Thursday, September 21, 2006

Only seven percent of Poles would support military strike against Iran...

...according to a BBC World poll

As the President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winds up George Bush in New York this week, he will be cheered by a survey showing that only seven percent of Poles are in favour of a military strike against Iran if it fails to comply with demands to halt its nuclear research programme.

The people of the world are often a lot more sensible than the political classes (not really very difficult!) but the poll also reproduces some prejudices and misunderstandings that are regularly peddled in the media. The BBC sponsored poll suggests:

World opinion opposes aggressive steps as a way of stopping a possible Iranian nuclear arms programme, according to a 25-nation poll for BBC World Service.

The most popular course of action, with 39% support, was to use only diplomatic efforts; 11% favoured military strikes.

The survey asked 27,407 people in countries ranging from the US and UK to Brazil, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Israel, Nigeria, Poland, Russia and Turkey.

Only 17%, however, believe that Iranian nuclear development is for energy use only – despite no ‘smoking gun’ evidence to suggest the contrary. In Poland, 67% think that Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they would be concerned if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, with 43% saying they would be "very concerned".

In general, there appears to be a world-wide mandate for stricter controls on the production of nuclear fuels that could be used in weapons.

Fifty-two percent favoured a new effort to have the UN develop new controls, while 33% favoured preserving the existing system allowing non-nuclear powers to develop nuclear fuel but not weapons.

Here world opinion seems to be saying that sovereign nations should not be allowed to independently develop nuclear fuel. It also suggests that the UN – an organization which almost everyone seems to agree needs reforming – should be given more powers over the internal affairs of nation-states.

An average of 30% of respondents support economic sanctions if Iran continued to produce nuclear fuel. In Poland 41% support sanctions.

I remember Madeleine Albright, after she was asked whether the sanctions against Iraq, which killed around a half a million children, were ‘worth it’ she said, “Yeah, it was worth it.”

Sanctions were as much hated in Iraq as was Saddam Hussein. That coloured Iraqi opinion of the UN, and the US/UK invasion and occupation when it happened. Sanctions never work – they unite people against the outside, and not against the dictatorship or government. And Poles would tell you that even when the economy is on its knees and the people are suffering, somehow the ruling elite will still have loads of sausages on their table. Sanctions are immoral and counter productive.

The international political will is not behind sanctions. And I shouldn’t think that the president of Iran is too bothered about a military strike. The US really would be alone if it tried it – even if it could. And let’s face it: with US troops bogged down for the long term in Iraq and Afghanistan the likelihood of any sustained military action is about as likely as the president’s of Iran and the US giving each other a big, slobbery kiss.


roman said...

Off topic.
I guess Chavez, speaking at the UN has an aversion to sulpher. He kept on calling Bush the devil. Using terms such as capitalist imperialist and world dictator.
I knew this man was unstable and now he is proving it on the world stage. It's time the Venezuelan people start to measure him for a jacket with sleeves that tie in the back.

Gustav said...

I don't like sanctions either. They tend to punish the people, while regimes find ways around them, per the Oil-for-food scandal.

Perhaps "targeted" sanctions - only restricting items that could be used to produce nuclear weapons?

- But how do you enforce them? How do you make sure they are complied with?

Sanctions and bombs are so far the only ways the world has come up with to punish and/or force nasty governments (and let's face it, Iran's is a REALLY nasty one) to follow international rules.

So do we allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons because we don't like bombs and sanctions? Or can we come up with a better solution?

Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Iran must be a policy nightmare. Can you attack it militarily? Not a hope. It would be madness, even on a limited scale. Do sanctions work? Not really, even if they are well-targeted. Can you encourage regime change via coloured revolution? Well, people have tried for 20 years with no success? Is Iran developing a nuclear weapon? If I were Ahmadinejad I would be - stuck between regional powers like Saudi, Pakistan India, Russia and Iraq, you'd be bloody stupid not to build yourself a great big deterrent a al North Korea. Can united, joined up diplomacy save the day? Not when you're dealing with a recalcitrant Iran, who has already rejected (more than) reasonable compromises. And not when Chirac goes off message whenever he feels like it.

