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Propaganda- the Iran Threat

December 9, 2012

By Jane Powers

The December issue of Foreign Policy (FP) magazine lists the “100 top global thinkers of 2012.” Coming in at spot #13, after the Clintons (“America’s ultimate power couple”) and before the inventor of unmanned drones, are Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu. These two distinguished war criminals merit the thirteenth spot for “forcing the world to confront Iran’s nuclear program.”

The article starts:  “Almost single-handedly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have wrenched the world’s attention toward the apocalyptic potential of a nuclear Iran.”  FP’s description of a nuclear Iran as “apocalyptic” is a great service to war planners. It is, however, a great disservice to those not interested in consuming vile war propaganda. The editors at FP might do well to read the Pentagon’s analysis, delivered to Congress in its 2012 “Annual Report on Military Power of Iran.” The Pentagon writes that “Iran’s military doctrine remains designed to slow an invasion,” and that, “Iran’s security strategy remains focused on deterring an attack.” A security strategy of deterrence will not bring about the apocalypse. It will, however, inconvenience those that need deterrence—aggressors like Netanyahu and Barak.

FP also omits another significant, yet inconvenient point: US intelligence agencies contend that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. As commentator John Glaser (one of the few that works to counter vile war propaganda) writes:

“In 2007, the highly classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluded that Iran had halted  efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003. The NIE is produced by 16 different intelligence agencies, and it is the most authoritative judgment on national security issues. A review of that report was published in 2011 and reaffirmed the same conclusions: Iran has no nuclear weapons program.”

Serious people might question the merit of “wrench[ing] the world’s attention” towards an non-existent threat, and the wisdom of designating those who do so as “Top thinkers.”

FP continues: “The effects of a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities remain unknown, but the result of [Netanyahu and Barak’s] rhetorical offensive have been impressive.”  Although it is true that no one knows just how terrible the effects of a strike on Iran would be, since it hasn’t happened yet, there are estimates that are worth some attention. A report written by a group of former US government officials and national security professionals, published by the Wilson Center, concludes that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only delay its ability to make a bomb by a few years and would actually increase its motivation to develop nuclear weapons. Such an attack could escalate into an “all-out regional war” and, “enhance the recruiting ability of radical Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda.”

Also worth noting is the potential for mass death.  A report published by the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics concludes that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will immediately result in thousands of civilian deaths. But more ominously, “The secondary civilian casualties as a result of exposure to the release of toxic and radioactive materials could increase this number to over 80,000.”

With these catastrophic predictions in mind, which FP dismissingly groups in the “unknown” category, the later part of the above sentence seems particularly grotesque. Israel’s “impressive” rhetorical offensive no doubt includes its numerous threats of attack on Iran. Such an attack would certainly be a war crime, but even the threats are illegal. The UN Charter specifically bars the “threats of force.”  FP therefore considers breaches of international law impressive.

FP doesn’t even hesitate to repeat the exact same mistakes made by the press in the months before the Iraq war. This article, however, suggests that it would be giving too much credit to FP by labeling its commentary a mistake. There is nothing mistaken about it. FP is working to instill its values of nationalism and intentional ignorance in its readers so as to justify state violence. It is fulfilling its function perfectly, as propaganda.

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