Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani 1155

In one of the series of blatant lies the USA has told to justify the assassination of Soleimani, Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was killed because he was planning “Imminent attacks” on US citizens. It is a careful choice of word. Pompeo is specifically referring to the Bethlehem Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Self Defence.

Developed by Daniel Bethlehem when Legal Adviser to first Netanyahu’s government and then Blair’s, the Bethlehem Doctrine is that states have a right of “pre-emptive self-defence” against “imminent” attack. That is something most people, and most international law experts and judges, would accept. Including me.

What very few people, and almost no international lawyers, accept is the key to the Bethlehem Doctrine – that here “Imminent” – the word used so carefully by Pompeo – does not need to have its normal meanings of either “soon” or “about to happen”. An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur. So you may be assassinated by a drone or bomb strike – and the doctrine was specifically developed to justify such strikes – because of “intelligence” you are engaged in a plot, when that intelligence neither says what the plot is nor when it might occur. Or even more tenuous, because there is intelligence you have engaged in a plot before, so it is reasonable to kill you in case you do so again.

I am not inventing the Bethlehem Doctrine. It has been the formal legal justification for drone strikes and targeted assassinations by the Israeli, US and UK governments for a decade. Here it is in academic paper form, published by Bethlehem after he left government service (the form in which it is adopted by the US, UK and Israeli Governments is classified information).

So when Pompeo says attacks by Soleimani were “imminent” he is not using the word in the normal sense in the English language. It is no use asking him what, where or when these “imminent” attacks were planned to be. He is referencing the Bethlehem Doctrine under which you can kill people on the basis of a feeling that they may have been about to do something.

The idea that killing an individual who you have received information is going to attack you, but you do not know when, where or how, can be justified as self-defence, has not gained widespread acceptance – or indeed virtually any acceptance – in legal circles outside the ranks of the most extreme devoted neo-conservatives and zionists. Daniel Bethlehem became the FCO’s Chief Legal Adviser, brought in by Jack Straw, precisely because every single one of the FCO’s existing Legal Advisers believed the Iraq War to be illegal. In 2004, when the House of Commons was considering the legality of the war on Iraq, Bethlehem produced a remarkable paper for consideration which said that it was legal because the courts and existing law were wrong, a defence which has seldom succeeded in court.

following this line, I am also of the view that the wider principles of the law on self-defence also require closer scrutiny. I am not persuaded that the approach of doctrinal purity reflected in the Judgments of the International Court of Justice in this area provide a helpful edifice on which a coherent legal regime, able to address the exigencies of contemporary international life and discourage resort to unilateral action, is easily crafted;

The key was that the concept of “imminent” was to change:

The concept of what constitutes an “imminent” armed attack will develop to meet new circumstances and new threats

In the absence of a respectable international lawyer willing to argue this kind of tosh, Blair brought in Bethlehem as Chief Legal Adviser, the man who advised Netanyahu on Israel’s security wall and who was willing to say that attacking Iraq was legal on the basis of Saddam’s “imminent threat” to the UK, which proved to be non-existent. It says everything about Bethlehem’s eagerness for killing that the formulation of the Bethlehem Doctrine on extrajudicial execution by drone came after the Iraq War, and he still gave not one second’s thought to the fact that the intelligence on the “imminent threat” can be wrong. Assassinating people on the basis of faulty intelligence is not addressed by Bethlehem in setting out his doctrine. The bloodlust is strong in this one.

There are literally scores of academic articles, in every respected journal of international law, taking down the Bethlehem Doctrine for its obvious absurdities and revolting special pleading. My favourite is this one by Bethlehem’s predecessor as the FCO Chief Legal Adviser, Sir Michael Wood and his ex-Deputy Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

I addressed the Bethlehem Doctrine as part of my contribution to a book reflecting on Chomsky‘s essay “On the Responsibility of Intellectuals”

In the UK recently, the Attorney
General gave a speech in defence of the UK’s drone policy, the assassination
of people – including British nationals – abroad. This execution
without a hearing is based on several criteria, he reassured us. His
speech was repeated slavishly in the British media. In fact, the Guardian
newspaper simply republished the government press release absolutely
verbatim, and stuck a reporter’s byline at the top.
The media have no interest in a critical appraisal of the process
by which the British government regularly executes without trial. Yet
in fact it is extremely interesting. The genesis of the policy lay in the
appointment of Daniel Bethlehem as the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office’s Chief Legal Adviser. Jack Straw made the appointment, and for
the first time ever it was external, and not from the Foreign Office’s own
large team of world-renowned international lawyers. The reason for that
is not in dispute. Every single one of the FCO’s legal advisers had advised
that the invasion of Iraq was illegal, and Straw wished to find a new head
of the department more in tune with the neo-conservative world view.
Straw went to extremes. He appointed Daniel Bethlehem, the legal
‘expert’ who provided the legal advice to Benjamin Netanyahu on the
‘legality’ of building the great wall hemming in the Palestinians away
from their land and water resources. Bethlehem was an enthusiastic
proponent of the invasion of Iraq. He was also the most enthusiastic
proponent in the world of drone strikes.
Bethlehem provided an opinion on the legality of drone strikes
which is, to say the least, controversial. To give one example, Bethlehem
accepts that established principles of international law dictate that
lethal force may be used only to prevent an attack which is ‘imminent’.
Bethlehem argues that for an attack to be ‘imminent’ does not require it
to be ‘soon’. Indeed you can kill to avert an ‘imminent attack’ even if you
have no information on when and where it will be. You can instead rely
on your target’s ‘pattern of behaviour’; that is, if he has attacked before,
it is reasonable to assume he will attack again and that such an attack is
There is a much deeper problem: that the evidence against the
target is often extremely dubious. Yet even allowing the evidence to
be perfect, it is beyond me that the state can kill in such circumstances
without it being considered a death penalty imposed without trial for
past crimes, rather than to frustrate another ‘imminent’ one.
You would think that background would make an interesting
story. Yet the entire ‘serious’ British media published the government
line, without a single journalist, not one, writing about the fact that
Bethlehem’s proposed definition of ‘imminent’ has been widely rejected
by the international law community. The public knows none of this. They
just ‘know’ that drone strikes are keeping us safe from deadly attack by
terrorists, because the government says so, and nobody has attempted to
give them other information

Remember, this is not just academic argument, the Bethlehem Doctrine is the formal policy position on assassination of Israel, the US and UK governments. So that is lie one. When Pompeo says Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks, he is using the Bethlehem definition under which “imminent” is a “concept” which means neither “soon” nor “definitely going to happen”. To twist a word that far from its normal English usage is to lie. To do so to justify killing people is obscene. That is why, if I finish up in the bottom-most pit of hell, the worst thing about the experience will be the company of Daniel Bethlehem.

Let us now move on to the next lie, which is being widely repeated, this time originated by Donald Trump, that Soleimani was responsible for the “deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans”. This lie has been parroted by everybody, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Really? Who were they? When and where? While the Bethlehem Doctrine allows you to kill somebody because they might be going to attack someone, sometime, but you don’t know who or when, there is a reasonable expectation that if you are claiming people have already been killed you should be able to say who and when.

The truth of the matter is that if you take every American killed including and since 9/11, in the resultant Middle East related wars, conflicts and terrorist acts, well over 90% of them have been killed by Sunni Muslims financed and supported out of Saudi Arabia and its gulf satellites, and less than 10% of those Americans have been killed by Shia Muslims tied to Iran.

This is a horribly inconvenient fact for US administrations which, regardless of party, are beholden to Saudi Arabia and its money. It is, the USA affirms, the Sunnis who are the allies and the Shias who are the enemy. Yet every journalist or aid worker hostage who has been horribly beheaded or otherwise executed has been murdered by a Sunni, every jihadist terrorist attack in the USA itself, including 9/11, has been exclusively Sunni, the Benghazi attack was by Sunnis, Isil are Sunni, Al Nusra are Sunni, the Taliban are Sunni and the vast majority of US troops killed in the region are killed by Sunnis.

Precisely which are these hundreds of deaths for which the Shia forces of Soleimani were responsible? Is there a list? It is of course a simple lie. Its tenuous connection with truth relates to the Pentagon’s estimate – suspiciously upped repeatedly since Iran became the designated enemy – that back during the invasion of Iraq itself, 83% of US troop deaths were at the hands of Sunni resistance and 17% of of US troop deaths were at the hands of Shia resistance, that is 603 troops. All the latter are now lain at the door of Soleimani, remarkably.

Those were US troops killed in combat during an invasion. The Iraqi Shia militias – whether Iran backed or not – had every legal right to fight the US invasion. The idea that the killing of invading American troops was somehow illegal or illegitimate is risible. Plainly the US propaganda that Soleimani was “responsible for hundreds of American deaths” is intended, as part of the justification for his murder, to give the impression he was involved in terrorism, not legitimate combat against invading forces. The idea that the US has the right to execute those who fight it when it invades is an absolutely stinking abnegation of the laws of war.

As I understand it, there is very little evidence that Soleimani had active operational command of Shia militias during the invasion, and in any case to credit him personally with every American soldier killed is plainly a nonsense. But even if Soleimani had personally supervised every combat success, these were legitimate acts of war. You cannot simply assassinate opposing generals who fought you, years after you invade.

