New Clothes for Old Naked Lies

Elements in Israel and the West intent on attacking the Islamic Republic of Iran are creating the appearance that war is inevitable.

Since the turn of the year, anti-Iran propaganda has intensified into a storm of hysterical nonsense. The media tells us that the Israelis are no longer the only ones facing an Iranian “existential threat.” Any day now, Iran will be able to bomb the United States with new ICBMs that can travel 10,000 kilometers. In Venezuela, Iran installs missile bases, builds Hezbollah training camps, and organizes cadres of young thugs to kill Americans. The Iranians probably already have terrorists in the U.S.

The threat is so dire that “the NYPD has stepped up security at the Israeli consulate, landmarks, subways, and dozens and dozens of potential targets in the Jewish community, not only synagogues but any place Jews live, work, or congregate.”

For over a decade, the U.S. has tightened an iron noose around Iran with military forces massed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq and bases or facilities in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and the Gulf states. The U.S. and Europe are imposing “crippling sanctions” on the Iranian economy, inflicting misery on tens of millions of ordinary people. The Fifth Fleet is in striking distance of the Strait of Hormuz, daring Iran to make a false move. MEK terrorists under contract with Israel, some of them trained by U.S. “special operations forces” in the Nevada desert, are murdering Iranian civilian scientists on the streets of Tehran.

But never mind all that. Based on the latest “news” from the Ministry of Make-Believe, Iran has the homeland virtually under siege.

It’s a cowardly new world. But these stories are not primarily meant to frighten us, at least not about Iran. For all their faults, most American have too much common sense to fall for the idea that Shia death squads will soon rampage through the shopping malls of Shaker Heights, or that Iran will be lobbing warheads across two oceans and three continents to take out New York City.

Most of the war-makers are indifferent about whether Americans believe their hallucinatory horror stories. Nor are they seriously expecting to generate widespread popular buy-in for another war.

Their objective is less ambitious but far more likely to succeed.

All they want is for you to keep your mouth shut and stay out of their way.

For the last several years, the Israel-U.S. network has tried to orchestrate mass acceptance of war by putting on a “bad cop/really big dumb cop” puppet show of Israel-U.S. relations. In this routine, Israel must attack its “existential threat,” Iran — if the U.S. doesn’t. As soon as Israel attacks, however, Iran will blitz U.S. “assets” wherever it can find them. A U.S.-Iran military conflict is therefore unavoidable. Given this reality, the propaganda goes, the U.S. is better off attacking first — or, at a minimum, “joining Israel in a preventive war against Iran.

Most recently, the war-seekers have upped the ante, threatening that the Israelis will create chaos throughout the Middle East if the U.S. does not attack Iran first. “What Israelis and others in the region understand … is that although Israel will bomb those nuclear sites if it has to, the United States can strike with far less chance of triggering a major conflict in the region,” says one of the resident hacks at the American Enterprise Institute.

It seems odd that “tiny Israel,” dependent on U.S. money and muscle since its establishment 65 years ago, can propel the world’s sole superpower into catastrophic war. That, at any rate, is the official story.

The “existential threat” meme, of course, is rubbish. Surely it must have occurred to at least one of our political or intellectual establishment luminaries — in the media, Congress, the White House, the “think” tanks — to ask how Iran is a mortal menace to the Jewish state (or, for that matter, to anyone else). Under the American political code, however, only anti-Semites ask such questions. “Existential threat” is the sacrum casus belli, off-limits like every axiom in the Israel dogma.

Antiwar voices are befuddled that the same lies from the same liars behind the Iraq war using the same style of deceit are now bringing us to war with Iran. But there is no real mystery here. Congress and Obama worked hard to ensure that those responsible for America’s innumerable war crimes — including those who lied about Iraqi WMDs — would never be held accountable under U.S. or international law. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Feith — the list goes on of all the war criminals in the previous administration who have written or been the subject of best-selling memoirs. The media and the think-tank yap-smiths who created or promoted the Iraqi fabrications not only have gone unpunished by their employers, their profession, their peers, and their audience but, in fact, now command equal or even greater attention for their Iran frauds.

