John argued that military action against Iran, whether by the UK, US or Israel, would be a disaster and could possibly spark off a regional war. Instead, John suggested, the West should offer Iran the opportunity of a new relationship, recognising Iran’s regional power status – which the US and UK largely created by their misguided invasion of Iraq. The precedent being Nixon’s rapprochement with China during the 1970s.
“The West’s policy of sanctions and sabre-rattling has failed. They have brought us to the brink of military conflict. Such is the failure of the West’s approach. Iran will not be deterred from her pursuit of nuclear technology.”
“A military strike would be calamitous. It would unite Iran in fury. It would not work. Knowledge cannot be destroyed by military action. Even within Israel, there are voices of caution. Meir Dagan – the hardline former Chief of Mossad – has referred to an attack against Iran as a ‘stupid idea’.”
“Yet, we refuse to rule out the use of force. Such a policy is not only naive, but illogical. We are keeping an option which all know would be a disaster, against a country which chooses to ignore it. Yet this option heightens tensions, and makes a peaceful outcome less likely”
“A fresh approach is required. Now is the time for the US to make clear to Israel that force should not be used. This would immediately lessen tensions and make conflict less likely. Longer-term, we should be prepared to offer implicit recognition of Iran’s status as a regional superpower. There is a precedent: the rapprochement between Nixon and China in the 1960s and 1970s was a defining moment, and the right decision. The US now needs to realise that this is one of those defining moments before calamity befalls the region.”
The speech can be read in full online: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201212/cmhansrd/cm120220/debtext/120220-0002.htm#12022015000201
During his speech opening the debate, John addressed some of the inconvenient truths which many are prepared to skate over when discussing Iran. These include that the November report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provided no clear evidence of nuclear weapons development. John also pointed out that opportunities to better relations between the West and Iran had been missed by both sides.
I don't necessarily agree with all of John's position, but it is to his very great credit that he called the debate on this critical matter. On reading Hansard you see MP after MP thanking John for the opportunity for the Mother of Parliaments to debate on what may be a slide into war. It really shouldn't have fallen to a backbench MP to have to do this, but our man in Billericay has stepped up when we needed him to. Billericay residents can be very proud of their man at Westminster today.