Propaganda for war against Iran begins

It should be plain to everyone that the Bush White House and its neoconservative inner clique are pushing hard for a war with Iran. They have gone on a relentless offensive, trying to convince the American people that Iran is a rogue state, secretly pushing a nuclear weapons program and that their leader is some kind of mad man who seeks world domination. Predictably, comparisons with Hitler are being invoked again, just as he was with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

Once again, the media has gone along with the White House, allowing its propaganda to either pass unchallenged, or to bury the facts in the back pages of the papers or deep in related stories. As a result, the warmongers’ efforts have had some success. Polls indicate that 77% of Americans believe that Iran can make nuclear weapons soon.

Physicist Gordon Prather, who has extensive knowledge of both the weapons area and international treaties regarding nuclear weapons, tries to clarify the situation:

Three years ago, in deciding to adhere to an Additional Protocol to their Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency in advance of its ratification, the Iranians voluntarily “declared” certain activities many months before they were obligated to do so under their existing Safeguards Agreement.

And, on 27 April, 2006, the Iranians informed the IAEA that it was “fully prepared” to continue voluntarily adhering to the Additional Protocol in advance of its ratification “provided” Iran’s IAEA “dossier” remained “within the framework” of the IAEA.

The IAEA Board ignored the Iranian warning, and directed IAEA’s Director-General, Mohamed ElBaradei, to report the entire Iranian dossier to the UN Security Council, with the expectation that the Council would “determine” under Article 39 of the UN Charter that Iran’s Safeguarded programs somehow constituted “a threat to peace in the region.”

Of course, the Security Council has thus far declined to make such a ridiculous determination.

But, as threatened, the Iranians promptly reduced their cooperation with the IAEA to levels not much greater than required by their existing Safeguards Agreement.

It is to that Agreement and nothing more that the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons requires Iran to adhere and looks to the IAEA to verify compliance!

If you carefully read ElBaradei’s quarterly reports to the IAEA Board, you can determine for yourself that for at least the past three years the IAEA has verified total compliance by Iran with that Safeguards Agreement.

And according to the IAEA’s latest quarterly report:

ElBaradei once again confirmed that Iran remained in total compliance with its original NPT-required Safeguards Agreement. And that Iran continues to provide cooperation on certain matters beyond that required.

It is beyond doubt that the level of uranium enrichment that Iraq has achieved (close to 4%) is consistent with its use for energy production and is nowhere near the almost 90% needed for weapons grade use, and yet this fact has been consistently under-reported in the media.

The lies put out by the administration and its congressional supporters about Iran’s program have become so blatant that according to news reports:

U.N. inspectors investigating Iran’s nuclear program angrily complained to the Bush administration and to a Republican congressman yesterday about a recent House committee report on Iran’s capabilities, calling parts of the document “outrageous and dishonest” and offering evidence to refute its central claims.”
. . .
Privately, several intelligence officials said the committee report included at least a dozen claims that were either demonstrably wrong or impossible to substantiate. Hoekstra’s office said the report was reviewed by the office of John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence.

Negroponte’s spokesman, John Callahan, said in a statement that his office “reviewed the report and provided its response to the committee on July 24, ’06.” He did not say whether it had approved or challenged any of the claims about Iran’s capabilities.

“This is like prewar Iraq all over again,” said David Albright, a former nuclear inspector who is president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. “You have an Iranian nuclear threat that is spun up, using bad information that’s cherry-picked and a report that trashes the inspectors.”

In fact, Iran is a victim of double standards, that despite its adherence to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it is receiving sustained threats against it based on dubious assertions about its nuclear capabilities and intentions, while countries known to have nuclear weapons and who have refused to sign the NPT (Israel, India, and Pakistan) are left alone. It should be remembered that Iran can detach itself from the NPT any time it wants to, just by giving three months notice.

When pressed, the US government admits that it is using a double standard with Iran.

In fact, it is amazing how similar the current campaign against Iraq is to the earlier campaign against Iraq. The fact that that case was shown to be fraudulent does not seem to have prevented the warmongers from recycling that same plan. The fact that they are able to do this is, of course, because of the nature of the media that was discussed in a series of earlier posts.

The occupants of the influential think tanks funded by the pro-war/pro-business party always have access to the editorial pages of the newspapers and this sets the terms of the debate, so the same wrong-headed arguments get repeated airings, even though events have gone counter to them.. It does not matter if these opinion-makers were wrong about practically everything in Iraq, such as the state of Iraq’s weapons, its intentions, the response of the Iraq people to the invasion, the ease of conquering that country.

Those same people (William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Rich Lowry, the list goes on) who were so wrong are still treated as “serious” and “responsible” and “thoughtful” analysts of policy, while those who were right that the Iraq war would be a disaster are treated as frivolous gadflies.

