Sep 2, 2007

More on Iran War Propaganda

Sara Baxter, "Pentagon 'Three-Day Blitz' Plan For Iran" reporting in the Sunday Times in the UK gives a good roundup of the information beginning to accumulate about the justification for going into war with Iran.

She picks up on a speech given at the Nixon Center by Alexis
Dabat revealing that the Pentagon has strike plans against 1200 targets in Iran. He spoke at a meeting organized by The National Interest--a conservative foreign policy group. The article also sources the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) which is part of the MEK, an anti-Iranian group seeking to overthrow the Iranian regime. The MEK , and also in a supplementary order, the NCRI have both been named as terrorist groups by the State department. That seems not to matter to our government which relies on terrorist connections when in our interest to do so. According to Scott Ritter in his book Target Iran (2007) the NCRI statements in the past have been the means through which Israel's intelligence services "made public" their information.

Although the recent positive report of the
IAEA saying Iran has been very cooperative is mentioned, it is immediately followed by a comment that "Washington fears" that this report will be used as a stalling tactic by Iran. The reporter is for The Times in the UK, but she might as well be working for the Washington Times, since many of the sources she refers to are on the right side of the spectrum and have been militating for war with Iran for many many months, if not years.

The final argument presented is that Iran is fighting a "proxy war" in Iraq, and the logic of that position is laid out in a report just published by the recently founded Institute for the Study of War (so recent in fact it is still, according to its web-site, applying for tax-exempt status). The report is written by Kimberly
Kagan, its executive director and former professor of military history. It was published in conjunction with The Weekly Standard, whose logo appears on the bottom right of all the pages of the report.

It's impressively footnoted until you see that all of the information is completely dependent upon US forces press releases (especially those of the former advisor to the President, Brigadier General Kevin
Bergner, who began cranking out questionable and weakly supported anti-Iranian statements as soon as he arrived in Iraq on his fresh assignment). Other conservative groups, or people whose credibility can be legitimately questioned, are cited. That is to say, almost all the sources have an Iranian axe to grind. Most obviously, what is missing is any information which questions the facts or suggests other possible interpretation. Jim Lobe has detailed the "Kagan network" and as Lobe suggests, watch for this study to be quoted again and again by Cheney, Bush, the Weekly Standard, WSJ (on its editorial pages to be sure, and now that Rupert Murdock is taking over, maybe even the journalistic side, See if the news people begin the to use the report without looking into the full story the full story). I have read the report almost completely now and it looks to me like it will be the Bush and Cheney catechism for the pushing the justification of an attack.

(If the link to
The Times is broken, you can find an reprint on International Clearing House's site.)

Three more links will help you get grounded on the context of what is going on:

First, another ripper
from the wonderfully outspoken and blunt Paul Craig Roberts. He does a better job than I can of summing up the situation and the moral implications in his piece, "The War Criminal in the Living Room." Here's an excerpt:

Bush is too self-righteous to see the dark humor in his denunciations of Iran for threatening “the security of nations everywhere” and of the Iraqi resistance for “a vision that rejects tolerance, crushes all dissent, and justifies the murder of innocent men, women, and children in the pursuit of political power.” Those are precisely the words that most of the world applies to Bush and his Brownshirt administration. The Pew Foundation’s world polls show that despite all the American and Israeli propaganda against Iran, the US and Israel are regarded as no less threats to world stability than demonized Iran [itself].
I love reading his things. They pin the administration's insects right through the abdomen and to the felt and let them wriggle.

constitutional scholar, and a writer who is becoming a conscience for the country, Glenn Greenwald has done a fine job in Salon of studying the President's speeches and recent statements.

And finally, some incisive weapons to attack the arguments you will hear in the patriotic rush to war, from George Packer at
The New Yorker. Read this short post if you do nothing else! Packer is a great reporter who has jumped on and begun to write on the propaganda campaign. He provides the questions that he thinks the press should be asking of the administration as the campaign unfolds. Here they are from his posting for Friday, August 31, 2007, "Test Marketing":

It’s one thing for the American Enterprise Institute, the Weekly Standard, et al to champion a war they support. It’s another to jump like circus animals at the crack of the White House whip. If the propaganda campaign predicted by Rubin’s friend is launched, less subservient news organizations should ask certain questions, and keep asking them: Does the Administration expect the Iranian regime to fall in the event of an attack? If yes, what will replace it? If no (and it will not), why would the Administration deliberately set about to strengthen the regime’s hold on power? What will the Administration do to protect highly vulnerable American lives and interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world against the Iranian reprisals that will follow? What if Iran strikes against Israel? What will be the strategy when the Iranian nuclear program, damaged but not destroyed, resumes? How will the Administration handle the international alarm and opprobrium that would be an attack’s inevitable fallout?
And he ends his piece with one of the most pessimistic statements we are going to read:
If this really is a return to the early fall of 2002 all over again, then I’m fairly sure that no one at the top of the Administration is worrying about the answers.
Oh, I fear that the fix in in. You can feel it. Watch carefully all of the speeches coming out of Washington, check the sources and look for cross quotes.

A good friend of mine in Sacramento sent me a wonderful excerpt from the recently departed Kurt Vonnegut, which he had read in a book quoting
Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut's novel about being traumatized by the fire bombing of Dresden in WW II. In the novel, Vonnegut imagines that the film of a bombing raid over Germany begins to run backwards:

"American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses, took off
backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German
fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell
fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for
wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up
backwards to join the formation.

"The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames.
The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted miraculous magnetism
which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel
containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the
planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks.....There were
still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were
in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again,
made everything and everybody as good as new.

"When the bombers got back to the base, the steel containers were
taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States, where
factories were operating day and night, dismantling the cylinders,
separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was
mainly women who did the work. The minerals were then shipped to
specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into
the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody
ever again."
I remembered reading that many years ago, in the early seventies, when the Vietnam War, which Nixon promised to end in his campaign, was still grinding down to its terrible end. The passage really is a wonderfully peaceful thing, isn't it, almost with the grace and simplicity of scripture.

I put it up here as a wonderful antidote to the war fever that will be coming over the next few months.

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