Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
GOD SAVE HRC, FROM REALITY — Jeffrey St. Clair on Hillary Clinton’s miraculous rags-to-riches method of financial success; LA CONFIDENTIAL: Lee Ballinger on race, violence and inequality in Los Angeles; PAPER DRAGON: Peter Lee on China’s military; THE BATTLE OVER PAT TILLMAN: David Hoelscher provides a 10 year retrospective on the changing legacy of Pat Tillman; MY BROTHER AND THE SPACE PROGRAM: Paul Krassner on the FBI and rocket science. PLUS: Mike Whitney on how the Central Bank feeds state capitalism; JoAnn Wypijewski on what’s crazier than Bowe Bergdahl?; Kristin Kolb on guns and the American psyche; Chris Floyd on the Terror War’s disastrous course.
The Coming War on Iran

Fox News Fans the Hysteria

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

In keeping with its established role as purveyor of disinformation, Fox "News" talking head Brit Hume misreported Fox’s own poll. On "Special Report" (January 26) Hume said that 51% of Americans "would now support" air strikes on Iran. What the poll found is that if diplomacy fails, 51% would support air strikes.

Can we be optimistic and assume that diplomatic failure does not include orchestrated failure by the Bush administration? Alas, we cannot expect too much from the American people as even the corrected report indicates a majority of the population in thrall to disinformation.

The only "evidence" that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons is mere assertion by members of the Bush administration and the neoconsevative press. Iran says it is not pursuing nuclear weapons, and the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors say there is no evidence of a weapons program.

Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Under the treaty, signatories have the right to develop nuclear energy. All they are required to do is to make reports to the IAEA and keep their facilities open to inspection. Iran complies with these requirements.

There is no Iranian "defiance." When news media report "defiance," they purvey disinformation. The "seals" on Iranian facilities were placed there voluntarily by the Iranians while they attempted to resolve the false charges brought by the Bush administration. The "Iran crisis" is entirely the product of the Bush administration’s determination to deprive Iran of its rights as a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty. It is just another demonstration of President Bush’s opinion that his word overrules fact, law and international treaties.

Despite the clear and unambiguous facts, the Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll reports that 60% of Republicans, 41% of Independents, and 36% of Democrats support using air strikes and ground troops against Iran in order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This poll indicates an appalling extent of ignorance and misinformation among the American public. The Bush administration will take advantage of this ignorance to initiate another war in the Middle East.

A majority of Americans have now been deceived twice on the same issue. Just as there was no evidence that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, there is no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. There is nothing but unproven assertions, assertions, moreover, that are contradicted by the evidence that does exist. Americans, it would appear, are so anxious for wars that they welcome being fooled into them.

One wonders, also, where the 60% of Republicans, 41% of Independents, and 36% of Democrats think the US will find the ground troops with which to invade Iran. As the three-year old "cakewalk war" in Iraq has made completely clear, the US does not have enough ground troops to successfully occupy Iraq and to suppress a small insurgency drawn from a Sunni population of 5 million people.

We hear report after report from military authorities that the Iraq war is straining our armed forces to the breaking point. For example, a Pentagon study by Andrew Krepinevich (AP news report, January 24) concludes that the US Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency.

Every military expert knows this to be true, although few can afford to say it. If we are on the breaking point from trying to deal with an insurgency drawn from 5 million people, how are we going to send ground troops into vastly larger Iran with a population of 70 million people? It boggles the mind that a majority of Americans favor an impossible policy.

The situation is even worse than it so far sounds. Another recent poll, a LA Times/Bloomberg poll, finds, according to the LA Times, that 57% of the respondents "favor military intervention if Iran’s government pursues a program that could enable it to build nuclear arms." These are the same respondents, 53% of whom believe it was not worth going to war against Iraq.

The poll thus reveals the American public as grist for the neoconservatives’ war mill. If a country can produce material for nuclear energy, it can, with additional facilities and knowledge, produce material for nuclear weapons. Thus, if Iran exercises its rights under the non-proliferation treaty, 57% of Americans support a US military attack on Iran!

American politicians, whose strings are pulled by the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, despite AIPAC’s current engulfment in spying charges against the US, are demanding, as we will see below, that the US attack Iran "in order to protect Israel."

One excuse for these demands is the statement by the new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Europeans should give Israel a piece of Europe and move the country there. His statement that Israel should be wiped out was a statement for Muslims, not a statement of a program of action. The Iranian president is simply elevating Iran’s standing among Muslims by taking advantage of the overwhelming Muslim sentiment against the US and Israel that President Bush has created.

The American notion that Iran might march into Israel is laughable. Iran has four routes into Israel: through Turkey and Syria, through Iraq and Syria, through Iraq and Jordan (or Lebanon), and through Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Three of these routes are foreclosed by US troops on the ground, and the fourth by the Turkish Army.

Moreover, Israel has never signed the non-proliferation treaty and does have nuclear weapons. An Iranian invasion of Israel could be fatal for Iran.

Why, then, is the American population being whipped up by the Bush administration and Fox "News" into war hysteria against Iran?

Fox is aggressively agitating for war with Iran. On shows such as Hannity and Combs, guest after guest–Newt Gingrich, Ollie North, various retired generals, pundits, and even Democratic politicians–agitate for attacking Iran.

For example, on January 26th and 27th Liberal Democrat Bob Beckel said on Fox that the US must "absolutely" attack Iran if for no other reason than "for the sake of Israel." Democrat Bill Richardson affirmed that "we need to renew and re-strengthen our commitment to Israel." Newt Gingrich said that it is so urgent to attack Iran that it must happen within the next few months. According to Gingrich, Iran not only cannot be trusted with nuclear technology, but also Iranians "cannot be trusted with their oil."

On January 27 Democratic strategist Pat Cadell expressed mystification as to how strongly the polls surged, literally overnight, in support for attacking Iran.

One wonders if Americans ever think of the consequences of the rash actions that they say they favor. The Bush administration has placed Iraq in the hands of the majority Shia, who are allied with Iran, which is allied with Hizbollah, the strongest military force in Lebanon, which is friendly to Hamas, the new Palestinian authority. What response might a US attack on Iran bring from the Shia population in Iraq? What terrorism might Iran unleash throughout the Middle East? What US puppets might fall? What consequences might follow if Iran not only shuts off Iranian oil, but knocks out facilities throughout the region and blocks oil flows from the Middle East?

Compared to attacking Iran, attacking Iraq was a small if reckless risk. Nevertheless, the unexpected consequences of the US invasion of Iraq have prevented the Bush administration from achieving its goals.

Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda must be marveling at the rank stupidity of the American people. Maybe Fox "News" only pretends to be the Ministry of War Propaganda for the Bush administration and is really in the employ of al Qaeda.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com