Chance for war with Iran
In other words, the IAEA knowingly conspired in a fictitious, entirely non-scientific assessment of the Syrian "nuclear reactor" story, one that neatly served US-Israeli geopolitical interests.
Porter notes that vice-president Dick Cheney "hoped to use the alleged reactor to get President George W Bush to initiate US airstrikes in Syria in the hope of shaking the Syrian-Iranian alliance."
In fact, Cheney wanted far more sites in Syria hit than the bogus nuclear plant. In his memoirs, the then-secretary of defence, Robert Gates, observed that Cheney was "looking for an opportunity to provoke a war with Iran."
The Bush administration wanted to find a way to unseat Assad, crush Hezbollah in Lebanon, and isolate and weaken Iran as a way to destroy the so-called "Shia crescent."
That goal is being actively pursued again by the US today, with Israel and Saudi Arabia leading the way. A former US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, recently warned that, after their failure to bring down Assad, the Saudis have been trying to switch battlefields to Lebanon, hoping to foment a confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah that would drag in Iran.
Back in 2007, the IAEA, an agency of scientists, did its bit to assist -- or at least not obstruct -- US efforts to foster a political case, an entirely unjustified one, for military action against Syria and, very possibly by extension, Iran.
If the IAEA could so abandon its remit and the cause of science to help play politics on behalf of the US, what leads Monbiot to assume that the OPCW, an even more politicized body, is doing any better today?
That is not to say Assad, or at least sections of the Syrian government, could not have carried out the attack on Khan Sheikhoun. But it is to argue that in a matter like this one, where so much is at stake, the evidence must be subjected to rigorous scrutiny, and that critics, especially experts who offer counter-evidence, must be given a fair hearing by the left. It is to argue that, when the case against Assad fits so neatly a long-standing and self-serving western narrative, a default position of scepticism is fully justified. It is to argue that facts, strong as they may seem, can be manipulated even by expert bodies, and therefore due weight needs also to be given to context -- including an assessment of motives.
This is not "denialism," as Monbiot claims. It is a rational strategy adopted by those who object to being railroaded once again -- as they were in Iraq and Libya -- into catastrophic regime change operations.
Meanwhile, the decision by Monbiot and others to bury their heads in the sands of an official narrative, all the while denouncing anyone who seeks to lift theirs out for a better view, should be understood for what it is: an abnegation of intellectual and moral responsibility for those around the globe who continue to be the victims of western military supremacism.