In its contempt for accountability on Iraq, Gitmo, countless murders of “collateral” human beings and so on, the state granted the war-makers further license to commit the frauds and crimes needed to commandeer American troops and resources to attack Iran on Israel’s behalf. For the Israel-firsters, who have been grossly exaggerating the mullahs’ terrorism and nuclear “capabilities” for decades, that was all the invitation they needed.

Many peace advocates also are dismayed by the apparent influence on the public of so many over-the-top and patently incredible fictions of an Iranian threat. “How can they believe this tripe?” is frequently asked but never satisfactorily answered. The utility of these lies, however, has little to do with their credibility — or with the gullibility of the audience. It is not necessary for people to believe in the truth of this propaganda in order for it to have the desired effect. It works because most people believe that everybody else believes it is true or will act as if it were true. Uncritically facilitated by the corporate media, the frauds become the truth through repetition by those in power. To deny them is to risk pariah status. Very few people will take that risk, especially when the war-makers promote the illusion of inevitable conflict.

This Emperor’s New Clothes phenomenon, the “willingness to feign support for a public lie,” or at least let it pass without objection, explains the bizarre circumstance in which Americans seem to watch helplessly as the same fraudulent pretexts for the Iraq invasion roll on toward Iran. The hoaxes over Iran come from the same discredited elements who told us the same types of lies about Iraq with the intent to create consent (or at least non-opposition) for a military assault on an innocent population. Their risible tales of Persian villainy and malevolent prowess cannot be taken seriously by adults. But no matter: We are expected to act as if we see a nuclear-armed, warmongering Iran, a towering black cloud of “existential”-grade lightning bolts looming over Israel, indeed, the entire planet. We know Iran has no record of military aggression in over two centuries. We know Iran has no nuclear arms. We know Iran would be destroyed within minutes if it were irrational enough (as we are supposed to believe it is) to get to the point of testing a nuclear device. But the overwhelming volume of propaganda from the state and the state media (for that is what it is) creates a climate in which we must disregard our knowledge of the facts. If we speak out against the official story, our characters and reputations will be bludgeoned by a handful of officious zealots with outsized amplifiers. It is not hard to understand why anyone would have trouble trusting the great majority of our fellow citizens, who we also know can see the obvious, to step forward and stand with us. 

The war-makers do not care what we think. Their target is not our ignorance or gullibility. They care what we do — and don’t do. The most powerful weapons in their arsenal are our cynicism and cowardice. The Ministry of Make-Believe creates the illusion that outspoken dissent is a waste of time that will only earn us contempt and rejection from our neighbors and colleagues, even our friends and family.

There may have been a time when the news media played the role of exposing the public lie by stating the obvious. For decades, however, the media has been in the vanguard of protecting and promoting the myth of an Israeli-American “bond” forged in shared interests and values, which is the mischievous and unhealthy conceit at the root of the pending debacle with Iran. It has proven itself institutionally incapable of challenging the irrationality of the “special relationship” or the artifices used to justify treating Israel’s enemies as the enemies of Americans.

“As president of the United States, I have kept my commitments to the state of Israel,” Barack Obama told the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, on March 4, neatly limning the corruption in priorities and allegiances embraced by the American political classes. Neither America’s media nor its political institutions will voluntarily strap on some intellectual integrity and dedication to actual American interests — at least not in time to avert a war that could thrust civilization into a long period of medieval darkness.

The “inevitable” war with Iran can only be stopped by overwhelming mass action by Americans. It can only be stopped in America’s streets, offices, and classrooms, its churches and soccer games, its restaurants and boardrooms, its AA meetings and town hall forums, the places both public and private where Americans meet every day.

It is time to buck up, overcome the fear of speaking heresy, and forget about sounding like cranks or killjoys. Share the good news — Americans have nothing to fear from Iran! Then flood the email in-boxes, phone lines, and social media accounts of the White House, the State Department, and Congress, telling them: America will not tolerate a war with Iran.

The people in these institutions will ignore and refuse publicly to acknowledge the truth until they have no choice. Don’t leave them any. This time, their actions will have consequences — unless you keep your mouth shut and stay out of their way.

P. Casey

13 April 2012

P. Casey lives in New Hampshire.

Author: Peter Casey

Peter Casey lives in New Hampshire.