I've written, with a great deal of trepidation, about an apparent run-up to war with Iran, and the steady beat of scary articles — first here, then here. There's an even later article in the New York Times (discussed below) with the same drum-beat sounds in it.
Is a "new product" being rolled out? Is the battlefield of public opinion being "prepared"?
(If you don't know, the phrase "preparing the battlefield" is mil-speak (heh) for carpet-bombing the enemy prior to sending in ground troops. That enemy, in this case, is U.S. public opinion.)
Now comes Taibbi fils (yes, there's a Taibbi père, also a journalist). Writing in his Rolling Stone blog, Matt has this to say (my emphasis and some reparagraphing throughout):
You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms.Note: Erin's only a blockhead if she believes her own spill; if she doesn't, she's a media-based operative. Big difference.
CNN’s house blockhead, the Goldman-trained ex-finance professional Erin Burnett, came out with a doozie of a broadcast yesterday, a Rumsfeldian jeremiad against the Iranian threat would have fit beautifully in the Saddam’s-sending-drones-at-New-York halcyon days of late 2002.
Taibbi then quotes Glenn Greenwald on Erin Burnett's pronouncements:
It’s the sort of thing you would produce if you set out to create a mean-spirited parody of mindless, war-hungry, fear-mongering media stars, but you wouldn’t dare go this far because you’d want the parody to have a feel of realism to it, and this would be way too extreme to be believable.As Count Floyd would say, "Oooh, scary."
She really hauled it all out: WMDs! Terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. controlled by Tehran! Iran’s long-range nuclear missiles reaching our homeland!!!! She almost made the anti-Muslim war-mongering fanatic she brought on to interview, Rep. Peter King, appear sober and reasonable by comparison.
What's the proscribed Iranian threat?
When you get to the imagined Iranian threat, it comes down to two carefully fogged-up concepts.
■ Nuclear weapons (capability), as opposed to, well, actual weapons. Taibbi:
In other words, “If Iran were to decide to be capable of making nuclear weapons, it would be capable of making nuclear weapons.” Unless I'm missing something, that’s a statement that would be true of almost any industrialized country, wouldn't it?The fog in this case is the word "capability." The U.S. position has gone from opposing "nukes" for Iran, to opposing "nuke capability."
Listen for it, or you'll miss it — the word "nukes" lays down the fog for the rubes to get lost in.
■ Iranian (counter-)strike, as opposed to striking first. Taibbi again:
The news “hook” in most all of these stories is that intelligence reports reveal Iran is “willing” to attack us or go to war – but then there’s usually an asterisk next to the headline, and when you follow the asterisk, it reads something like, “In the event that we attack Iran first.”He quotes this NBC report as an example (Taibbi's emphasis): “Within just the past few days, Iranian leaders have threatened that if attacked, they would launch those missiles at U.S. targets.”
More fog, of course. You just have to listen hard for the "counter" in "counter-strike" (they whisper it).
But this is at the level of ideas and media analysis. Let's look at the only thing that matters — power.
Will we, the U.S. or Israel, pull the trigger on Iran?
Will the U.S. and/or its mannequin/master Israel actually first-strike Iran? Taibbi surprisingly fails to answer that question, given his headline. He gets in some nice reflections on the Tolstoy-inspired madness of the media, then closes.
So here's me. Based on my eleven-dimensional reading of this recent Iran article, another major one, this time by Dennis Ross in the New York Times, I believe it's now a two-handed game between Netanyahu and Obama, with Iran being the downer bull they're jointly punishing.
Netanyahu's position — "If you keep kicking Iran, I don't have to pull out this gun and make him really mad." Ross says it this way:
Israel worries that it could lose its military option, and it may be reluctant to wait for diplomacy to bear fruit. That said, Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have consistently called for “crippling sanctions,” reflecting a belief that Iran’s behavior could be changed with sufficient pressure. The fact that crippling sanctions have finally been applied means that Israel is more likely to give these sanctions and the related diplomatic offensive a chance to work. And it should."Crippling sanctions" means just that; think I was joking with my "punishing the downer bull" metaphor?
Shorter Ross: "Bibi to Barack, don't make me do something stupid; it's all on you if I do."
Want proof? Who is Dennis Ross? From the article's bio line:
He is now a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.And who is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy? An AIPAC think tank:
Martin Indyk, an Australian-trained academic and former deputy director of research for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), helped found WINEP in 1985. ... Because of his affiliation with AIPAC, Indyk felt his research wasn't being taken seriously and so started WINEP to convey an image that was "friendly to Israel but doing credible research on the Middle East in a realistic and balanced way." ...Don't forget that word "image" — it's the second-most important word in the description, after "AIPAC". It's always about manipulation of images, isn't it.
WINEP is focused on influencing the media and U.S. executive branch; this is unlike AIPAC, which attempts to influence the U.S. Congress.
QED? It seems so to me. Your move, Mr. President. Just remember, one false move and this one comes home.