Mixed(up) Messages By William Bowles

25 April 2006

The hysteria being generated around Iran’s alleged nuclear ‘ambitions’ (the media’s favourite newspeak word these days) serves several purposes; one, it conveniently diverts attention away from the situation in Iraq; two, it acts as a warning to any other country challenging US imperialism’s increasingly desperate bid for global domination and, it also serves to divert attention away from the real and present danger of climate catastrophe which is itself directly the result of the Western world’s suicidal economic system.

And, as the real nature of the catastrophe that confronts us become increasingly impossible to hide, so does the importance of a propaganda campaign that peddles the hysterical message of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ as being the ‘real threat’ to Western civilisation.

The media’s role in whipping up the clamour for ‘taking out’ Iran’s nuclear programme is nothing short of outrageous with article after article rolling out of corporate editors’ offices on Iran’s ‘intransigence’ (another fave) or the more extreme, the ‘mullah’s bomb’ (see for example, The Weekly Standard’s rant).

UPI for example, carried the following short piece titled ‘Report: Iran building nuclear bunkers’, the piece is full of totally unsubstantiated allegations including the title, itself a phrase loaded with innuendo.

WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) — A former U.N. weapons inspector claims satellite imagery indicates Iran is building underground nuclear facilities south of Tehran.

David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector who now works for the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, said commercially available pictures show construction work on two huge fuel enrichment halls at Natanz, about 180 miles south of Tehran. Each structure is about 480-by-510 foot, he told The Telegraph.

He said the facilities appear to be planned to house centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium, which can be used in nuclear weapons, The Telegraph reported Tuesday.

“Both cascade halls have been covered in dirt. Trucks and steamrollers are laying what appears to be a grey material, possibly cement, over the soil,” Albright’s report said.

Iran claims its nuclear development is solely for the generation of electricity but there is widespread international suspicion of a covert weapons program. [my emph. WB]

The UPI story is interesting for what it doesn’t say and how it mixes the ISIS report with allegations from a story in the London Daily Telegraph which when read in the context of the UPI story completely misrepresent Albright’s ISIS report.

The report (available here) actually says as follows:

Following the [IAEA] briefing, anonymous US officials quickly started to distort what the IAEA had said. These officials told journalists on a not for attribution basis that this action by Iran represented a significant acceleration of its enrichment program. US officials called several journalists to tell them that in the briefing IAEA officials were “shocked,” “astonished,” “blown-away” by Iran’s progress on gas centrifuges, leading the United States to revise its own timeline for Iran to get the bomb. In fact, IAEA officials have said they were not surprised by Iran’s actions. Although Iran’s pace is troubling and requires concerted diplomatic effort to reverse, it was also anticipated by other experts, including those at ISIS. A senior IAEA official told the Associated Press that these US statements came “from people who are seeking a crisis, not a solution.” ‘The Clock is Ticking, But How Fast?’ By David Albright and Corey Hinderstein. The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)

The ISIS report goes on to say:

Estimates of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, accomplishments, and timelines need far greater public and Congressional scrutiny than they are currently receiving. This scrutiny becomes even more important as those in the Bush Administration who favor confronting Iran and pressing for regime change may be hyping up Iran’s nuclear threat and trying to undermine intelligence assessments that Iran is several years from having nuclear weapons.

And again in an article in the Washington Post dated April 17, 2006, Albright is distortingly quoted from the same report:

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private research group in Washington that monitors the Iranian program, said Mr. Ahmadinejad’s declaration, whether political rhetoric or technical reality, now gave the world “something to further investigate and worry about.”

The quote, when taken out of context enabled the Washington Post to draw entirely different conclusions and is perhaps a lesson on so-called objective writing that we can all learn from namely, that even the most innocuous of comments can be used to distort reality.

Press coverage is deliberately selective in what it chooses to tell the public about Iran’s alleged ‘intentions’. After all, what are intentions based upon? The use of such a vague word is actually intrinsic to US rewriting of international relations which are no longer based upon the rule of law, international conventions and agreements but on the idea of pre-emption, thus intentions replaces actions, indeed intentions are now synonomous with actions!

In this way, the media reinforces the US policy of pre-emption by accepting innuendo as fact, assumptions as a replacement for actions.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the corporate and state-run media never make reference to this fundamental shift in Western policy, instead the West’s ‘right’ to invade and destroy whatever gets in its way is an a priori fact of reality and not worthy of bringing to the attention of the public.

Another favourite is the phrase ‘the international community condemns Iran and its nuclear ambitions’ when the reality is that it’s only the US and the UK along with some EU states who take this view and in any case, it’s only an opinion and about as useful as ‘intentions’ when it comes to making judgements about Iran’s actions.

The same applies to the ‘rulings’ of the UN Security Council dominated as it is by the US, thus UNSEC is presented to us as being the same as ‘international opinion’. The same applies to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, also dominated by the US which informed us that there is an:

“absence of confidence that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful”, and of a “policy of concealment” pursued by Tehran.

But whose words are these, the US’ or the ‘international community’? Again, “confidence” means absolutely nothing but the BBC for example chose to report this an article titled “Iran threatens to end UN contacts“. And why shouldn’t Iran take this position, a tactic used by the US over and over again when on the odd occasion when the UN actually went against US policy.

