Monday, January 29, 2007

The Manufacture and Packaging of the Looming War with Iran

The scriptures warn of being lulled into a false sense of "carnal security", saying "All is well." We are admonished to be alert and thoughtful, to gain as much education as possible, and to make wise decisions. While we believe in being law-abiding citizens, we are also counseled to be aware and involved in the issues so that we don't find ourselves expected to uphold immoral decision-making.

There seems a popular and unfounded assumption that competent, moral people are driving foreign policy decisions in America today. Unfortunately, there is much evidence to the contrary in the specific conduct of the Iraqi war over the last four years. Ignoring such evidence, I think, is in direct conflict with every law God has given on how to govern ourselves.

And before we can even figure out a clear-headed direction to take amidst Civil War in Iraq, the same advocates that helped push us into that conflict are ramping up the PR to hasten a show-down with Iran.

I believe that there is clear evidence that America has been on the road to war with Iran for a number of years now. I believe that if you step back and investigate cooly, it becomes chillingly evident that this road has nothing to do with current events but rather that current news is being manipulated, shaped, and re-packaged as propaganda by the pro-war interests in America and furthermore, that in the present administration, these voices easily drown out any other thoughts or considerations that could be used prevent the carnage, death, and destruction of opening yet another theatre of war.

Just this last week, there has been a wealth of information released that warrants some discussion:
  • the original language from the Bush administration asking Congress to authorize military action in Iraq asked not for authorization to attack Iraq but blanket pre-authorization to pursue any and all targets in the entire Middle-Eastern theatre (in direct contradiction to publicly stated aims and means). This is significant if you're aware of the preponderance of PNAC [see below] members in this Administration.
  • amidst the revelations in the 'Scooter' Libby trial, are many more evidences of this administration twisting intel, requiring certain spin on reports, with-holding any information that could damage their pre-packaged Iraqi tale, etc. Just the way in which Colin Powell was prepped to testify to the UN about the "mobile WMD labs" is a study in a how certain elements in this administration conduct themselves.

  • there seems to be general agreement amongst analysts that using military force to stop the Iranian nuclear program would be anything but the "small surgical strike" that is being promoted by many neo-conservative pundits. The invasion of Iran would be bloodier, costlier, and far more complicated even than our current experiment in Iraq.

But none of that was headline news. CNN, NPR, FOX, all the mainstream news outlets, parroted the "new" story that Iran is about to be a loose cannon with nukes. I was disappointed and surprised. But there it was – only days after lukewarm success from the state of the union address to shore up flagging support for the Iraqi war plan – there was this ubiquitous tour de force of publicity about:

  • the "winnable", "good" war in Iraq (these claims, at least, had balanced counter-claims from other sources)
  • the evil Ahmadinejad and his allegedly urgent plans for a second holocaust
  • the "new" revelations that there were at least two fighters of apparently Iranian ethnicity discovered in Iraq last year and that furthermore, the Iranians have the boldness to run an embassy in Baghdad . . . this was spun into the necessity of an act of congress to specifically authorize our military to engage Iranians in the Iraqi war.

Before I get too far here, let me point out that it is silly to proclaim that any pro-war interests have a 'stranglehold' on the big media conglomerates.

What I do believe, however, is that well-funded pro-war interests do what any other group in this nation is free to do: they field promoters, public speakers, lobbyists, spin doctors, etc. You don't have to dictate a story to a stuffy newsroom of cigar-chomping editors. You just need to promote somebody writing a book or directing a play or running a "think tank" and when they get their interview, they can talk up whatever they want. If they spin things right, then everybody else will pick it up off Drudge or whatever and run with it.

Against the right backdrop, the war protest staged in D.C. seemed misguided at best and irresponsible to many. Perhaps predictably, the majority of the anti-war demonstration coverage was more focused on the re-appearance of "Hanoi Jane" than anything actually said by any speakers (especially the many congressmen and women who participated). For this last weekend, I would have to say that the tally was clearly "War Support Propaganda Machine:1 Peace Propaganda Machine:0"

Who are these pro-war interests in the Bush Administration? There is no cloak and dagger. This is no shadowy conspiracy theory, but it is nonetheless surprisingly under-the-radar for most Americans.

Anybody trying to understand current American foreign policy should check out the "statement of principles" at Bill Kristol's "Project for the New American Century" (PNAC). Look at the signers of this letter: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Jeb Bush (not George who I don't think was ever much interested in this stuff . . . I think he just trusts the smart guys above who were in H.W.'s administration to explain it to him and advise him), etc.

That "think tank" alone can give you a clearer picture of what is taking place now. The PNAC was comprised of influential people who felt strongly that the U.S. needed to bolster its flagging military and get more directly involved in helping affect 'regime changes' in the entire middle eastern region. They suggested the benefit to America would be overwhelming. They lamented that short of another Pearl Harbor, America would never find itself belligerent enough to get involved over there like we should have been.

After 9/11, these were the guys that George W. relied on to help him make sense of the changed world. These same men still advocate greater U.S. military "leadership" in that entire region of the world in order to secure strategic and economic interests of the United States.

There are a variety of pro-war and anti-war propaganda machines in full swing in our nation today. Each of these has their own philosophies, funding sources, and agendas. But PNAC represents a window into what many of the actual policy makers and advisors in the Bush White House really think before it gets spun into propaganda.

As best as I can tell, Iran is still the same Iran it has been for a quarter-century: with a leader that is basically required to churn out Anti-American and Anti-Semitic screed on a regular basis. As best as I can tell, there have been press-releases for the last 20 years predicting that Iran would have nuclear arms "within 1 - 3 years". If Iran does finally develop nuclear warheads, then, as best as I can tell, they will have done the same thing that we ourselves are still doing and that we cynically just allowed Pakistan to do.

The Pakistani situation is an important counterpoint to the lies about trying to contain weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Iran. Pakistan is a militant islamist nation that we just allowed to go nuclear. We aren't exactly promoting democracy in Pakistan either . . . Musharraf staged a military coup of the nation's democratically elected president in 1999. But Musharaff doesn't have lots of oil, and lately he proclaims unity with the Americans on the "War on Terror", so I'm sure the nuclear arsenal we've chosen to wink at in his region is in good hands . . . there's the pesky fact that he seems unable or unwilling to sway the men beneath him [who are openly sympathetic to Bin Laden and Al Quaeda] to co-operate more fully with their American "allies" but, oh well, I guess you can't have everything.

Nothing actually changed this last week except the level of propaganda. Iran did not suddenly, auto-magically, and instantaneously become the biggest threat to world peace and American security on the globe. Their weapons arsenal did not change. Their allies did not change. Not even Iranian rhetoric has changed.

The same inexplicable media blitz, however, happened with Iraq in the lead up to that war. In the case of Iraq, the cool-headed citizens of our nation were understandably thrown off by the still-very-recent events of 9/11 and the enterprising connections to that event fabricated by those who wanted to depose Saddam. We now have evidence that those connections were tenuous at best and completely untrue in many cases. Hopefully we have learned something and will be a little more skeptical with the propaganda about Iran.

Check it out for yourself. Pay attention, ask questions, and think things through. See if it seems like the world has actually changed with regard to Iran in the last few days or if it is simply the marketing and messages that have changed.

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