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.
More Lies and Misinformation

The Make-Believe Crisis in Iran

by PATRICK FOY

What if the White House were deliberately misleading America and the world about a major foreign policy issue involving war and peace, would it not be something worth investigating? What if, on top of that, the US Congress and Senate were going along with the subterfuge, remaining silent and not questioning it in the slightest? Wouldn’t that phenomenon be remarkable?

What if the mainstream news media, both television and print, were also enabling the same White House campaign of misrepresentation? Would this not be even more shocking? Should not a free press be checking the facts, asking basic questions, instead of blindly parroting a government party line which could be little more than war propaganda?

If you guessed I am describing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, hyped at every opportunity by the Obama White House and the Congress and by the Republicans and Mitt Romney, you would be on target. The nonstop campaign of harassing and demonizing Tehran, premised upon the existential threat supposedly posed by an Iranian atomic bomb, is a determined bipartisan affair in Washington.

Every Tom, Dick and Jane has a stake in the game, the only difference being the extent to which a particular Tom, Dick and Jane is willing to proclaim his or her outrage and commit the United States to punitive action, ranging from ruinous economic sanctions to a bunker-busting military assault in tandem with our dauntless nuclearized ally, Israel.

True, this scenario has been in place for years and is becoming tedious, but we now seem to have arrived at a new plateau of mass hysteria thanks to the 2012 U.S. Presidential campaign. Why? In a word, leverage. The leverage to determine who gets elected in Washington and under what conditions. I am referring in part to a foreign leader who is acting in concert with his American lobbyists and financial backers.

As part of this electioneering process, extravagant commitments have been extracted from craven American officials to further the interests and expand the greater territorial ambitions of the nuclear-armed foreign entity at issue, in exchange for campaign contributions and votes. Nothing new here, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Let me dramatize the problem with a recent example. I have not spoken with John McLaughlin in over ten years, but I believe we remain on good terms. I watch his weekly Washington-based show, the McLaughlin Group, to hear in particular what Patrick Buchanan has to say about the week’s events. The Group remains informative and a partial antidote to the mainstream media. McLaughlin often wanders off the MSM reservation, but never too far.

Last Friday, September 28th, something occurred on the program which blew this fake Iranian crisis sky high. Issue One was, naturally, the interminable and largely irrelevant 2012 Presidential campaign. Issue Two was Iran and Bibi Netanyahu’s speech the day before, at the UN General Assembly, in which he explained why the world must set “red lines” to Iran’s enrichment of uranium to halt its quest for an atomic bomb.

Two days prior to Bibi’s speech, President Barack Obama had proclaimed from the same dais: “…America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy…there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited… Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained… And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Where’s the daylight between the two?

John McLaughlin turned to Mort Zuckerman for a comment. Zuckerman repeated the party line that the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb would be an existential threat to Israel which must be stopped. As in all such pronouncements, just like those of Barack and Bibi at the UN, the indisputable assumption was that the Iranians are, of course, working to build The Bomb. Then Buchanan weighed in with this bombshell:

“But John, Iran has no nuclear weapons program. There is no nuclear weapons program according to 16 United States intelligence agencies in 2007, reaffirmed in 2011. Even the Israelis are now saying we think the Americans were right. They don’t have a nuclear weapons program. The Ayatollah [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] has said nuclear weapons on Iran’s part would be immoral, unjust and un-Islamic. So why are we now considering talking about a war on a country to deprive it of weapons of mass destruction it does not have?

So I’m thinking, whoa, we have arrived at the Emperor-has-no-clothes moment. It is out in the open at last. Buchanan has challenged the undeniable: the premise that Tehran has a program underway to build The Bomb. What’s more, he has done it by pointing to the conclusions of the U.S. Government itself, as embodied in its 16 intelligence agencies. Buchanan did not rely upon his own research or idle speculation. He cited the best available conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community.

All right, this is not new information. I wrote an article about it in 2007 for Taki’s Magazine when the news first broke regarding the National Intelligence Estimate. The NIE was a true revelation back then as well as a wake-up call. It demonstrated that Dick Cheney and G.W. Bush and their Neoconservative foreign-policy brain trust were actively deceiving their fellow-Americans by attempting to entice the country into yet another war, on top of Iraq, under false premises.

It was assumed at the time that the NIE ended this deceit and that the project to smack Iran could not go forward. How could it? There were no nuclear weapons in Iran and no program underway to develop them, just like there had been no WMD in Iraq when Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched at the beginning of 2003. Now we knew. The 2007 NIE was reaffirmed in a 2011 NIE update. The Neoconservatives had a cow. Where was the threat needed to start another conflict and continue their undertaking to remake the Middle East?

Please note, however, that during the interim since Peace Prize Obama was handed the torch in 2008, no one in the Executive Branch–not Obama or Hillary Clinton, and no one on Capitol Hill–dares mention these NIE conclusions. It is as if they do not exist. Only the disinformation from misguided and suborned office-holders matters. At the end of the day, only that counts, not reality. In essence, Peace Prize Obama and the Democrats have continued, under different packaging, the same Neoconized foreign policy of Dick Cheney and the Republicans. The question you might ask yourself is, why?

What was the reaction to Buchanan’s assertions? For me, the reaction of his fellow panelists was more interesting and eye-opening than what Buchanan actually said. You could have expected the Group to react in horror at Buchanan’s denial of what everyone else in Washington was taking for granted. But no, that is not what happened. No one challenged Buchanan. No one challenged the veracity of his pronouncement.

Not Mort Zuckerman, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Zuckerman is one of the top Zionists in the country and a personal friend of Netanyahu. Not Rich Lowry, the editor of the Neoconservative outlet, National Review, which competes with the Weekly Standard and Commentary for warmongering and American exceptionalism. And not the liberal columnist and professional Democrat, Eleanor Clift, who idolizes Obama. And not the former Jesuit priest and host, John McLaughlin.

All of them simply ignored what Buchanan had said, did not address it, even though its implications blew the legs out from under long-standing U.S. foreign policy and reduced the speeches of Barack and Bibi at the UN to nonsense.

The only reason I can think of why Zuckerman, Lowry, Clift and McLaughlin did not confront Buchanan is that they knew what Buchanan had said was the truth. To enter into a discussion with Buchanan would be to acknowledge the possibility that his view might be correct. This would reveal that a colossal con game was underway in which both political parties and the press were enablers.

The principal con man in this game would be the President of the United States, followed by his Secretary of State. The victims of the con game would be the American people, just like they were under Bush and Cheney. And of course the Iranians, who now must cope with crippling economic sanctions for no legitimate reason. The larger question remains, why is this happening? Why is the deception continuing from one Administration to the next? Cui bono?

PATRICK FOY is an essayist and short story writer as well as a former altar boy. He graduated from Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut and from Columbia University in New York City, where he studied English literature, European history and American diplomatic history. His work can be found at www.PatrickFoyDossier.com.