Friday, June 15, 2007


We Are Losing the Fight Over Iran

by Tom Rinaldo

The neocons have selected the designated next enemy of the United States, and they are hard at work convincing Americans to fear Iran. The public comments we just heard Joe Lieberman utter about the need to bomb Iran are just the tip of the iceberg. They position populist right wing pitch man Glen Beck on the air nightly at CNN Headline News, ranting about Iran. They pepper Jewish media with polemics about Iran, playing up fears for Israel’s security where few non Jews will notice their efforts. They have multiple front groups widely distribute email warnings about the urgent need to stand up to Iran, playing on every fear of radical Muslims imaginable, playing "the Christian card" without hesitation, while they label Iran our arch enemy at the center of a "clash of civilizations". Republican candidates for President like nothing better than an opportunity to turn their tough act toward Tehran, where they leap frog each other to the heights of belligerency in the name of protecting America, providing cover while they safely back peddle on Iraq.

Just like they morphed Osama Bin Ladin into Saddam Hussein in 2002, neocons morph Al Qaeda into Iran today, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the new Saddam Hussein who we must be trained to fear. And it is working. They are making significant steady progress in alarming the general public about Iran. They act like slippery weasels and say "True, Iraq was never a grave threat, but Iran actually was, and now the Iranian threat is getting greater all the time. It doesn't matter if you think attacking Iraq was a mistake, because Iran is the real deal, and now we finally must face up to something we should have dealt with a long time ago"

Republican Neocons, and some of their hawkish Democratic allies, not only believe that war with Iran is inevitable AND in the long term interests of the United States, they believe that the sooner we get it on the better. To them, military and political circumstances are as favorable now as they are likely to get, with a sitting Republican President who is predisposed to use force. Neocons see history moving against American interests if the U.S. does not act boldly to rearrange the Middle Eastern map, locking in "our" Oil Supplies now before the further rise of China handcuffs America’s ability to act.

On top of their long standing desire to take Iran's government down, Republicans have another compelling motivation to shift the public’s attention onto "the threat posed by Iran". They need a threat from Iran to once again pump up national security hysteria to once again prop up the G.O.P. They increasingly can't point to "fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here", because the public sees fully the futility of our efforts to fight terrorists inside Iraq. The public knows that it was our invasion which created terrorists in Iraq, and that the U.S. is incapable of restoring order to Iraq now by sending in more American troops. So now is the perfect time to shift the focus onto Iran, which neocons conveniently blame for our failure in Iraq, and where they claim we will not have to send American troops in to protect America’s security, just bombs.

They skillfully play on the frustration American's feel watching our supposed Arab allies in Iraq's government, who seem to act like they hate each other as much as they hate us. Their covert message goes like this: "Wouldn't it just feel better to bomb the hell out of Islamic fanatics rather than climb into fox holes with them, where they will only stab us in the back? Who cares if Iranians call themselves Persians instead of Arabs, or that Iran is Shiite while Al Qaeda is Sunni? They’re all just crazy rag heads". The anti-Arab hate message fueled by images of Bin Ladin, that drummed us steadily into Iraq, now is aimed at Iran, and Democrats by and large sit by passively, allowing it to go unchallenged.

And with our own peace movement completely fixated on ending the war in Iraq, we seem to have scant attention free ourselves to directly confront the chicken hawks on Iran. So we find ourselves three moves behind them on the domestic political chess board, as their construction of the public psychological framework needed to facilitate an attack on Iran nears completion. We spend so much time talking to ourselves that we don’t always hear what others might be saying to each other. We see the American public coming around to our own views on Iraq, and unconsciously assume they must view the larger question of further conflicts in the Middle East the same as we do also. Simply put, they do not.

If the public were solidly opposed to ratcheting up tensions with Iran, if they were aghast at the thought of America attacking yet another Middle Eastern nation, do you think that the House Democratic Caucus would have, with little fanfare, stripped out a proposed amendment from their original Iraq war funding legislation (the bill Bush later vetoed) that would have forced George W. Bush to come to Congress for a vote prior to an attack on Iran? Democrats retained plenty of provisions they knew full well that Bush would veto, but they removed the Iran provision themselves out of a concern expressed by some that they shouldn’t tie the hands of the President regarding Iran. It’s the dynamics of the IWR vote repeated, but since we are giving George Bush free reign against Iran this time, that somehow makes it acceptable. And unfortunately in the minds of too many Democrats as well as Republicans, that does in fact make it acceptable.

Does anyone doubt the existence of a Pro Iranian War propaganda machine? Like all such efforts this one has separate above ground and underground paths of propagation. So some Americans on Sunday tuned into respected mainstream media news program "Meet The Press" to hear veteran United States Senator Joseph Lieberman say in somber tone:

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people to kill our soldiers."

Meanwhile an unadulterated no holds barred version of the bomb Iran back into the Stone Age message gets circulated through a web site like "Family Security Matters: The National Security Recourse for American Families", which on June 7th 2007 posted an "exclusive"; Iran Wants War. They will have it whether we want it or not.

That nifty piece of reporting is laden with sober irrefutable "facts" such as these:

"Almost every day we see news reports of al Qaeda bombing attacks in Iraq. So why do Democrats still keep calling it a "civil war"? Al Qaeda terrorists are not Iraqis fighting a "civil war." It has been reported that Iran is responsible for 80% of American deaths in Iraq, either by Iranian fighters, or by Iranian weapons and bombs provided to insurgents and al Qaeda. Neither the American government nor the press is exploiting Iran’s responsibility for these deadly attacks, which are Iranian acts of war against America and must be considered as such. This alone should provide justification for an attack on Iran."

Ah, but that was the milder part of their commentary. Before anyone has time to get week kneed about their call for war, the commentary lays out what surely they believe is a compelling justification, including this:

"We must send a message to the rest of the Islamic world that Mecca and Medina are next if the terrorism doesn't stop now. The alternative is a long and dirty war that will last for decades. Is that what we want to live with when we have the ability to avoid it? Utter devastation worked with Japan and Germany. It will work with Islam. All we need is the courage and the will to stand up and again be the strong country that we once were. We didn't get to where we are today by bowing to the will of weak foreign powers and worrying about what they think of us.

The time has come to stand up, America!

The only thing Islam respects is brutality and overwhelming force. It's how they've lived for over a thousand years. That is why Saddam Hussein and other Islamic dictators were successful for so many years. Islamic despots know what it takes to bring Middle Eastern Islamists under control. Islamists have no respect for, or understanding of, western diplomacy and a desire for peaceful solutions. Their religion forbids compromise with the West. For them, and now for us as well, it's either kill or be killed. If we don't start playing by their rules, we're going to lose big. We cannot win this war with Western morality as the overarching factor. The first priority must be winning. Everything else is secondary. "

To dismiss the above simply as talk from and to wing nuts misses an essential element of how political discourse is shaped; framing the debate. The more comments like the above are widely disseminated, the less shocking a slightly softer version of those sentiments become. The more extreme the boundaries of debate get pushed, the more reasonable and sensible comments such as those made by Joe Lieberman on "Meet The Press" start sounding. And what do most Democrats say in turn, to define their stance to broaden the spectrum of public debate on Iran? "Iran is a threat but we should be willing to talk to them, while keeping all options on the table." Does that sound like a fair and balanced debate to you, with the full range of views and perspectives well and equally represented? Or does it more resemble the programming on a certain well known cable news network?

Again, I say; we are losing the fight over Iran. The only force I see consistently and effectively weighing in to engage the public from a countervailing view point is sponsored by General Wesley Clark and They need our help. We can’t afford for them to fail.

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