Recent negationist statements by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadineyad triggered others by the western media asking for sanctions against Iran, which could constitute the prelude of a military attack. The arguments used include legitimate criticism of the Iranian President’s statements, distortion of the situation in that country, worsening of the threat that would pose Tehran’s civil nuclear program as well as traditional propaganda especially related to the alleged ties between Iran and Al Qaeda.
Recent statements by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadineyad triggered others by the western media asking for sanctions against Iran, which could constitute the prelude of a military attack. The arguments used include legitimate criticism of the Iranian President’s statements, distortion of the situation in that country, worsening of the threat that would pose Tehran’s civil nuclear program as well as traditional propaganda especially related to the alleged ties between Iran and Al Qaeda.
Frequently, views demanding sanctions or even military action against Iran are made in the name of moral principles, but they often ignore international law. If we listen to what many analysts have to say, we will see that President Ahmadineyad’s recent statements justify the adoption of severe sanctions against Iran, and even the launching a war. This approach is based on a vision of international relations in which the most powerful countries can, at their own will, attack any country, not only in legitimate defence and not even only if they represent a threat, but also taking into account declarations and the ideology of the leaders of those target-countries. And this approach is easily spreading as the ruling media, whose articles and reports are mainly based on the opinion of western military leaders, offer an aseptic and soothing image of war.
However, we can not launch an slaughtering attack that will leave thousands of victims only based on a declaration, no matter how unfortunate it might be.
Anyway, neo-conservative propagandists usually attack Iran using the Iranian President’s negatory statements as their arguments.
Michael Rubin, former advisor to Donald Rumsfeld and also expert at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), welcomes Ahmadineyad’s declarations in the Slovakian journal Tyzden. For him, the Iranian president has finally revealed the nature of the Iranian regime and the Europeans have no choice than confronting him. The AEI expert believes that, in essence, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a regime that seeks the destruction of Israel and nothing could change that. The Iranian President’s most recent statements allowed the Europeans to understand it. Thus, without recommending any solutions, he makes a call in favour of a change of regime in Iran.
Kenneth R. Timmerman, Vice-president of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, uses the psychiatric condition of the adversary as an argument in the Daily Star. Based on a series of groundless statements and rumours whose authors can not be identified, he affirms that Mahmud Ahmadineyad is a messianic and millennialist religious fanatic who believes in the end of the world and the return of Imam Mehdi, a mythical figure of the Shiites. Taking into account this postulate and taking for granted Iran’s will to acquire the nuclear weapon, he predicts the worst in the event this kind of weapon falls in the hands of a mad man. He also believes that everything possible has to be done to prevent these “zealots” from having the bomb. Timmerman does not specify which means should be used either.
The western mainstream media share a common opinion: Iran is a threat, it is ready to acquire weapons of mass destruction, it supports terrorism and it is led by a group of fanatics who can adopt irrational measures (this argument frequently allows hiding the irrationality of this line of argument). We are clearly seeing the same pattern of propaganda used against Iraq.
Nonetheless, in the case of Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic does not necessarily leads to a call in favour of military action. It seems that, among the Atlantist elites, there is no consensus about a land invasion against Iran, and not even about air attacks. But there are some ambiguous points.
This is the case o article Publisher in Los Angeles Times by Bill Frist, Senator for Tennessee and leader of the Republic majority in the US Senate. The author shows concern for the nuclear threat that Iran poses to Israel, Europe and US troops stationed in the Middle East. Taking for granted Iran’s aggressive intentions and considering that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not condemned that country only because it fears that Tehran may abandon the Treaty of Non Proliferation, he calls for an international embargo against Iran. However, Senator Frist can not ignore that the United States will never obtain a consensus on this issue. China, Russia and India would neither respect nor support such an action. So, it is hard to understand the use of such a recommendation except to affirm later that non-military proposals were made before launching a war.
The traditional “messengers of America” also spread this image of Iran in France.
Media “philosopher” and editorialist of the French conservative weekly Le Point, Bernard Henri Lévy, repeats (and supports) all analyses made by his neo-conservative colleague David Brooks (who works for the New York Times and the Weekly Standard). The author affirms that Iran is about to have the atomic weapon and that it will use it against Israel before using it against “America” and the “West”. He also accuses the Islamic Republic of having ties with Al Qaeda. As it seems very difficult to resort to the military option (and, according to the tone of the text, only because of that), Bernard Henri Lévy suggests the use of international pressures in the commercial and diplomatic fields as well as the support of movements that could overthrow the Iranian theocratic system. While he regrets the US involvement in a conflict in Iraq, currently described as absurd, but one that he once defended, he asks Europe to stop any negotiation with Tehran and to act aggressively.
The French journal Le Figaro, for its part, gives the floor to commentators of Iranian origin.
Mdjamchid Assadi, a marketing professor and advisor to several companies, makes an analysis in which he uses the traditional Atlantist speech about Iran. He fears that diplomatic action may no longer be enough to solve the nuclear crisis and describes as “counterproductive” any military or even nuclear solution. Thus, he calls for a change of regime and for internal subversion actions.
Far from these simplistic visions, Daryush Shayegan describes his country as an incredibly complex state, characterized by deep archaisms but also by an endogenous cultural revolution. This article is a response to all those who believe that only an action from abroad can transform the country, although it does not state it explicitly. But this point of view is only an isolated example.
In the website AntiWar.com, Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, professor at the Center of International Studies of the University of Cambridge and member of the board of directors of the Tharwa Project, describes the way the propaganda model used by the neo-conservatives against Iran works. The author recalls that the neo-conservative program includes the overthrow of six or seven regimes in the Middle East and the actions of Iran have not had any influence on that goal. Thus, whatever the Islamic Republic does will be criticized to portray Iran’s most threatening possible image and to convince the world public opinion that it should be attacked. In order to back his words, the author cites a series of writers that the readers of our section Articles and Analysis know very well and who are experts in undermining the image of countries that are in the neo-conservatives’ sight. This propaganda campaign and the formula of marketing of shock allow them to win the consent of public opinion. The author concludes that war is a characteristic inherent to neo-conservatism and that the struggle against it involves denouncing its propaganda.
This is a point of view that we would have endorsed but that, unfortunately, does not have access to the mainstream media.