The final, and perhaps silliest lie, is Vice President Mike Pence’s attempt to link Soleimani to 9/11. There is absolutely no link between Soleimani and 9/11, and the most strenuous efforts by the Bush regime to find evidence that would link either Iran or Iraq to 9/11 (and thus take the heat off their pals the al-Saud who were actually responsible) failed. Yes, it is true that some of the hijackers at one point transited Iran to Afghanistan. But there is zero evidence, as the 9/11 report specifically stated, that the Iranians knew what they were planning, or that Soleimani personally was involved. This is total bullshit. 9/11 was Sunni and Saudi led, nothing to do with Iran.

Soleimani actually was involved in intelligence and logistical cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan post 9/11 (the Taliban were his enemies too, the shia Tajiks being a key part of the US aligned Northern Alliance). He was in Iraq to fight ISIL.

The final aggravating factor in the Soleimani murder is that he was an accredited combatant general of a foreign state which the world – including the USA – recognises. The Bethlehem Doctrine specifically applies to “non-state actors”. Unlike all of the foregoing, this next is speculation, but I suspect that the legal argument in the Pentagon ran that Soleimani is a non-state actor when in Iraq, where the Shia militias have a semi-official status.

But that does not wash. Soleimani is a high official in Iran who was present in Iraq as a guest of the Iraqi government, to which the US government is allied. This greatly exacerbates the illegality of his assassination still further.

The political world in the UK is so cowed by the power of the neo-conservative Establishment and media, that the assassination of Soleimani is not being called out for the act of blatant illegality that it is. It was an act of state terrorism by the USA, pure and simple.


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1,155 thoughts on “Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani

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  • Tatyana

    Good morning
    On “targeted Iranian cultural sites”. An article in russian news today by Ivan Danilov:
    “… Having learned this masterpiece of American diplomatic rhetoric, any Iranian immediately realizes that the destruction of Shiite mosque-shrines is implied. it’s impossible to come up with a better way to radicalize Iranian public opinion…”

    I turned to russian wiki to learn more about sunni and shia. There’s map and list of countries with large shia population. Surprisingly (or not) the names of most countries are always mentioned in the news reporting of war zones. Iran and Iraq (about half of total population), Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan.

    I wonder, if it is just coincidence that Ukrainian president chose Oman to spend his holidays?? Such an unusual tourist destination, hard to believe he is really swimming in the sea there now.

  • Carol

    As with many a dying wild animal, in their death throws they become more dangerous. What we are witnessing is just that with the US and their British lackey’s. Anyone who supports the US action might like to think about what the ultimate cost of their support might be. With that type, it only becomes clear when their own families are affected. Say with another WW3 and their home gets bombed and their family killed. Their sons, fathers, brothers get called up and are killed. I wonder whether they might change their mind then?

    This is a very interesting link about what the US has been up to in Syria and their support for the terrorists they created. It’s the pot calling the kettle black.

    Also take a look at this and see how the British governement treats its own people. Anyone normal would be ashamed:

  • Republicofscotland

    So Trump has threatened to target 52 vital and culutral sites (52 supposedly representing once hostages held by Iran) if Iran retaliates for the murder of General Soleimani.

    Well according to the 1954 Hague Convention of which the US is a signatory (the military is barred from direct hostilities against culutral property).

    However as in Afghanistan when the US bombed a hospital staffed with doctors and nurses from Médecins sans Frontiéres, claiming it was harbouring Taliban fighters, the article leaves room for culutral buildings to become legitimate targets if they have been repurposed and turned into a military objective.

    No doubt Trump has the latter in mind, even if they are not legitimate targets.

    • Tatyana

      Trump and mind in one sentence? I doubt he has something in his head. He is easily manipulated.
      I think, perhaps Mrs.Clinton lost elections because she is too clever and too experienced for the position. Maybe that ‘leak’ was made purposedly to prevent her from presidency.

      • Republicofscotland

        I’ve always said that Trump is more of a businessman than politician. Also he’s so thin skinned when it comes to insults which he must expect as POTUS.

        No political naunce and a tendency to shoot from the lip at the first sign of criticism, is a bad combination to have if your the head of the most powerful military machine in the world.

    • cimarrón

      “So Trump has threatened to target 52 vital and cultural sites (52 supposedly representing once hostages held by Iran) if Iran retaliates for the murder of General Soleimani.”

      And Iran will target 53 vital and cultural sites if the US retaliates against Iranian retaliation, & so on, ad infinitum…

      Deck of Cards by Wink Martindale

    • John Pretty

      republicofscotland. No, that is not what Trump has said:

      “… if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have … targeted 52 Iranian sites, some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets.”

      He could be referring to government buildings, just as well as any other sort of building. And as regards “culture”, if he is referring to religious sites then he will certainly be provoking a very angry and stiff reaction from Iranians if he tries to attack them.

      I don’t think Trump is bright enough to understand what he is saying (or the implications of what he is saying) a lot of the time. Easily manipulated without a doubt, as unfortunately are the majority of Americans.

      Attacks on cultural sites may be prohibited by the Hague Convention (the article I linked to refers to the UN Security Council), but since when has International Law ever prevented the US from launching military action!

      The US does not care one iota for International Law!

      As for Mrs Clinton. An evil warmonger. She’s a psychopath.Referring to Gaddafi’s death, she joked “we came, we saw, he died”. She found his death funny.

      • Republicofscotland

        John but he did mention some very important buildings to Iranian culture, and I did say vital buildings as well.

        As you correctly mention though further down comment, we are not privy to what the targets are.

        However targeting infrastructure such as water and gas directly affecting the civilian population could be considered as war crimes. Though as you say, the US openly flouts International law.

    • Tatyana

      on the previous page another commenter said we all misunderstood Trump’s words, because when Trump says ‘culture’ he in fact means ‘infrastructure, power and water’.

      After thinking about it, I may suppose, perhaps it is true. Trump may think that ‘culture’ is to wash your hands after visiting the toilet.
      That commenter understood it immediately, and this fact may explain why Trump has supporters. They are just the same level.

      While the rest of the world says ‘culture’ meaning something else.

      • Republicofscotland

        I recall watching Chomsky explain to a interviewer how certain sections of the Republican party, and its voters were made up.

        One section is the Christian Evangelists, who literally believe that Islam is evil they believe that Israel will be triumphant in the region and see Christisn Zionism as prophetic.

        This is the kind of mentality that the world has to deal with, from the Republican party and the very powerful military machine it has at its back.

  • Tatyana

    Trump apparently seriously believes that he is a Hero ridding the world of monsters. his latest statement that Iraq must pay for an American base exactly copies philosophy from the last Witcher to Netflix.
    ‘Pay us back’: Trump says troops will not leave airbase unless Iraq compensates US
    Toss a coin to your Witcher

    Hmmm, Trump is blonde, Whitcher is blonde… Coinsidence? 🙂

    • Dungroanin

      Hi T, how I read that Trump comment is – ‘Yeah I’m going, don’t shoot…look i’ll leave you all my stuff and my airfield which i built, it cost lots…you can keep it as compensation ok… just give me a few bucks to buy a ticket and some food….please don’t kill me … i’m really really sorry …’

      It does not sound like ‘I’m staying you moffas i just built a private runway!’

    • Colm Herron

      If Donald Dump is intent on ridding the world of monsters he may just be in the process of starting with himself. From his behaviour beside that doggie – see YouTube – he’s already knocking at the funny farm gate. It will be nice to see him cuckooing there and even nicer to know that waiting in the wings are two safe pairs of hands in the form of the two Mikeys, Dense and Pomparso.

      • Tatyana

        Very true, Colm Herron, Trump should start with himself.
        This is described in philosophy and art too. E.g, there is an idea that an ordinary person can’t overcome evil power, so people must join forces to win. Another idea is that a Hero may defeat monsters alone, without help, but he must be a monster himself. And finally, there are many examples of how people become monsters: greed, disrespect for the experience of previous generations, thirst for fame and power etc. in general, all sins according to the well-known list.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      I am sure Iraq will submit a counter bill for all the damage caused by Operation Shock N Awe.

      Not to mention punitive damages for all the effects of depleted uranium the past 15 years (and ongoing for decades).

      Libya could easily do the same.

      When the cost hits $20trn, you may see Wall Street flinch…….if it hits $200trn, you may see US slaves all over the globe.

      No-one should do anything but call Trump’s bluff on this one: the US is the greatest destroyer the world has ever known and the bill for its destruction is in the hundreds of trillions.

  • Mary B

    Afshin Rattansi keeps going. Always interesting.

    The latest episode of Going Underground is:

    ‘On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel on the firing of John Bolton. He says Bolton was close to starting a war with Iran and is the reason for the current hostility between the US, Russia, and China and also says the only hope for a peaceful US foreign policy is Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.

    Next, we speak to Sir David King about the climate emergency and how fracking is accelerating climate change at an unprecedented rate. He also explains the causes of climate change and reveals that we must also refreeze the poles if we are to have any chance of fighting it.

