15 January 2006
An unnamed official said…
A story in the London Independent (14/1/06) is typical of the kind of propaganda war being waged by the UK and the US over Iran’s alleged programme to acquire nuclear weapons. In fact, the story is a model piece, worthy of dissection for the various messages it carries to a public which has been deliberately misled over the real nature of the ‘crisis’, a ‘crisis’ deliberately engineered by the West and for a number of reasons.
Bylined by Kim Sengupta, he us tells that according to (unnamed):
“[S]enior defence sources … Iran could take retribution against British troops in Iraq if the British government continues with its leading role in the campaign against the country’s nuclear programme.”
And the basis for this accusation? Simply that Iran has been:
“accused of directing … the Shia … violent campaigns [in Iraq].”
And whilst there exists not one shred of evidence to back up this claim, except unsubstantiated government sources, this didn’t stop the Independent from headlining the story “British troops could be victims of Iran’s nuclear standoff with West.”
So the story imputes that Iran is and will use Iraqis in their “standoff” with the West. Yet where is the evidence that the Iranians are in any kind of position to manipulate Iraqis? Just as with the story put out by the British government recently—that Iranians were supplying sophisticated weapons to the Iraqi ‘insurgency’, a story that had no basis in reality—the linkage between Iraqi resistance to the occupation and Iran’s “nuclear ambitions” (BBC News 14/1/06) is designed to elicit the support of the British public for ‘our boys over there’ for the US/UK position on Iran.
Nor does it end here, for the article also quotes other senior British military figures who regurgitate the same totally unfounded accusations that allege Iranian involvement in the Iraqi ‘insurgency’ and which even accuse Iran of having “a lot of control over Shia forces.” The piece continues, again quoting a senior British military source:
“It does not even have to be military action for the Iranians to retaliate. We may well see an upping of the destabilisation efforts if Britain is seen to be leading calls for sanctions.”
So resistance to occupation is presented to us as “destabilisation” linked directly to Iran’s “nuclear ambitions”. Yet where is the evidence of Iran’s “control” over Shia forces?
The demonisation of Iran continues in an even longer piece in the same edition on pages 28-29 which uses the predictable quotes from the man and the woman on the streets of Tehran, “Death to America”, “Death to Israel” and so on and so forth.
Not surprisingly, the (cloned) media coverage of the alleged crisis – a ‘crisis’ entirely of the West’s making, contains no analysis beyond shrieks about Iran’s “intransigence” and “defiance”, all of it based on nothing but totally unfounded allegations.
So for example in BBC TV News at 10 (14/1/06), the public is presented with a new satellite photo of an Iranian nuclear research centre and we are told that there are “seven new buildings under construction that weren’t there before”, but what is the viewer meant to make of this ‘startling’ new piece of information? Obviously the satellite photo must be placed in the overall context of the British government’s propaganda war, it is not necessary to even mention that they are in some way connected to Iran’s “nuclear ambitions”, anymore than the obvious fact that the phrase “nuclear ambitions” implies something sinister, some hidden agenda on the part of the Iranians.
The creators of the British state’s propaganda war will no doubt describe the use of the phrase “nuclear ambitions” as entirely innocent which would be true if used in another setting. But set it in the context of “crisis”, intransigence”, “defiance” and the implication, always present, that the Iranians have something to hide through the use of a satellite photo, and the phrase takes on an entirely different meaning.
Note for example, the way the BBC frames its ‘analysis’ of Iran’s nuclear programme:
Iran is astutely exploiting its legal rights in this – under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) it can indeed develop a nuclear fuel cycle under inspection. That is all it says it wants to do. [my emph. WB]
So its legal right to engage in research is presented to the reader as an implicit cover. The same article tells us:
At some stage Iran might reach the point at which it had mastered the technology of fuel enrichment. This, as experts like the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has said, might take many years. But sooner or later, it could happen. [my emph. WB]
Military action might then get onto the agenda.
Based upon what? The BBC has the answer for you:
The West, and Israel, say that Iran cannot be trusted and that it matters because the technology used to enrich uranium for fuel can also be used to enrich it further for a nuclear explosion. [my emph. WB]
Note, that it’s the West and Israel, Israel is presented to us as if it’s not part of the West.
If you master one, you master the other. And that would give Iran what is known as the ‘break-out’ capability. It could leave the NPT and go ahead and make a nuclear device. news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4607492.stm
Again, the BBC ‘analysis’ is one big ‘could be’; Iran could leave the NPT, it ‘could’ make a nuclear device, it ‘could’ attack Israel. Of course, on the other hand it ‘could’ not.
But viewed in the context of the US/UK’s strategic objectives in the Middle East and especially the role of Israel, and it all makes sense.
The ‘crisis’ follows a well-worn propaganda strategy: First, Iran is accused of having hidden “nuclear ambitions”, the rationale being its hatred of Israel, and public statements calling for the destruction of Israel, which has never amounted to anything more than rhetoric, largely for domestic consumption.
This forms the backdrop to the West’s use of its puppet, the International Atomic Energy Authority to demand access to Iran’s nuclear energy programme which Iran, as a signatory to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, is obliged to give (why else sign it?), but of course Iran is “hiding something”, what exactly, is not known beyond the imputation that it’s uranium enrichment programme can also be used to make weapons grade nuclear material-true-but after thousands of man-days of investigation by IAEA inspectors, not a single shred of evidence has been uncovered that this is what Iran is doing.
Iran finally agrees to a self-imposed moratorium on its enrichment programme as a prelude to talks with the West, talks which drag on for months, with the Western powers demanding unacceptable conditions from Iran.
Thus the inexorable momentum leading to the current ‘crisis’ is created, all of it based on nothing but state/media spin. Iran’s perfectly legitimate right to develop its nuclear programme disappears under an avalanche of increasingly hysterical propaganda.
