May 18, 2010
If you read the major American
newspapers or watch the propaganda on cable TV, it's pretty clear that
the U.S. foreign policy Establishment is again spoiling for a fight,
this time in Iran.
Just as Iraq's Saddam Hussein was the designated target of American
hate in 2002 and 2003, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is playing
that role now. Back then, any event in Iraq was cast in the harshest
possible light; today, the same is done with Iran.
Anyone who dares suggest that the situation on the ground might not be
as black and white as the Washington Post's editors claim it is must be
an "apologist" for the enemy regime. It's also not very smart for one's
reputation to question the certainty of the reporting in the New York
Times, whether about Iraq's "aluminum tubes" for nuclear centrifuges in
2002 or regarding Iran's "rigged" election in 2009.
It's much better for one's career to clamber onto the confrontation
bandwagon. Nobody in the major U.S. media or in politics will ever be
hurt by talking tough and flexing muscles regarding some Muslim
"enemy." And, if the posturing leads to war, it will fall mostly to
working-class kids to do the fighting and dying while the bills can be
passed along to future generations.
Even groups that should know better - like Votevets.org representing
veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars - have been piggybacking on the
organized hate campaign against Ahmadinejad and Iran to advance other
political agendas. In cable TV ads, Votevets.org uses Ahmadinejad's
face and Iran's alleged manufacture of some IEDs to press the case for
looking at this American propaganda campaign objectively, you would
assume that the only acceptable outcome of U.S. differences with Iran
is another Iraq-like ratcheting up of tensions, using Washington's
influence within the UN Security Council to impose escalating
sanctions, leading ultimately to another war, as if the lessons of Iraq
have already been forgotten.
This warmongering attitude was on display again Monday, when a possible
breakthrough regarding Iran's refining of nuclear material - its
agreement to ship a substantial amount to Turkey in exchange for
nuclear rods for medical research - was treated more as a negative than
The New York Times promptly framed the agreement reached by Iran, Turkey and Brazil as "complicating sanctions talk," while the Washington Post rushed out an analysis with the headline, "Iran creates illusion of progress in nuclear negotiations."
The Post's analysis followed a Saturday editorial
denouncing Brazil's President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva for even
trying "yet another effort to 'engage' the extremist clique of
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "
The Post's neocon editorial writers reprised the usual anti-Iran
propaganda themes with all the arrogance that they once showed in
declaring as flat fact that Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of WMD.
After the U.S. invaded Iraq and found no WMD caches, the Post's
editorial page editor Fred Hiatt acknowledged to CJR that if there
indeed were no WMD, "it would have been better not to say it."
(More than 4,300 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead, in part, because of Hiatt's mistake.)
On Saturday, an unchastened Hiatt and his crew were back again spouting
more fictions, this time about Iran, like the oft-repeated claim that
the Iranian election last June was "fraudulent," apparently because the
Post's preferred candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, lost.
An analysis by the University of Maryland's Program on International
Policy Attitudes earlier this year found that there was little evidence
to support allegations of fraud or to conclude that most Iranians
viewed Ahmadinejad's reelection as illegitimate.
Not a single Iranian poll analyzed by PIPA - whether before or after
the June 12 election, whether conducted inside or outside Iran - showed
Ahmadinejad with less than majority support. None showed the
much-touted Green Movement's candidate Mousavi ahead or even close.
findings do not prove that there were no irregularities in the election
process," said Steven Kull, director of PIPA. "But they do not support
the belief that a majority rejected Ahmadinejad." [For details, see
Consortiumnews.com's "Ahmadinejad Won, Get Over It!"]
So, while many in the West may agree that Ahmadinejad is an unpleasant
politician who foolishly questions the historical accuracy of the
Holocaust and makes other bombastic statements, it is nevertheless a
propaganda fiction to continue asserting that he was not the choice of
most Iranian voters.
point is not insignificant, because the claim about Iran's "fraudulent"
election has been cited repeatedly as fact by the Post, the Times and
other major U.S. news outlets, feeding the rationale of Israel and U.S.
neocons in demanding "regime change."
If Ahmadinejad was actually elected - even if the process had flaws -
then the goal of "regime change" would involve ousting a popularly
chosen leader, much like the CIA helped do in 1953 when another
anti-Western Iranian leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, was removed from
office and replaced by Washington's preferred choice, the Shah of Iran.
But the American hostility toward Ahmadinejad - and the U.S. media's
annoyance at any rapprochement between Washington and Tehran - present
other dangers, particularly now that Iran has agreed to a previous
Western demand that it transfer 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of
low-enriched uranium out of the country, in this case to Turkey, where
it would be stored.
Iran-Turkey-Brazil agreement would then give Iran the right to receive
about 265 pounds of more highly enriched uranium from Russia and France
in a form that could not be used for a nuclear weapon, but could be put
to use for peaceful purposes, such as medical research.
Even though this new deal parallels a plan that the Obama
administration favored last October, U.S. officials have indicated that
they might balk at the agreement now because the 2,640 pounds of
low-enriched uranium represents a lower percentage of Iran's total
supply than it did last fall, possibly more like half than two-thirds.
"The situation has changed," one diplomat told the New York Times.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also indicated that the new
agreement would not stop the United States from seeking harsher
sanctions against Iran.
United States will continue to work with our international partners,
and through the United Nations Security Council, to make it clear to
the Iranian government that it must demonstrate through deeds - and not
simply words - its willingness to live up to international obligations
or face consequences, including sanctions," Gibbs said.
The Washington Post's analysis by Glenn Kessler portrayed the new
agreement as "a victory" for Iran that has allowed it to create "the
illusion of progress in nuclear negotiations with the West, without
offering any real compromise to the United States and its allies."
However, perhaps the bigger concern among American neocons is that the
Iran-Turkey-Brazil accord might weaken the rationale for pressing ahead
either with a military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities or with
a "regime change" strategy that would use sanctions and covert
political operations to turn the Iranian people against their
By reducing the
prospects of Iran building a nuclear weapon - something that Iran has
vowed that it has no intention of doing and that U.S. intelligence
agencies concluded in 2007 that it wasn't doing - the new agreement
could remove the scariest claim that Israel and its supporters have
used in justifying a confrontation with Iran.
So, what might otherwise appear as good news - i.e. an agreement that
at minimum delays the possibility of an Iranian bomb and could be a
first step toward a fuller agreement - is presented as bad news.
Obama administration now faces the uncomfortable prospect of rejecting
a proposal it offered in the first place -- or seeing months of effort
to enact new sanctions derailed," Kessler explained.
As usual, too, the articles by the Washington Post and the New York
Times left out the relevant fact that Israel, which has been
aggressively pushing for greater transparency from Iran over its
suspected interest in nukes, itself has one of the world's most
sophisticated - and undeclared - nuclear arsenals.
Even as President Barack Obama has demanded more nuclear transparency
from all countries, he himself continues the longstanding charade of
U.S. presidents, dating back to Richard Nixon, pretending that they
don't know that Israel has nuclear weapons.
In line with that history of double standards, Washington's neocon
opinion leaders now are framing what could be a positive step toward
peace - the Iran-Turkey-Brazil accord - as another failure.
But the larger truth may be that the neocons are simply chafing under
the possibility that their hunger for a new conflict in the Middle East
might be delayed indefinitely and that - heaven forbid - cooler heads
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