    Finally, we speak to economist and head of research at IIPP at UCL, Josh Ryan-Collins on the European Central Bank’s latest measures to bolster the Eurozone, which includes cutting the deposit facility rate and another round of quantitative easing. He also discusses the housing crisis in the West and what governments can do to tackle it.’

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Opinion is divided as to the extent to which the drones and cruise missiles wielded by the Houthi in North Yemen are manufactured in-house. With no disrespect to the technical capability of the Houthi, specific components must be supplied by Iran for purely material technology reasons. Why is this important? There are few ports available to the Houthi and the Saudi forces are trying to embargo these. Therefore, the Quds force must have a smuggling directorate that can function with impunity in the Gulf of Aden (I have not read any accounts of Iranian shipments being intercepted and the Saudis would seek maximum publicity if they had captured Iranian components).
    This puts the American drone bases in Djibouti (Camp Lemonnier) and Dhofar, Oman (Thumrait Air Base) at the top of the Iranian (deniable) hit list.

  • Wikikettle

    I am trying to think of one “cultural site” in America. But nearly a thousand it has all over the world.

    • Borncynical

      “I am trying to think of one ‘cultural site’ in America.”

      To be fair, Wikikettle, there are a significant number. Of course, the fact that they were all constructed as a result of the intelligence, labours and artistry of the indigenous population and not the invaders is neither here nor there. 🙂 Even in past centuries the new arrivals to the US tried to destroy everything ‘foreign’ to them. This arrogant and insane imperialist mentality is clearly inbred in them to this day.

      • Shatnersrug


        I recently rewatached Ken Burns ‘The West’ documentary. Everything about the American outlook is demonstrated in that documentary, the stupidity, the violence, the sheer cravenness, th betrayal of the native Americans, the criminalising of the Chinese, the murder of Mexicans, the complete extinction of buffalo, it’s a litany of theft and violence and sheer stupidity, but everything you see there is repeated now throughout the world.

    • Dungroanin

      Oh there are plenty in all the MIC states and Private Zcia towns, power plants, universities and ‘entertainment’ hubs. The place is just one big walking talking ‘kick my butt’ spelling failure goof.

      Hell every coke machine and MaccyD in the world is a cultural target, every Apple store and Google and Amazon warehouse … when your culture is money and shares…you is screwed!

    • Tom Welsh

      ‘I am trying to think of one “cultural site” in America’.

      That’s too easy. In fact there are two! Disneyland and Disneyworld.

    • Tatyana

      well, I have to honestly acknowledge a big contribution to the world’s pop culture. It may be non refined art and nothing unique, but gives bright colors to everyday life. I believe that this also deserves respect.
      Sad, but ‘profit above all’ ruined my favourite site. A huge number of artists and craftsmen (including myself) miss the time, when we offered something really One Of the Kind. New rules do not leave such an opportunity anymore, only simple, easily replicated things.

  • michael norton

    It would be very sad indeed, if The Donald really means to go after 52 heritage sites in Iran.
    When Palmyra was broken up by Islamic State operatives, I thought it very strange that America/Russia allowed this to happen, after I.S. were removed from Palmyra to the safe haven of the American controlled triangle, that covers a three way entry for Syria/Iraq/Jordan, the Islamic State operatives were coverd by American firepower, that stopped the Syrian Arab Army from catching them.
    later I.S. returned from this American controlled bolt hole to do more damage to Palmyra.

    I expect Culture means gold/oil to The Donald, not old remains of previous civilizations.

    • Republicofscotland

      I recall, reading years back that Saddam bulldozed certain sections of what was left of Babylon, a crime against culture indeed.

      However prior to Saddam bulldozing the remains of Babylon. Alexander the Great had the Tower of Babel (really a ziggurat) demolished, to build a greater one. He was warned a curse would see him die if he razed the Tower, Alexander ignored the warning, and sure enough he died before the construction began, after his death the Tower was never rebuilt, and the millions of bricks that it took to build it began being removed to build other structures.

      History more often than not repeats itself.

      • Republicofscotland

        I should add to the above that Saddam had built three tacky replica temples/palaces on the old ruins at a cost of $5 million dollars.

        Throughout the buildings bricks carry the the inscriptions ”In the reign of the victorious Saddam Hussein, the president of the Republic, may God keep him, the guardian of the great Iraq and the renovator of its renaissance and the builder of its great civilization, the rebuilding of the great city of Babylon was done in 1987.”

        Still some of the original site still remains.

        • Laguerre

          “I recall, reading years back that Saddam bulldozed certain sections of what was left of Babylon, a crime against culture indeed.”

          No, that’s not right. He did, it is true, rebuild some parts of Babylon, as you say. It was a bit primitive by modern-day standards of restoration, but I’ve seen horrors as bad in Europe, e.g. the rebuilding of the Minoan palace in Knossos on Crete, or one of the worst I’ve seen is at home in the UK, Chiswick House in London, restored in the 1960s. Where an original Palladian villa of 1710, had two wings added 50 years later, because the original was absolutely unlivable. Believe it or not, they actually demolished the additions in the 60s, although architecturally fine, in order to restore the ‘purity’ of the original monument.

          Sure, Saddam used to like presenting himself as the descendant of Nebuchadnezzar. It was all a bit primitive, but then how many recent European rulers had themselves represented as Roman emperors? At least Saddam didn’t dress up – he was presented face to face with N.

          Worse was done by the US and its allies after 2003. The site of Babylon was used as a military base by the US and the Poles. They dug a lot of trenches into the archaeological remains, and built helipads and the like.

          • Republicofscotland

            “No, that’s not right. He did, it is true, rebuild some parts of Babylon, as you say.”

            How to contradict yourself without really trying.

          • Laguerre

            He did not bulldoze. He did what most countries do – rebuild to conserve, which of course destroys the remains of the original. Nothing which many others don’t also do, but they’re not subject to the vicious propaganda we know so well on this blog.

            You see, noble Westerners don’t like it when worthless Arabs appropriate their own past. That past should be kept in the British Museum, not in Baghdad. They all still think like that, those who work in the field.

          • Republicofscotland

            “rebuild to conserve, which of course destroys the remains of the original. ”


            When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

          • Laguerre

            You’ve just condemned the entire conservation and heritage industry, including in Scotland, just because of what Saddam did. What do you think happens when the wall of a brae on Orkney collapses? They rebuild it, destroying the evidence of what had been there before. In that case these days they don’t go further than what was excavated, but in thousands of cases all round the world, they do, in order to make the site more presentable for visitors. Same Saddam.

            The last time I visited Babylon, temples hadn’t been “rebuilt”, long ago, but probably you’re right. UNESCO refused World Heritage status, though they’ve now accorded it, if I remember correctly. The problem was not Saddam, but the construction in mud-brick (not fired) which leaves only fugitive traces, difficult to preserve. I can give you a long screed in detail, if you like, but it’s not really appropriate for this thread.

          • Little Bat

            La Guerre is correct. It was the US and their allies who vandalised Babylon by pitching their military base there. This was deliberate, alongside the burning of the Quaranic museum in Baghdad, and other cultural crimes.

    • fedup

      Part of destroying a nation and its heritage is a step to disconnect the nation under attack from its identity, its history, its roots, with a view subjugating the target nation. This kind of primitive stupid doctrine boils my blood; how much has been lost to humanity due to primitive thinking of the aggressors.

      Genghis Khan destroyed massive libraries and burnt its books to ashes the moron. Now Don warleone has picked up the baton and is running with it amidst his other protection rackets.

    • Greg Park

      Sadly true. Trump is responsible for whatever comes next. But time and again, the worst foreign policy atrocities of his presidency have been enabled by a Democratic party that claims to want him removed from office. For three years, they have told Americans that Trump is the gravest ever threat to their democratic system. And yet most Democrats in Congress have voted consistently to give Trump unprecedented military budgets and surveillance powers.

      Five months ago, Bernie Sanders and California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prohibited this very type of action by Trump, but it was removed from the final bill. Khanna wrote on Twitter after Suleimani’s assassination: “Any member who voted for the NDAA — a blank check — can’t now express dismay that Trump may have launched another war in the Middle East. My Amendment, which was stripped, would have cut off $$ for any offensive attack against Iran including against officials like Soleimani.”

      Americans can vote for whoever they like. But either way they will be ruled by the War Party.

      • Jack


        Right same goes for the liberal/media too, past days they have been approving what he did, not condemning him. I am baffled and depressed by it. Even some right-winger pundits have said more in terms of criticism!

        Fox News’ Tucker Carlson slammed ‘chest-beaters’ for ‘choosing’ conflict with Iran over US problems, but he didn’t call out Trump

        • Vivian O'Blivion

          Polling of Americans on the decision to murder Suleimani. 43% approve : 38% disapprove. Suspect this splits on tribal terms as coverage on MSM has been predictably dire. All talk of hundreds of “Americans murdered by Suleimani” no mention that the Americans were all armed to the teeth and part of an illegal invasion force. The contribution of Quds force was to introduce shaped charge technology to the otherwise ineffective roadside IEDs of the Shia insurgency.

  • James Hugh

    Thanks for the concise summary as always Craig, so as to help keep everybody’s truth barometers aligned amidst the crazy bullshit storm..

