Rhetoric and Reality

In an attempt to cultivate what the media has deemed the “Jewish vote,” President Obama delivered his annual speech at Sunday’s AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference. Of course, the “Jewish vote’ really means “Jewish money” and Obama’s opponents on the right have been vigilant in their attempts to suck up to Israel as much as possible. Newt Gingrich, for example, was awarded with 10 million dollars from billionaire Sheldon Adelson for calling Palestinians an “invented people” and has been particularly virulent in denouncing Iran.

To be fair, though, all of the Republican candidates have expressed an interest in obliterating Iran from the face of the Earth, excluding Ron Paul, the only pro-civil liberties and anti-war candidate on either side of the aisle. And Obama, in an attempt to keep up with the sociopaths that the right trots out to the debate, delivered a speech that seems like it was written by a collection of AIPAC lobbyists and Israeli legislative staffers. The speech was largely filled with rhetoric that is almost indistinguishable from Bush’s. It did hold some value, however, in this sense: it perfectly sums up the disinformation, hypocrisy and hysteria found in today’s “debate” about Iran (I use quotation marks because the conversation is hilariously one sided) and Israel.

Obama’s speech at AIPAC covered many topics, most notably Iran. It is this topic that are of most concern to American voters. Due to the unrelenting propaganda campaign, 71%of Americans now believe Iran already  possesses a nuclear weapon. For this, we should congratulate the media, from Fox News to the New York Times, on the efficacy of their disinformation campaign. Mitt Romney has joined the fray, this time in print, with an article so sensationalist it prompted a former Israeli Intelligence chief to remark that his opinion piece would cause “serious issues” in an effort to stop Iran from building a theoretical weapon:

“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 because this is going to be terrible if the other guys get in.”

Romney also called Obama a “feckless” leader, but even if Obama personally walked into Tehran and started shooting, Romney and his cohorts on the right would attack his positions as being too “soft” on Iran. Because, if Romney had any interest in telling the truth, he’d be willing to say that Obama is in line with the Bush, neoconservative take on the Iranian nuclear program.  His words speak for themselves: “Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  A nuclear-armed Iran would thoroughly undermine the non-proliferation regime that we’ve done so much to build.” Yes, the “non proliferation regime” that Obama has done so much to build, which predictably does nothing to address Israel’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. The exact number of their arsenal is unknown, but it lies somewhere between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads. Israel, for the record, is the only country in the Middle East that has a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, Iran, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, has allowed inspectors in their nuclear enrichment sites and halted their nuclear weapons program before 2003. Even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, United States Intelligence and Israeli intelligence openly, if reluctantly, admits this.

Obama is right about one thing, though: the entire world does have an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The entire world also has an interest in seeing the removal of Israel’s stockpile of weapons from their country, but this idea is never brought to the table. It is never discussed. A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East would surely be supported by the majority of the world, but not the United States, who would never be willing to let Israel lose its superior military advantage over its neighbors. And, contrary to the usual rhetoric, the 120 non-aligned countries that do not reflexively vote with the United States support Iran’s right to enrich uranium, as do India, China, Brazil, Turkey and Venezuela.

But, typically, the “international community” in American circles means “Europe and others who agree with us,” though it seems that even the typical members of the “international community” can no longer be trusted. A recent European Commission poll shows that Israel is viewed as the biggest threat to world peace in the world in fifteen European countries–higher than typical rhetorical punching bags, Iran and North Korea. Of course, it goes without saying that the Arab populations view Israel and the United States as the biggest threat in the region. Those on the receiving end of our machinations are typically going to notice the pattern.

There is little point in addressing Obama’s criticism of Iran in regards to terrorism, as Israel is a notorious perpetrator of state terror. Their most recent act of aggression was in occupied Gaza, labelled as “Operation Cast Lead” by the perpetrators, Boxed inside of Gaza, Amnesty International reported around “1400 Palestinian were killed… Hundreds were civilians, including some 300 children.” The raw numbers do not do the bombardment justice: “In several cases, Israeli soldiers also used civilians, including children, as ‘human shields’… white phosphorus, a highly incendiary substance, was repeatedly fired indiscriminately over densely populated residential areas, killing and wounding civilians and destroying civilian property.” The Amnesty report also notes that most of the destruction by Israel was “wanton” and they “failed to distinguish between civilian and military targets.”

