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Fear, Trust, Iran & War Marketing

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At a press conference last week, President George W. Bush announced he was certain that the Iranian government was supplying weapons to militant groups in Iraq. Although stopping short of directly accusing top Iranian officials of distributing these weapons or orchestrating attacks, the president made very clear that Iran was responsible for smuggling arms into Iraq that have been used in attacks on U.S. soldiers.

In his wonderfully unique style of perverting already highly dubious, incongruent or sometimes faulty evidence into an unquestionable declaration of final truth, the president remarked he was "confident that the Quds force, part of the Iranian government, was providing weaponry into Iraq." As to what exactly these weapons are he remarked, "I can say with certainty that the Quds Force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated I.E.D.'s [improvised explosive devices] that have harmed our troops." Then, agglomerating his superbly refined vocabulary with its voraciously aggressive undertones, reminiscent more of an angry third-grade bully on the playground than the president of the United States, Bush warned Iran, and the United States, that he "intends to do something about it." These new accusations along with increasing attention on Iran's nuclear program have allowed this administration to develop a dramatic, entertaining and exaggerated caricature of the state of Iran.

This president is many things to many people, but what is clear: this president is not a knower. He has openly acknowledged this shortcoming on numerous occasions, most recently in last week's press conference, when he told reporters that he did not know what the situation was in Iraq, explaining that, "it's hard for me, living in this beautiful White House, to give you an assessment." Rather, this president, like others before him, bases his judgments on information and recommendations of his cabinet and advisors, but unfortunately this George Bush is very unique in that he has chosen to listen only to a minute cherry-picked assembly of select voices that corroborate with his own motives, while voices that contradict him for some reason, have somehow been silenced (i.e. former Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Eric Shinseki, General John Abizaid, former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Lindsey, former Chief of Alec Station, the Osama Bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center, Michael Scheuer, just to name a few). This president only hears what he wants to hear, unmistakably another characteristic that we so often equate to a frustrated elementary school mentality.

Nor is this president, previously famous for his entertaining Bushisms, a speaker. Prior to 9-11, he was more of a foolish clown who was easy to poke fun at and certainly the guy to invite to your Saturday night beer-bash. Although, to his credit, following the attacks the president was able to develop an astonishingly versatile ability to invoke fear, permeate the sudden need of necessity – the necessity for what, is and has always been up to the discretion of the president himself – into the public, and have us adopt the unquestioning belief that America is fighting a dialectic war of ideology against forces of evil, which is probably a talent more appropriate for decrees in the G.I. Joe television show than from the Oval Office. As we have slowly learned these past five years, George Bush has a wholehearted affinity to the Reagan Culture.

But to be sure, no critic can argue this president is a doer, and his warning that he plans to do something about the Quds Force's connection to violence in Iraq and the ongoing hysteria he is propagating with claims about Iran's Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) sanctioned nuclear program can only be seen as an act of hostility towards the Iranian government and threat to the peoples of both our nations. Such a message from president Bush illustrates two vital issues which must be examined if we are to truly comprehend the implications of the president's message: first, the credibility of his intelligence sources, along with his integrity to present the entirety of their findings and opinions and second, the possibility that Bush's inflammatory charges are above all meant as an antagonistic threat to a currently non-threatening country, attempting to aggravate it into a retaliation that justifies military action. If Bush's declarations concerning Iran are knowingly inaccurate and misleading, as they were with his Iraq sales pitch, it is not only our right but also our duty as responsible citizens, regardless of our assessment of the situation in Iraq, to investigate the possibility that he is sinisterly leading us into another confrontation and a situation of which we are deliberately misinformed.

At a briefing in Iraq earlier in the week, senior U.S. military officials revealed to the press that Iran "is a significant contributor to attacks on coalition forces, and also supports violence against the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi people." In the briefing, officials also asserted that the Iranian government is "providing training and other forms of weaponry to extremist groups" and that the Quds Force "trains extremists and insurgents in terrorist tactics and guerilla warfare." Amongst other things, on display in the briefing was the infamous E.F.P. (explosively formed penetrator), believed to be manufactured in Iran, capable of piercing armor and has taken the lives of more than 170 American soldiers. Evidence, as we know, is infinitely more strong when visual aids are rendered, even if we are ignorant of the them and need them explained to us.

