February 10, 2007

Iran: All Propaganda, All the Time

Jon Schwarz:
BUT SERIOUSLY: The U.S. is almost certainly doing things within Iran that would cause us to invade any country doing them to us—such as supporting separatist groups engaging in terrorism.
As I often have occasion to note, we are uniquely exempt from the rules and requirements we stringently apply to all others, most especially to those nations of which we "disapprove" and where we seek to install governments more willing to accommodate themselves to our demands. We've been at this in Iran for quite a while -- but damn it, we're going to do it until we get it right! (That detailed article by Sheldon Richman, examining the countless ways in which the United States has intervened and meddled in the Middle East since World War II, is well worth your time.)

And there is this story from the NYT, ominously headlined: "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Made by Iran, U.S. Says." The repetitive phrases are mind-numbing in their effect: "United States intelligence asserts..."; "The assertion of an Iranian role in supplying the device to Shiite militias reflects broad agreement among American intelligence agencies..."; "Any assertion of an Iranian contribution to attacks on Americans in Iraq..."; "According to American intelligence agencies, the Iranians are also believed..."; and on and on it goes. It's good to know there's "broad agreement among American intelligence agencies" -- since history tells us such "broad agreement" always demonstrates that the conclusions are completely correct. Except for the times it doesn't, which is almost all of them. (And don't miss Jon on the "author" of this story.)

But the unnamed "officials" who provided these "assertions" to the NYT are quick to reassure us that they "were not trying to lay the basis for an American attack on Iran." But of course. I was equally sure in the winter of 2002-2003 that we weren't going to invade Iraq, and that the Bush administration was committed to seriously pursuing all diplomatic options. Oops! But seriously, as Jon would say, it was obvious to anyone who was actually awake during that period that the invasion was inevitable. All those troops and military equipment being moved into place were unquestionably going to be used. The rest was just for show, in an attempt to placate the rest of the world and to make the coming crime go down more easily with an unbelievably gullible American public.

A few pertinent reminders. I noted some time ago (in part in connection with Iran) that the NYT learned absolutely nothing from its criminally negligent trumpeting of government propaganda prior to the Iraq invasion. And I remind you of Rule Three from 'Trapped in the Wrong Paradigm":
The press will always transmit and amplify government propaganda, and this is especially true with regard to war propaganda.


The press is in thrall to the powerful, and to government in general. If you oppose the administration's policies, the press is not your friend. It is the government's friend, and it does the government's bidding. If you want to find out the truth as fully as you can, look outside the mainstream press. With extremely rare exceptions, mainstream media outlets largely transmit government propaganda. They may question it at the edges, but the main story the government wants told will be faithfully transmitted.
About the actual role of intelligence in general:
Intelligence is completely irrelevant to major policy decisions. Such decisions are matters of judgment, and knowledgeable, ordinary citizens are just as capable of making these determinations as political leaders allegedly in possession of "secret information." Such "secret information" is almost always wrong -- and major decisions, including those pertaining to war and peace, are made entirely apart from such information in any case.
All of which returns me to what I wrote about the Iran scenario last July:
The overall pattern at work here is exactly the same one utilized for Iraq: phony diplomacy, then U.N. action which will similarly make compliance by Iran impossible, then a few speeches accusing Iran of defying the will of the "civilized world" and of being too great a threat to be tolerated -- and then the bombing. And almost no one will be heard to say that the "crisis" was created out of thin air, and that in fact no crisis exists at all.


Let us state the final conclusion boldly and unmistakably, so we may appreciate its full horror: the Bush administration has already decided, and probably decided some time ago, that it will attack Iran. They want a wider war. Everything that is now going on is simply the cover for the moment when the bombing begins, intended to provide what will be accepted as "justification" for the attack by the American public and the world.

And all of it is a lie from beginning to end.
Now I've put you in a wonderfully cheery mood for the weekend. That's perfectly alright. You can thank me later.

See also: The Trouble with Propaganda -- Part 11,243, and the other essays linked at the end of that post