The damage sustained by two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman has resulted in the Trump administration immediately claiming that it was a deliberate attack by Iran. As usual, it claims to have evidence supporting its charges but the US government has lied so blatantly and so often in support of war that any reasonable person would wait until that evidence is examined by credible neutral third parties before making any judgment.
James North looks at what we really know about the incident and how the New York Times once again played its role as part of the warmongering propaganda system by giving great prominence to the alarmist claims of the White House officials who have long been urging war with Iran, that this was a deliberate attack by that country, while relegating all the doubts about those claims to the end of the article.
The lead front-page New York Times report on Saturday is one sign of the bias. Paragraph after paragraph reported the U.S. version of the June 13 attack on 2 oil tankers, citing “officials,” “President Trump,” “a senior official,” and “a grainy black-and-white American military video.”
Only when readers got to paragraphs 8 and 9 did we learn:
–“. . . others said the (video) footage fell short of proving Iran’s culpability”
— and that the Japanese owner of one of the tankers questioned that his ship had even been attacked by mines, “saying it had been struck by a flying object.”
The Israeli reporter, Zvi Bar’el, used a different approach to raise doubts about the U.S. version of the attacks. Bar’el, a longstanding expert on the Mideast, argued that such a strike “goes against Iran’s policy, which seeks to neutralize any pretext for a military clash in the Gulf.”
Bar’el adds, perfectly logically:
. . . Iran is sure that the United States is only looking for an excuse to attack it. Any violent initiative on Tehran’s part could only make things worse and bring it close to a military conflict, which it must avoid.
None of the mainstream media has connected Israel to Trump’s escalation against Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu has long tried to provoke America to attack the Islamic state, and in the past Israeli intelligence has been the source for some of the extreme claims about the alleged Iranian threat to Middle East peace. Trump himself is interested in money, and he already admitted that his top donor, the pro-Israel gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson, advised him to hire as his national security adviser John Bolton, the notorious hawk who is pushing the anti-Iran policy. This Trump-Adelson-Bolton connection has gone almost completely unreported in the mainstream.
North says that one hopeful sign that the pro-war propaganda in the US media is not as successful as it once was is that the comments section to the NYT article was blisteringly hostile and “almost unanimously opposed to a U.S. war with Iran and suspicious of the Trump administration’s version of events.” As North and Philip Weiss report:
The most remarkable exception to this pattern is the “Readers’ Comments” on the NYT editorial. There were 473 of them before the Times closed the discussion, and we could not find a single one that is supportive of war or of U.S. efforts to continue pressure on Iran. So Bret Stephens gets to spur on a war in his Times column, but the paper’s readers are universally against the idea. Moreover, they hold the Times responsible and see through the equivocations in the editorial. Several point out that the press was the handmaiden of the Iraq disaster.
These readers have been well-educated by the last 20 years. They are privileged people (a definition of Times readership) and they have lost illusions about the American force for good in the world and are openly conspiracy-minded about false-flags and unspoken alliances.
The 473 commenters actually did the Times‘s job for it, by expressing an acerbic skepticism about the facts (including citing the Gulf of Tonkin lies in 1964), and then by blaming the U.S. for the confrontation and condemning it. A good number bring up Israel and Saudi Arabia.
They proceed to give a sample of the comments that is well worth reading.