The War with Iran Stops with You

By Jay Hansen

Left, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Right President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran

One of The Young Turk’s newest missions for its audience was to do everything in their power to prevent a war with Iran, because such a war would be absolutely disastrous. Our intelligence shows Iran poses no real threat, yet that’s all you hear about in the media is the “impending threat” or “the threat of Iran.” This week, I saw a perfect example of this as Yahoo’s top headline. The very first sentence in it perfectly depicts exactly how the media is pandering to war mongers. Quote from the story:

“The United States would not be safe from retaliation if Iran is attacked by Washington…”

“… if Iran is attacked by Washington…”

“…attacked by Washington…”

Biggest NO DUH in the WORLD.

If you punch someone in the face, they will punch you back. If we attack another country, they will retaliate and attack us back. Honestly, what else would we expect? “Oh America did a drone strike against us now. I guess that means we have to surrender unconditionally.”

This “story” yahoo news had up may literally be the most obvious fact (or at least news story) in the world, yet it somehow continually makes top story news throughout the media (not just Yahoo), which continues to report it like it’s some sort of shocking reason to be panicked, concerned, or even excited about going to war. Whether it’s internet media like yahoo or more mainstream sources like NBC’s Today Show or the Nightly News, they all seem to be constantly chattering about the threat Iran poses, frequently skimming over, ignoring, or just flat out lying about the fact that they won’t attack the United States unless we attack them first.

I’m writing this article to help The Young Turk Army in its mission to prevent a war with Iran, and to do so I will do nothing more than list off the facts of the situation. Already, we have our first one well established.

FACT #1 Iran will not attack the United States unless we attack them first.

Iran’s leader may be corrupt, but he’s not insane. He knows attacking the United States, the world’s greatest military power, without provocation (or even with) would be suicide. This is the publicly stated belief of General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and of former Mossad Chief (Israeli equivalent to the CIA) Meir Dagan. The Obama Administration has come out against war with Iran, and Iran has equally come out and said they have no interest in starting a war by striking any country first. This all makes perfect sense given the massive disincentive Iran has from attacking the West and the intelligence (which I will talk about later) the United States has on the situation in Iran, particularly regarding their nuclear program. The propaganda of the media will use every trick in the book to get people to try and forget this basic fact. Why they do it is my next point.

FACT #2 You can’t trust what the media says

Long story short, war makes for good TV. Be it conscious or not, producers for news shows propagandize in favor of war any time a promising one comes along, as it now has with Iran. Through subtle language tricks such as mentioning Iran will only attack us in retaliation once in a five minute story at the end of a sentence rather than the beginning, or doing a story about Iran’s stockpile of ballistic missiles and rising tension in the region without even mentioning America going to war in the same piece, they actually manage to shape public opinion with this bombardment. War appeals to our animalistic instincts of anger and fear, like any good entertainment, and thus, gets more ratings. The station that can out war monger the other, then, will likely have higher ratings because it’s more entertaining.

On top of that, there is an incentive structure for those in powerful positions in the media to protect the establishment. Keep in mind, news outlets are still corporations; MSNBC, CNN, FOX, CBS, ABC, and so on. Those in the ultimate decision-making positions within those companies want to help the defense industry just as any powerful corporation wants to protect its mutual interests. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is the primary driving force behind the misleading war mongering of the news outlets (except for FOX “News”), but rather that the former tends to be the main driving force with the latter as an underlying one.

If you don’t believe the entire media, from FOX to MSNBC, is willing to risk war for a ratings spike or to protect the establishment, consider what happened during the Iraq war. This classic Young Turks clip is perhaps the most famous of them all, as Cenk Uygur goes ballistic over the failure of the media to keep people informed.