The pivot around which the West’s propaganda campaign revolves—Iran’s uranium enrichment programme—although an accepted component of a civil nuclear power programme is, it is alleged, merely a cover for a more sinister agenda.
The ‘sinister’ agenda is predicated on nothing more than the Iranian government’s pronouncements about Israel—a country which possesses according to reliable estimates, some 200 nuclear weapons of its own. Thus Israel’s role is as a catalyst for increasing threats by the US/UK to ‘do something’, but using Israel to make the more overt threats including calls for strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Thus Israel becomes the West’s rottweiler, snapping at the heels of Iran, all of it based on the false notion of protecting Israel’s ‘security’. The circle is complete.
Comparisons with the prelude to the 2003 invasion of Iraq are not amiss, which was also predicated on a slew of assumptions, backed up with totally false accusations that included fabricated ‘intelligence’, something the West is not able to do in the case of Iran, no matter how it frames its accusations. It is therefore reduced to an increasingly hysterical campaign based on nothing but assumptions about what Iran might do.
What ultimately gives the game away is the simple fact that short of actually invading or bombing Iran, there’s nothing the West can do about Iran’s nuclear programme. So one has to ask the question what is the propaganda campaign all about? What is its purpose?
The massive propaganda campaign serves several purposes; firstly it directs attention away from the debacle that is the occupation of Iraq as well as serving as a convenient excuse (alleged Iranian involvement in the ‘insurgency’) for the failure of the occupation to attain its stated objectives. Hence the ‘Shia connection’ figures highly in the propaganda as Iran’s dominant religion is Shia Islam and it is alleged that the majority of Iraqis are Shia, although there are no accurate statistics to support this assumption, it has just been repeated so many times in the Western media that everybody assumes it is a fact. It also supports the notion that Iran is trying to start some kind of civil war in order to extend its influence over Iraq, another assumption on the part of the West. The idea that Iraqis as a whole are totally opposed to USUK occupation simply doesn’t get mentioned as a reason for the resistance. It forms part of a pattern that Iraqis, as with the peoples of other poor nations of the world, are merely passive victims who have to be protected by the ‘democratic’ and ‘peace-loving’ West. Tell that to the families of the Pakistanis who just got exterminated by a US robot bomber.
Secondly, it serves to act as a justification for Western involvement in the Middle East including supporting the role of Israel as an aggressive and destabilising force in the region, by branding Iran as the potential aggressor.
Thirdly, it creates an atmosphere that will, at some later point, be used as a justification for further aggressive actions on the part of the imperium. It will recall the ‘immense efforts’ it went to in order to curb Iran’s ‘nuclear ambitions’, that ultimately came to nothing because the world just stood by.
In its historical context, the propaganda campaign directed at Iran follows a well-worn path that demonises any country which dares defy the West, a campaign that without the active involvement of the corporate/state media would be impossible to carry out. Given that Iran is denied comparable access to the Western media—unless of course it says something that can be used by the West—the cards are stacked against Iran. Even statements made by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, such as his ‘destroy Israel’ comments have to be taken with a pinch of salt as they are often taken out of context or even incorrectly translated. The Western media practices a linguistic and cultural dictatorship that defines all events and analysis in its terms. When the West makes statements about events they are generally for global consumption and it has a vast global infrastructure set up precisely to ‘spread the word’.
When any member of a poor country makes a statement that can be put to effective propaganda use by the West, it gets the ‘full treatment’, but not so for anything that takes the form of an analysis of the West’s real intentions. Thus the tens of thousands of words that get repeated ad infinitum about Iran’s ‘nuclear ambitions’ are all we in the West ever get to know about Iran, its culture and most importantly, how it sees the world and the actions of the West.
The piece I quoted from above, ‘The long road to Iran sanctions’ by Paul Reynolds, the World Affairs correspondent for the BBC’s News website, ends with the ominous sentence:
President Bush has said time and again that he will not permit Iran to build a bomb. And Israel might not want to wait that long.
It contains not a single word by an Iranian politician, not even a paraphrase. It consists of nothing but assumptions about Iran and ends with a threat, conveniently delivered by the ‘unbiased and objective’ BBC. The fusion of media and state propaganda is unmistakable, even though it appears to be an ‘external’ commentary, simply through the clever use of language.
Ironically, the article takes on the role of promulgating a self-fulfilling prophecy, a fear not lost on the unfortunate military caste of the British armed forces who, in the Independent article mentioned above, had this to say about attacking Iran:
Admiral Sir Alan West, the head of the Royal Navy, warned that any military action against Iran could have “horrendous consequences” and “must be avoided” … [E]ven air strikes – let alone full-scale invasion – would be extremely problematic and could have “disastrous results.” “The consequence of military action would be quite horrendous. We should not do it, the matter should be resolved some other way.”
Comments (that do not appear anywhere on the BBC News Website) which surely call into question the entire rationale behind the US/UK propaganda campaign, for if this is the view of those tasked with ‘taking out’ Iran, the propaganda is revealed for what it really is, nothing more than fear-mongering for domestic consumption and to justify the actions of the imperium.
Elsewhere in another piece on the BBC News Website, we get a little closer to the real state of affairs, but again couched in BBC ‘newsspeak’ that (conveniently) removes the UK from the equation:
Viewed from Washington, consistency is not so much the issue as interests. Israel and India are key strategic allies of the United States.
They are democracies.
Their arsenals are not seen as destabilising – in fact, it is quite the opposite. [my emph. WB]
– Washington’s nuclear friends and foes, By Jonathan Marcus, BBC Diplomatic correspondent, 13 January, 2005
I rest my case.