9 January 2012
Lawrence Davidson finds the drivers for the push for war on Iran inside the USA’s structurally flawed political system, in which the warmongering neocons and faceless Israeli agents in the guise of lobbyists have primacy, and in amoral, cash-hungry politicians and a corrupt media.
Winston Churchill once said that “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.”
He was right. Democracy in its various manifestations is a flawed system, flawed by virtue of its roots. By definition it is the system where power flows from the people (or at least a supposed majority of the people), and as there are no perfect people, then – well, the logic speaks for itself.
Many of democracy’s problems are common to all forms of governance. For instance, (a) the tendency of a political leader to mistake his or her own interests or that of his party for the nation’s or community’s interests and (b) the corruptive influence of powerful subgroups or lobbies usually coming through the manipulation of money and other resources. The ubiquitous nature of these problems suggest that they are structural. That is they are built into the system no matter what form a government takes. That does not mean such flaws cannot be held in check or minimized. As James Madison, the father of the US Constitution believed, they might be subject to control by a well crafted constitution. However, it is unlikely that they can be eliminated.
Today In the USA
Today, we are presented with a stark example of US democracy’s systemic flaws. Again, these bring together the influence of small but powerful and wealthy subgroups with the tendency of national leaders to define interests in personal ways. The trigger for the present structural malfunction is a foreign policy issue. It is the issue of Iran (which, alas, is a reworking of the recent issue of Iraq).
As the Consortium News website puts it, “a torrent of war propaganda against Iran is flooding the American political scene as US neocons and Israeli hardliners see an opening for another war in the Middle East”. This statement which, in my opinion, is quite accurate, suggests to us:
2. Principal among them are neoconservatives and hardline Zionists. Both of these groups are endowed with “deep pockets” and therefore can buy a lot of politicians and media access. Buying such influence, as long as it is done within very loose guidelines, is at once disastrous and perfectly legal. Hence, corruption through the manipulation of money.
3. Thus, despite their sizes, these subgroups have managed to flood the media with false allegations that Iran is about to become a dangerous nuclear power. This replicates recent history when the same subgroups flooded the media with false allegations of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The result is a major skewing of American policy. How so? The vast majority of elected leaders do not reckon interest in national terms, nor in terms of the truth or falsehood of their lobby supporters’ claims. They calculate interest in terms of their own personal and party political needs. Those needs are (a) financial assets to run elections and (b) aligning themselves with the popular mood in ways that generate votes. The lobbies, or subgroups, have the money to manipulate both of those needs. They can help the politician finance his or her election, and they can run the advertisements that help shape public opinion and mood. Hence, the policy formation follows the dictates of the lobbies.
4. The aim of the two subgroups in question is a new war in the Middle East. The target this time is Iran. Iran’s danger, as put forth by the lobbies, goes largely unquestioned by both the politicians and a bulk of the media despite the fact that there is a recent, horrific precedent in simply accepting this warmongering. That precedent is the recent war in Iraq. In that case, the crippling economic sanctions, followed by invasion, led to the death and maiming of millions. That this horror was carried forward on the basis of lies, is now assiduously ignored. That the same fate may well await Iran is actually presented as desirous.
It is to be kept in mind that if those who spread lies that result in slaughter and massive destruction are citizens of or protected by a superpower, no punishment will accrue. None of the major liars that brought us the Iraq war have been punished. One can hardly think of a more corrupt political situation.
Learning from Herr Goebbels
The lies of the neoconservatives and Zionists are part of an “MO”, or modus operand, that is not original to them. Whether they do so purposely or coincidently, they are following the advice of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. He tells us the following: ”If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will usually come to believe it.” He goes on to say that simultaneously “it is vitally important for the state to use all its powers to repress … the truth … [which is] the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension the truth is the greatest enemy of the state.
In the present case, the neoconservatives and Zionists first created false charges (Iran’s alleged desire for nuclear weapons and willingness to use them against the US and Israel) and are now, with the cooperation of the mass media, repeating them over and over again as if they were true. They ignore (and pressure the media to ignore) all the evidence that says their charges are false.
Thus, the scant press coverage given to the two comprehensive National Intelligence Reports, one in 2007 and a followup one in 2011, both of which concluded that Iran shut down its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 and has not revived it since. Simultaneously, they bring forward untrustworthy testimony of Iranian expatriates and known liars that support their claims (this does get media coverage). In the meantime, they urge greater and greater sanctions aimed at the systematic destruction of the target country’s economy.
The political carry through
As suggested above, the structural flaws in the political system make the warmongering neocons and faceless Israeli agents in the guise of lobbyists one half of the equation. Our own politicians are the other half. In the American system, one of the legal factors that serves to connect the two haves of the equation is the Supreme Court 1976 decision (Buckley vs Valeo) declaring one’s unfettered right to buy as much “free speech” as one has money. Thus, both the politicians and the media venues know where they are going when, as they say, they follow the money. Last season the money demanded war talk focused on Iraq. This season it demands war talk focused on Iran. And, sure enough, that is what we get.
In December 2011 both the House of Representatives and the US Senate passed bills seeking to destroy the Iranian economy by crippling its oil trade and destroying the functionality of the country’s Central Bank. It is a testimony to the strength of the neoconservatives and Zionists that the votes were 410-11 in the House and 100-0 in the Senate.
This is obviously an on-going bipartisan fiasco. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada) declared his satisfaction with the congressional votes by effortlessly parroting the party line: “Iran’s actions pose a danger to United States and the entire world.” It makes no difference if the senator believes his own hyperbole. His actions lead to the increased suffering of ordinary Iranians.
Out on the campaign trail most of the Republican candidates for their party’s presidential nomination also parrot the same line:
2. Newt Gingrich has publically committed himself to attacking Iran if such action can result in regime change. He is ready to “collaborate with the Israelis on a conventional campaign” against Iran.
3. Rick Santorum told the American public that, if he were elected president, “I would be saying to the Iranians, you either open those facilities, begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes.” Poor Rick, he seems unaware that international inspectors regularly visit the Iranian facilities. Poor the rest of us, if Rick becomes president!
There is a famous child’s idiom that goes “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Its message, whispered into the ears of millions of children, is just not true. Words are potential weapons. They not only can make us feel bad (and that hurts), they can also be used to motivate us to pick up the sticks and stones that break other’s bones. And, of course, we have long ago gone beyond sticks and stones.
Therefore, it is with bloody irresponsibility that neoconservatives, Zionists and a large array of American politicians blithely incite their fellows to war. Civilian life must mean very little to them, as little as truth itself. The former is readily reduced to splattered bits of flesh in the wake of attacks by drones, fighter jets, attack helicopters, cruise missiles, tanks and machine guns, and the latter is reduced to propagandistic incitement brought to you by a weaponized Fox TV.
So, we and our leaders are myopic and greedy and our lobbyists savagely single-minded and this, in turn, finds license in a structurally flawed political system. Actually, being aware of all this offers no excuse at all. We have known about our faults for a very long time. James Madison was thoroughly versed in these problems and his attempt, through the constitution, to safeguard against them was sincere and noble. But his results, despite later attempts to augment his work, have been mixed at best. And things will stay that way until we address our main need. We need to find a constitutionally safe way to protect ourselves from our own lies.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
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