John Pilger | New Statesman | 01 October 2009
Obama’s “showdown” with Iran has another agenda. The media have been tasked with preparing the public for endless war
In 2001, the Observer published a series of reports that claimed an “Iraqi connection” to al-Qaeda, even describing the base in Iraq where the training of terrorists took place and a facility where anthrax was being manufactured as a weapon of mass destruction. It was all false. Supplied by US intelligence and Iraqi exiles, planted stories in the British and US media helped George Bush and Tony Blair to launch an illegal invasion which caused, according to the most recent study, 1.3 million deaths.
Something similar is happening over Iran: the same syncopation of government and media “revelations”, the same manufacture of a sense of crisis. “Showdown looms with Iran over secret nuclear plant”, declared the Guardian on 26 September. “Showdown” is the theme. High noon. The clock ticking. Good versus evil. Add a smooth new US president who has “put paid to the Bush years”. An immediate echo is the notorious Guardian front page of 22 May 2007: “Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq”. Based on unsubstantiated claims by the Pentagon, the writer Simon Tisdall presented as fact an Iranian “plan” to wage war on, and defeat, US forces in Iraq by September of that year – a demonstrable falsehood for which there has been no retraction.
The official jargon for this kind of propaganda is “psy-ops”, the military term for psychological operations. In the Pentagon and Whitehall, it has become a critical component of a diplomatic and military campaign to blockade, isolate and weaken Iran by hyping its “nuclear threat”: a phrase now used incessantly by Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, and parroted by the BBC and other broadcasters as objective news. And it is fake.