When Americans wonder how their country has ended up in so many pointless and seemingly endless conflicts around the world, like the meandering Afghan War and the bloody mess in Iraq, a good place to start would be the "prestige" newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times.
And, they are now engaged in a replay regarding Iran.
On Saturday, the Post's editorial writers joined their counterparts at the Times in a new Establishment chorus demanding "regime change" in Iran through the ouster of the country's Islamic-directed government by supporting the opposition Green Movement, which lost last year's presidential election and then mounted public protests.
Since that election one year ago, it has become an accepted truth in the major U.S. news media that the Green Movement's candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi won the election which was then stolen by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
So, the thinking goes, President Barack Obama must abandon his naïve efforts to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program and instead ratchet up bilateral tensions by throwing more U.S. support behind the Iranian opposition and winking at Israeli plans to launch airstrikes against military targets inside Iran. Those attacks would supposedly spark an uprising in Iran.
This wishful thinking is reminiscent of the run-up to war in Iraq. Then, too, the Post and Times plus much of Washington's foreign policy elite bought into a mythology of their own making, wanting to believe that the internal opposition in Iraq was much stronger than it was and that negotiating with the official leadership was a sign of weakness and betrayal.
The fantasies about Iraq led to neoconservative dreams of a "cake walk" for U.S. troops as Iraqis threw rose petals. Now, similar uncritical thinking is being applied to Iran.
"A year ago," the Washington Post's editorialists wrote on Saturday, "a movement was born that offers the best chance of ending the threat posed by Iran's support for terrorism and pursuit of nuclear weapons," adding that:
"Mr. Obama's strategy hasn't slowed Iran's nuclear program or its aggressions toward Iraq, Lebanon or Israel. The popular discontent reflected in the Green Movement offers another avenue for action, one that is more in keeping with America's ideals. It's time for the president to fully embrace it."
Last Thursday, a New York Times editorial took a similar line, praising the new round of anti-Iran sanctions that the Obama administration pushed through the U.N. Security Council, though the Times said they "do not go far enough."
The Times also took a mocking swipe at Brazil and Turkey, which voted against the new sanctions after having convinced Iran to swap about half its low-enriched uranium for more processed uranium that could only be used for peaceful purposes.
"The day's most disturbing development was the two no votes in the Security Council from Turkey and Brazil," the Times wrote. "Both are disappointed that their efforts to broker a nuclear deal with Iran didn't go far. Like pretty much everyone else, they were played by Tehran."
But the truth was that the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal was torpedoed by the United States, although President Obama had privately encouraged it. Turkey and Brazil weren't "played by Tehran"; they were double-crossed by Washington.
Other Belligerent Voices
In recent weeks, Times star columnist Thomas L. Friedman also has weighed in with an influential column advocating U.S. backing for the Green Movement rather than further negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.
The Green Movement's "success -- not any nuclear deal with the Iranian clerics -- is the only sustainable source of security and stability. We have spent far too little time and energy nurturing that democratic trend and far too much chasing a nuclear deal," Friedman wrote.
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