Recent events in the past weeks in the Persian Gulf indicate of potentially yet another devastating war in the region. The United States has relocated B-52 bombers, has placed its Patriot missile defense system in the region and has evacuated non-essential personnel from its consulate and embassy in Iraq. The storm of war is looming over Iran and history could once again repeat itself.
Although U.S. President Donald Trump has publicly said he does not want a war with Iran, US officials have floated military options which include the involvement of 120,000 soldiers and cyberattacks which will shut down Iran’s power grid. Iran hawks have hit the airwaves in the Western media.
Before we delve any deeper into this issue, the question is why is Washington so hell bent on pursuing a devastating war with Iran, even when Trump himself does not want the conflict. While the underlying motive could be complex and difficult to understand, what comes through however is the hysterical way America’s relationship with Iran is covered in the US press.
The lack of empathetic media coverage of Iran in the Western press which includes the humanitarian tolls of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian people, the coverage of catastrophes, such as the recent floods in which dozens lost their lives or the crash of commercial planes because of a lack of spare parts, ensures that there is no one to place human faces to these tragic headlines.
This void of empathetic media coverage, has given birth to a paranoia which anti-Iranian hardliners in the Trump administration, including John Bolton, the U.S. National Security Advisor, feed to build a momentum for yet another potentially devastating war. Once these fears are actualized, the U.S. media further echoes and amplifies them and instills a new life in their hyped narrative which lacks basic humanness.
Last week, a series of media reports citing unnamed sources within the U.S. national security apparatus, which includes Bolton, started reporting to Washington that there is a specific but unspecified threat from Iran which harms U.S. interest in the Middle East. While many media sycophants, including Fox News, ran the story without skepticism, Washington correspondents from more reputable media outlets also carried the story with editors making Iran’s “threat” a top story – since after all its national security – but caveating their catchy headlines with attribution, such as the one from The New York Times which read, “Citing Iranian Threat, US Sends Carrier Group and Bombers to Persian Gulf.”
Within a few days of the news cycle, the sourcing is soon dropped and murmurs becomes facts, such as this CNN report, “Patriot Missiles Deployed to Middle East Amid Iran Threats.”
No one questions the effect of the potentially devastating war on the Iranian. Were the threats? Were they serious? The U.S. has a history of jumping the gun. The U.S. invasion of Iraq under the pretense of eradicating Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction is an excellent case in point. In this case, the threat reports were coming from Israeli intelligence and they were being picked to justify an increasing pressure on Tehran – something that both the U.S. and Israel have been advocating for long.
Iran’s reaction to the Trump Administration re-clamping of sanction has been very natural and can hardly be classified as an escalation in hostilities despite the rhetoric. Since Tehran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, one that it has never been found to have violated, it is legally allowed to restart its program. In fact, Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has taken steps to downplay tensions, in order to reduce the risks of a devastating war.
Washington has done its fair share in threatening Iran and this goes back to the 1980s. It has threatened to kills hundreds of thousands of Iranian and invaded Iraq in 2003 while eyeing Iraq. It sold weapon systems worth billions of dollars to anti-Iranian Middle Eastern autocrats and even embraced a known anti-Iranian terror cult, the MEK, in the hope of bringing about a regime change.
These have to be kept in mind while reading reports such as in the Times, on the Pentagon’s Iran war plans: “…officials said they believed the most likely cause of a conflict will follow a provocative act, or outright attack, by the Revolutionary Guards’ navy. The Guards’ fleet of small boats has a history of approaching American Navy ships at high speed. Revolutionary Guards commanders have precarious control over their ill-disciplined naval forces.”
The U.S. media has conveniently not reported the shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner by the US Navy over the Persian Gulf in 1988, in which 290 civilians died. The U.S. media tends to place a blind eye on the impact of the devastating wars its war economy creates.
Why is there such an amnesia and partisanship in the U.S. media? Perhaps it is because they find it hard to believe that fierce looking Iranians with black turbans and beards have legitimate reasons to be angry and afraid. It must be difficult for American reporters who actually know the Middle East, to maintain a non-bias reporting standard in their headlines and photo choices. Bred on American war hysteria, they must be finding it hard to swallow the misdeeds and misadventures of their country in the Middle East and thus their reports reflect their lack of humanity and empathy for those who had no choice in the country of their birth.
How History will be written? Wait and see.