    In relation to the threatened bombing of Iranian heritage sites, then this is to be expected from jealous fundamentalists from a culture which has been built upon the destruction of cultures which have preserved the wisdom of our deeper human nature and integral relationship with the planet.

    The colonialist spirit is murderous and rapacious and destroys everything which is truly beautiful… It is too frightened and immature to turn inwards and take an honest look at itself and how ugly the mask is which it wears… Always needing an ‘enemy’ out there to attack, else it would self implode with it’s pent up adolescent rage…

    The right wing bible belt fanatics in the good old US of A are driving this also as some sort of holy land crusade with DT as their figurehead… Psychopathic military minded people are one thing but religious fundamentalists in cahoots with them are as mad as can be..

    Absolute nutters

    • Old Mark

      James Hugh

      I suspect we don’t agree on much politically but I fully concur with that opening paragraph- on occasions like this Craig shines a light on this Alice In Wonderland world.

      It says a lot about the present corrupt state of UK Universities that since leaving the FCO Bethlehem has found a succession of cosy academic sinecures from where he is able to instruct new generations of lawyers for hire and foreign policy wonks in the dark arts of neo-connerry- first Cambridge and then the redoubtable Department of War Studies at KCL , where he is currently a ‘Visiting Professor’.

    • Inequitable

      Yes this is highly relevant over and above indications that the murder of Soleimani was a premeditated war crime (Israel likely providing the co-ordinates for the death strike). It shows total recklessness and irresponsibility and no excuses or weasel designations or words can exonerate Trump and his accomplices or advisors. It is clear that peace can only come to the middle east by the US fully recompencing, withdrawing and non interference.Trump has a final opportunity to do so and deliver on his pre election promises to his US electorate.

      • jmg

        There are different versions, however this is what journalists were reporting on what Iraqi PM was saying.

        NPR’s Jane Arraf:
        > This is stunning – #Iraq prime minister tells parliament US troops should leave. Says @realDonaldTrump called him to ask him to mediate with #Iran and then ordered drone strike on Soleimani. Says Soleimani carrying response to Saudi initiative to defuse tension when he was hit. . . .
        > Not entirely clear the Iraqi PM is saying the two were directly linked as Soleimani was a frequent visitor to Iraq. But clear he believes Trump wasn’t serious about wanting to defuse tension.

        Jane Arraf — @janearraf — Twitter — Jan 5, 2020

        Washington Post’s Mustafa Salim:
        > “The government refused to give any cover for the protests around the @USEmbBaghdad and I threatened to leave my position if they don’t retreat, which they did” Iraqi PM said.
        > “I received a phone call from @realDonaldTrump when the embassy protests ended thanking the government efforts and asked Iraq to play the mediator’s role between US and Iran” Iraqi PM said.
        > “But at the same time American helicopters and drones were flying without the approval of Iraq, and we refused the request of bringing more soldiers to US embassy and bases” iraqi PM said.
        > “I was supposed to meet Soleimani at the morning the day he was killed, he came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi to Iran” Iraqi PM said.

        Mustafa Salim — @Mustafa_salimb — Twitter — Jan 5, 2020

        • DiggerUK

          It seems the only US interests threatened by General Soleimanis peace mission to Iraq, were US arms contracts to Israel and Saudi Arabia…_

  • Gary

    I may be mistaken on this but I thought that the US had declared the forces he was part of, Quds, as being a ‘terrorist organisation’? Therefore, when outside Iran that simple fact would have met their own criteria for him being targeted.

    I think they have designated more than one of Iran’s forces in this was, allowing them to treat them as such.

    It’s like a chess game and I believe that Trump lacks the political experience to be anything other than a hawk’s pawn. I doubt Iran wants to trigger a war on this, but someone may intervene and it may look as though they have. This may be a pretext for a pretext..

  • SA

    Is Tobias Elwood ignorant, mad or out of touch with reality?
    This is the sentence that takes the biscuit:
    “Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Libya and, to a lesser extent, Bahrain have all suffered prolonged internal strife thanks to the activities of Soleimani and his Quds Force.”

    What? Has Tobias not heard of how Cameron Sarkozy and Obama conspired to protect Libyan civilians by bombing them? Has he really got any proof whatsoever of Iran’s involvement in Libya? Then the whole invasion by the Saudis to quash any resistance in Bahrain is ignored and the war against Yemen by KSA, UK and US is now attributed to Soleimani? Such dross coming out from an ex minister is extremely worrying.

      • Mary

        MP Con Bournemouth W. Member CFoI. All over the Middle East inc a paid for visit to Saudi Arabia in September (+£6k) visiting their damaged Aramco installation and previously.

        He is in the TA now and served with the Royal Green Jackets before with the rank of Captain. Gave CPR to PC Palmer in terrorist attack at HoC. Called a ‘hero’. He was a PUS at the MoD and at the FCO.

      • John Pretty

        I’m not in any way defending Mr Elwood, but not sure of your point here Tom? Tobias is usually shortened to “Toby”.

        “Jeremy” is a contraction of “Jeremiah” which also sounds a bit “Old Testament”. It’s just a name though!

    • Rhys Jaggar

      You really must stop assuming that folks like that are not fully aware of their lying.

      They operate by the morals of Nazi Germany and have no capability of even understanding what moral behaviour constitutes any more.

    • michael norton

      President Erdogan of Turkey is sending troops to “liberate” Libya

      a cynical person might imagine Erdogan wants to liberate Libyan oil and gas, as Turkey has now been stopped from “liberating” Syrian oil.

        • michael norton

          Earlier on Monday, LNA sources said the takeover came after forces from the city of Misrata, a key source of military power for GNA, retreated from Sirte.

          A resident in Sirte city centre told Reuters News Agency by phone that they can see “convoys of LNA inside Sirte city … they control large parts of the city now. We also hear gunfire”.

          Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from the capital Tripoli, said that, according to the military sources in Sirte, “Haftar’s forces took control of several parts of the city, including the port and the city centre along with the military camps in the south of the city.” “The city is very strategic because it is very close to the oil fields and oil ports in central Libya and the coast,” he said.

          It might be that President for life Erdogan has missed the (Hydrocarbon) boat, in Libya.
          Haftar seems to know what he is doing.

          I am actually confused, who is favour who in Libya.

          According to Wikipedia about ninety percent of Libya is controlled by the forces of Haftar, yet Erdogan is supporting the 10%?

      • nevermind

        He is doing it with UN support, whilst when OTAN attacked Libya to oust Ghadaffi for his sweet climate polluting crude, they did it on a wing and a prayer.
        I suppose tha you were banging your chest toupet in unison with the bomb mobbing.

      • Tom Welsh

        Did you notice that the Turkish ambassador was among those who paid official respects at the funeral in Tehran?

        Now that’s what I call “interesting”.

        Turkey may be a member of NATO. But far, far more important is that it is a deeply religious Muslim country.

        • Blue Dotterel

          Qatar and Turkey are “allies” as they both support the MB. They are thus opposed to SA and Egypt who are not. Qatar and Turkey are close to Iran these days despite there being on opposing sides in Syria because they all oppose Egypt and Saudi.

    • pete

      Toby, according to Wiki was promoted to “Lieutenant Colonel as a reservist in the 77th Brigade” in 2018. Also, according to Wiki, he was punched in the head in 2009 and in 2002 his brother was killed in the Bali Bombing, does any of that help you understand how he comes to believe what he does?

  • Chris

    I would say as long as he is being paid by the Iranian government, which I assume he was, whilst in Iraq, that he remains a state actor.

    • Tom Welsh

      The term “state actor” has no real meaning. It was invented by the Washington creatures in an effort to disguise the illegality and immorality of their murderous policies.

      The only relevant fact is that General Soleimani was in Iraq on a diplomatic mission, and had diplomatic standing.

      • Tom Welsh

        It depends what you mean by a “state actor”. It isn’t a traditional diplomatic or political term. It’s one of those phrases conjured up by dishonest American shysters to conceal, rather than reveal, the truth.

    • Michael

      America crossed an ocean and two continents to illegally invade Iraq. Iraq under occupation is next door to Iran. Soleimani could have walked there. If this action escalates to become WWIII will you be proud that you and yours may die for America and Israel? I live less than ten miles east of US Air Force Base Lakenheath and fifteen miles north east of Mildenhall, and will likely die a few seconds after they’re struck in a nuclear blast. I accept that, if it means the American Nazis will be stopped, so you must be truly honoured to die for them.

      • Spencer Eagle

        I hope you will at least make robust preparations to ensure your hummus and soy milk survives the blast. Sacrificing yourself to stop the ‘American Nazis’ … give me strength.

      • John Pretty

        Michael, With respect to your comment about WW3, I’m not sure your proximity to a USAF base is going to be relevant.

        And I understand the anxiety of people here with respect to Britain, but who do you think is actually going to bomb the UK with a nuclear weapon and why?

        Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons and we are not actually at war with them. (As yet anyway). I think, with respect you are getting a bit ahead of things here. We are not at this stage as yet.

        • nevermind

          John, sorry for butting into your naivity. Mildenhall and Lakeheath are forward bases and hold nuclear weapons in store.

          It is called a prime target and despite being 50 miles from it, this double hit will kill a lot of Conservatives in their heartland, something I will welcome when it happen, they seem to be begging for it.

