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Letter to the New York Times' Editor: Stovepiping To Persia
First published in Empire Burlesque earlier today, 16 March 2010
Dear New York Times,
The thrust of your stories is always the same: Iran is galloping toward nuclear weaponhood -- a "global threat" that "cannot be allowed to stand."
OK, OK, we get the picture: you want the United States to attack Iran. Why don't you go ahead and put a permanent banner across the top of the front page with the Cato-like adjuration: "Iran Must Be Destroyed!" Or maybe you could just tack it on to every single story: "Yankees Trade to Bolster Outfield; Iran Must Be Destroyed." "Mixed Results for Apple I-Pad; Iran Must Be Destroyed." "Markets Anxious Over Health Care Vote; Iran Must Be Destroyed." "New Bistro Revels in Bohemian Ambience; Iran Must Be Destroyed."
After all, hardly a week goes by now without some big juicy piece of Times scaremongery about Iran's nuclear program, usually with the same image of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a lab coat looking blankly at metal tubes. The thrust of these stories is always the same: Iran is galloping toward nuclear weaponhood -- a "global threat" that "cannot be allowed to stand." Last week, it was Bill Broad, goosing the rubes with this little number, a supposed "science" piece: For Iran, Enriching Uranium Only Gets Easier.
For a moment, let's put aside the fact of Iran's persistent denials of a desire for nuclear weapons -- including the explicit, repeated statements of the theocracy's supreme religious and political leader that such weapons are anathema. And let's put aside the fact that despite the most extensive and intrusive inspection regime in the history of atomic energy development, there is no evidence whatsoever that Iran is not doing exactly what it says it is doing: developing non-weaponized nuclear power for peaceful purposes. These are just facts, after all -- and facts, as the sainted Ronald Reagan once told us, are stupid things.
But even if we were to grant the fevered fantasies of our masturbatory militarists the slightest tincture of credibility -- or even take their brazen propaganda as gospel truth -- they have never yet explained exactly why Iran's possession of nuclear weapons would be a greater "global threat" than, say, the bristling arsenals produced by the illegal, covert, crimeful programs in Israel, India and Pakistan. Nor are we told why an ill-gotten Iranian bomb would be worse than the vast "legal" nuclear arsenals of Russia, China, France, Great Britain and, of course, the only nation in the history of the world that has actually used nuclear weapons to slaughter hundreds of thousands of defenseless civilians, the United States of America.
Or to put it another way, in the immortal words of Arthur Silber: "So Iran Gets Nukes. So What?"
But as we've noted here often before, "there is literally nothing that Iran can do – or not do – to divert the American elite's desire to strike at their land and bring it under domination." They are of course already waging secret, slow-motion war against Iran right now, and have been for many years, with sanctions, terrorist campaigns and covert operations. The only real debate within the power structure is when and how to accelerate -- or "surge" -- this war into a broader, more overt campaign. "Moderates" opt for continuing the gradualist approach until such time as the bond markets -- and other financial arbiters of our fate -- signal their relative comfort with the move; "hawks" -- many of whom have vested interests in the "security industry" which reaps such vast profit from war and rumors of war -- press relentlessly for immediate action.
But whatever their stripe, there is no third way among our elites on the question of Iran, nothing beyond the notion that Iran must be "dealt with" -- harshly, stringently -- until it is once more under Western sway. And it is this latter recalcitrance -- which is shared both by the present Tehran regime and its dissidents -- that makes Iran a "rogue" nation, not its internal political repression (which is less severe than some staunch American allies) nor its reputed "support for terrorism" (an oft-used tool of the United States and its allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia), nor even Ahmadinejad's non-existent calls for Israel to be "destroyed" or his Holocaust revisionism (both of which have long been propagated in far more virulent forms among staunch American allies such as Saudi Arabia, or America's favorite partner for Middle East peace talks, the unelected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a vile Holocaust revisionist for decades -- but now regarded as the most "genuine and serious" partner imaginable for the Jewish state, according to no less than Tom "Suck On This" Friedman).
But these facts do not matter in the slightest. The American media -- corporatized and homogenized to a fare-thee-well -- simply regurgitate whatever fantasy scenario our masters come up with to keep the domination agenda careening drunkenly down the road. These scenarios don't have to be plausible; they don't even have to make sense or have the slightest bit of internal consistency. And they can change literally overnight -- as we all remember when Saddam Hussein went from staunch American ally, bulwark against the rabid Shiite menace, to "the new Hitler," bent on world domination, the day after he attacked the American elite's business partners, the repressive, anti-Semitic Kuwaiti royals.
This very interesting -- and very crucial -- passage in American history is now almost forgotten. But as we careen deeper into conflict with Iran, it is a history well worth remembering. Here is just a bit of it, from a piece I wrote a few years ago. Take special note of one bit player, whose significance I was not aware of at the time: Jay Bybee, a longtime factotum who first helped facilitate Daddy Bush's covert arming of Saddam Hussein, then later, as we now know, helped L'il Georgie perpetrate the capital crime of torture:
Think the Texas Board of Education will put that in their textbooks?
Now Barack Obama and his "Justice" Department are working overtime to protect Bybee -- and the rest of the war-and-torture fomenters -- from even the slightest mussing of their hair for their facilitation of acts that are clearly war crimes under United States law, the Geneva Conventions and the Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Obama will not acknowledge these atrocities for what they are; he will not investigate these atrocities; he will not prosecute these atrocities. And the reason for this inaction is simple: he approves of these atrocities, and is himself facilitating their continuation and expansion. And why does he do this? Because that is why he came to power: to direct the empire toward its traditional ends of geopolitical domination and oligarchic enrichment. His actual policies give ample demonstration of this fact. (Alexander Cockburn lays out the case here.)
But as we noted, facts are stupid things. No one much wants to hear them; and fewer and fewer people can even recognize them when they float up, in broken bits and jagged pieces, from the rancid swill of our political "discourse." And even though the Obama Administration is employing the exact same tactics in demonizing Iran that the Bush Administration employed with Iraq -- right down to the use of the highly respected, internationally renowned New York Times as a "stovepipe" for warmongering propaganda -- no one seems able to grasp what is happening. We still get earnest debates and fretful questions about the "direction" and "intentions" of the current administration's policies toward Iran.
The intention is this: domination, by any means necessary. This is the bedrock, bipartisan consensus of the American ruling class and its outriders, sycophants, courtiers and toadies. It was spelled out with crystal clarity by two years ago by Admiral William Fallon, the predecessor of General David Petraeus in the very cockpit of the war machine, Central Command. Fallon, as you may recall, enjoyed a brief frisson among progressives for an erroneous report that he had declared there would be no military action against Iran on his watch. And while it was true that he was skeptical about immediate action -- putting him in the "moderate" camp described above -- he left no doubt about his adherence to the imperial consensus. As I noted at the time:
When the time comes, you crush the ants. If anyone asks you to define the "American Way" in the 21st century, just quote them that one sentence.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on March 12, 2010.