Unfortunately in this briefing there was no accountability for these accusations, as the officials insisted on anonymity. Unlike the previous sleazy war-marketing campaign, no representative from the Pentagon, the Oval Office, the State Department, the CIA, or the Director of National Intelligence took responsibility for their authenticity. Perhaps after all, there is something that has been learned from Iraq.

Once more it seems, we, the American public, are asked to place our faith in both the competency of U.S. intelligence and more importantly the conclusions that are being drawn from it. In times like these, it may be necessary to recall some prior assertions supposedly supported by U.S. intelligence during the Bush administration. As competent red-blooded Americans, we should all be familiar with what rationale the Iraq war was sold to us, but just as a refresher, it may be necessary to recap (for those interested in reminiscing on the humorous theatrics and the intoxicating terror that George Bush bestrode upon this nation, or who just want to read transcriptions of his speeches and press conferences, see Bush's personal blog: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/).

In the months leading up to the invasion, Bush told us that we "know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade," that it "has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gasses" and that Saddam Hussein is "harboring terrorists," simultaneously as many U.S. Intelligence officials were actively disputing these claims and had reported that Hussein despised al-Qaeda and had already attempted to capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Bush spoke of unmanned aerial vehicles (U.A.V.'s) that "could disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas," contrary to the recommendations by the National Air and Space Intelligence center, which should be considered the expert in this field. Unable to conjure the evidence himself, Bush relied on British intelligence, which "learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," and as we all know, "Africa," the dark continent, is a mysterious country with a highly suspicious government. It is difficult to tell in this speech which perception he was propagating more, a racist stereotype or an ignorance from his audience who could not see Africa as anything more than a mystifying monolith, but regardless the way that he slowly scanned the audience left to right then right to left after he said "Africa" with that mysterious hesitation in his voice, like a camp counselor telling ghost stories while the youngsters roast hotdogs and marshmallows around the campfire on brisk summer nights, was priceless.

Even just days before the invasion, Bush assured us that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear program and that it "has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production," although he had been previously warned by intelligence that the tubes in question were in no way suitable for producing nuclear weapons. He spoke of "mobile weapons facilities," "secret sources," and "yellow cake." He accused Hussein of having relations with Zarqawi, which he has continued to do, most recently at a press conference 21 August. He said Hussein was "addicted to weapons," which is almost hysterical coming from le grand fromage, the #1 nation in arms dealing. He said that Iraq was a material threat.

And there was his charge to the United Nations General Assembly: "The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence." Much to my vexation, my hat reluctantly goes off to the president here. Not even I could deliver such an obscenely vial warping of what I know to be true and spew it with such sincere, diabolical condemnation. The irony that surrounds this president would be wonderfully comical, if of course he was not the president. Tragic is the only way to describe his legacy.

There is no need to argue here that President Bush is a liar, which he is, and not the kind of liar who lies to conceal his sex life, or even one who promises, "read my lips, no new taxes," rather a liar who's lies result in the death of at least 3,100 U.S. troops and thousands upon thousands of civilians. It is necessary though, to make clear that the military intelligence that president Bush graced us with in the past was at best incomplete, perverted and misleading and at worst, completely false. With his unwavering determination, convinced that "facing the clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud," this shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach to war and politics has been wildly successful in dragging us into an invasion and occupation predicated on false information.

If these antagonistic accusations are not enough to make us distrustful of the character who is spewing them, then perhaps we should be asking ourselves why Iran's alleged connection with attacks in Iraq are only now being presented with such assurance, simultaneously as the Bush administration continues to bring increasing attention to Iran's nuclear program, which it commonly interchanges with nuclear weapons development.

Presuming for a moment that our intelligence concerning Iran's weapons distribution is relatively accurate, why is it important? These denounced E.F.P.'s have been responsible for the deaths of 170 soldiers. Out of the over 3,100 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, that's a little over 5%, clearly worthy of the attention it's getting. It is no secret that the attacks by Sunni insurgence groups greatly outnumber attacks by Shia militias. Why has the administration not publicly addressed who is responsible for and who is aiding roadside bombings? Contrary to logic, it seems that the Bush administration is less interested in discovering who and what is attacking the vast majority of our troops than it is on providing us dubious evidence of Iran alleged involvement in 5% of them. And assuming once again, that the president was able to prevent all weapons made in Iran from getting in the hands of Iraqis, it would not succeed in mollifying the increasing hatred of America in the country or quelling the organizations that carry out these attacks.

Undoubtedly, the Bush administration would rather its citizens not make distinctions between various parties, militant organizations and providers, no less examine the political motives and rationale behind them. The nomenclature of "terrorist network" provides such a convenient way of depicting organizations that are at odds with the American government, casting them as having a singular identity and ideology. How else was it possible to accuse Iran of providing weapons to Sunni insurgence groups as it had once done by drawing a ridiculous link between weapons used by Hezbollah and weapons found in Sunni insurgence groups? One of the many perils of Bush's adherence to absolutism is that he, his administration, much of the U.S. government at large, many media outlets and a vast majority of American citizens cannot or will not differentiate between insurgents infuriated by the fall of the Sunni led government; groups resisting the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan or U.S. military bases in the Middle East; militias taking revenge for murdered Shias or murdered Sunnis; groups who want Israel out of all the Shebaa Farms; Palestinian organizations who demand their freedom and dignity; groups hostile to America for its undying support of Israel or its relations to the Saudi royal family; and of course the organizations that hate freedom and peace, that, much like Santa Clause, only exist in the minds of those who bought this "terrorist" nonsense, that want to kill Americans for being heathens, that have sent all those letters and videos telling us how much they hate freedom, although refraining from attacking Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway or any other country that grants equal if not more freedoms to its citizens, in essence the ones that were imagined by President Bush. Furthermore, this universal grouping and damnation of so many groups fighting for innumerous causes has sanctioned moral licenses to nations who are actively seeking to decimate an ethnic minorities and obliterate their culture, for example, the Han in China on the Uyghurs or the Israelis on the Palestinians. And with this inability to differentiate, we are able to confuse the organization or organizations that have conduced attacks with E.F.P.'s with any other organization labeled "terrorist."

That in mind, if we are to understand the current relationship between the U.S. and Iran, we must have some familiarity with its past. And if the president wants to declare that Iran is reclusive, secretive, obstinate and now hostile, it is upon us to investigate the authenticity of such claims. But before continuing I would like to make clear that I in no way intend to describe Iran as a utopian innocent victim of American foreign policy. It certainly is not. However, we must understand our role in this current situation and take responsibility for our own actions before condemning the actions of others.

Certainly the Iranians have great reason to distrust American motives and their policies, as our relationship in the past has been far from humane. Most notable was the overthrow of a democratically elected government and the re-installment of the Shah and his totalitarian reign in 1953 backed and orchestrated by the CIA and British Intelligence. We also had smaller incidents, like the USS Vincennes shooting down commercial Airbus A300B2 killing 290 civilian deaths, including 66 children; the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in 1996; providing intelligence to Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war; over twenty-five years of both creditable and ridiculous accusations of terrorist activity. And there have been more petty snobbery like preventing Iranian parliamentary speakers from a U.N. International Parliamentary meeting in 2005 or not paying in full the agreed 12 billion dollars in Iranian assets that was frozen during the hostage crisis in 1981. But history as we all know, is for fools, especially in this day and age, so perhaps a look at more recent developments in America's relation to Iran might have greater significance. Contrary to popular belief, over the past six years Iran has repeatedly attempted to nurture functioning if not positive relations in the U.S.

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Raised in Minnesota, ryan joined the possibly continuous, Great Mass Exodus from Minneapolis. A student in Long Island University’s Friend World Program, ryan traveled throughout Asia and Europe graduating with majors in World Religion (more...)

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Fear, Trust, Iran & War Marketing

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