Take a look at Gordon Prather’s resume:

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. — ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

This does not make Prather infallible or even correct, of course. But it surely makes him a more knowledgeable analyst than many of the talking heads who endlessly blather on this issue on TV and in newspaper op-ed pages. Prather is someone who should be taken seriously at least. But you will search vainly for him, or people with similar credentials in the mainstream people. They are not “serious” people.

As Glenn Greenwald says:

But as always with Iraq and terrorism debates, being endlessly wrong is a sign of profound seriousness, and cheering on wars — no matter how misguided and misinformed the cheering is — renders one a serious foreign policy expert who recognizes the serious threats we face in these very serious times. That’s why, when The Washington Post wants to find someone to counsel us on its Op-Ed page as to what to do in Iraq, it turns to two of the Wrongest People in America.

If we had determined our Iraq policy over the last three years by picking proposals out of a hat, we would have been way more right than we were by listening to Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry. But they favor wars and more wars and put on a grave, serious face when they talk about The Terrorists, so they are Serious Foreign Policy Experts and need to be listened to.

If you want a good example the Chomsky-Herman media propaganda model (see here, here and here) in action, one needs to go no further than in studying how the US was urged into war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is now slowly but surely being dragged into war with Iran.


  1. Joe says

    I do not disagree with your assessment of the propaganda machine and the possibility of war with Iran. From a practical standpoint, however, I do not think war is a real possibility. With the military already stretched extremely thin, it makes little sense to start a bigger conflict. This is especially the case since the ability to maintain an all volunteer military is critical to this type of conflict. If a draft were instituted for such a flimsy motive, public sentiment regarding the administration would go from bad to worse in a heartbeat.

  2. says


    I definitely agree with you that a rational weighing of options would rule out a war with Iran. But at the same time, I am preparing a few posts that argue that we are dealing with people who do not do cost/benefit analyses using the same metrics that you or I are using. And that is where the danger lies.


  3. J says

    Conducting a preemptive strike on Iran will unite the hardliners and most of the population will follow suit. However, one dangerous possibility that could happen is Israel launching airstrikes against suspected nuclear weapons facilities. If Iran retailiates, will the US join in?

  4. David says

    Iran has said that it will wipe Israel off the map. What can be done to prevent that from being a reality. Would you allow them to go nuclear?

  5. David says

    Israel must strike if it will survive. Israel cannot survive a nuclear attack it is to small.
    What are its options?

  6. David says

    How would you deal with this man and his country if you were responsible for the safety of Israel?

    Associated Press Writer
    TEHRAN, Iran
    The president of Iran again lashed out at Israel on Friday and said it was “heading toward annihilation,” just days after Tehran raised fears about its nuclear activities by saying it successfully enriched uranium for the first time.
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a “permanent threat” to the Middle East that will “soon” be liberated. He also appeared to again question whether the Holocaust really happened.
    “Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation,” Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. “The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm.”

  7. Ted says

    as a follow-up on the gist of david’s comments, i don’t believe there is a practical comparison between the countries cited that currently have nuclear weapons (india, pakistan, israel) and iran. as far as i know none of those countries have threatened to annihilate the western world.

  8. David says

    India and Israel have not made any such threats and are stable nations. In other words they wouldn’t use their weapons offensively on civilian targets. I trust Pakistan’s leader because of his constant help in capturing Al Qaeda members. However, their nuke scientist was caught spreading nuclear technology to places that I’m sure would make both of us nervous. Also there have been many attempts to assassinate Masharif, which fortunately have failed. If the Islamic militants who have attempted the assassinations were to succeed, and the country fall into their hands, it would be a most regrettable scenario with WMDs in the hands of terrorists.
    I believe everything depends upon us denying Islamic extremest Nuclear weapons which means Iran or Pakistan. Don’t you agree?

  9. says

    My feeling is that all nations should get rid of their nuclear weapons. If some nations want to keep them, then what right have they to deny them to others?

  10. David says

    They are just like any other weapon. You don’t let children and felons buy guns. So why would you let people who support terrorism?

  11. David says

    The short of the matter is that terrorists are those who intentionally target civilians, and use civilians as shields. Governments that support these entities with arms and/or money would be sponsoring terrorism. For instance Pakistan is a predominately Islamic country, but the government is at war with, and actively participating in the search and capture of Islamic extremists who are trying to take over their country. Iran on the other hand not only funds Hezbollah, but arms them with sophisticated weaponry in order to attack another nation.
    I saw a cartoon which describes the mindset difference, at least for me. There was an Israeli solder and a Hezbollah fighter facing off with guns aimed. The Israeli was standing in front of and shielding a baby carriage, while the Hezbollah was shooting from behind a baby carriage.