In short, Iran has all the cards. And you don't keep a nuclear programme secret for 18 years without some pretty big intentions. The key decision to make now is how we handle a nuclear capable Iran in 2,5.7 or 15 years time. That, should you need reminding, is a nuclear capable Iran whose President has called for Israeal to be wiped off the face of the map. Now, it would mad for Iran to attack Israel, but would you trust the sanity of 'halo of light transfixing my audience Ahmadinejad? Of course, with any luck his overly generous state spending plans will bankrupt the country and get him booted out. Suddenly Rafsanjani will seem like a very reasonable man indeed...

beatroot said...

Firstly, is Iran trying to make a bomb? They kept their nuclear program secret for 18 years. Why? Did they expect problems? Probably. If they do want weapons – and I am not convinced – then you can hardly blame then. Israel has them. India has them. Pakistan has them. To be a real power in the region it is now necessary to have a nuke.

And the US goes on about the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, when it has not kept to its side of the bargain of getting rid of its nukes. Neither has Russia.

But there is no hard evidence that it wants or is making a bomb. It is trying to make fuel grade uranium A very different type of stuff. Easier to make. If that is what they are doing then they should be allowed to. It is their country.

But the best way to find out what they are doing is open them up with diplomacy and trade. Make the middle class bigger. That’s the secularizing sector in Iran. Let the country develop, make em richer. Bombing people you trade with is really hard.

Anonymous said...

Short of Ahmadinejad posing in front of a nuclear tipped missile while doing an interview with CNN. There is not going to be any action against Iran either by way of a military strikes or sanctions in the near future.

The UN Security Council will not get a vote through for sanctions because China and Russia don’t want it. The Americans already have their own sanctions in place which amount to nothing as the Iranians can purchase just about anything they want from third parties.

The US military is already strained with its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because they are refusing to go to the mechanism of conscription (politically impossible), they will not have enough troops for the job. As long as Iraq remains a work in progress new invasions are unlikely.

The American government used up its credibility with the WMD argument during the last Iraq war and will be unlikely to organize support for another war without smoking gun evidence and then some.

Is Iran trying to build the bomb, you bet they are? Their parallel project of a missile delivery system, in itself is a good indicator of intentions. Once they have the bomb then they have a guarantee the US wouldn’t invade them.

The only thing that’s going to happen for now is a colourful exchange of diplomatic hot air.

The wild card in this situation is Israel; if they believe Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric then they will take pre-emptive action on their own as soon as they see that the Iranians are close to completing their weapons project. The consequences would be anybodies guess.

sonia said...

Now, let's analyse those figures:

67% of Poles believe Iran is trying to get nukes.

7% of Poles want Iran forcibly disarmed.

Does it mean that some Poles would be secretly (very secretly) happy if Iran got the nukes and used it where it is most likely to use them ?

Anonymous said...

Sonia said:
Now, let's analyse those figures:

67% of Poles believe Iran is trying to get nukes.

7% of Poles want Iran forcibly disarmed.

Does it mean that some Poles would be secretly (very secretly) happy if Iran got the nukes and used it where it is most likely to use them?
What kind of sick anti-polish propaganda is this, are you trying to tell us that 67% of Poles are favouring the violent destruction of Israel.

That’s crazy!

Every Polish government since 1989 has worked hard for good relations with Israel. Poland has one of the closest relationships with Jewish state in all of Europe.

There exist more anti-Semitism in the US and in West European academic institutions than there is in Poland.

If your goings to try slandering an entire people, try using fact not outdated ethnic stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sonia,

Now I understand your bitterness and hatred of the Polish people.

“Your father was a well-known Communist party activist. Her mother, Barbara Murawska, was a Polish refugee. Sonia has lived in Paris, Warsaw, Moscow and Tonga.”
I hope I quoted correctly from your biography.

I would think you should be less antagonistic to Poles and show some remorse after all don’t communists subscribe to the concept of family liability.

At least show some restraint, it was your mother’s homeland.

sonia said...


What kind of sick anti-polish propaganda is this

Now I understand your bitterness and hatred of the Polish people

Now, how would you feel if Ahmadinejad dropped a nuke on the greatest concentration of 'anti-polish propaganda' and people full of 'bitterness and hatred of the Polish people' ? Be honest!

