The 12 Principles of War Propaganda - Part 2
December 31, 2006 1:20am CST
Twelve Principles of Propaganda Used in Setting the Stage for War: the Iran Case The first principle in manufacturing propaganda for the U.S. war party is to take it as a given that the United States has the legal and moral right to take the lead in making a case that the international community must act-here to stop Iran's nuclear program. Consider that the United States is in the midst of an occupation in Iraq in which it is daily committing war crimes, all of which follow on a major act of aggression that violated the UN Charter. A lesser power doing this would be declared an international outlaw, and would not be considered a proper leader to guide the international community in the pursuit of villainy. In fact, containing the outlaw would be deemed of primary importance. Furthermore, the United States showed its contempt for the rule of law and for any UN legal procedures in the runup to the Iraq war, when it fabricated a crisis-Iraqi violation of international rules and an Iraqi threat to U.S. national security-and on that basis simply ran roughshod over UN processes and international law. Beyond these outrages, the United States has unclean hands as regards the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that Iran is allegedly violating: as a signatory to the NPT, the United States pledged "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." It has not met this pledge, nor the promise not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against signers who agreed to forego developing nuclear weapons. It is even "upgrading" and "modernizing" its nuclear weapons to make them more "practical." In theory, Iran or any other party could complain to the IAEA that the United States is in clear breach of the NPT, but somehow this doesn't happen; only possible breaches that the United States sees fit to pursue can be attended to in the New World Order. Furthermore, the United States has given crucial support to Israel, engaged in a massive ethnic cleansing operation in violation of international law, with both superpower and client simply brushing aside a stream of UN rulings and an International Court condemnation of Israel's apartheid wall. The United States has either aided or given tacit approval to breaches of the NPT by Israel, Pakistan and India. In short, its moral right to challenge Iran is non-existent-it can do so only by virtue of power, bribery and threats, and because the patriotic mainstream media take its moral right as an undiscussible given. The second principle, paralleling the U.S. right to do as it pleases, is the absence of the target's right even to defend itself. The United States and Israel may possess nuclear weapons, the latter refusing to subject itself to the NPT and the former violating it and threatening Iran with "regime change," but any Iran move to right the balance by acquiring such weapons for itself is a terrible thing that threatens "international peace and security," as stated in House Concurrent Resolution 341. The United States and Israel have been bringing "peace and security" to the Middle East! It should be noted that in the EU negotiations on Iran's nuclear activities, the United States has refused to give any security guarantee to Iran as part of the package, making its un-peaceful intentions toward Iran clear, but this still does not give Iran the right to acquire weapons that might reduce that open threat. For the media this is all irrelevant, as its leadership says that Iran is a menace and nothing else matters. A third principle is inflating the menace that would follow from Iran's possession of nuclear weapons. This of course parallels closely the earlier inflation of the Iraq threat, where the Bush administration propagandists were not laughed off the stage for talking about mushroom clouds off New York and other dire threats. Then and now the media have not pointed out that Saddam Hussein had only used chemical weapons in the 1980's against Iran (and Iraqi Kurds) at a time when he was serving U.S. interests--and therefore with tacit U.S. approval--but that he didn't use them at all in the Persian Gulf War when the United States was the opponent and could retaliate in kind and with greater force. By the same token, as the United States and Israel have enormous retaliatory capability, the Iranians could never use nuclear weapons as an offensive tool without committing national suicide. But nuclear weapons would serve as a default weapon if Iran were attacked; that is, it would contribute to self-defense. This line of argument is carefully avoided in the mainstream propaganda flow. Of course, demons shouldn't have the right of self-defense, and the fourth principle applied in the media's beating the drums of war is unrelenting demonization of the target. This was easy to do with Saddam Hussein, but it can be worked for almost anyone, as there are few political leaders who don't have some unsavory elements in their record or who haven't made indiscreet or wild statements that can be latched onto, taken out of context, and used to suggest irresponsibility and menace. Iran's mullahs have run a fairly repressive state, although its repression has eased up and democratic voices have not been silenced. The newly elected president Mahmoud Ahmandinejad, of course, made an indefensible statement on the Holocaust (a "myth") and a wild statement that Israel should be "wiped off the map." In his recent classic of war propaganda ("Judicious Double Standards," Washington Post, March 7, 2006), Richard Cohen even says that the Iranian leader is a "zealot who has pledged to eradicate Israel," a straightforward lie. Victor David Hanson makes the current scene one of "appeasement." as in the treatment of Hitler in the 1930s, and Iran now a threatening "bully." ("Appeasement 101: dealing with bullies," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 17, 2006). Iran of course has zero nuclear weapons, whereas the United States and Israel both have massive numbers and delivery systems, and Iran hasn't once moved beyond its borders, whereas the United States and Israel have done so regularly and are pummeling Middle East populations right now, but Iran is the "bully," and appeasement means failing to make sure by threat or violence that it cannot ever acquire a single nuclear weapon. But lies and inflated rhetoric are par for the course, and in the panicky environment of the pre-war threat buildup there is no cost to lying or comical threat inflation.