The cheerleaders of state terrorism were callously indifferent to the pain felt by Gaza’s civilians. Israeli’s terror cheerleaders told us that they  “inflicted heavy pain on the Gaza population in order to ‘educate’ Hamas.” Targeting civilians with illegal weapons is how we “educate” victims inside an occupied territory. Western attacks on civilians are “education,” while attacks by those we dislike on civilian populations are “terrorism.” A useful distinction when your goal is to deceive the public.

And now, as President Obama threatens Iran with force–ironically a violation of the UN Charter, again showing our love affair with the international community–everyone else in the world, besides US citizens, will be viewing a show that looks more like satire than sanity. As we paint Iran as a “threat,” the rest of the world will wonder: how can a country that invaded both of Iran’s neighbors and has army bases surrounding the country be threatened by Iran? How can a country that illegally invaded Iraq, killed over 100,000 civilians on the way, and installed a worldwide torture regime, reasonably paint Iran as the international deviant? These are all important questions, but they are doubtful to be addressed in the mainstream press.

What you will hear in the mainstream press, however, is the same rhetoric Obama decided to use: “No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.” The point of these comments is to depict Iran as irrational and homicidal, with the implication being that if Iran were to acquire a Nuclear weapon, they would immediately launch it at Israel, ensuring the deaths of thousands of Israeli’s while also ensuring the end of a hospitable Iran. This generates a motivation for a military strike and strengthens the “existential threat” myth. First off, even if Ahmadinejad did question the six million killed figure in the Holocaust, what does that matter? He does not control the armed forces, and therefore, he would not be in charge of a nuclear strike. The armed forces are under the control of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameni, who recently reiterated a position that he has stated many times:  “Iran’s supreme leader yesterday insisted his country was not seeking nuclear weapons, claiming that ‘holding these arms is a sin as well as useless, harmful and dangerous.'”

Furthermore, Iran has never wanted to wipe Israel off the map. This is deliberate mischaracterization of what was said, now used for propaganda purposes. But, again: singling out Ahmedinejad’s comments is great, but they are about as important as Rush Limbaugh’s. He does not control anything and he never will. And, it seems that while Obama is willing to perpetrate this mytn in front of AIPAC, his own military sees things a bit differently:

DEMPSEY: Yes, I stand by it because the alternative is almost unimaginable. The alternative is that we attribute to them that their actions are so irrational that they have no basis of planning. You know, not to sound too academic about it but Thucydides in the fifth century B.C. said that all strategy is some combination of reaction to fear, honor and interests. And I think all nations act in response to one of those three things, even Iran. The key is to understand how they act and not trivialize their actions by attributing to them some irrationality. I think that’s a very dangerous thing for us to do. It doesn’t mean I agree with what they decide by the way but they have some thought process they follow.

That is General Dempsey, who was forced to defend his comments that Iran is a rational actor, benign as they were. He’s just repeating what everyone (with a brain) already knows. But the idea that Israel is a beacon of democracy surrounded by crazy Muslims hell bent on their destruction is sacrosanct, which led some on the right to call for General Dempsey’s resignation. They only worship military figures when it fits into their agenda.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson recently said he was holding out hope that Obama was secretly negotiating with Tehran–what is commonly referred to as “diplomacy” in the rest of the world–instead of threats, sanctions and “red lines” that can not be crossed. He was on Colin Powell’s staff in the run up to the Iraq war and has seen this show before. America has worked itself into a frenzy over the “Iranian” threat and a war with Iran would be a unprecedented disaster that is impossible to predict. Meanwhile, Palestinians still live inside occupied territories where they are treated as subhumans. There was no mention of the Palestinians at AIPAC, nor was there any mentioned of the continued building of illegal settlements in the West Bank. Palestinians, after all, don’t have the most powerful foreign lobby in Washington. They barely have a voice at all.

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