FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush vs. Ahmadinejad

When Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, invited President Bush to engage in a “direct television debate” a few days ago, the White House predictably responded by calling the offer “a diversion.” But even though this debate will never happen, it’s worth contemplating.

Both presidents are propaganda junkies — or, more precisely, propaganda pushers — so any such debate would overdose the audience with self-righteous arrogance. The two presidents are too much alike.

Each man, in his own way, is a fundamentalist: so sure of his own moral superiority that he’s willing to push his country into a military confrontation. This assessment may be a bit unfair to Ahmadinejad, who hasn’t yet lied his nation into war; the American president is far more experienced in that department.

By saying that it’s an open question whether Nazi Germany really perpetrated a Holocaust, the Iranian president has left no doubt that he is dangerously ignorant of history. Bush’s ignorance of history is decidedly more subtle — though, judging from his five and a half years in the Oval Office, hardly less dangerous.

Ahmadinejad questions whether a huge historical event actually occurred. Bush doesn’t bother to question key historical facts. He just ignores them — apparently on the safe assumption that few in the U.S. news media will object very strenuously.

Overall, American journalists pay only selective attention to history. Often they’re too busy helping to lay groundwork for the USA’s next war effort.

So, we hear little about the direct CIA role in organizing the coup that toppled Iran’s democratically elected president, Mohammed Mossadegh, in 1953. Or about the torture and murder inflicted on Iranian dissenters by the secret police of the U.S.-installed Shah for the next quarter of a century, until his overthrow in 1979.

When I was in Tehran last year, during the presidential election campaign that ended with Ahmadinejad’s victory, the ghosts of the coup that destroyed Iranian democracy were everywhere. The nightmare of the Shah has been replaced by the nightmare of the Islamic Republic — both made possible by the coup that Washington hatched.

But the U.S. president copes with such unpleasant history by simply — and simplemindedly — refusing to acknowledge it. And American news media routinely go along for the detour. The avoidance makes Iranian hostility toward the U.S. government seem totally irrational.

Meanwhile, the commentaries from major media keep echoing unsubstantiated claims from Washington as if they were facts. Even mainstream outlets inclined to urge restraint give enormous ground to the war planners.

On Aug. 25, while ostensibly sounding a note of sobriety about Capitol Hill bombast, a New York Times editorial flatly declared: “Iran’s fundamentalist regime and its nuclear ambitions pose a strategic threat to the United States.” The newspaper added: “It’s obvious that Iran wants nuclear weapons, has lied about its program and views America as an enemy.” But it should be no less obvious that the United States and its ally Israel — both with a record of lying about their own military intentions — have nuclear arsenals and view Iran as an enemy.

More hawkish than the Times, the Washington Post printed an editorial on Aug. 24 warning Russia and China that they “should not undercut Western efforts to defuse the Iran crisis by peaceful means.” With an oddly menacing twist, the editorial proclaimed: “No responsible power has anything to gain from further tension in the Middle East, still less an eventual war over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

We should remember how the same newspaper wielded its editorial cudgel the last time the White House was laying groundwork for a military attack. On Feb. 6, 2003, the Post — under the headline “Irrefutable” — told readers in no uncertain terms: “After Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.”

Such limited imagination continues to infuse the Post’s editorial outlook — and, for that matter, the world views of most U.S. media outlets. The fantasy of a debate between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and George W. Bush might be strange, but the reality of American journalism is grotesque as Washington escalates its extremely dangerous confrontation with Tehran.

The paperback edition of NORMAN SOLOMON’s latest book, “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” was published this summer.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail