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Over the last 48 hours I've been splitting my free time between (A) learning as much as I possibly can about the US assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and (B) arguing with people online who are uncritically swallowing US government claims about why that assassination was necessary. I always engage such political debates because they're a valuable source of information on what propaganda narratives people are buying into, and therefore which propaganda narratives need to be addressed.
What has been made abundantly clear from this particular engagement is that those who have bought into the Trump administration's completely unsubstantiated claims about Soleimani are sincerely unaware that they have unquestioningly bought into unsubstantiated US government narratives. People tend to get their information from tightly insulated echo chambers, and if you inhabit an echo chamber that supports the current president all you'll get is a bunch of officials, pundits and reporters saying in a confident-sounding tone of voice that Soleimani needed to be taken out. Since they're surrounded by chatter affirming that Soleimani had attacked America and/or posed an imminent threat in the near future, they assume that chatter must be based on some actual facts in evidence.
It is not.
This is very telling. I have read every single reply. Not one produced even the slightest shred of indication that he posed an imminent threat to the US.
Seriously, Stalin himself would've been proud of such a display of blind, unflinching acceptance of the deep state narrative. https://t.co/GrzzkKBy63
Dan Maul (@DanVMaul) January 5, 2020
When I speak out online against Trump's act of war on Iran and interact one-on-one with those who object to what I'm saying, the disparity between what they think they know and what they actually know gets very quickly highlighted. Simply by my challenging people to prove the claims that they are making about Soleimani planning to attack Americans, attacking a US embassy, directing a strike that allegedly killed a mysteriously unnamed US contractor in Iraq, killing hundreds of US soldiers in Iraq, that he's a "terrorist," etc., they quickly realize that they have literally no evidence for their claims beyond the unsubstantiated assertions of US government officials and people who unquestioningly repeated those assertions.
And from there I just ask them, "How well has uncritically swallowing US government narratives about the need for military action worked out for you in the past?"
Nobody wants to admit that they are doing such a thing, least of all a Trump supporter who's poured plenty of mental energy into distancing this administration from the previous Republican occupant of the White House. But that is indeed exactly what they are doing: uncritically swallowing baseless claims by US government officials about the need to advance a pre-existing military agenda, in a way that is indistinguishable from the cult-like behavior of Bush supporters in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion.
....targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
In reality there's no evidence for any of the reasons we've been offered for why Iran needed to be provoked into an almost inevitable retaliation that Trump is currently tweeting will result in all-out war:
- The claim that Soleimani posed an "imminent threat" is completely without evidence, rumored to be "razor thin," and entirely debunked in this excellent essay by Craig Murray.
- Mike Pence's claim that Soleimani assisted 9/11 terrorists is so ridiculous that even the war-loving Washington Post dismissed it.
- There's no proof that Soleimani directed the strike that allegedly killed a US contractor, or that that contractor even existed.
- There's no proof that Soleimani was involved in any "attack" on any US embassy, leaving aside the obvious fact that a little graffiti on the walls wouldn't justify his assassination if he did.
- The "hundreds of American deaths" line you hear regurgitated by everyone from Trump to Elizabeth Warren actually refers to Iraqis defending themselves from an illegal US invasion with some training from Iran. The claim that Iran was behind Iraqi bombs is without evidence and wouldn't matter if it were true; claiming the inhabitants of an invaded nation don't have the right to defend themselves is absurd, regardless of where they got their weaponry.
- The claim that Soleimani was "a terrorist" is only made because the branch of the Iranian military he commanded was arbitrarily designated a terrorist organization by the US government last year, a designation that any foreign government could just as easily make for any branch of the US military. He was actually a fearsome enemy of ISIS and al-Qaeda and played a massive role in halting the spread of ISIS.
We are being lied to, yet again, about yet another war on yet another geostrategically crucial Middle Eastern nation. And a huge percentage of the population is marching right along with it. When Iran retaliates for Soleimani's assassination, these propagandized sheep will be herded by the political/media class into believing that the attack was completely unprovoked. And if their credulity thus far is any indication, they'll swallow the whole load without so much as a twinge of gag reflex.
The US government has a very extensively documented history of lying to advance pre-existing military agendas. This is an entirely indisputable fact. It's been universally true from generation to generation, from administration to administration, and from political party to political party. The Afghanistan Papers came out just a few weeks ago further documenting this already conclusively established fact. Anyone who just accepts US government assertions about the need for military force without a mountain of independently verifiable proof is, to put it nicely, a complete f*cking idiot.