Just in case anyone still thought that the ignominious departure of Tony Blair meant some kind of sea change in Britain’s slavish obedience to the Bush Regime’s warmongering, new  British PM Gordon Brown came out as a hardliner against Iran on Monday, declaring that the UK “will lead” the global fight to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, as the Guardian reports.

Brown’s broadside came just days after the White House complained that he was not being as bellicose with the Persians as Bush’s best new friend, the fiery French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Duly chastened, Brown seized the opportunity of his first major foreign policy speech – before a glittering crowd at the annual Lord Mayor’s banquet – to declare that Britain remains tied to the hip with its “most important ally,” the United States. Indeed, he insisted that he is building an even “stronger relationship” with Washington than before – no mean feat, given Blair’s long and deadly swoon at Bush’s feet.

In his speech, the monkey-suited Scot leapt nimbly onto the Bush propaganda bandwagon, declaring that Iran must be forced to stop enriching uranium – even though Iran is fully licensed under international treaty to develop a nuclear energy program. The “crisis” over the program has been manufactured by demands from the Bush Regime that Iran accept far more restrictions and inspections than the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Tehran has accepted several of these unauthorized restrictions while balking at others, but has continued to negotiate with the International Atomic Energy Agency on these issues. Iran has also called for unconditional talks on the matter with the United States, to no avail.

Bush has no intention of negotiating a settlement of the crisis he has deliberately fomented. After all, in 2003 he rejected an extraordinary Iranian bid for across-the-board talks in which the nuclear program, recognition of Israel, cooperation on terrorism, and help in stabilizing Iraq were all on offer. Instead, he rebuked the American diplomat who brought the offer to Washington. At every turn, the White House has knee-capped any serious effort to resolve the situation peacefully – something that Brown knows quite well, as Bush’s most recent hit job occurred just last month.

The same Guardian story recounts how Bush deliberately knifed Vladimir Putin in the back when the latter was in Tehran for high-level talks. It is a remarkable betrayal, and is yet another clear indication (if any more were needed) that the Bush Regime is trying to close off every possible avenue toward peace. The Guardian:

Moscow believes it came close to defusing the crisis last month but that delicate talks with Tehran were torpedoed by unilateral US sanctions, the Guardian has learned. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin’s, fury at the US sanctions was heightened by the fact he had consulted the US president, George Bush, before visiting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran in mid-October. In a telephone conversation prior to the Putin visit to Iran, Bush reassured Putin that the US was prepared to enter into comprehensive talks with Iran’s leaders if they agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, according to European and Russian officials.

Bush also restated his backing for a Russian proposal for Iran’s uranium to be enriched on Russian soil, as a way around the impasse that has triggered two waves of UN sanctions and speculation about US military action. But in return he demanded Russian backing for tougher sanctions if the offers were rejected.

This carrot and stick strategy had been in play for some time. Moscow had first put forward its enrichment proposal in 2005, but Russian officials say that when Putin put it back on the table in Tehran on October 16, Khamenei asked for time to consider the issue.

However, nine days later, the US announced new unilateral economic sanctions targeted at senior members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The announcement took Moscow by surprise, entrenched hardliners in Tehran and derailed the Putin initiative, Russian officials say.

Bush’s move to outlaw parts of Iran’s government – an act of aggression that was overwhelmingly supported by the U.S. Senate in the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment – was always clearly intended as another firm stride toward war. As we now see, the announcement of the measure was exquisitely timed to produce the maximum amount of damage to the peace process, scuttling the top-level talks between Moscow and Tehran and guaranteeing that the hardliners in Iran would be strengthened. Bush knew exactly what he was doing, because he had been told beforehand by Putin about the offer, and that Khamanei was considering. Bush knew exactly what his move against the Revolutionary Guard would do in these circumstances.

Again, there is only one reason for taking such a course: the Bush Administration is systematically closing off every option except war with Iran. There is nothing new in this, of course. It is an exact replay of the course taken in the run-up to the war with Iraq. Below is a reprise of part of an article I wrote in the Moscow Times in April 2002 – almost one full year before the shock-and-awe shattering of Iraq began. The piece details a similar operation by the Bushists: moving aggressively – and deceitfully — to derail international efforts to reduce the threat of Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. But then, as now, Bush and his cohort were not interested in reducing the so-called threat against the American people they were trumpeting so loudly. Then, as now, they were manufacturing an international crisis over non-existent weapons while ruthlessly blocking any attempt to defuse the situation.