Krokodyle lzy....

johnseeking said...

Sanctions didn't kill Iraqui children. Saddam F***ing Hussein killed children.

Why can't the liberal mindset comprehend this?

Anonymous said...

Dear Sonia,

Your last post doesn’t address your earlier comments; in the event of a miscommunication do I understand you correctly as holding the view that the overwhelming majority of Poles would approve of Israel’s destruction?

Nothing could be further from the truth!

The overwhelming majority of Poles are sympathic towards Israel, sober and productive people. Did I miss any of the stereotypes?

Also incase you visit Poland; we have distinctive facial features so it’s easy to tell us apart, in the event you felt we all look alike..

Arguments and conclusions are best defended by logic and facts not personal prejudice.

sonia said...


do I understand you correctly as holding the view that the overwhelming majority of Poles would approve of Israel’s destruction?

I don't know what the 'overwhelming majority' of Poles think. I was merely asking a not-so-innocent question. Your furious indignation doesn't really answer that question one way or another.

On one hand are your verbal assurances that Poles are not anti-semitic.

On the other hand are your paranoid rants about 'anti-Polish propaganda' and 'hatred of the Polish people'. The question isn't whether such propaganda and anti-Polish hatred exists. It does. Especially in Israel. So the question becomes: How come you don't hate people who hate you ?

Anonymous said...

Sonia said:

I was merely asking a not-so-innocent question.

That’s nuts there’s no relationship between any innocence and your original comments, your intentions were clear. However you’re entitled to your views no mater how misplaced and grotesque they may be. So lets move on.

Undoubtedly your are aware from history that after the fall of Nazis Germany there were many interesting dinner table conversations as curious young Germans inquired and brought to account there parents for their actions during the Nazis period.

I have been curious; in a more contemporary vain the fall of communism may have created similar scenarios and it has been 16 years. Your well placed to satisfy my curiosity. Wouldn’t your background make you in some sense the equivalent of say someone in Germany who found there father was a member of the SS and was curious as what the extent of his guilt was?

French author St├ęphane Courtois wrote a book:

The Black Book of Communism
Crimes, Terror, Repression

Already famous throughout Europe, this international bestseller plumbs recently opened archives in the former Soviet bloc to reveal the actual, practical accomplishments of Communism around the world: terror, torture, famine, mass deportations, and massacres. Astonishing in the sheer detail it amasses, the book is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue and analyze the crimes of Communism over seventy years.

Apparently the simple math of accounting for the dead took 912 pages and not all academics agree on the exact total. There is general consensus that the death toll was in the tens of millions.

After it was over did you ever have any curiosity about your father’s portion of the guilt whether it was direct or indirect? I would be interested if you had a chance to confront your father and how he responded.

Also did you ever feel empathy for the victims and was there a desire on your part for some form of atonement in light of your family background.

sonia said...


If you had visited my blog, you might have noticed The Black Book of Communism on my 'Great Books' sidebar, along with novels by Jozef Mackiewicz.

I used to believe in Communism. Two years in the Soviet Union cured me of that illusion. But I only became a committed anti-Communist after reading Mackiewicz's 'Zwyciestwo prowokacji' (and later, all his other books)...

Beatroot (or someone else, I don't remember) once described my anti-Communism as some form of Elektra complex.

I will respond to your comment more extensively on my blog, since this is an old thread and few people read it by now....

beatroot said...

Tak. Electra Complex!

sonia said...


My response to you is here...

Anonymous said...

Dear Sonia,

Your response was both unexpected and surprising, as obviously I new nothing of your background short of the few lines of biography in Wikipedia.

I completely share your views on communism and is it also based on direct personal experience with this clearly defined evil.

It has become fashionable to malign a large component of Polish society that remains nationalist, socially conservative and Christian in its values. Viewed by some as being backward and embarrassingly out of step with today’s Europe. Viewed by others as the rock solid and uncompromising defenders of the nation therefore themselves being worthy of defence.

During darker days, I repeatedly witnessed these ordinary people put themselves and their families at great risk simply because Poland needed it.

My interactions with you were harsher than they should have been, for that I apologize.