Blair’s denial

British Prime Minister Tony Blair responded to Iran’s capture of 15 British naval personnel by denying that they were in Iranian waters. Now the British Ministry of Defence, according to a BBC Breaking News Alert, claims that they “were 1.7 nautical miles within Iraqi waters.”

Assuming the veracity of this claim, we are to accept that Blair has reason to be outraged. One possibility is that the Iranians inadvertently strayed into Iraqi waters, just as the British have inadvertently strayed into Iranian waters in the past. But whoever made the mistake, assuming that it was a mistake, both sides now have propaganda points; with the Iranians blustering about a “blatant act of aggression” and the British blustering about the unwarranted seizure of their personnel.

It is a very dangerous game, and one in which Iran is more likely to prevail. Iran will be defending its territory against the very imperialists who have caused it so much trouble in the past, while an overextended empire, all but defeated in both Iraq and Afghanistan must take on yet another front against Iran.

The only way that the United States and the United Kingdom can prevail here is through the use of nuclear weapons. It is almost inconceivable that this will happen; conventional wisdom dictates that both domestic and international opinion strongly oppose use of nuclear weapons. To do so would be political suicide.

Both Bush and Blair are looking to their legacies now. And Bush allegedly follows an apocalyptic cosmology; for him now, these must be very evil days. Will it be Bush who provokes armageddon?

The Excuse to Attack Iran

Iran has captured “up to seven British or American military personnel,” according to an Iraqi fisherman in the Persian Gulf.

The fisherman, who asked not be named, said six or seven foreign military personnel were on two small boats that stopped to check Iranian ships in the Siban area of the [Shatt al-Arab] waterway, near the al-Faw peninsula that leads into the northern Gulf.

When they boarded one ship, at least two Iranian vessels appeared on the scene and the military personnel were detained. There was no sign of any violent confrontation he said.

The report was later confirmed, with a larger number of British sailors reported:

Iranian forces seized 15 British Royal Navy personnel who had searched a merchant ship on Friday, the Ministry of Defence said, triggering a diplomatic crisis at a time of heightened tensions over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Alcohol and Tobacco more dangerous than LSD

An article in the Independent reports that “Drug specialists say the current system for ranking drugs – class A for the most dangerous to class C for the least dangerous, as set out in [Britain’s] Misuse of Drugs Act – is irrational, arbitrary and ‘lacking in transparency’.” The article continues:

Scientific evidence shows that heroin and cocaine are correctly ranked as class A drugs as they do cause the most harm. But LSD and ecstasy come close to bottom of the league in terms of harm caused, yet they are also labelled as class A.

Alcohol is legal and widely used but comes fifth in the “harm” table, ahead of amphetamines and cannabis, which are ranked as class B and class C respectively. Tobacco is also ranked as more harmful than cannabis.

Fisk believes Osama bin Laden still alive

Robert Fisk writes:

I read the “experts”, telling me that Bin Laden has cancer, that he needs medical machines to survive. But we say this about all our enemies. Bin Laden uses now a stick to walk – unusual for a man of 50 – but we know he was wounded in Afghanistan. The truth is – and forget the “experts” who might tell you otherwise – that Bin Laden is still alive. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel, he may be damned and elusive, but he remains on this earth. Aged 50.

Iran not the only country on neocons’ list

General Wesley Clark gave an interview to Democracy Now!, in which he claimed inside information of a neoconservative agenda dating back to September 2001 involving much of the Middle East, “starting with Iraq, then Syria and Lebanon, then Libya, then Somalia and Sudan, and back to Iran.”

Given that the United States is overextended, it is hard to see how it can possibly pull this off. Even if the plan were just for Iran, Iran is a larger country with harder anti-U.S. sentiment than Iraq. Says Clark:

If you were Iran, you’d probably believe that you were mostly already at war with the United States anyway, since we’ve asserted that their government needs regime change, and we’ve asked Congress to appropriate $75 million to do it, and we are supporting terrorist groups, apparently, who are infiltrating and blowing up things inside Iraq — Iran. And if we’re not doing it, let’s put it this way: we’re probably cognizant of it and encouraging it. So it’s not surprising that we’re moving to a point of confrontation and crisis with Iran.

Clark also attributes to the Saudis a need to “find someone to fight the Shias.” That someone presently is the U.S. with its saber-rattling against Iran and Syria; if the U.S. were to pull out, Clark thinks the Saudis would turn to al qaeda-affiliated groups, “intensifying the threat against us of a super powerful Sunni extremist group, which was now legitimated by overt Saudi funding in an effort to hang onto a toehold inside Iraq and block Iranian expansionism.”