        • Tom Welsh

          “…who do you think is actually going to bomb the UK with a nuclear weapon and why?”

          Russia, of course. Not preemptively and not willingly. But the following scenario is yawning before us.

          1. Mr Trump gives orders for an immediate massive strike against Iran, using aircraft and cruise missiles.
          2. Iran shoots down most of the aircraft and cruise missiles.
          3. USA steps up the attacks, using submarines and aircraft carriers.
          4. Iran destroys one or more US submarines or aircraft carriers.
          5. USA launches several tactical nuclear weapons at Iran.
          6. Russia (and possibly China) destroy the launch sites and possibly some US bases.
          7. USA launches one or more ICBMs at Russia.
          8. Russia replies with an all-out nuclear strike on USA and all NATO members (possibly except Turkey).

          Since the UK is such a small island group, with such a large population, half a dozen Russian ICBMs (each with 6-12 warheads) would kill virtually everyone in it.

  • Carol

    It’s all hotting up nicely:
    UPDATE1: according to the Russian website Colonel Cassad, Moqtada al-Sadr has officially made the following demands to the Iraqi government:
    Immediately break the cooperation agreement with the United States.
    Close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
    Close all U.S. military bases in Iraq.
    Criminalize any cooperation with the United States.
    To ensure the protection of Iraqi embassies.
    Officially boycott American products.
    UPDATE4: Zerohedge is reporting that Iranian state TV broadcasted an appeal made during the funeral procession in which a speaker said that each Iranian ought to send one dollar per person (total 80’000’000 dollars) as a bounty for the killing of Donald Trump. I am trying to get a confirmation from Iran about this.
    UPDATE5: Russian sources claim that all Iranian rocket forces have been put on combat alert.
    UPDATE6: the Russian heavy rocket cruiser “Marshal Ustinov” has cross the Bosphorus and has entered the Mediterranean.

    Interesting analysis from US source, echoing same conclusions as Craig.
    Dave Lindorff:

    Could the reason for Iran pulling out of nuclear agreement be to divide the EU?

    • Laguerre

      “Could the reason for Iran pulling out of nuclear agreement be to divide the EU?”

      That sounds more like a classic Brexiter obsession – Brexiters who are determined to believe that the EU is on the point of collapse – than anything that would actually interest the Iranians. Why would they want to split the EU? They want it all on their side.

    • John Pretty

      No, I don’t think that Iran’s pulling out of the nuclear deal has anything to do with the EU at all.

      It is purely self interest. The United States does not attack countries armed with nuclear weapons.

      Perhaps Iran hopes to be able to develop the means to fully defend itself.

      • Tom Welsh

        “The United States does not attack countries armed with nuclear weapons”.

        So far.

  • Wikikettle

    I think 14th September 1919 was a memorable date and a message not heeded. When there are many centre’s of power and influence, a message cannot be acted on. Looks like the message will be sent again and again, by which time it will be to late to respond and everything is in ruins and chaos, if not already. It is no longer the preserve of powerful countries to use drones and extra judicial killings. It is no longer the preserve of powerful countries to destroy infrastructure, power stations, grids, sanitation and water supplies. I recall when Israel attacked Lebanon’s Airport and oil facilities causing pollution. No one thought then that perhaps setting such precedents would one day come to haunt. Today a handful of drones, as they did in KSA on the 14th caused havoc. Did the KSA take heed and stop it’s war on Yemen ? Perhaps it couldn’t or wasn’t allowed ? How is the public flotation of Aramco going ? There was a time when the US could fly over anyone airspace. It even did so at the height of the Cold War, such was it’s hubris and cavillier attitude, still struts the cowboy. Now however there is S400 and coming S500 which will castrate it’s ability to carpet bomb Vietnam style with B52s, those harbingers of death. I hope Putin flies to Iran after the funeral and saves the day with China’s backing.

      • Wikikettle

        Laguerre. 14th September was the date the Yemenis attacks the oil refinery. Some say it was the Iranians. Patrick Cockburn says the latter.

  • Republicofscotland

    Interesting noises coming from the media that Russia and the UK are going to attempt to try and sit down (separately or together unknown) with Iran and broker out some deal oto keep the peace in the region.

    Will it work or must Iran have its pound of flesh?

    • Wikikettle

      Pound of Flesh!?! What are you talking about ! It has been put upon for decades. The 1950s coup. The Shah, the invasion by Saddam sponsored by US, sanctions, civilian air line downed by US Navy, and it still tried to negotiate a deal with US, come on….ROS

      • Republicofscotland

        Yes we know the history, however I’d rather a peaceful outcome, instead of countless deaths.

        If history is to be believed, then there’s a cautionary tale to be heeded over the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

        • Paul Barbara

          @ Republicofscotland January 6, 2020 at 18:44
          ‘…If history is to be believed, then there’s a cautionary tale to be heeded over the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.’
          It largely depends on whose history you believe, though the intention was the same in both cases, escalation leading to a pre-planned casus belli. Hopefully that doesn’t occur this time, but like the Archduke case, there were many other provocations before to try to create a war to smash Germany, because their manufactures were far superior to Britain’s, and Britain could see their dream of dominating the world in conjunction with the English-speaking Commonwealth and the US was in serious jeopardy if Germany was not crushed.

        • Wikikettle

          ROS. I’ve given you a scinario for a peaceful outcome. So don’t patronise me by say yes we all know the history. Your use of the term pound of flesh was in bad taste.

          • Republicofscotland

            “So don’t patronise me by say yes we all know the history. Your use of the term pound of flesh was in bad taste.”

            My intention wasn’t to patronise you, I assume most folk in here know the machinations of the West with regards to Iran.

            Bad taste? What a strange position to take.

          • Tatyana

            adaptation of Shakespere was one of the first books I read in English.
            it was vivid, emotional, but figurative illustration. Bad taste appears only if you dig into all possible allusions.
            I’m sure Republicofscotland used it absolutely neutrally. Wikikettle, give some credit of goodwill to RoS 🙂

          • John A

            The whole point of ‘pound of flesh’ is that the revenge has got to be exactly one pound of flesh, not an ounce more or less. Very apt in the circumstances.

    • Laguerre

      i.e. your point of view is independence for Scotland, but not for Iran. Iran can be destroyed if it attempts to defend itself.

    • John Pretty

      Republicofscotland, I do not imagine that the UK and Russian governments are going to come together to mount a joint diplomatic mission in Iran. Not while the UK is busy accusing mother Russia of every evil under the sun for example with regard to the Skripals and in Ukraine.

      You do know that Boris Johnson recently claimed that good relations with Russia are not possible. The loathsome toad made these comments while visiting Estonia:

      • Republicofscotland

        Yes I doubt myself that both would attempt to sit down with Iran together. However I would say that if any one country could persuade Iran not to escalate things above what the US has, it would be Russia, having worked hand in glove with Iran in the defence of Syrian sovereignty. Iran and Russia have a close cordial relationship.

        I do hope an agreement can be thrashed out, I wouldn’t like to see Iran crushed under the wheels of the US military machine.

    • Tatyana

      Iran and Iran only may decide wether to agree or not with any proposals. It’s up to them, it’s their life, their country and their future. If they chose peace, everyone would welcome. If they chose revenge, everyone would understand.
      Trump and Co. don’t know how to be better than they are. They have no class. They don’t know culture of conflicts, don’t know how to win in civilized manner, how to manage conflicts letting both sides save the face, how to make really wise decisions, that’s why Trump is disrespected.

  • SteveInNC

    Hello Craig,
    Excellent article. I’ve not had time to read all 686 comments, so someone else may have brought this up, but this Bethlehem doctrine with its redefinition of the word “imminent”, reminds me of another crime against language and meaning dating from about the same era. I’m sure you remember the (US) NSA’s tortured definition of “collection” not to mean “gathering and archiving”, but instead to mean “analysis”, in order to evade the question of whether they were actually gathering and archiving domestic civilian communications. Clearly this is a pattern with authoritarian governments trying to pretend that they are democracies.

  • James Moody

    Here is the Sequence of event leading up the the “Assasination” of this Scumbag Terrorist;
    * Elements of Iran’s Republican Guard Coup Attack an Iraq Oil Installation, Killing 1 American Contractor, and injuring other US military personnel.
    * The US attack these same elements and Kill 25 Iranian militant in IRAQ.
    * Elements again from the Iran’s Republican Guard Coup, Attack and Occupy the US Embassy in IRAQ. US sends in. Miltary to secure and Evacute IS Personnel. IRANIAN elements leave the Embassy and head to Bagbad Airport.
    * US eliminate these elements Kills Scumbag Terrorist
    New Rules.
    You kill 1 American, America will Kill You.

    • Laguerre

      “* Elements of Iran’s Republican Guard Coup Attack an Iraq Oil Installation, Killing 1 American Contractor, and injuring other US military personnel.”

      Nope. Nobody knows who carried out the attack.

      “* Elements again from the Iran’s Republican Guard Coup, Attack and Occupy the US Embassy in IRAQ. ”

      Nope they were Iraqi protesters.

      You forgot the later elements of the series.

