America's Israeli-Occupied Media
There should be little doubt
that the Israeli government is making every effort to jump-start a war against Iran sooner
rather than later. Many Israelis not surprisingly believe it is in their
interest to convince the United States
to attack Iran so that Israel will not
have to do it, and they are hell-bent on bringing that about. Unfortunately,
their efforts are being aided and abetted by a U.S. mainstream media that is
unwilling to ask any hard questions or challenge the assumptions of the Israeli
Israeli intellectuals such
as Benny Morris have been provided a platform to argue implausibly that a
little war is necessary right now to prevent a larger nuclear conflict. The
repeated visits to Washington by Israeli
Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to pressure Washington
to commit to a military option are generally unreported in the U.S. media, and no one is asking why the United States
should be involved in what is clearly a "wag the dog" scenario.
For once, however, some
officials in Washington
appear to have developed a backbone and are pushing back. A flurry of visits to
Israel by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Adm. Michael Mullen, and intelligence chiefs Mike McConnell and Michael Hayden
have made clear that there is considerable opposition at the Pentagon and in
intelligence circles to starting a third war at this time. Israel says that
Iran is about to obtain a nuclear weapon while the Pentagon and American
intelligence services are providing a more cautious assessment, putting forward
the U.S. view that Iran is still far removed from having nuclear capability.
Mullen went so far as to tell the Israelis flatly that Washington does not want another war. He
even brought up the subject of the USS Liberty, a not-so subtle hint that
Washington knows that Israel might try to engineer a Gulf of Tonkin- type
surprise to force American involvement. Mullen may have been implying that any
incident in the Persian Gulf that might lead to
armed conflict will be scrutinized carefully to determine if it is a false flag
operation initiated by Tel Aviv.
On the home front there is
also some additional good news for those who prefer diplomacy to warfare:
Congress is in recess and won't be able to do anything truly stupid, at least
not until next month.
House Resolution 362 has 261
co-sponsors, but it is still in committee and the word is that it will be
rewritten because of concerns about some of its language. Though not binding,
it would have recommended a blockade of Iranian ports to stop the import of
petroleum products, which many have rightly seen as an act of war.
Senate Resolution 580, which
has 49 senators as co-sponsors, is also reportedly being redrafted. The antiwar
movement has claimed some credit for stopping the two resolutions in their
original versions because of a mobilization that produced thousands of calls to
congressmen, but AIPAC has been lobbying heavily for the approval of both
resolutions. I expect that the Israel
lobby will prevail. Both resolutions should pass with overwhelming majorities
when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.
The principal problem in
attempting to derail the rush to war has been the mainstream media, which
provides a bully pulpit for those who want war. The media also accepts the
framework of the Iran
"problem" as defined by Washington and Tel Aviv, refusing to enter
into any kind of serious, adult discussion of how the outstanding issues
between the U.S. and Iran might be
resolved. A good example of how it all works was provided on Aug. 3, when
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
was interviewed on CNN's Late Edition by Wolf Blitzer, who himself once worked
Livni has an interesting resume.
Her father was one of the Irgun terrorists who blew
up the King David hotel in 1946 and later massacred Arab villagers in Deir Yassin. As a teenager, Livni participated in demonstrations on behalf of the
nationalist extremist group Greater Israel, which advocated expelling all Arabs
and extending Israeli domination over all of historic Palestine to include the
West Bank, parts of Jordan, up to the Litani River in
Lebanon to the north, and down to include Sinai and the Suez Canal in the south
and west. She is reported to have mellowed somewhat since that time. She was
close to Ariel Sharon, became justice minister, switched over to Kadima with Sharon,
and was elected to the Knesset. She was rewarded with the Foreign Ministry by Sharon and now serves
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
She is a former intelligence officer, a lawyer by training, bright and
articulate, and generally regarded as a "realist" vis-à-vis the
Palestinians and the Muslim world, meaning that she supported the Sharon policy of
"disengagement" and seeks a negotiated solution and normalization
rather than continuing armed conflict. She appears to be the leading candidate
to replace Ehud Olmert when
he steps down later this year due to his acceptance of gifts from an American
Livni has been reported as having
said privately in October 2007 that Iran poses no existential threat to Israel
and was highly critical of attempts to hype the danger, but her private views
have not in any way influenced her public pronouncements. In her interview with
CNN she made a number of statements that are inaccurate or at best speculative,
but predictably, she was not challenged in any way by Blitzer. Most viewers
probably came away from the interview convinced that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, is
unwilling to negotiate over its nuclear enrichment program, and is a danger to
the entire world.
Following a lead-in by
Blitzer affirming that Iran
is "showing absolutely no indication they're going to stop enriching
Livni – representing a country
that has ignored more UN resolutions than any other, engaged in ethnic
cleansing, and attacked all of its neighbors without warning – asserted that
"It is clear that Iran doesn't pay attention to talks … Iran is a threat,
not only to Israel, but this is a global threat."
Blitzer then obligingly provided
another softball, referring to Ehud Barak's assessment that there is only a window of 15 to 36
months before Iran
crosses the "line of no return." While it is not clear what the
expression "line of no return" means, Livni
jumped on it, saying that "any kind of hesitation … is being perceived by
the Iranians as weakness. … Iran
is a threat to its neighbors, as well.
… We shouldn't wait for what
we call 'point of no return.'" Blitzer then asked, "You don't even
give them 15 months necessarily. You think it's a more urgent matter?"
"Yes," Livni answered.
Blitzer then suggested that
the U.S. might not ready for a "third front" in the Middle East at
the present time, to which Livni replied, "[T]he
world cannot afford a nuclear Iran and weapons of mass destruction everywhere
in this region, in the hands not only of states, but also of terrorist
organizations." Livni clearly believes that it
is all right for Israel to
have a secret nuclear arsenal but unacceptable for any of Israel's
neighbors, because they cannot be trusted to behave responsibly. The allegation
would give nuclear weapons to terrorists surfaces frequently from Israeli and neocon sources. It is speculative and in all likelihood a
complete fantasy, given the apocalyptic consequences of such an action for Iran, but
Blitzer failed to contest the point. The terrorist argument is an essential
line in the script for those who want the U.S.
to engage in a war with Iran.
should not be blamed for reciting her lines in spite of her personal
misgivings, because she is, after all, the government official responsible for
explaining Tel Aviv's foreign policy. It is the American media that continues
to play the patsy. If interviewers like Wolf Blitzer are the best that the U.S. mainstream
media can come up with, then we are in serious trouble. The interview format
itself is a travesty, particularly as it suggests that some rational process is
being applied to either critique or validate what the interviewee is saying. As
the Livni interview demonstrates, if the subject is
the Middle East and the interviewer is Wolf Blitzer, that is not likely to be the case.