In another BBC story, we read:

The UN says there is so far no proof that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons – as suspected in the West – but nor has Iran proved that it is not. ‘Iran sanctions ‘depend on proof

Note the phrase “as suspected in the West” used in spite of the fact that the UN states that there is no proof that Iran is building nuclear weapons. How is Iran expected to prove a negative? This goes to the very heart of the West’s propaganda campaign; it’s based on nothing more substantial than innuendo and suspicion.

Condemnation, consensus, confidence, cheating, nuclear ambitions, the list goes on, yet upon investigation the words are, by themselves meaningless, they seek only to create an atmosphere of fear and mistrust, built up over time that constructs a context within which the US, will, at a time of its own choosing, just as it did with Iraq, deliver the coup de grace.

Ultimately, the US will tell the world that its ‘patience has run out’, that unless Iran does as its told, the US will be forced to use the military option. It will also point to the fact that those blocking the use of the UN Security Council as a weapon of US foreign policy have a vested economic interest that is, principally China and Russia.

The public, failing an alternative presentation, have little else upon which to base their understanding of what is really going on let alone get any background of why Iran is apparently seeking nuclear confrontation with the US except of course the Iranian president’s alleged call to wipe out Israel.

But is it realistic to think that Iran would attack the West with nuclear weapons? What could they possibly gain except their own destruction? This is a question the media never ask for if it did, the entire propaganda exercise would fall apart. The very idea that Iran would launch a nuclear attack on the West is sheer fantasy and based only on the notion, invented by the West, that Iran is a country ruled by Islamic fanatics who have apparently completely abandoned the idea of self-preservation.

But in the context of a propaganda campaign which has turned Islam into some kind of ‘jihad’ driven by a messianic fatalism, it makes perfect sense. Thus the role of racism becomes clear, ‘they’ are all uncivilised, bent on some suicidal mission that defies any reasoning with, after all, how is one to reason with irrational fanatics who would, if given the chance, destroy the world knowing that they will go to an afterlife full of beautiful babes living in paradise.

Of course, such a vision is ludicrous if it weren’t for the fact that beneath all the so-called objective reportage in the Western media, this is exactly what is being said.

Iraq’s ‘WMD’, a casebook example
The demonisation of Iran is a mirror image of the propaganda war used in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and one that follows a predictable course, with a slew of ‘experts’ and the ‘condemnation of the international community’ used to create a veneer of authenticity (See for example ‘David Kay and the CIA’ for more on how ‘experts’ are used to create a veneer of respectability and authentication.

Kay’s involvement stretches back to the Reagan years and as I my piece on Kay, written in October 2003, makes abundantly clear, creating a climate of fear is the chosen method backed up with a lot of bogus analysis. Blurry satellite photos along with ‘interpretations’ of what the images represent are rolled out just as with the images being used of Iran’s ‘secret’ nuclear site. The media of course, accept these meaningless images as fact, ‘interpreted’ of course by their chosen ‘security’ correspondent.

This is what Kay had to say in July 2003 regarding Iraq’s alleged WMD programme:

“I think the American people should be prepared for surprises … I think it’s very likely that we will discover remarkable surprises in this enterprise.” (www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/10/02/sprj.irq.kay/index.html

The parallels with the build-up to the invasion of Iraq and the current situation are blatantly obvious down to the identical use of language by Kay back in 2003 where he referred to Saddam’s “intentions”.

Kay’s involvement with Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) is well documented and reveals the vested interest that military contractors have in participating in the propaganda war. Indeed SAIC was directly involved in running the propaganda war:

“[The] SAIC, heavily involved with homeland security projects, has already acquired several reconstruction contracts in Iraq, and Kay and a number of other former company employees are firmly planted in [the] country. The company “has been running the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council (IRDC) since the body was established by the Pentagon in February,” Dauenhauer and Lobe reported. “SAIC is also a subcontractor under Vinnell Corporation, another big defense contractor that has long been in charge of training for the Saudi National Guard, hired to reconstitute and train a new Iraqi army.” And SAIC is also running the recently established Iraqi Media Network (IMN) project, whose charge was to “was to put together a new information ministry, complete with television, radio and a newspaper, and the content that would make all three attractive to average Iraqis.
www.globalexchange.org/countries/iraq/1038.html

The collaboration between the military corporations and the propagandists is of course never revealed by the corporate media. Thus whenever an ‘expert’ appears on the BBC for example, the fact that the corporation or institute that employs them has a direct interest in the foreign policy objectives of the US is rarely if ever revealed to us.

The use of institutes and think-tanks, all of which are funded with millions of corporate dollars, creates the appearance of some kind of objective analysis being brought to bear on the issue when the reality is that these ‘institutes’ are in fact part of a carefully constructed propaganda campaign built over several decades. The ‘experts’ give the analysis the stamp of authenticity in a revolving door process with governments employing these ‘experts’ to validate policy. Even the setting for a TV interview is integral to the campaign, with the ‘expert’ invariably sitting in an office surrounded by thousands of ‘learned tomes’ thus reinforcing the aura of authenticity.

Is it any wonder therefore, when presented with such an overwhelming barrage of ‘expert’ opinion that it is impossible for the public to discern truth from fiction especially when set in the context of an atmosphere of overt racism and xenophobia that paints countries like Iran as being run by a bunch of rabid fanatics willing to risk nuclear conflagration in the ’cause’ of the ‘one true God’ or whatever. Language becomes a weapon of domination just as surely as guns and bombs.

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