      US attacks Iran, and is forced to militarily occupy Iraq, when Iraq orders the US to leave.
      US gets stuck in stalemate.
      Large numbers of body-bags start to come back to the US.
      Trump becomes extremely unpopular.
      Successor president is forced to withdrew from the Middle East.

      • Mrs Pau!

        I freely admit I do not take much detailed interest in Iranian affairs. And I admit I am generally hostile to fundamentalist Moslem states. I have lived in one. As a feminist, I suspect I am a lot less sympathetic to the Islamic lifestyle than my western male counterparts.

        But while accepting the illegality of US actions in Iraq in assassinating QS and his associate, I have also been taken aback by the picture painted here of an unsullied democratic Iran and by the sheer hatred people here feel not only for the US but also the UK.

        I know what you will say, that I have been brainwashed by the.mainstream media. Sad isn’t it, that with two degrees, and a career spent living and working at different times in America, North Africa and mainstream Europe, I should end up so hoodwinked and deceived by the evils of Western civilisation that I still believe it is currently superior to that on offer in the Islamic world. Certainly I am at odds in that respect with most people here.

        Isn’t this perception, that UK politicians and political commentators on the left, despise the UK and prefer any country to their own, said to have contributed to Labour losing the recent General Election? Isn’t national pride and a sense of identity what powers the SNP? Is it really the case that every developed nation apart from US, UK and apparently Australia, is a better fairer society then GB? I know lots of civilised fair minded Brits across a range of social classes and ethnic backgrounds. I am sorry most people here do not.

        • Cubby

          Mrs Pau!

          “Isn’t national pride and a sense of identity what powers the SNP”

          The SNP is a political party.

          The Yes movement is powered by not wanting to be part of a corrupt UK that treats Scotland with contempt. It is wanting to live in a democratic country where we choose our own policies, we raise and control our own revenues and we make our own spending decisions. It is wanting to live in a country where propaganda from another country is not broadcast in to our homes and the newspapers are all controlled by another country. It is not wanting our country to be used as a dumping ground for old munitions and radioactive waste. It is not wanting weapons off mass destruction located a short distance from the largest city in Scotland. It is not wanting to be part of illegal Westminster wars.

        • fedup

          “said to have contributed to Labour losing the recent General Election?”

          With two degrees and coming out with this tripe?
          What are your degrees in? Origami and Cookery?

          Contradictions galore:
          Feminist ? But you somehow are chauvinist enough to believe the “white man’s burden” pap about the role of women in Islamic societies, and these women don’t know what is good for them because you have decided for them already!

          Labour lost because there was a wholesale ballot rigging just as insurance to the umpteen year negative campaign against Corbyn the man the most dangerous man with ideas other than the postmodernist mumbo jumbo economics and talking about a fair deal for the many and not the best deal for the scant few. The history of anti Corbyn started the day after he was elected the leader of the Labour Party turning it from Tory party lite into a socialist party. The only Socialist lite party which is now under attack because as in any other decent fascist society, there can be no nails standing proud, and no ideas other than the one permissible idea!

          Surprise, surprise the results of our democratic exercise of ticking a box every so often are; poor voting to be poorer and sick voting to be sicker, and you are waxing lyrical about lessons!

          These days even Hitler is a lefty because he denoted “socialist” in his party’s name.

          As for the rest of your rant frankly too facile to be debated

          • Mrs Pau!

            I certain believe in equal. Rights for all. Women everywhere including Islamic states..

        • Mighty Drunken

          “I have also been taken aback by the picture painted here of an unsullied democratic Iran and by the sheer hatred people here feel not only for the US but also the UK.”

          Huh? Who said that Iran is “unsullied and democratic”? Who is hating the UK and the US? Sure there are lots of comments hating their foreign policy and its blatant hypocrisy. It feels like that because we criticise the current administration of the US and UK you take that as disliking everyone and everything about these countries. I hate the current Tories because I love my country.

    • Wikikettle

      James Moody. Americans kill more Americans in America than Iranians ever did. Why don’t you Americans go home and make America great again. The world will be much more peaceful and safer. Oh I forgot, you are not allowed to, because your arms manufacturers fund your politicians who inturn await the Great Rapture and the Second Coming in Isreal when all Jews will become Christians, or something like that.

      • Tatyana

        Wikikettle, they are busy in the Middle East making Israel great. Maybe I should add ‘Again’ though I can’t remember it ever were great.

      • Diego

        “Why don’t you Americans go home and make America great again.”

        Because that´s not the plan. They´ll keep destabilizing the Middle East for as long as the oil is a relevant source of energy and/or that zone has some kind of strategic value. They don´t care one iota about Jihad, Communism, Shiism or whatever ideology rules those countries as long as they are ON BOARD. The main neo-con objective is to avoid countries developing on their own, and creating chaos manages exactly that. The primary way to create chaos is violence, diplomacy not just being last on the queue but specifically avoided. This profoundly amoral and destructive strategy is well documented over there if you care to look for it.

        At the end of the day, Neocons aren´t any better than Hitler or Pol Pot IMHO.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ James Moody January 6, 2020 at 17:44
      Any idea how many Iraqis the scumbag Yanks and their scumbag cronies killed in their illegal, War Criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq? And the scumbags have been invading other countries virtually since their inception.
      The biggest bunch of scumbag terrorists are the CIA and US military, and their mercenary proxy head-chopping cronies which they unleash around the globe.
      Come Judgement Day, there will be a reckoning, and it wont be pretty.

    • SA

      Scumbag terrorist? Would that be those who travel half way round the world to secure the oil?

    • fedup

      “The US attack these same elements and Kill 25 Iranian militant in IRAQ”

      Where did you find this gem of information? Boy you should be nominated for a Pulitzer pronto. Regurgitating the memes of the corporate media as your own “well-thought-out and reasoned” (hahahaha) conclusions somehow overlooks a slight fact. Are Iraqis short of militants that need to import Iranian militants?

      “* US eliminate these elements Kills Scumbag Terrorist”

      The only scumbag terrorists are US and its designated offensive forces included their bought mercenaries (shades of Rome at its end days) that are terrorising and have terrorised that beleaguered nation of Iraq, now for sixteen long years. Get your fact right before you start coming here and spewing your “pearls of wisdom” ala express, fox et al.

      Jig is up mate, people of the mid east are sick of being bombed and droned and bombed and shot and tortured by the US. Have you forgotten the Abu Ghraib Charles A. Graner Jr. and Lynndie England torturers and war criminals? Iraqis haven’t!

      This is like a bad cowboy movie anyone who stands up to the gunslingers gets shot, trouble is there are millions more in the waiting and this crap isn’t going to fly.

      Simple fact is the world can no longer afford to have the US around any more and sooner than later has to deal with this problem.

  • Goose

    Trump vows Iran will ‘never have a nuclear weapon’.

    If Iran allows Russian and/or Chinese bases it’ll de facto acquire that capability by default.

    The US can’t keep acting like Israel’s hired thugs, beating up anyone in the neighbourhood who gives them so much as a dirty look : Iraq ; Libya ; Syria … Iran ..When will it end? The Israelis say life would be intolerable with a nuclear armed Iran , but we in the UK lived with mutually assured destruction (MAD) throughout the Cold war . Why should Israel be any different?

    Sadly the the lesson from North Korea seems to be ; build nukes and become safe.

    • Wikikettle

      Goose. Iran does NOT want Nukes ! It’s own or anyone elses. By Russia and China coming to Iran on invitation, they would bring S400 and be a barrier to US attack. Nukes are finished now. Russia and China have unstoppable hypersonic missiles with conventional warheads. Iran has offered time and time again for permanent inspection by the IAEA. To no avail. Isreal is not even in the IAEA. Russia scrapped it’s chemical weapons. US still has them. US is a Terrorist Rouge state that will lead the world to destruction.

      • Goose


        Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want nuclear weapons to ever be used. The deterrence factor is my only point, to deter the US. The US will never invade N.Korea for this very reason. The only thing that can deter a stronger power from invading a weaker power are nuclear weapons. A balance of nuclear terror in the region would force all parties to grow up, and end Israel’s cocky belligerence as the only nuclear kid on the bloc, forcing them to compromise (two-state solution) for peace.

        It’s either this balance of nuclear terror, or nobody in the ME having them. Either is ok, but the current imbalance is terrible causing great instability and fear in the Muslim world.

        • Wikikettle

          Goose, by that logic all countries should have WMD’s ?! That is madness. We should be striving to get rid of them. Gorbachev offered Reagan – let’s get rid of them ? Reagan said no. There is however a new play after the assassination. Israel and the Gulf States along with KSA now face a dilemma. Iran will take them with them. So ironically they will now behind the scenes try and diffuse the situation.

    • John Pretty

      “If Iran allows Russian and/or Chinese bases it’ll de facto acquire that capability by default.”

      “allows” … are you sure the Russians and Chinese want to build bases there Goose?

      • Goose

        …are you sure the Russians and Chinese want to build bases there Goose?

        No, idk if they do? But the Persian Gulf seems rather strategically important for shipping …And you’d have to admit, the fact Russia had its major naval Mediterranean base in Tartus, Syria, and the prospect of losing that, probably played a huge role in Russia’s supportive role for Assad. The US,UK egged on by Israel KSA and other gulf monarchies were quite prepared to turn Syria into another Libya.

