“The military option is not the worst option … The worst option is a nuclear Iran.”
— Danny Yatom, former Mossad boss
L’affaire Iran in its latest incarnation has been going on now for over two years with all kinds of dire threats emanating from the Beltway (and elsewhere eg, Sarkozy’s recent remark about taking out Iran).
The latest ‘leak’ from the imperium is the Newsweek story ‘The Whispers of War’ (Sunday, 23 September 2007) in which it is alleged that earlier this year vice-prez Cheney had suggested that Israel launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities at Natanz. Apparently it was the Zionist David Wurmser, former Middle East adviser to Cheney who told a group of unidentified individuals that Cheney had suggested this to Israel.
‘Wurmser told a small group of people that Cheney had been mulling the idea of pushing for limited Israeli missile strikes against the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz—and perhaps other sites—in order to provoke Tehran into lashing out. The Iranian reaction would then give Washington a pretext to launch strikes against military and nuclear targets in Iran.’But what is most revealing about the piece is the following for it puts the Wurmser ‘leak’ into context,
‘One U.S. official who preferred not to be identified discussing sensitive policy matters said he took part in a meeting several months ago where intelligence officials discussed a "public diplomacy" strategy to accompany sanctions. The idea was to periodically float the possibility of war in public comments in order to keep Iran off balance. In truth, the official said, no war preparations are underway.’When one looks back over all the statements put out by the USG, they all follow the same pattern, dire but veiled threats to do something about Iran. All conform to the ‘public diplomacy strategy’ outlined above; whether it’s to keep Iran “off balance” (it surely keeps the public off balance but then we are the real target) is open to question but there is no doubt that all are designed for public consumption and use as their justification Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s alleged statements about ‘destroying Israel’ and that Iran “lied” to the IAEA (BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 25/9/07) about its nuclear programme.
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It’s pretty thin stuff and very difficult to use as a justification for an attack on Iran but this is where Israel’s role is very clear, for it is Israel as US rottweiler and the ‘face’ of US strategy for the region that appears to call the shots.
Using Israel in this manner has worked extremely well for decades, pumping up the ‘victim’ status of Israel into which the (mis)quoted statements of Ahmadinejad fit perfectly. But this is a strategy that no longer works, Israel has effectively blown its ‘victim’ status through its genocidal actions in the Occupied Territories.
And although I have my expressed my scepticism over all the reports of an ‘impending attack’ on Iran, what is interesting here (though impossible to measure) is the role of the Web in keeping the ‘pot boiling’, through ‘crying wolf’ so often.
The latest wheeze dutifully carried by Newsweek is obviously designed to keep said pot boiling and no doubt is closely connected to Ahmadinejad’s visit to the UN (the BBC did a hatchet job on the fellow this AM, giving a lot of coverage to Ahmadinejad’s talk at Columbia U where he came under fire from a posse of Israeli supporters, surprise-surprise).
What is important about these ‘public diplomacy’ exercises (started under Reagan) is how they can only be effective with the complicity of the corporate and state-run media who act as the messengers. The degree to which they work hand-in-glove can be seen from the choice of phrases used by the MSM which echo exactly the messages that the imperium wants delivered.
Thus with boring regularity, Ahmadinejad’s comments about Israel are dragged out as are Iran’s ‘denials’ about its nuclear ambitions, the assumption being that no matter how many times Tehran denies that it’s trying to build an A-bomb, the MSM tell us matter of factly, “How far will Israel go to keep Iran from getting the bomb?” but just to keep the mask of objectivity in place, it also says “Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes only”. Well, what else do you expect them to say?
Denials from Iran are pointless (why do they even bother?) and in any case the point here is to keep the idea forever in the public mind, exploiting the carefully nurtured xenophobia and racism that exists in the so-called developed world.
The same Newsweek piece quotes an Israeli policy-maker,
‘"Two thousand seven is the year you determine whether diplomatic efforts will stop Iran," says a well-placed Israeli source, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak for the government. "If by the end of the year that's not working, 2008 becomes the year you take action."'Yeah, yeah. In the same piece we read yet another (mis)quoted statement only this time by a ‘moderate’,
‘… former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered a moderate, warned in 2001 that Tehran could do away with Israel with just one nuclear bomb.’But not that they would, but why niggle over the details, it’s enough that somehow whatever Rafsanjani really said, he can be ‘quoted’. By the time the wrangling about what he said is over, we the public, will get the quote above and precious little else.
In fact, Newsweek should be renamed NewsSpeak, the entire piece reeks of the White House, regurgitating every rumour and supposition about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, let alone its alleged nuclear ambitions. Thus various and sundry ‘experts’ are quoted first this way and then that, with all manner of ‘scenarios’ that allegedly explain what could (or should) happen depending on who is being quoted, all based on yet more supposition about Iran’s abilities and intentions.
This is how ‘public diplomacy’ works (propaganda to you and me); rumours and allegations abound, designed explicitly for media consumption which craven institutions like the BBC dutifully repeat (doing their master’s bidding) eg,
‘Mr Ahmadinejad has called in the past for an end to the Israeli state and described the Holocaust as a myth.’ — ‘Iran leader plays down 'US war’, BBC Website 24/9/07The interminable barrage of disinformation about events is the media equivalent of low intensity warfare, or Psyops if you prefer, a concerted campaign based upon a few well-chosen bites such as the BBC quote, designed to push all the right fear buttons, for who is going to go to the trouble of of trying source quotes, especially those translated from Farsi or Arabic, languages that are fluid and full of allusions and allegories. And in any case, people say all kinds of things, if governments reacted ‘pre-emptively’ every time somebody said something, the entire planet would be endlessly at war.
All quotes, barring the BBC one are from the Newsweek article.
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