I am not certain when the very first time was that
a senior U.S. Government official tried to link Tehran
to the Iraqi resistance’s successful use of "explosively
formed penetrators" (EFPs and the like — recall the
earlier term "improvised explosive devices," or IEDs)
against the occupying forces. But I distinctly recall one famous occasion on February 2, 2006, when the then-director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte told the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence that "Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti-Coalition attacks by providing Shia militants with the capability to build IEDs with explosively formed projectiles similar to those developed by Iran and Lebanese Hizballah." So let’s count this as the first instance — even if somebody can name an earlier one — and proceed from here.
Okay then. What this means is that it’s already been more than 18 months since the Washington regime expanded its propaganda campaign against Iran, from the grave and globally-marketed charge that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons (ca. early 2003 — basically, for as long as U.S. forces have been militarily occupying Iraq) to the more recent charge that Tehran is arming and training "terrorist" forces that are killing U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians and preventing a peaceful, free, and democratic Iraq from developing. Or as U.S. Major General Rick Lynch has been telling every news agency that’ll quote him, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is "facilitating training of Shiite extremists," and "Iranian munitions are making their way into the hands of Sunni insurgents," to quote the Washington Post‘s version of Lynch’s remarks from the "Green Zone." So that by now "we’ve got to spend as much time fighting the Shia extremists as Sunni extremists," in Associated Press‘s rendering of the same briefing.
To date, the Washington regime has succeeded in lining up several powerful states (esp. Britain, France, Germany, and Japan), a majority of the Board of Governors at the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the UN Security Council behind the first of these anti-Iran campaigns. But with opposition to the U.S. occupation of Iraq fairly widespread among the same centers of power — though due overwhelmingly to the success of the resistance inside Iraq, and nothing else — the Washington regime has faced a much more difficult task at making the second set of charges stick.
Catastrophically, even this appears to be changing, as the will and the focus and the energy that it requires to counter on a daily basis a truly committed, even fanatic gang of liars keeps wearing down the resistance to their latter set of lies.
Thus, though we read that Major General Rick Lynch’s "mission is to block the flow of weapons and fighters into the Baghdad area" (quoting Associated Press again), surely another part of the Major General’s mission includes marketing the allegation that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is sponsoring the "terrorists" who are killing U.S. troops inside Iraq.
Yet, as Lynch admitted to the American Forces Press Service ("Power, Influence Dictate Patterns of Violence in Central Iraq," Tim Kilbride, August 20), "The enemy’s got this amazing capability of filling the void. If we go to an area and we conduct an operation and we leave, in about 48 hours he now controls that area again. So you just can’t let him rest."
Lynch’s remarks — he’s obviously a "counterinsurgency" kind of guy — are straight out of the Vietnam War era, and we dare not miss the lesson they betray.
Forty years ago, what remarks such as these meant was that the entirety of South Vietnam was "VC," that is, was against the occupying military and the puppet regimes it had established in Saigon. So, too, within Iraq today, what remarks such as these tell us is that the bottom two-thirds of Iraq –beneath Kurdistan, that is — are controlled by "Al Qaeda" or by the "insurgents" or by the "terrorists" — but not by the occupying military and the puppet regime it has established in the "Green Zone." Which certainly excels at killing. But which possesses zero legitimacy. And enjoys zero loyalty. Except that which it purchases through bribes and fear.
Just as all of the South was opposed to the U.S. military occupation of Vietnam, all of the southern two-thirds of Iraq are opposed to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.
The reason the "enemy" moves back in after "we leave" is simply because they already live there.
Once upon a time, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD." And "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." ("Secret Downing Street memo," July 23, 2002.)
Working, therefore, from this now five-year-old account of the old set of lies, expressed so elegantly by Matthew Rycroft in his memorandum for his boss, and leaked unto posterity, the question of the hour that every last one of us ought to be asking is what "intelligence" and what "facts" are now being fixed around the policy of destabilizing the Islamic Republic of Iran, if not overthrowing it outright?
Does it not appear that if a U.S. military attack on Iran is ever launched, it, too, will be justified by the conjunction of Iran’s alleged support for the "terrorists" attacking U.S. forces inside Iraq and Iran’s alleged WMD programs?
And does it not also appear that, five years after the Downing Street memo, almost nobody has learned a single thing about how the Washington regime operates?
