The saying that the sauce that is good for the goose is also good for the gander - in other words, that the principle of equality should extend to personal and international conduct - has been stood on its head by absurd western reaction to Iran's missile tests. The White House in Washington announced that the firing of missiles was "completely inconsistent with Iran's obligations to the world" and that "the Iranian regime only furthers the isolation of the Iranian people from the international community when it engages in this sort of activity." The thrust of US media reporting was that Iran is "ignoring global concern over its launch of a broadside of missiles amid efforts to end the crisis over its nuclear programme." Global concern? What global concern? It is likely that more people in the world support Iran (in spite of its theocratic government) than who condemn its reaction to the confrontation that has been so deviously stage-managed by America and Israel. International feeling is intensely anti-American, courtesy of the Bush confrontational "You are with us or against us" policy of treating with contempt those who question his blinkered egocentric approach to world affairs. No survey has yet been conducted concerning international opinion on the threat to Iran from Israel and the US, but given last month's World Opinion Poll results about the perceived effectiveness of the US president ("worldwide mistrust of George Bush has created a global leadership vacuum"), it is likely that the majority of the world would express strong opposition to the swaggering, bullying displays put on by US and Israeli public figures. The Pew organisation that conducts international polls found in May that Muslims "worry that America's military strength might someday be directed at them. In the eleven predominantly Muslim countries where the question was asked in 2007, at least 60 percent said they were very or somewhat worried that the United States could become a military threat to their country someday. And...76 percent say this in Turkey - a country that has been a NATO ally of the United States for over half a century." But does that message get through to Washington? Obviously not, in spite of intelligent and dedicated State Department diplomats reporting this sort of thing all the time. The US secretary of state has declared her unqualified support for Israel, and in May the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, boasted of his deep and everlasting admiration for a regime headed by a shifty character who is facing criminal charges. ("Israeli police say they suspect the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, of "serious fraud" after questioning him for a third time yesterday [July11] as part of a widening corruption investigation.") These people must know the effects their statements can have around the world, and it is obvious that their every word has the approval of the US president. It would be absurd to try to deny this, if only because Admiral William Fallon, until recently commander of central command, was forced to resign after he ventured minor disagreement with the Bush administration's intentions as regards attacking Iran. There is no room for constitutional dissent in Bush Washington, and the stridency of Rice and Mullen (and Bush himself), combined with the firing of Fallon, gave ample sign to Israel that its strike plans were favourably regarded, just as they were when it bombed Syria last September. Last month Israeli conducted a rehearsal for its attack on Iran, involving over 100 strike and fighter aircraft. It could hardly have been a more blatant and menacing display of Israeli military chutzpah, and it would not have taken place had the US not permitted it. After the strike training ended General Shaul Mofaz, an Israeli deputy prime minister, told the newspaper Yediot Aharonot that "Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable." Then the defence minister (and former prime minister), General Ehud Barak, said on Israel radio that his country "is the strongest country in the region and we have already shown in the past that we are not afraid of acting when our vital interests are threatened." (Note the military ranks of these people.) Then General Barak went on to declare that Iran "represents a challenge for the whole world." No it doesn't. But Iran has chosen to give a demonstration that it won't sit still if it is attacked by Israeli bombers supported by America. It will try to do its best to respond to such a demonstrably illegal offensive by firing rockets at its assailants' bases. It won't be able to do much, in fact, because its few rockets have lousy guidance systems and high explosive (rather than nuclear) warheads; but it has the right of self-defence. After the missile tests the British government, in one of its more asinine proclamations, announced that "We have to question why does Iran need such long-range missiles?" It seems this wasn't said by someone who was trying to keep the laughter out of his or her voice, and that the statement was actually serious, in which case the verdict on it must be one of stupidity. Iran is menaced by two regimes that have demonstrated bellicosity towards other countries. Israel recently attacked Syria, and the US went to war against Iraq illegally and without justification. Neither country was capable of defending itself, but Iran is determined to at least try to exact a price on those who seek its subjugation. For this legitimate objective it requires some means of fighting back, and missiles are its answer. You might not agree that missiles, nuclear or otherwise, are a good thing - and I certainly don't - but you have to see the Iranians' point. The egregious Rice, always ready to throw fuel on flickering flames of ill feeling, declared "I don't think the Iranians are too confused....about the capabilities and power of the United States. In the Gulf area, the United States has enhanced its security capacity, its security presence and we are working closely with all our allies...[to] make it more difficult for Iran to threaten, be bellicose and say terrible things." You've got to laugh about that one: "Say terrible things?" Presumably the bellicose Israeli Generals Barak and Mofaz have a US license to say terrible things, but Iran is supposed to keep its collective mouth shut when menaced by a bunch of bizarre fanatics. It is not understood by Israel and the US: why a nation they attack should want to conduct such resistance as it might be able to offer. Why, exactly, should Iran do nothing while being blasted by Israeli deep penetration bombs and who knows what other US-supplied munitions? It is unreasonable, to say the least, to expect the Iranian leaders to sit there wringing their collective hands while the bombs thunder down. What country in the world, if it possessed some means of retaliation, could possibly allow blatant aggression to go unheeded? Would Israel? Would the US? Of course not. But what they have to remember is that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And if they attack Iran the results could be disastrous. The writer is a South Asian political and military affairs analyst. E-mail: beecluff@aol.com Web: www.briancloughley.com