        • John Pretty

          “Russia had its major naval Mediterranean base in Tartus, Syria, and the prospect of losing that, probably played a huge role in Russia’s supportive role for Assad.”

          Again, with respect Goose, this is speculation on your part.

  • Wikikettle

    ROS. Iran has numerically suffered a thousand Pearl Harbours and 9/11’s, by the hands of US and still wanted peace and to be left alone. Sorry but your comment really took the biscuit. I hope you get an Independent Scotland that is truly independent and brave as Iran.

    • Blissex

      «still wanted peace and to be left alone. Sorry but your comment really took the biscuit. I hope you get an Independent Scotland that is truly independent and brave as Iran.»

      Being “independent and brave” does not pay the bills, and the iranians are either too fond of the Shii martyrdom complex or quite dumb: the cost of being an american client state is quite negotiable, and clever countries can get a good deal out of it.

      Consider south Korea/Taiwan, UK/Italy, Australia/Canada, … they have done pretty well out of being USA vassal states; sure a deal as bad as that Persia had during the Pahlavis or south Korea/Taiwan during the dictatorships was regrettable, but things can change. Countries that give USA corporations a reasonable percentage of their markets can otherwise govern themselves in a fairly wide set of choices, and they don’t necessarily have to be complicit with the nastier side of USA politics (the torturing, assassinating, …) even if some ruling classes do that. That’s RealPolitik.

      • Wikikettle

        Blissex. That is really tosh. So you agree with Vichey France capitulating to Hitler ? You agree to have US based in your country and dominating your politicians and foreign policy. Iranians do not have a suicide complex and are not dumb. Would you say Christ had a suicide complex ? Do you believe on world government then with no sovereign nations. Oh yes you like US Corporations. Your definition of RealPolitik is cowardly and an accurate description of NATO countries doing the unquestioned bidding of the US. But as you say – you get some dosh out of it don’t you mate ! Sad sad state of affairs. Sad decline and fall.

    • Republicofscotland

      I have sympathy for Iran and its plight, but lets not forget the Achaemenid empire under Cyrus the Great, of whom I might add was fairer than most, conquered lands from the Balkans to the Indus valley. I wonder how many pounds of flesh he took during his conquests.

      Empires come and go, for now we’re in the midst of an American one. I truly hope a peaceful solution can be found with regards to Iran.

      • Wikikettle

        ROS. Yes let’s not forget that Iran had an Empire and did bad things, but now its the US’s turn to do bad things. You really should read Merchant of Venice and stop going on about your pound of flesh…is that with or without blood ?

  • michael norton

    As has been said before on many occasions by different people, there probably is No Peak Oil, it is not going to run out, the World is awash with Oil and Gas, what there is going to be in the near future is a lack of clients.
    So Donald Trump wants to disrupt the market and make them ( Venezuela/Nigeria/Libya/Syria/Iraq/Saudi/Iran/Russia) keep it in the ground.
    This is the same reasoning that Australia is speeding up maximum extraction of Coal for export, before there are no customers left.

  • Jack

    …and there is Nato support for Trump:

    NATO: “Iran must refrain from further violence and provocations.”

    This will only make more Trump confident that he is right…
    Nato/EU nations now have responsibility for any deaths that Trump will cause.

  • Mrs Pau!

    Have to say that this is all reading as a bit of a love fest for Iran and QS. Not how I have perceived the country or the man to date. But then I freely admit I do not take much detailed interest in Iranian affairs. And I admit I am generally hostile to fundamentalist Moslem states. I have lived in one. And as a feminist, I suspect I am a lot less sympathetic to the Islamic lifestyle than my western male counterparts.

    But while accepting the illegality of US actions in Iraq in assassinating QS and his associate, I have also been taken aback by the picture painted here of an unsullied democratic Iran and by the sheer hatred people here feel not only for the US but also the UK.

    I know what you will say, that I have been brainwashed by the.mainstream media. Sad isn’t it, that with two degrees, and a career spent living and working at different times in America, North Africa and mainstream Europe, I should end up so hoodwinked and deceived by the evils of Western civilisation that I believe it is currently superior to that on offer in the Islamic world. Certainly I am at odds in that respect with most people here.

    Isn’t this perception that UK politicians and political commentators on the left, despise the UK and prefer any country to their own, said to have contributed to Labour losing the recent General Election? Isn’t national pride and a sense of identity what powers the SNP? Is it really the case that every developed nation apart from US, UK and apparently Australia, is a better fairer society then GB? I know lots of civilised fair minded Brits across a range of social classes and ethnic backgrounds. I am sorry most people here do not.

    • Goose

      No love for Iran’s theocratic regime as far as I can tell. More a dislike of the US ‘might is right’ neo-imperialist doctrine. The lack of respect for the lives who aren’t white. Imagine this US drone strike at Heathrow or Gatwick

      Where does that leave the world if we the Anglo world, ever end up lagging behind China/Russia technologically or militarily in the future?

      ‘Be careful who you stand on, on your way up, as you will meet them on the way down’ . Choosing to be feared not loved, may carry a heavy future price.


      Oil prices shooting up…now at over $70 a barrel.

      Scottish independence?

      Every cloud and all that…

      • Goose

        Also, the US has systematically undermined international law at the UN (spying and demanding changes in personnel + constant threats to funding unless they get their way) and the OPCW (John Bolton’s threats and more recent intimidation) they don’t even recognise the ICC. Those that want to look up to the US as a shining beacon of justice in the world, would struggle to make the case if they are being honest. They are acting more like international cowboys.

        That doesn’t excuse the behaviour of other countries, but we don’t live in those other countries.

        • Michael

          The US may have been a beacon on the hill for two decades after WWII (if we forget Korea and Vietnam), but then it took that beacon and set the world on fire with it. It’s been pretty much burning ever since.

          • Goose

            Only someone like Bernie Sanders could re-establish trust and respect for the US and international bodies and institutions.

            But Trump will probably face Biden and get reelected as a result.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ Michael January 6, 2020 at 22:23
            Only because their crimes (like their German death camps where around a million were starved to death, and many more millions of civilians, and their hidden depredations around the world, like Gladio, and it’s demonic MK-Ultra which still continues) were hidden from the public. That’s the power of a captive MSM and Hollywood for you.

    • nevermind

      Nice Mrs. Paul, very.nice, ‘civilisation you say, and being hoodwinked, ‘that I believe it is currently superior’ citing religion and their choice of Goverent….

      Like the good ol colonialist ypu have been.brought up to become. Btw. They were beating up homosexuals in this country, some got attacked and killed, not as far back as the 1980’s Mrs
      Pa, have you forgotten?

      • Mrs Pau!

        I was campaigning for equal rights for gay people in the UK in the 1980s. We have come a long way since then in the UK. My sister in law is married to another woman. I thought it was pretty tough being gay in Islamic states including Iran today. Isn’t it still. Illegal?0Do they have same sex marriage in any Moslem country? When did Moslem countries abolish slavery? “Your point is?

        • nevermind

          Your pettiness, your unquestionable believe in being superior. News is nobody gives a shit about the climate or their children’s future, so you are not alone revelling in oil and or the bastards who cant let loose of it.
          You even believe in fairy tales such as there isn’t slavery in the UK.

          Please educate yourself about the personal slaves of Saudi rulers in an unsustainable Londonium. I live in East Anglia and know how illegals are still working the fields with their passport being held by the employer, gangmasters direct this labour to Conservative voting Farmers.

          • Mrs Pau!

            When I saiy there is no slavery in the UK, I was meaning as part of UK practice or values the British have never kept slaves and were the first country to abolish it in their colonies. I don’t think we can be held responsible for what Saudis do undercover and behind the cloak of privilege although there have been cases where a Saudi slave has escaped and the UK authorities have prosecuted their employer.

        • nevermind

          Sadly my reply to you has been binned. Shall not try to educate you on domestic/agricultural slavery in the Uk.

          Do you believe in the rights to self determination for Moslem states?
          Do you think that colonially motivated missionary activities have any value in global acceptance of each other and or understanding of systems that do not come up to , what you call, superior standards?

        • Laguerre

          Iran is a sophisticated society, and things will come in time. Give them the time. Same-sex marriage is an issue important to fight for. But once obtained, doesn’t last long. Lots of same-sex marriages ending in divorce.

    • Jack

      Mrs Pau!

      Yes isnt it sad that the high-brow Mrs Paui with “two degrees”, feminist-pink-washer that have no interest in iranian affairs, let alone in “moslems” cannot understand that murdering people will face a backlash and cause anger against the perpetrator and supporters of such act.

      • Mrs Pau!

        I never said I supported Trump’s actions. Quite the contrary. I did say, from the admittedly limited interest I took in Iranian affairs, that I had not gathered the country had a regime which offered equal democratic rights to all its citizens or thar General QS was the public spirited peace envoy depicted here. And I do know who he was.

        I also said I have many serious objections to fundamentalist Islamic states (and I have lived in one) and would still regard the western democracy model as superior to them. The fact that America has managed to elect an unstable idiot as President this time round, does not make the Iranian model is superior. In my view anyway.

