Special Report

Mr. Cheney’s Indiscretions

Why the United Kingdom was singled out by the former vice president in his remarks on the "giant conspiracy" with regard to Iran.

By 5.14.09

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From: The Foreign Office/Arab-Israeli Department
To: The Prime Minister
Topic: Mr. Cheney's Indiscretions
Status: Top Secret/Eyes Only

As you know, sir, in New York City on May 12, the former American Vice President, Dick Cheney, accused the United Kingdom of involvement "in a giant conspiracy" with regard to Iran. "We fail to recognize that we're alone out there in terms of trying to achieve the objective of forcing the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons," the former Vice President said. "Everybody's in a giant conspiracy to achieve a different objective than the one we want to achieve," he continued, and he singled out France, Germany and the United Kingdom as nations "willing to live with a nuclear Iran."

Of course, what the former Vice President said is substantively accurate -- although, like nearly all Americans, he tends to regard anything short of "open covenants openly arrived at" as a conspiracy. In fact, what we are doing in the Middle East is pursuing our interests through the standard instruments of statecraft: guile, deception, and a sustained campaign of disinformation.

But what, you may well ask, are our interests in the Middle East? Obviously, Sir, the United Kingdom has a plethora of interests in the region -- economic, political and military -- but we in the Foreign Office have long been of the view that our primary interest is to reverse the disastrous consequences of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and to eliminate -- peacefully if at all possible, more forcefully if absolutely necessary -- the Zionist state of Israel.

It is the settled conviction of this Office that the issuance of the Balfour Declaration was an error of the first magnitude, brought about by an unnatural alliance between evangelical Christians such as Lord Arthur Balfour, on the one hand, and deluded romantics such as Winston Churchill, on the other. Our Office did its utmost to block the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, but we failed. We thereupon sought to prevent the Zionist homeland from developing into a state -- first by amputating three fourths of the territory allotted to Mandatory Palestine and transforming it into the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan -- a kingdom entirely of our own invention; then by sharply limiting Jewish immigration to the remaining quarter of Jewish Palestine by pegging it to the land's "absorptive capacity" -- another concept of our own invention; and then by encouraging the Arab League -- yet another British invention -- to intervene on behalf of Palestine's Arabs , whose xenophobic passions we deliberately enflamed. During World War II and its immediate aftermath, we even organized a blockade of the coast of Palestine in order to prevent boatloads of desperate Jewish refugees from reaching their so-called "Promised Land" -- and we would have succeeded, had not the Truman Administration intervened on behalf of the Zionists.

Finally, in a desperate gamble, we agreed in 1947 to hand the entire problem of Palestine over to the United Nations -- confident that with the Islamic Bloc and the Communist Bloc on our side, we could prevent the partition of what remained of Mandatory Palestine into an Arab state and a Zionist state. Alas, we were betrayed by that inveterate Anglophobe, Joseph Stalin, who ordered his minions to vote in favor of partition, thus bringing to naught three decades of determined British efforts to prevent the emergence of the state that came to be known as Israel.

Despite our setbacks, however, we have never reconciled ourselves to defeat. On the contrary, we have abided in the hope that, sooner or later, history would provide us with an opportunity to avenge ourselves on the Zionists and their supporters. The Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons is precisely the opening we have sought. To be sure, publicly we must be stalwart in our opposition to Tehran; the Americans would never forgive us if we went wobbly on this issue. Privately, however, we can and should rejoice in the Iranian acquisition of atomic weapons, as this would result in one of two possibilities coming to pass: Either the Israelis will become so demoralized by a nuclear Iran that half of them will immigrate to the United States and the other half will embrace a so-called "one-state solution" -- whereby the Zionist state of Israel would be dismantled and a new state with an Arab majority ("Isratine," Colonel Qaddafi calls it) emerges in its stead; or, alternatively, a nuclear exchange ensues between Tel Aviv and Tehran. For humanitarian reasons, we naturally favor the "Isratine" solution --our repeated endorsesment of a "two-state solution" is, of course, just another sop to the Americans; no one in his right mind can take such a "solution" seriously -- but should a nuclear exchange come to pass, the Zionists will have only themselves to blame. Either way, we would be rid of the Zionist incubus forever, and British statesmanship would be vindicated.

Of course, we have never shared these views with the Americans; even the closest of allies must have their little secrets. Moreover, hopeless moralists that they are, our American friends would be appalled if they knew how we actually regarded their obnoxious pet state. Instead, we have diligently carried on with our diplomatic charade of negotiations with Tehran, knowing full well that they were doomed from the outset. Mr. Cheney has rather unkindly characterized our efforts as a "conspiracy." We prefer to regard our actions as no more than business as usual -- and we are confident that Mr. Cheney's remarks will have no impact whatsoever on the course of events. After all, the former Vice President is one of the most despised figures in America today -- and nothing he says is likely to be taken seriously or believed.

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About the Author

Joseph Shattan is the author of Architects of Victory: Six Heroes of the Cold War.