A CNN poll reported that five years after September 11th, 43% of Americans still believed that Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for the attack, and that was the primary reason we went to war. The propaganda of the Bush administration was so tremendous and effective it actually convinced a vast majority of Americans of something that was patently untrue. Now, the the hard-right neoconservatives are pushing the exact propaganda and media tactics for war with Iran. During the Bush administration, the media either simply surrendered to wave after wave of propaganda from the president and let themselves get used as his mouthpiece, refusing to question or even comment on the President’s plans (or lack thereof) for war with Iraq, or worse, they would fed directly into the lies themselves (FOX). Now we’re seeing this exact same apathy if not downright lies from the exact same media that is proving once again that it is incompetent and incapable of doing its job of keeping people informed, because just like with Iraq, Iran does not have nuclear weapons, which will bring me into my next point.

I could go on about the media, and I could elaborate my points more, but really Cenk did so incredibly well in that clip, so I’ll just end with his words as an eerie foreshadowing of what would be to come six years after this clip was made.

FACT #3 Iran does not have a nuclear weapon

Iran does not have nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency has not found any strong evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb, and our own intelligence confirms this. Despite this, polling has already shown as many as 71% of Americans think Iran already has one, and 77% of Israelis believe so as well. Already at this early juncture we’re seeing a tremendous failure of the media at keeping people informed. Despite this, an astounding seven out of ten (70%) Americans favor diplomacy over military action; that’s almost the exact same number that believes Iran has a nuclear weapon (as of a few months ago). Could you imagine how many more Americans would not be in favor of military action if they didn’t think Iran had a nuclear weapon?

FACT #4 War mongering incentivizes Iran to develop nuclear weapons

If we, the media and our politicians, keep pushing and pushing for war, Iran will have all the more reason to develop a nuclear weapon. Right now our intelligence indicates they are not developing one, but with neoconservatives and other right-wingers like Mitt Romney swearing to go to war with Iran if elected, then Iran has all the more reason to gear up and get ready for a war. Efraim Halevy, former Israeli Mossad Director, said it best;

“If I’m sitting here in the month of March 2012 reading this, and I’m an Iranian leader, what do I understand? I have nine more months to run as fast as I can [to develop nuclear weapons] because this is going to be terrible if the [Republican candidate for President] gets in.”

For further explanation, once again, I’ll let Cenk do the talking for me because he hits the nail on the head so well.

FACT #5 Right-wing politicians are incentivized to go to war with Iran

To be honest, this point was so obvious I didn’t even put it on the initial list, but given that I try to write my articles for Oklahomans and other typically ill-informed voters I thought I would (briefly) elaborate on this. In America, the primary incentive the Republican Party has for war is profit. Obviously, there’s the underlying factor of oil in Iran that equally drove us to war with Iraq, because at the exact same time North Korea was developing nuclear weapons, still has them to this day, and the United States is doing nothing about it. A more directly profiting motivator for Republicans, as well as many Democrats, however, is the military industrial complex. All the tanks, drones, highly technological weapons, and even some soldiers (mercenaries) come from corporations, just like all products. These corporations get money from the United States government to develop new technological defense systems or weapons, but for that to happen legislators must first approve the money to be spent that way. So, these companies buy our politicians just like any other with large campaign contributions that ultimately help politicians win office, giving the person in question a job and significant power and standing within society. In exchange, that politician supports allocating more money for “defense” spending, which is the largest portion of the American budget.

As a perfect example of the corruption of this system, consider the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It has cost the US taxpayer $400 billion, and it was supposed to be ready in 2010. Now will be at least 2018 if not even later, and ultimately will cost the taxpayer $1 trillion to develop a single plane. Worst of all, the company producing the plane, Lockheed Martin, the company that is running this operation entirely off of American taxpayer money, is already prepared to sell the plane to twelve other nation’s militaries upon completion, completely defeating the Republican’s argument that it’s for the defense or betterment of America’s military.

