Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer, senior adviser and White House press secretary under the George W. Bush administration, appeared on Fox News Thursday night in the hours after the Trump administration assassinated top Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani. (Photo: Fox News/screenshot)

Corporate Media Turns to Warhawks, Including Former Bush Officials, to Beat Drums of War on Iran

"Nothing's been learned from 2003. Nothing."

Julia Conley

Trump critics and peace advocates watched in horror Thursday night and Friday morning as some of the top architects of the Iraq War took to the corporate media to spin a narrative aimed at retroactively convincing Americans that the killing of Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani was essential to the safety of the U.S.—a replica of the run-up to the Iraq War nearly two decades ago.

Following reports that President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike that killed Soleimani, the major general of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, former George W. Bush administration officials were among those who media outlets called on to make a case for the act.

"CNN is allowing a parade of Republican lawmakers to go on air and cheerlead for war with Iran, and barely bothering to ask any of them how the U.S. keeps the region safe or what the plan is. We've learned much less since 2003 than we should have."
—Matthew Chapman, Raw Story
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer suggested, as conservatives did in 2003 regarding Iraqi civilians, that Iranians would likely celebrate the killing of Soleimani—presuming to speak for demonstrators who have decried economic hardships in the face of U.S. sanctions and government mismanagement in recent weeks.

"The Iranian people have been leading a revolution, a rebellion against their government, knowing what a dictatorship it is," Fleischer told Fox News. "So I think it is entirely possible this is going to be a catalyst inside Iran where the people celebrate the killing of Soleimani."

Journalist Judd Legum wrote that Fox is "getting the band back together" as right-wingers rework their 2003 claims to apply to Iran, joined by Trump administration officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo appeared on CNN Friday to claim that Iranian civilians "will view the American action last night as giving them freedom"—even as thousands of people took to the streets in Tehran and other cities in Iran to protest the Trump administration's actions. 

A number of observers denounced cable news networks for offering a platform to pro-war extremists while ignoring the voices of peace advocates and critics.

"Former Bush appointees who thought the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a good idea?" tweeted journalism professor and Guardian columnist Christian Christensen. "Maybe not be the most objective commentators on US interests in the region."

"It's War Inc. all over again," wrote Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation. "No voices calling for peace. No voices critical of empire. Just establishment media and current and former Pentagon officials who feed off the trillion-dollar war machine."

News networks demonstrated their eagerness to present an uncritical view of the Trump administration's reasoning for the airstrike, which came days after the president, without evidence, accused Iran of orchestrating an attack at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

CNBC's declaration that the U.S. had "just [taken] out the world's number one bad guy" was condemned as "journalistic malpractice" by writer Kelsey Atherton.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch wrote about the contrast between the Trump administration's sudden escalation in Iran and the run-up to George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of iraq—prior to which the president, his top advisers, and other conservative commentators spent more than a year insisting the U.S. military should defeat Saddam Hussein.

Trump ordered the airstrike that killed Soleimani before "99 percent" of Americans had even heard of the official, wrote Bunch.

"Within minutes, the same people who brought us the endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere suddenly showed up on TV to declare [Soleimani] was the worst person in the world," he tweeted.

"Where is the speech to the American people that lays out to the everyday citizen 1) who was Soleimani 2) what are his crimes against the U.S. 3) how does killing him make us safer 4) what is our plan for the messy aftermath?" Bunch asked, calling the administration's unilateral move without lawmakers' knowledge—much less congressional approval—"imperialistic and authoritarian."

Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore added that with a steady stream of commentary from Fleischer, Rove, Pompeo, and other conservatives clamoring to move ahead with war in Iran, Americans will be "trained to hate" Soleimani by the end of the week—even if they had never heard of him before Thursday night.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Breaking: FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 to 11

With just one abstention, the advisory panel voted 17-0 to approve the vaccine for younger children which scientific review has deemed both safe and effective against the deadly virus.

Common Dreams staff ·



Latest UN Climate Report Delivers 'Another Thundering Wake-Up Call'

"Climate change is no longer a future problem. It is a now problem," said the UNEP executive director. "The clock is ticking loudly."

Jessica Corbett ·


Climate Movement Hails 'Mind-Blowing' $40 Trillion in Fossil Fuel Divestment Pledges

"Institutions around the world must step up now and commit to joining the divest-invest movement before it is too late—for them, for the economy, and for the world."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Really Fantastic': Europe's Largest Pension Fund Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment

It's "a huge victory for the climate, human rights, and all life on Earth," said one activist.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo