Behind the ‘Phony War’ on Iran

This from my new op ed in the National:

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s rocketeers – helped by its Photoshop mujahideen – managed last week to set off a wave of hysteria by test-firing four medium-range missiles to underscore its capacity to retaliate against any US-Israeli air strikes. (Well, three actually, the photo retouching was needed to disguise the failure to launch of the fourth.) But the hysteria seemed more like going through the motions of pre-existing agendas than a sign of impending combat.

The piece touches on what I believe is the significant debate in Washington, which is not that usually reported pitting those who actually want to attack Iran against those who want to pursue diplomacy; instead, it is being fought between those who believe diplomacy will only succeed if the Iranians believe they’re facing a real military threat, and those who believe that creating that such a belief would retard rather than enhance diplomacy and risk unintended escalation.

In other words, all Bush’s talk about the military option remaining “on the table” is an increasingly transparent bluff. But the real diplomacy will begin only after a new U.S. president is seated.

To read the whole thing, click here.

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13 Responses to Behind the ‘Phony War’ on Iran

  1. Bernard Chazelle says:

    Nice picture: Cheney as George Constanza!

    “The sea was angry that day, my friends!”

  2. NK+ says:

    Hi Tony,

    I think you’ve threaded the needle by filtering the real Bush administration policy from all of the media buzz.

    In the end game, I think the Photoshop of the dud missile has inadvertently benefited the Iranian regime by exposing the schizophrenic nature of the Western media — that is, is Iran really a threat or is it not?

    As you already know, the layout of a news website will typically tell you where the paper behind the web site stands politically. Namely, they will put the headlines supporting the paper’s views in the most conspicuous areas and hide the ones that serve the contrary purpose. For instance, on JPOST.COM, the “Iranian Threat” section of the website takes significant precedence over other items, over even other matters of concern for the Israeli public, such as “Israel”, the “Jewish World”, the “Middle East”, “Local Israel” and “Business”. JPOST.COM prominently featured the Photoshop situation in the “Iranian Threat” section over the last two days.

    Now the key question is, why would a paper that is promoting an existential threat as its main audience lure also feature an article that very much shows that the same threat is not really even a threat at all? Even the sheeple, baaa excuse me, the people who talkback, or comment, on JPOST.COM are oblivious to this ironic circumstance. For a year or two they have been wringing their panties and playing the chicken little game over an Iran that has been adamantly posturing that they will not attack any State in the Middle East. Now, they mock the same country as not being a threat at all.

    Further, when I attempted to post my own comment on the site about this contradiction, the comment was not approved by the JPOST.COM staff, despite being fully in compliance with the rules for their comments.

    It goes to show that there really is a media machine at work here. However, I am curious as to whether this media machine has actual ties to the administration agendas they are purposely advancing or whether this is just another case of yellow journalism syndrome? In other words, are any government actors of Israel and the US actively putting journalists on a payroll or coercing them to paint a certain picture?

    It wouldn’t surprise me. But, I don’t like to think of it as being so black and white either. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “official” government actors doing the dirty deed of manipulating the media to their end, it could, perhaps, just be an interested group of people. AIPAC? (

    It’s funny, just as I was writing this reply to your blog, JPOST.COM posted another article here: It is 12:51 AM EST Sunday and the article says that Bush gave a Senior Pentagon Official the “Amber Light” to attack Iran on SUNDAY MORNING. The fishiness continues within that article, a must read if you have some popcorn around.

    Again, kudos on a great op-ed. You really should be featured in more news publications. I placed a “DIGG” on this blog entry and will inform my friends to up your digg rank shortly.


  3. NK+ says:

    Just wanted to add that JPOST.COM just edited the article to read that the Pentagon Official was quoted from the British Sunday Times after I let them know of their fishy reporting. Despite this, the 2nd paragraph, commentary by JPOST staff, contradicts the entirety of the article by saying Bush did not give an “AMBER light” but a “free reign” to Israel to do as it pleased. The laughs keep coming.

  4. dan says:

    The funny thing about the “photoshopped” image that appeared in the Western Media is that in the UK all the news broadcasters – Sky, BBC, Channel 4 – endlessly replayed the Iranian TV pictures that clearly showed 3 rockets launching whilst a 4th remained on its launcher. I’m pretty sure that the evening CBS new show, which gets shown late-nite on Sky, also showed the same Iranian TV footage.

    What’s wierd is that no journalist, picture researcher or editor from the print outlets that published the inaccurate photo seems to have noticed the discrepancy before going to press – which means that they have the attention spans of, well, drunk goldfish.

  5. NK+ says:

    Press outlets are notorious for using bad pictures of political figures to extend their aims…but this one is hilarious.

  6. I have to say, I could not agree with you in 100%, but that’s just my IMHO, which indeed could be very wrong.
    p.s. You have an awesome template for your blog. Where did you find it?

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