TEHRAN, July 6 (MNA) -- Spare us the pain of yet another repetition of the “Chicken Little, the sky is falling” syndrome, as journalist Seymour Hersh so accurately stated about his own writings on Iran during a recent edition of the CNN talk show Late Edition.

The substance of the latest ‘revelations’ of “Preparing the Battlefield”, published in the June 29, 2008 issue of The New Yorker, is no more than a rehash of very old news packaged under an alarmist-intended title. The so-called ‘facts’ do not amount to more than their intended purpose: to further dramatize the threat of military attack against the Iranian people and nation, in the form of the ceaseless psychological warfare, known as psyops, emanating from the Western mass media. 


It seems one of the motives in writing this latest ‘exposé’ of the Bush administration’s well-financed covert operations against Iran was best illuminated in Hersh’s discussion and retelling of the Pentagon’s version of the Iranian patrol boat incident back in January 2008. “Weariness with the war in Iraq has undoubtedly affected the public’s tolerance for an attack on Iran, but this mood could change quickly,” writes the investigative journalist, citing the Iranian patrol boat incident as a clear example of the “potential for escalation”. Although Hersh referred to a Gallup poll taken last November, when seventy-three percent (73%) of the Americans surveyed favored economic means and diplomacy to address the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, compared to only eighteen percent (18%) who favored direct military action, he went on to repeat George Bush’s characterization of the incident as “provocative” and “dangerous” on the day Bush was heading for an eight-day trip to the Middle East. “There was, very briefly, a sense of crisis and outrage at Iran,” Hersh wrote. 


What was left out of this story was that the purpose of the Bush trip was to gather support for the administration’s sagging efforts to convince some of the Arab governments to comply with the U.S. foreign policy objective of isolating Iran so as to advance the United States’ hegemonic goals in the region. Furthermore, in repeating only a part of the old news, Mr. Hersh neglected to mention that the Iranian government produced actual audio-video footage of the so-called ‘provocative’ encounter, blowing so many holes in the official version that a week later the Pentagon had to sing a different tune. As we recall, Bush’s efforts, as well as the ridiculous Pentagon version of Navy warships being threatened by five small Iranian speedboats, fell flat on its face, and to this day Iran continues to enjoy a certain stature among its neighbors.  


So, exactly what is the NEW news? We have already heard about the ‘secret’ moves of the Bush administration against Iran, in the form of arming terrorist groups, such as the Jundullah, which has links to Al-Qaeda and ties to the drug culture via the CIA and Special Operations funding. The Iranian community is aware of the Pentagon’s use and funding of another dissident group camped out in Iraq under U.S. command, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known as the MEK, which is paradoxically still on the State Department’s terrorist list. These two groups, along with a tiny third armed group of thugs known as the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), all receive notoriety and power because of their financial and logistical ties to U.S. counter-intelligence operations in the Middle East and Asia. Perhaps the real news is the fact that the U.S. Congress has actually authorized up to $400 million for covert operations against Iran through the secret but complicit actions of key members of the Democratic leadership in Congress, who were supposed to be making efforts to stymie the administration’s plans for continuing the occupation of Iraq.


So what are the other developments in this article? It is public knowledge printed in all of the mass media outlets that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s recent trip to Tehran in June resulted in an announcement (for what it’s worth) that the Iraqi government would ban any contact between foreigners and the MEK, and that Iraq was not willing to be a staging ground for covert operations against other countries in the region (Iran), much to the disconcertment of Washington. 


Hersh’s article spent considerable effort restating the old news about Admiral Fallon having been pushed out as head of the U.S. Central Command over ‘disagreements’ on Iran. What was more revealing was confirmation of our understanding that Fallon’s resignation had more to do with “putting out the fires in Iraq” as Fallon himself has stated, meaning controlling the resistance forces in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting against the continued occupation by U.S. and NATO soldiers, than it did about attacking Iran.  


It seems that the bulk of the military establishment, Fallon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff included, along with key policy-makers in the high echelons of the U.S. government, had already concluded that expansion of the war from Afghanistan and Iraq into Iran was not possible at this time. In times of the “crisis of ruling for the empire”, who doesn’t know that inter-agency disagreements, miscalculations of intelligence assessments, and even inner party political fights usually result in some heads rolling? This has been the outcome faced by the Bush administration, which has been stripped of almost all of the “Old Guard” after nearly seven years of war in Afghanistan and over five years of war in Iraq.


Given the rising tension between Iran and the U.S. these days, which could be read in the price of a barrel of oil, of course, it is politically safer not to downgrade the U.S. threat, but to yield to and resound the Washington-Tel Aviv war drum beats serves the conservative causes of the warmongers in the psyops battleground. It may be worth noting that the day after Hersh’s CNN interview, CNBC, the stock market channel, was giving airtime to John Bolton, a very hawkish neoconservative, spreading his threat that Israel will bomb Iran’s strategic facilities, at the same time Seymour Hersh was being interviewed on Democracy Now. Why are Bolton and Hersh singing the same song?


Perhaps the real complications come with the realization among both Republicans and Democrats, in and out of the White House, that the United States government has to come up with a strong and convincing excuse, a justification, to the American people as to why they must be willing to expend even more than the trillion dollars of the U.S. treasury that has already been spent in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and perhaps for the next 5 to 10 years. That’s a hard sell.


Eleanor Ommani is a co-founder of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), www.progressiveportals.com/aifc and works with Wespac, NoWar Westchester, and Progressive News Network to promote peace with social justice in Iran and around the world.


(July 7 Tehran Times Opinion Column, by Eleanor Ommani)





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