Keep them behind the war curve.
While some Americans are exposing the deception for the latest war, steadily lay the groundwork for the next one.
Focus plenty of news reports on alienated youth in Iran, spotlighting despair that borders on nihilism. Meanwhile, give scant media attention to the growth of civil society, with many thousands of Iranian young people and their elders striving to create a diffuse yet coherent social movement for democracy and human rights.
Make it easy for the U.S. public to forget — or remain ignorant of — key elements in the United States history with Iran. Such as the U.S.-organized 1953 coup that overthrew the democratically elected Iranian prime minister, democrat Muhammad Mussadiq, and installed a brutal shah who ruled for a quarter century. Or the U.S. government’s record of aiding the Saddam Hussein regime in its eight-year war with Iran after Iraqi troops attacked Iran in 1980.
Count on most members of Congress, even those lambasting the White House over the Downing Street Memo, to be silent or voice support while the Bush administration proceeds with agenda-setting for a U.S. — or U.S.-backed Israeli — missile attack on Iran. Along the way, make that country out to be a nuclear pariah while it adheres to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (which the nuclear-armed Israeli government still refuses to sign).
Incrementally poison the potential for a lessening of tensions between Washington and Tehran.
With implicit threats of military action against Iran, heighten the obstacles faced by Iranian democracy activists.
Denigrate the presidential election in Iran, even though — or maybe because — the flawed election has been a valuable tool utilized by an emerging democracy movement to widen public discourse and deepen the country’s political process.
Strengthen the hand of Iran’s hardliners while denouncing them. Undermine the democracy activists of Iran while claiming to favor them. Make sure that Washington reduces the odds of democratic progress by greatly pressurizing the situation, enabling Iranian advocates of repression to plausibly claim that Iran is under threat of foreign intervention.
Above all, keep encouraging Americans to see Iran as a nation best understood with Washington’s policy-driven clichés, rather than a country with a complex and authentic political process underway. The less that Americans really know about Iran, the easier it will be to launch the missiles.
NORMAN SOLOMON, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, is currently in Tehran. His new book is War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.