This part of 'The Crusades: An Arab Perspective' explores the birth of the Muslim revival in the face of the Crusades.

    Going undercover as a sex worker

    Going undercover as a sex worker

    A photojournalist describes how she posed as a prostitute to follow the trade in human flesh.

    Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

    Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

    It's time to change the way we talk and think about Africa.