  12. says


    Given your definitions “terrorists are those who intentionally target civilians, and use civilians as shields. Governments that support these entities with arms and/or money would be sponsoring terrorism”, I am sure you will concede that the Contras in Nicaragua and the US government that supported them, and the Lebanese Phalangist militia (that carried out the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps) and the Israeli government that supported them, are also either terrorists or sponsors of terrorism.

  13. David says

    I can understand your point, but I think there are differences. In any country, especially in war there will be people who can snap under the pressure and do terrible things. In this country when one of our solders does something like intentionally killing innocent civilians there is a trial and a court martial. In other countries there is cheering in the streets and the killers made into heros like when the twin towers fell and innocents died. Don’t you agree that there is a difference?
    When we were fighting the spread of global communism, there were times when we allied ourselves with entities that didn’t hold to our standards of decency (Contras and even Mujahideen in Afghanistan) which turn out to be an embarrassment it is true, but we don’t condone their methods of fighting. I still don’t know enough to say whether or not the Contras were any better or worse than the Communists. Sometimes your choices are not clear good and evil but lesser of the evils. The communists were trying to take over the world and the Contras were not.

  14. David says

    By the way I have enjoyed reading your articles, you argue your points well, even if I don’t see things from the same perspective.
    In spite of your great mind good knowlege I still wouldn,t vote you in as Secratary of Defence. (grin)

  15. says


    People under pressure do do terrible things but that does not apply to the examples given above.

    The support for the Contras and the Phalangists were not the hot-headed actions of people under fire, they were the deliberate decisions of the US and Israeli governments, no less cold-blooded than the decision to fly planes into the World Trade Center.

    The dancing in the streets when the towers fell was disgusting. But have you forgotten the glee with which many people here greeted the ‘shock and awe’ aerial bombardment of Iraq and Afghanistan, actions which inevitably led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people? Some were even arguing for a nuclear strike, just like they do now with Iran. It is an example of the media propaganda model that the awful actions of ‘them’ are highlighted and remembered while the awful actions of ‘us’ are conveniently forgotten. This enables ‘us’ to always have an inflated sense of ‘our’ worthiness and of ‘their’ unworthiness. This is deliberate policy because you need this kind of we/they good/evil thinking to convince people to go to war with each other.

    What we should be thinking about is not why some nations (or other grouping of people) are good and others bad, but why it is that people of any nation can be persuaded to do evil things.

    Too bad that you won’t support my bid to take Rumsfeld’s job when he gets fired. I hear it pays well and the perks are good.

  16. David says

    With all due respect. If you put Nazism, Communism, and Islamofacism, on an even scale with America you are to be pitied.
    When we defeat a country it turns out like Germany and Japan. Look at the countries the the other Ideologies take over with barbed wire and machineguns at the borders and murdering their own citizens. Islamic countries murder christians burn churches etc today. Im not talking about dark ages.
    Look at what people are saying about Bush. Under any of the other regimes those people would be imprisoned and killed. You can thank God you are in america. Or thank your ancestors if you don’t believe in God. You wouldn’t be so lucky in an Islamic country.

  17. Rian says

    I think the question ‘Should America care if there’s a direct threat to the State of Israel?’ needs to be posed. We have relations with all of the states surrounding Israel, too, and most of them are not friendly to the Jewish state. Unlike Israel, though, those states have something we need economically (Egypt has the Suez canal, most of the other countries have oil that they are desperate to sell us). While Israel is the strongest military state in the region by a large margin, is our own economic stability worth allying ourselves with the strong military state or the strong economic state? I’m not advocating either way (it very well could be more in American interests to be allied with the strongest military than it would be to be allied with the strongest economic states), it’s just a question that needs to be posed.

    The effects of nuclear weaponry are actually significantly different than the effects of non-nuclear weaponry. A quote from the official Japanese study of Hiroshima described the effects:

    “In the case of an atomic bombing… a community does not merely receive an impact; the community itself is destroyed. Within 2 kilometers of the atomic bomb’s hypocenter all life and property were shattered, burned, and buried under ashes. The visible forms of the city where people once carried on their daily lives vanished without a trace. The destruction was sudden and thorough; there was virtually no chance to escape… Citizens who had lost no family members in the holocaust were as rare as stars at sunrise…

    The atomic bomb had blasted and burned hospitals, schools, city offices, police stations, and every other kind of human organization… Family, relatives, neighbors, and friends relied on a broad range of interdependent organizations for everything from birth, marriage, and funerals to firefighting, productive work, and daily living. These traditional communities were completely demolished in an instant.” (Source: “The Making of the Atomic Bomb”, Richard Rhodes, 1982, pp 732-733)

    Some of the facilities that we are targetting are in populated areas. In order for such an act to stand up politically and morally, Israel would have to be a barren wasteland FIRST. Otherwise, the nuclear aggressor would face world isolation at best and retribution at worst. Iran is China’s biggest energy supplier, and China would not look kindly upon the United States using nuclear weaponry on behalf of a client state.

    In order for the United States to have the shot of defeating an enemy in the manner of Germany and Japan (something that we actually have not done since then), that enemy would have to have both a highly organized society AND be racially and ethnically homogenized. Otherwise, we end up fighting insurgency wars after we obliterate their military.

  18. David says

    Good points.
    As far and the atomic weapons go I still struggle with the reality of ethics and morality.
    First if you believe Irans leader when he says that they will wipe Isreal off the map, then you must choose weather to wait and let him do it, and then retaliate.
    In that case Most of Israel is destroyed, but the Israeli retaliation would wipe out all of Irans large cities. Israel has a small fleet of subs in order to insure mutual destruction.
    The other signario is to do a pre-emptive strike, just to destroy Irans nuclear capability. Like they did to take out Saddams Nuclear facility.
    In that case you would use bunker busters that even if nuclear are detonated deep underground. Of course there would still be a certain amount of radio active fallout. but it would be nothing like the air bursts that are done for the specific purpose of anialating an entire city.
    So the ethical and moral delema is to
    1. wait and see, down side two whole nations possibly destroyed
    2. pre empt and likely start a war but try to keep a nuclear conflagration from erupting.
    What are your thoughts?

  19. Rian says

    Israel has three options. The first is to try an Osirak-style raid on key Iranian nuclear facilities on their own. The second is to get the United States to do all of the fighting and to shoulder all of the political and monetary costs. The third is to rely on the principle of deterrence, telling the Iranian government that a nuclear attack on Israel would be replied in kind. All three have their dangers.

    The first is that published Israeli weaponry and platforms simply can’t hit the farthest reaches of Iran on a round-trip. F-15I fighter-bombers have a published range of 2400 miles which is not sufficient to reach the farthest reaches of Iran. The Israeli nuclear deterrent is just now capable of hitting all of Iran, but the idea behind a politically defensible raid is not to use your own weapons first. While Israel could stunt the Iranian nuclear program with a conventional attack and completely shut it down with a nuclear one, they would most likely want to do the latter with conventional weaponry. Enter the United States.

    Due to the power of the Israeli lobby in domestic and international American politics, the chance of American political help and/or military help in a strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities is very high. The former was secured by the Israeli government for their attack on the state of Lebanon and on Hezbollah. The latter is still under consideration by the American government. Due to both the vastly superior range, proximity, and striking power of the American air force and naval aviation, a conventional strike on even the hardest targets is feasible in terms of operational capability. The consequences though of such a strike for the American government are predictable and not to the overall benefit of the American position in Iraq and elsewhere. They include a vast increase in Shi’ite attacks on American convoys in the southern part of the country, strikes against American troops throughout the country by both regular and nonregular forces, and a vast increase in the price of oil futures, thereby causing an instant recession. While such consequences would deter any American politician of a realist bent, the confluence of both the neoconservative Bush Administration and the aforementioned Israeli lobby makes this the most likely option to deal with the Iranian nuclear program.

    The third option is the least devastating in the short term, and is actually now fully possible with the addition of the reputed 5,000km range Jericho III nuclear missile into Israeli war stocks. States have universally been deterred by mutual destruction, and even while Ahmadinejad’s public pronoucements are to the contrary, I doubt that Khamenei and the rest of the government would be particularly willing to commit suicide alongside him.

    What a potential Iranian nuclear weapon does, though, is inhibit Israeli (and American) freedom of action in the Middle East militarily. The rich Sunni states would have only two functional choices -- arm with their own nuclear weaponry or submit to Iranian hegemony. That’s the American benefit to curtailing an Iranian nuclear program -- not Israel’s defense but the defense of the Sunni sheikdoms who control four hundred billion proven barrels of oil. America has more freedom of action, but our own domestic political concerns won’t allow us to enter into a sort of Grand Bargain with Iran. This would be the best possible option -- negotiating the Iranian nuclear program out of existence while not having to use a military option that would be disastrous.

  20. David says

    Don’t you think that we have as much or more to loose by Iranian nuclear technology being passed into the hands of terrorist organisations. It seems to me that Iran would have more to gain by getting nukes into the hands of Hizbollah, and let them hit Israel or us, maybe both. That way they just might avoid a counter strike. I would be hard to stike a country on assumtions. It would be hard to determine country of origin. We wouldn’t know for sure that it wasn’t an old Soviet Weapon.

  21. Rian says

    Each nuclear reactor, even reactors in the same complex to the same design, have unique trace-element signatures. While it would take a little time to figure out, because you’d need a sample of the bomb material itself AND the signatures of the nuclear reactors (something that every government I can think of would give up in the event of a nuclear attack) if you don’t have other evidence. It would be possible to prove that it wasn’t an elderly Soviet weapon, although the means are a little slow.

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