Weapon makers are companies just like any other. They buy politicians all the same despite the repercussions of their corruption being far worse given how many lives of American soldiers are on the line. Their corruption of the government is also particularly bad because of just how thoroughly they have purchased it, given that the first 2012 budget spent 59% of all discretionary spending on defense ($553 billion), with the next highest being education at a paltry 6% of the budget. The United States spends about six times as much on defense as the next highest defense-spending nation, China, making up 43% of the entire world’s defense spending. To call our defense budget bloated is a massive understatement, and it’s because of this very corruption I’ve explained.

Of course, for some politicians, particularly the extreme right-wingers of Israel, it’s not just an issue of money, but rather religious ideology. Again, obvious to most folks, these politicians believe God wanted them to be President or Senator or whatever elected office, and that it is their duty to fulfill God’s will (because apparently they’re prophets capable of interpreting what God wants). I have no problem with religious belief, but when you start to try to apply that belief to our system of law, policy, and government is when I start to take issue. Some of these politicians are even so extreme they believe the bible should be taken literally. Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann had connections to Dominionism, or the ideology that Christians should take “dominion” over the entire world and turn it into a single Christian Empire by way of the “seven mountains” of society; media, arts and entertainment, business, family, religion, education, and, of course, government. There is strong evidence that Rick Santorum is an Opus Dei Catholic, an aggressive, disturbingly devout sect of Catholicism that promotes mortification of the flesh and that this life is entirely meaningless compared to the next. Politicians this deeply devout believe in a literal version of the rapture, or the end of the world. In other words, they believe the world is going to inevitably end, and that there’s nothing we as mortals that can do about it. I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough. I don’t want someone representing me at any level of government that believes there’s nothing humans can do to prevent the world from being destroyed; I only vote for people willing to fight for me. Some of these nutjobs even believe “judgment day” is almost here, and they have appointed themselves (or they think God appointed them) to help make it happen. This is part of the reason why some Republicans don’t believe in global climate change, like Senator Inhofe who once said it’s “outrageous” to believe humans could even be causing global warming because, you guessed it, the bible says otherwise. More importantly, though, are the various wars in the Middle East. It’s supposedly a war that takes place there that ignites the one that leads to the end of days, therefore, the ultra-devout Republicans are incentivized to cause such wars, if only to have the gratification of being right, damning the consequences or toll to human life. If a Republican did get his wish, and cause such terrible unrest in the Middle East, I can’t help but feel a certain smugness would come off of everything they did, as if to say “See atheists? See liberals? We Christians were right all along, and the end of days is here! Proof that I’m right at long last, and we’re all going to die! Yay!”

Yeah, the end of the world is here because you caused it, fucktard. I can’t help but feel these die-hard religious Republicans actually would sacrifice the lives of American soldiers, foreign soldiers, not to mention civilians, and even the lives of every human on the planet just to have the gratification of “knowing” they’re right on the question of religion. Think that’s a too far fetched? Let’s not forget former President George Bush, the President of the greatest nation in the world and undisputed commander of the world’s greatest military, told the French President in 2003 that Gog and Magog, the two agents of Satan responsible for bringing forth the apocalypse, were to come out of Iraq, in an attempt to persuade him to invade. I’m not even joking; Bush tried to convince President Jacques Chirac to invade Iraq (at least partially) because of the biblical prophecy of Gog and Magog. Look, people can make the argument that this obviously wasn’t Bush’s primary reason to invade, but the simple fact that it was on his list of reasons is beyond disturbing. American political leaders get driven by this ultra-religious garbage every day in America, and now they’re interpreting it as “divine reason” to invade Iran. We can’t let that happen. We cannot allow them to re-start the Crusades, possibly the bloodiest time in western history, if not all of human history.

But I digress. Even given the dangers of religious fundamentalism, we’re still not to the most damning, convincing reasons as why not to invade Iran, because what’s better than hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth?

FACT #6 Military and intelligence leaders in America and Israel are all screaming that a war with Iran would be “catastrophic.”

