Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Demonizing Iran

by DAVE LINDORFF

Just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal had a lead story about Israeli planning to possibly “go it alone” in an attack on Iran if the US were not to “succeed” in its diplomatic efforts to get Iran to “stop” it’s alleged attempts to develop a nuclear weapon capability.

Aside from the fact that there is no hard evidence that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb or even to refine uranium to obtain nuclear-grade material, the paper ignored one crucial point: Israel cannot “go it alone” in any strike on Iran, since its key weapons–American fighter-bombers–are supplied to it, and kept flying, thanks to the equipment and spare parts provided by the United States. Indeed the entire Israeli military machine is largely financed and armed by the US.

No Israeli military effort can go forward without the full backing of the US, and to say otherwise is to simply perpetrate a fraud on the American public, implying that Israel is an independent actor on the world stage. It is not.

Another example of media warmongering came in an interview by Terri Gross on her program “Fresh Air,” which I believe is the most widely syndicated and popular program on National Public Radio, produced here in Philadelphia at the studios of NPR affiliate WHYY.  Listening to “Fresh Air” this week, which featured an interview with New York Times war correspondent Dexter Filkins, a generally excellent reporter who distinguished himself for his reporting on the Iraq War, and particularly on the brutal US assault on the city of Fallujah, I heard Filkins refer casually to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as “America’s arch-enemy.”

Now it’s possible, and I certainly do hope it’s the case, that Filkens was being ironic here. But Terri Gross allowed this characterization of Iran’s president pass without comment.

America’s arch-enemy? Really? On what basis?

What, exactly, has Iran or Ahmadinejad done to make itself America’s arch- enemy? It has backed the same Shi’ite led government in Iraq that the US has been backing, and indeed, to the extent that Iraq has stabilized, it is largely Iran’s doing.  It provided key help to the US in the early invasion of Afghanistan and the routing of the Taliban government, which was never favored by the Iranians.

We know also that two years before the election of Ahmadinejad to the presidency, Iran made an offer to the US to recognize Israel, help broker a two-state peace solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and end Iran’s support of armed groups in the Middle East region, all in return for the US accepting Iran as what the 70-million population nation unarguably is: a legitimate power in the region. That offer was slapped down by the Bush/Cheney administration, which had as its goal not peace in Palestine or with Iran, but the occupation and control of Iraq, and perhaps ultimately a war against Iran. In fact, since the Iraq invasion, the US is known to have been financing and helping to organize a terror campaign inside Iran that has led to many deaths by bombings. If any country is acting towards the other in an aggressive and warlike fashion, it is the US, towards Iran, and not the reverse.

It needs to be said, but somehow never is in the establishment US media, whether corporate or not-for-profit, that Iran historically is not an aggressive, expansive nation (can that be said with a straight face about our own country?). Though it is, by dint of its oil reserves and its population, one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the Middle East, Iran has not invaded another country since the 18th century, and there is no indication that it plans to invade any other country now.

Even nuclear experts scoff at the notion that a nuclear Iran would initiate an attack on Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East, with an estimated 200 high-grade nuclear weapons, and a first-rate delivery system of missiles and supersonic bombers.  For Iran to launch a crude nuke at Israel would be an act of national suicide, and while individual terrorists may kill themselves, nations don’t commit suicide. They may miscalculate, with devastating consequences, but they don’t deliberately self-immolate.

None of this makes its way into the US media, which continues the drumbeat for war, whether by Israel, with US backing, or by the US, with reports that Secretary of Defense (sic) Robert Gates is presenting the president with Iran attack options, and that the White House, while “preferring a diplomatic solution” to Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions, is “keeping all options on the table.”

Most media reports refer to Iran’s “ability to produce bomb-grade uranium” within a year, without mentioning that there is no evidence that the country intends to do this (Iran insists it has no such plans). The New York Times, for instance, was reporting, incorrectly, back in 2008 that Iran had enough enriched uranium to make “one nuclear bomb.” Those reports, quoting Pentagon and CIA sources, now quote “experts” as saying that Iran could develop a bomb within three to four years, again generally failing to add that there is no evidence that Iran is trying to do that, or is even considering doing it.

And yet Iran is consistently portrayed as America’s “enemy” or even as its “arch-enemy”–a term that harks back to the Bush/Cheney claim that Iran was, along with Iraq and North Korea, part of a three-nation “Axis of Evil.”

On its face the idea that Iran is America’s arch-enemy is ludicrous. We are talking here about a third-rate country with an economy the size of Finland’s, with a third-rate military, the total budget of which, at $4.8 billion, is less than the annual replacement cost for the US military’s Chinook and Seahawk helicopter fleet, and which would be totally decimated in any all-out attack by the US.

Iran has no ability to attack the US, and even its ability to threaten US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan is severely limited, not to mention the fact that should it be foolhardy enough to initiate any such action, it would bring down the full force of the US military on its head in an instant.

Reading and watching American reporting on Iran reminds me of nothing so much as reading the Chinese state media about Taiwan when I was living in China back in the 1990s. It’s all pathetic nonsense, manufactured paranoia, and bluster.  But at least the average Chinese citizen has enough sense to recognize that she or he is being fed a lot of propaganda. Americans, all to often, seem to ready to buy the garbage they hear and read about Iran. They may not be able to show you where on the globe Iran is, or tell you anything about the country other than perhaps that it is Muslim, but they will accept, uncritically, that it is our “arch-enemy.”

Note to Filkins: If, as I hope, you were being ironic on “Fresh Air,” please understand that irony requires a modicum of sophistication on the part of the listener–something I’m not sure you can count on with Times readers or NPR listeners.

DAVE LINDORFF  is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation Into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu Jamal. He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

 

WORDS THAT STICK

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail