NYT Pushes Confrontation with Iran

Apparently having learned no lessons
from the Iraq WMD debacle, the New York Times is pushing for a
heightened confrontation with Iran, slipping into the same kind of
hysteria that it and other major U.S. news organizations displayed in
2002 and 2003.

In its latest neocon-styled editorial -
commenting on a new critical report about Iran's growing truculence
toward nuclear inspectors - the Times concluded with this judgment:

"Tehran, predictably, insists it
is not building a [nuclear] weapon. Its refusal to halt enrichment and
cooperate with the I.A.E.A. [International Atomic Energy Agency] makes
that ever more impossible to believe."

Beyond the grammatical
point that "impossible" like "unique" is an absolute adjective that
can't be modified, the Times misses the point that its previous
over-the-top hostility toward Iran - evidenced in its news columns as
well as its opinion pages - has helped create the dynamic that is
driving the standoff over Iran's nuclear program to a crisis point.

Amazingly, the Washington
Post, usually an even more reliably neocon bastion than the Times,
offered a more thoughtful assessment in its own Friday editorial
on the same topic. The Post noted that the most promising area for
negotiation with Iran was its past willingness to swap some of its
low-enriched uranium for more highly enriched isotopes for medical

But the Post observed
that delays in reaching an agreement over a proposed swap of 1,200
kilograms of low-enriched uranium - combined with the steady increase
in Iran's stockpile - "has greatly complicated the prospects."

The Post said that "when
the deal was first proposed, Iran would have given up more than
two-thirds of its stockpile and would have been left with less than the
amount needed for one bomb. To achieve the same effect, Tehran would
now have to be induced to nearly double the amount of low-enriched
uranium it turned over."

The Post noted that Iran
currently has enough low-enriched uranium to build two nuclear bombs,
if it chose to bring the refinement up to much higher levels and
committed itself to design and construct a nuclear weapon.

However, what the Post -
and the Times - don't mention in their two lead editorials is that they
and their neocon friends were instrumental in frustrating President
Barack Obama's initial efforts to reach an agreement on the fuel swap
last year and that they then helped sabotage a parallel deal negotiated
by the leaders of Brazil and Turkey earlier this year.

Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
persuaded Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to accept the swap
agreement in May, completing the negotiations that the Obama
administration had begun.

Sinking the Swap

At that point, the swap
would have removed about half of Iran's low-enriched uranium leaving
the Iranianis only enough to theoretically begin work on one bomb,
assuming they actually wanted to.

Though the swap would
seem to have represented a major step forward - since one hypothetical
nuclear bomb is far less threatening than two and since the agreement
might have led to more Iranian concessions - the deal was trashed by
opinion leaders at the Post and the Times.

The Post's editors mocked the
Brazil-Turkey initiative as "yet another effort to 'engage' the
extremist clique of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

The Times star columnist
Thomas Friedman chimed in, terming the Brazil-Turkey peace effort "as
ugly as it gets," the title of his column.
Friedman, who was also a top cheerleader for invading Iraq (having
dubbed himself a "Tony Blair Democrat"), made clear that he would only
be satisfied with more "regime change" in Iran.

"Ultimately, [the success of the
Iranian opposition] - not any nuclear deal with the Iranian clerics -
is the only sustainable source of security and stability. We have spent
far too little time and energy nurturing that democratic trend and far
too much chasing a nuclear deal," Friedman wrote.

hardliners, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also treated the
leaders of Brazil and Turkey as unwelcome interlopers who were
intruding on America's diplomatic turf.

Lula da Silva responded by
challenging those Americans who insisted that it was "none of Brazil's
business" to act as an intermediary to resolve the showdown with Iran.

"But who said it was a matter for
the United States?" he asked, adding that "the blunt truth is, Iran is
being presented as if it were the devil, that it doesn't want to sit
down" to negotiate, contrary to the fact that "Iran decided to sit down
at the negotiating table. It wants to see if the others are going to
go along with what (it) has done."

What Iran saw instead was
a parade of American pundits and policymakers heaping scorn on the
Iran-Brazil-Turkey accord.

Puzzled by the U.S.
reaction, Brazil released a three-page letter from President Obama to
President Lula da Silva encouraging Brazil and Turkey to go forward
with the swap deal. In the letter, Obama said the proposed uranium swap
"would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially
reducing Iran's" stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

However, the
administration's hawks - backed by the elite opinion-shapers of the
Post and Times - prevailed over Obama. Instead of embracing the swap
deal, the Obama administration pressed forward with harsher sanctions
against Iran, despite warnings that the sanctions would only harden
Iran's nuclear stance.

Now, after Iran
predictably reacted with greater animosity and suspicion toward the
international community, the Times editorialists are determined, again,
to ratchet up the tensions in line with Friedman's view that the only
acceptable solution is "regime change."

The Post's editorialists
at least were honest enough to note the failed swap deal, but they,
too, ended on an ominous note, suggesting that a U.S. military attack
may be the only solution.

Noting a new analysis by
the Institute for Science and International Security that Iran may
already be producing weapons-grade uranium at a secret facility, the
Post concluded: "If that is the case, economic sanctions are unlikely
to prevent it."

So, this is where the
biased journalism of the Times and the Post -- especially regarding
Iran's 2009 election -- has led the world, to the brink of another Middle East conflict.

Having brushed aside the
disaster in Iraq and the related bungled war in Afghanistan, the
neocons and their allies appear to remain the chief arbiters and the
leading architects of U.S. foreign policy.

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