Iran is not Iraq. Iran is not Afghanistan. Its terrain is much more naturally defended, its government is much larger and more influential, its military is much more advanced and powerful, and the list goes on and on. General David Deptula said that a war against Iran for Israel just “ain’t going to be that easy.” If Israel went to war with Iran it would be a diplomatic nightmare for them because their military would have to go through Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or Jordan and Iraq combined. To use their air force, which is considerably smaller than many other nation’s, they would have to use risky tactics and technology such as re-fueling mid-air to make the 2,000 mile round-trip, and even then still wouldn’t even be able to hit all the necessary targets in Iran and run significant risk of being shot down by Iran’s superior defense systems (compared to the rest of the region). On top of that the list of military and intelligence members and professionals that have come out against war with Iran is absolutely staggering. Just to name a few;

  • Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy says it is “not in the power of Iran to destroy the state of Israel,” and that the ongoing war mongering against Iran only incentivizes them to build a nuclear weapon, which they are currently not doing.
  • Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan says that war with Iran would mean instigating regional war and give Iran all the reason in the world to develop a nuclear weapon, which they currently do not have, making any military action completely and utterly counter-productive. He goes on to say that bombing Iran now would be the “stupidest idea” he’s ever heard, that doing so before exhausting all options prior to war would be flat out wrong, and that Iran is a rational actor that will not fly off the handle and nuke Israel or America.
  • Current Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo said that Iran is a threat, but not an existential, immediate one. Former Israel Defense Chief of Staff Dan Halutz agrees.
  • General Michael Hayden, former Director of the National Security Agency and of the CIA, as well as a fervent supporter of right-wing policy and the Bush administration, said that an attack against Iran would “guarantee that which we are trying to prevent; an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon.”
  • Director of National Intelligence James Clapper believes that Iran is guided by a “cost-benefit approach,” meaning they will not attack America or its allies except out of retaliation, and will only develop a nuclear weapon if we give them a reason. This is also the exact belief of our National Intelligence Estimate, the collective opinion of our entire intelligence community, and in total agreement with the highest ranking military official in the United States. You don’t get much more credible than that.
  • General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces and principle military adviser to the President, says it is “not prudent to attack Iran,” and that it is “unclear” if Iran is even trying to or capable of developing a nuclear weapon. Like Dagan above, Dempsey also believes that Iran is a rational actor and will not start this war themselves.

But even if that’s not high enough of authority for you…

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says that “our intelligence makes clear that [Iran hasn’t] made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon.” IRAN DOES NOT HAVE NUKES.

Finally, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a Republican appointed by the war-mongering George Bush, has come out and said “If you think the war in Iraq was hard, an attack on Iran would, in my opinion, be a catastrophe

A catastrophe. A God-damn catastrophe. You don’t get much blunter or straight-forward than that. You don’t get more credible sources or higher authority than this. General after general, intelligence director after intelligence director, Secretary of Defense after Secretary of Defense all agree; do NOT go to war with Iran! It would be catastrophic, counter-productive, wasteful of both money and human life, against our intelligence, further wreck havoc on an already greatly destabilized and damaged region, and once again America will go down in history as the country that “struck first” when there was absolutely no need for it, tarnishing our already cursed international reputation, especially in the Middle East. We cannot let history repeat itself. We cannot let the same thing happen with Iran as did Iraq. Already, 71% of Americans believe Iran has a nuclear weapon, which I’ve made painfully clear is not true, or at least unknown. We saw this same majority think Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for the September 11th attacks before invading Iraq. The media failed us on Iraq, and they’ve already failed us on Iran. We cannot count on them to guide us to the right answer. Only you can prevent war with Iran by getting the facts yourself, as I’ve done here. Take a look at the intelligence, not the propaganda. Listen to the military and intelligence leaders, not pundits and politicians. Listen to international sources, not just American ones.

We’ve got to put the breaks on this disaster before it happens. Spread the word as far and loud as you can; do not go to war with Iran! We’ve got to shout it loud enough to pierce through the squabbling of petty politics and the mainstream media!

Do not go to war with Iran!


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