The excerpt is an instructive story – not only for the illustration of the methods still being used by the Bushists to foment war, but also of how clear it was at the time that this was their aim. It was all out there in the open – for anyone who wanted to see. And the same holds true today.

Originally published in the Moscow Times, April 26, 2002:

This is how thugs operate. If you don’t play ball, don’t toe the line, if you give them any lip, they cut you off at the knees. Bare fists, brass knuckles, cold steel, hot lead – it doesn’t matter, they’ll get you sooner or later. It’s all about power: brute, blustering, rapacious power. The way apes do it. The way dogs do it. The way hyenas sort out the pack.

Jose Bustani is an accomplished Brazilian diplomat, a man of learning and enlightenment, with extensive experience in international affairs, including postings in Vienna, Montreal, the United Nations and Moscow. For decades, he has served as a high-level negotiator on a number of international treaties, hammering out agreements on disarmament, pollution, scientific research and maritime law. In 1997, he became director general of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which enforces the international Chemical Weapons Convention.

In that post, as The Guardian reports, Bustani engineered the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and the dismantling of two-thirds of the world’s production facilities for biological mass murder. He was so well regarded by his colleagues that he was re-elected to a five-year term – unanimously – in May 2000. Just a few months ago, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly lauded him for his “very impressive work.”

There was one thing wrong with Jose Bustani, however. He was negotiating to bring Iraq into the Chemical Weapons Convention. That was his job, after all: to get as many nations as possible under the treaty’s umbrella. So he was trying to persuade Iraq to accept the Convention and its strictures – including the destruction of chemical weapons stores and facilities, and constant independent monitoring to ensure compliance. If he had succeeded, the Middle East – and the world – would have been an immeasurably safer place.

But there were sinister forces – thugs – who didn’t want Bustani to succeed. These thugs have big plans for Iraq, you see. They’re going to puff up their chests, beat their hairy bellies and rape Iraq, force it down into the dirt and have their way with it. But they can only do that if Iraq remains a threat – or at least can be credibly framed as a threat to the little ones back home.

And so George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and the rest of the pack started in on Bustani. First they softened him up with some bureaucratic brass knuckles: they illegally withheld U.S. funding for the Convention, leading to a cash crisis at the agency. Next came a boot in the groin: having themselves engineered the Convention’s money troubles, they accused Bustani of “financial mismanagement” and demanded that Brazil recall him. The Brazilians refused.

Then the switchblades came out. Last month, the thugs called for a vote of “no confidence” in Bustani from the Convention’s 145 member nations. This was foiled – like the gang’s recent attempt to muscle in on Venezuela – by an unexpected show of nerve from the “little guys” who normally quake when the thugs start to bellow. The no-confidence vote failed.

Now the pack was in full cry. They called an unprecedented (and illegal) “special session” of the Convention to force Bustani’s ouster. In good thug fashion, they put the squeeze on, threatening to bankrupt the agency or pull out of it altogether – a move that would have collapsed the treaty and set off a world-wide explosion in chemical weapons production. (Even as it is, the thugs have arbitrarily excluded themselves from most of the treaty’s provisions – including the very same inspection programs that Iraq is condemned for rejecting.)

And this week, they finally unloaded with both barrels. At the “special session” in The Hague on Monday, the thugs strong-armed 47 of the little guys into voting against Bustani. Seven countries, including Russia, stood their ground for the man they had all unanimously elected less than two years before, while 43 other countries abstained. More than 50 countries boycotted the shameful spectacle altogether.

So the thugs had their way, as they always do in the end. The pack bared their teeth, threw back their heads and brayed their triumph through the marble halls of Washington….That’s how thugs operate. You play ball, you get perks. You step out of line, they bash your head in. That’s power, kid. There’s nothing subtle about it. How can you be subtle when you’re pounding your belly and baring your teeth?

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