        And I do not share the virulent hatred for the UK a lot of posters here seem to feel. But then I am a pretty cheerful person generally, and believe me that has been seriously tested over the last year. Like many Labour. defectors I should like to live in a UK in which I could take a modest pride, not one I hated like many people here.

        • Jack

          Mrs Pau!

          You have no support for people in the region that want to rid the area from foreign occupants, you dislike them also because they are not feminists or do not have the same view on democracy as you do. You proclaim you are ignorant of the culture and believe your own culture to be superior.
          What is the difference between your views and the mentality that led to colonialism?

        • Tatyana

          Mrs. Paul, re: “a UK in which I could take a modest pride, not one I hated like many people here.”
          I met the same hatred in Russia from russians and I understand what you are talking about. Some people forget everything good about Russia when criticise something bad. Some use very offensive words, as if the whole country is lost and all the russians are stupid morons.
          I noticed that some do really hate Russia, others just exagerrate for stronger effect, and some are just aggressive and communicate to let their negative feelings out, and a many just love to join something new and exciting.
          Don’t take it too close to your heart, no one can dictate you how to feel about anything. Keep to your own views and try to have as balanced and grounded opinion of your own as you can.
          After all, finding faults is necessary to improve, that’s why I read haters. They often have a point, like Navalny about corruption (though I’d prefer him to be more respectful of the country he lives in, and especially of the people he lives with).

        • John Pretty

          I agree, that criticism of the UK by people here is probably greater than it might be in an average sample of the UK population, but this blog is run by an ardent Scottish nationalist and a greater criticism of the UK and its institutions in the circumstances is I think only to be expected.

          I think that to some extent the negative views of the UK are a reflection of Craig’s own very negative views of the UK.

          I feel caught in the middle a bit sometimes here to be honest as one of my parents is Scottish, but I was born and live in England. I would support vote for independence for Scotland if I lived in Scotland, but I do not hate the UK.

          And as I said above, thank you for sharing your perspectives on this here.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      Mrs. Pau,

      When you say this:-

      ” And as a feminist, I suspect I am a lot less sympathetic to the Islamic lifestyle than my western male counterparts.”

      Aren’t you really missing the point?

      President Trump just recently stated that he was going to bomb Iranian cultural sites. Isn’t this actually contrary to the Hague Convention of 1954 and even contrary to US domestic law on war?

      The point, I believe is not so much that anyone is making all this up as regards the illegality and lack of coherence of Mr. Trump’s policies in the Middle East and more specifically towards Iran – rather the fact that his conduct is both illegal and incoherent. Is that not a fair criticism. Here, in furtherance of what I am advancing, is a reason discourse – and you can tell me, why I too, from your perspective, have gone off the rails.

      When Mike Pompeo uses the phrase ” imminent attacks” he is trying to cloak behind international law for justification by direct or indirect appeal to the doctrine of self-defence. However, any international lawyer worth his/her salt can explain why the doctrine is inapplicable to the Soleimani killing. I would wager:-

      – Neither Pompeo nor Trump can with any credible reference to actual honest intelligence available specify the imminent attacks being referenced.
      – What are the details of the planned attacks and when were they supposed to
      occur – can that ever be shared with the American people and/or the wider
      international community?
      – As Trump explains in his video below, the criticisms he levels against Obama obviously must be applicable to what he has just done in Iraq.
      -” Imminent” means that something is soon or just about to happen. But,
      based on Trump’s own reasoning in the video – unless Soleimani was a
      lone wolf and not an actual General in a state’s armed forces, then the
      killing of the General does not kill the alleged plan for the next General in
      line is free to execute the alleged plan as and when he decides so to do.

      If legal justification is to be given to this kind of killing then a pandora’s box of problems under international law begin to emerge:-

      – Soleimani was officially in Iraq; so, if a US General is on a visit in another
      country, does any country have the lawful right to assasinate said US
      – Since in Iraq, the US is on someone else’s soverign territory, then not having
      sought any lawful right to execute the action – what does that auger for
      other countries – by parity of reasoning, do other countries have a lawful
      right to enter in third coutries and kill US officials who are their targets?
      – Is it only the US which has a “right” to ignore the established global norms
      and established laws under international law?
      Pompeo’s use of the word “imminent” is a ruse – and – as we well know Trump can always be trusted for the veracity of his utterances.
      Anyway, here is Trump in a self-critical moment – where in fact he is actually in 2011 being critical of his conduct in 2020.


      • Courtenay Barnett

        Mrs. Pau,

        Further, as an avowed feminist then pray tell:-

        Why does the civilized West – and more particularly the US – not roundly condemn the human rights abuses effected from Saudi Arabia – violation of women’s right; murder of the journalist; bombing of civilians in Yemen etc?


        • Mrs Pau!

          Clearly because the west is dependent on Saudi oil. We both know that. It is why the west is desperate to find alternative sources. Sadly for the west a lot of the oil resources are underneath unpleasant regimes. But it is not true there are no objections to human rights violations. There are lots of national and international bodies in the west which fight for better human rights. And even at government level there were protests about the execution in the Saudi embassy in Turkey of Jamal Kashoggi

          • Courtenay Barnett

            Mrs, Pau,

            ” But it is not true there are no objections to human rights violations. ”

            I am speaking of and to the duplicity of the US in being selective in its choice of oppositions and choice of friends. I have yet to see and/or find a more heinous regime in the Middle East than that of Saudi Arabia when it comes on to human rights violations; when it comes on to the gold or silver medal for such violations then it is a toss up between Israel and Saudi Arabia – and – what does the US have to say in responding to flagrant violations committed by both?

            ” There are lots of national and international bodies in the west which fight for better human rights. And even at government level there were protests about the execution in the Saudi embassy in Turkey of Jamal Kashoggi”

            Yes – independent organisations and people of conscience – but – when it comes on to principled stands – where at the state level is the US speaking out and being active?

          • pretzelattack

            the west doesn’t have to be dependent on saudi oil. it is choosing not to back renewable energy to the hilt. justifying assassination by pretending somehow the guy or his society had it coming does not enhance human rights. imminent danger my ass. for most people in the world, the greatest imminent danger is the u.s., with the uk faithfully following behind after pissing on a lampost.

      • Goose

        A New York Times journalist reported that the intel community had told her the case behind the ‘imminent’ claim was quote : “razor thin”. So much so, when Trump gave the order, they didn’t even know Soleimani’s location.

    • bevin

      Those ‘two degrees’ and that experience working at the heart of the culture are part of the problem- it is hard to escape the ideology when you are part of its janitorial staff.

      • John Pretty

        bevin, what is wrong with having a degree?

        I have a degree in chemistry.

        Craig Murray has a degree in history. He also worked in the British Diplomatic Service for 20 years and was Rector of the University of Dundee for three years.

        I don’t think that I or Mr Murray could be described as “part of it’s [the UK state’s] janitorial staff”.

    • Laguerre

      It’s not a question of a “love fest for Iran and QS”, but rather of giving them their rights.

      “But while accepting the illegality of US actions in Iraq in assassinating QS and his associate, I have also been taken aback by the picture painted here of an unsullied democratic Iran”

      Has anyone said that?

      After all your experiences, you continue to believe in the superiority of Western Civilisation. You omit the effects of western colonialism. It’s very difficult to reach a desirable level, when the forces wish to deny it.

      • pretzelattack

        hey, i wish we had an unsullied democratic u.s. “you get the choice of warmonger a or warmonger b, now roll over and beg for a treat, good voter”

    • SA

      It is not that you are brainwashed but that you consider that all societies should observe the norms set by the West. This orientalist mindset is inborn and it takes a lot to extricate someone born into the privileged society to understand and to respect that different does not mean inferior.
      There is no hatred of the west as such in anything written here. There is hatred for the imperialistic and exploitative methods employed by the rulers and regimes in the west.
      The exploitation also extends to ordinary people here and true patriotism should aim to understand this and change it.
      There is no love fest for the Mullahs or theocracy of Iran merely an expression of hatred for the hypocrisy our rulers display by treating two theocracies so differently when one of them has minded its own business and only helped neighbours and friends when asked, and the other which pursued a genocidal war against a very poor neighbours, with our full support, whilst dismembering its political opponents and they still are received with open arms. I could go on but I think you get the drift. We live some many things in this country but not it’s addiction to exploitation of other countries

      • John Pretty

        SA, your comment:

        “This orientalist mindset is inborn and it takes a lot to extricate someone born into the privileged society to understand and to respect that different does not mean inferior.”

        – What is the “orientalist mindset”?

        I don’t know what you are referring to.

    • zoot

      mary paul

      being critical of criminal actions of the us in the mideast is not expressing hatred of your own countey.

      if you support actions like trump’s just argue your case cogently and honestly.

      • Mrs Pau!

        Agreed but there are many posters here who make angry critical comments about everything to do with the uk

  • Herbie

    The assassination of Soleimani creates other problems for the Iranian leadership.

    Increased tensions between the Reformers and the Hardliners.

    Many Hardliners may see the death of Soleimani as the last straw.

    I mean, looks like the Reformers are at the end of the line with their program.

    It failed.

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