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U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr/cc)

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Photo: PRE-COVID, U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr/cc)

Trump and Netanyahu Keep Trying to Goad Iran Conflict. They Have 18 Days.

The U.S. mainstream media’s biggest failure is not that it distorts coverage, but that most of it doesn’t cover the danger of a Mideast conflict at all.

James North

 by Mondoweiss

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu continue trying to goad Iran into a conflict—and the U.S. mainstream media continues its awful record of distorting or ignoring this truth. Look at this dishonest headline in the New York Times the other day

Pentagon Sends More B-52s to Middle East to Deter Iranian Attacks on U.S. Troops

It is not a huge stretch to imagine an equivalent headline in Europe in late August 1939:

Germany Sends More Troops to Its Eastern Border to Deter Polish Attacks

It is exactly one year since the U.S. assassinated the prominent Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani, and the Times cites anonymous “American intelligence analysts” warning that Tehran may retaliate today for the killing. But you don’t have to be a Mideast expert to recognize that Iran’s leaders know how to count — up to 18, the number of days until Joe Biden becomes president, after which the dangerous warmongering will stop. So Iran has every incentive to remain patient, just as it did in November after Israel (almost certainly) sponsored the murder of the Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsin Fakhrizadeh, near Tehran.

Netanyahu has long tried to instigate the U.S. into a conflict with Tehran, probably in the hope that it might even topple the regime, which is Israel’s biggest rival in the region.

By contrast, both Trump and Netanyahu do have plenty of motivation to provoke conflict with Iran. Even if Trump recognizes that an international emergency will not permit him to stay in power, he wants to sabotage the incoming Biden administration any way he can—and also repay his major donor, billionaire pro-Israel gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson, who once called for the U.S. to fire “an atomic bomb” at Iran.

Netanyahu has long tried to instigate the U.S. into a conflict with Tehran, probably in the hope that it might even topple the regime, which is Israel’s biggest rival in the region. But the Israeli prime minister is now also personally desperate. He faces his 4th election in 2 years; right-wingers are abandoning his Likud party — and if he loses the premiereship, he faces multiple corruption cases in court and could end up in prison.

Both desperate men need a big distraction. None of this analysis is original. You can find genuine experts online in minutes, people like Trita Parsi, Sina Toossi, and Negar Mortazavi, who, although no friends of Iran’s regime, will explain that the last thing Tehran wants today is even the slightest pretext for conflict. And they speak on the record, instead of hiding behind anonymity. Or you could glance at Haaretz, the valuable Israeli daily, which after the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientist in November warned in an editorial: “Killing of Iranian Scientist Is a Dangerous Provocation.”

Arguably the U.S. mainstream media’s biggest failure is not that it distorts coverage, but that most of it doesn’t cover the danger of a Mideast conflict at all. You can watch the cable news networks for hours without stumbling across a single report about Iran. Which means that if the U.S. and Israel do attack before noon on January 20, or if a tragic accident amid the tightened tensions triggers an outbreak of violence, the American public will have no idea of what just happened. To Americans, it will seem like a surprise Iranian attack, and they will support what they think is “retaliation.”

Meanwhile, Mortazavi, a distinguished Iranian-American reporter, tweets:

My own family/friends in Iran are worried. They keep asking me if @realDonaldTrump will attack Iran. I say hopefully not but also explain that the threat is real because some people around him, like {Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo, wanted the US to bomb Iran for years and this is their final opportunity.


© 2021 Mondoweiss

James North

James North is an independent writer, who has reported from Africa, Latin America and Asia for 43 years. Author of Freedom Rising, a first-hand look at apartheid South Africa.

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