"Secret Downing Street memo," Matthew Rycroft, July 23, 2002 (as posted by the London Times)
Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence, John D. Negroponte, Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate, February 2, 2006
"Iran’s Nuclear Threat," Massimo Calabresi, Time Magazine, March 8, 2003
"U.S. general says Iranians crossing into Iraq to train militia fighters," Kim Gamel, Associated Press, August 18, 2007
"Iranian agents training militias in Iraq-US general," Ross Colvin, Reuters, August 19, 2007
"Power, Influence Dictate Patterns of Violence in Central Iraq," Tim Kilbride, American Forces Press Service, August 20, 2007
"Kurds flee homes as Iran shells villages in Iraq," Michael Howard, The Guardian, August 20, 2007
"Iran Trains Militiamen Inside Iraq, U.S. Says," Megan Greenwell, Washington Post, August 20, 2007
"U.S. stays firm on sanctions against Iran," Brian Knowlton, New York Times – IHT, August 21, 2007
"Tougher on Iran," Editorial, Washington Post, August 21, 2007
"Open Letter to the World on the U.S. Threat to the Peace," ZNet, March 31, 2007
"American Power, Iran, and the New York Review of Books," ZNet, June 3, 2007
"Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entities," ZNet, August 16, 2007
"‘By the Conjunction of Terrorism and WMD’," ZNet, August 21, 2007
Afterword. Five relevant paragraphs reproduced from John D. Negroponte’s Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence, which he presnted before the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, February 2, 2006 (pp. 12-13).
Although regime-threatening instability is unlikely, ingredients for political volatility remain, and Iran is wary of the political progress occurring in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan. Ahmadi-Nejad’s rhetorical recklessness and his inexperience on the national and international stage also increase the risk of a misstep that could spur popular opposition, especially if more experienced conservatives cannot rein in his excesses. Over time, Ahmadi-Nejad’s populist economic policies could—if enacted—deplete the government’s financial resources and weaken a structurally flawed economy. For now, however, Supreme Leader Khamenei is keeping conservative fissures in check by balancing the various factions in government.
Iranian policy toward Iraq and its activities there represent a particular concern. Iran seeks a Shia-dominated and unified Iraq but also wants the US to experience continued setbacks in our efforts to promote democracy and stability. Accordingly, Iran provides guidance and training to select Iraqi Shia political groups and weapons and training to Shia militant groups to enable anti-Coalition attacks. Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti-Coalition attacks by providing Shia militants with the capability to build IEDs with explosively formed projectiles similar to those developed by Iran and Lebanese Hizballah.
Tehran’s intentions to inflict pain on the United States in Iraq has been constrained by its caution to avoid giving Washington an excuse to attack it, the clerical leadership’s general satisfaction with trends in Iraq, and Iran’s desire to avoid chaos on its borders.
Iranian conventional military power constitutes the greatest potential threat to Persian Gulf states and a challenge to US interests. Iran is enhancing its ability to project its military power in order to threaten to disrupt the operations and reinforcement of US forces based in the region—potentially
intimidating regional allies into withholding support for US policy toward Iran—and raising the costs of our regional presence for us and our allies.
Tehran also continues to support a number of terrorist groups, viewing this capability as a critical regime safeguard by deterring US and Israeli attacks, distracting and weakening Israel, and enhancing Iran’s regional influence through intimidation. Lebanese Hizballah is Iran’s main terrorist ally, which—although focused on its agenda in Lebanon and supporting anti-Israeli Palestinian terrorists—has a worldwide support network and is capable of attacks against US interests if it feels its Iranian patron is threatened. Tehran also supports Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups in the Persian Gulf, Central and South Asia, and elsewhere.
Update (August 30): Barnett Rubin speculates with respect to a possible U.S. military strike against Iran that the White House is engaging in some "test marketing" just like it did with respect to Iraq some 12-to-18 months prior to launching the full-scale invasion in March 2003. "Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient," Rubin explains. "According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions." ("Post Labor Day Product Roll-out: War with Iran," Barnett Rubin, Informed Comment Global Affairs, August 29, 2007.)
Rubin adds that his friend "summarized what he was told this way:"
They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this–they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."
It kinda figures. Doesn’t it? I always tell my friends to remember to emphasize the three major categories of the war-propaganda to which the Washington regime (i.e., taking into account the whole corporate-state-media-NGO nexus) would resort, once its principal decision-makers determined that sufficient momentum had been attained so that there couldn be no turning back from an attack on Iran:
1) Allegations about Tehran’s support for "terrorism" inside Iraq, as well as its octopus-like support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and whomever else the Washington-regime manages to tack-on (e.g., Pan Am Flight 103 back in December 1988).
2) Allegations about Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program, as well as Tehran’s "defiance" of the "international community" and Security Council resolutions demanding that Tehran cease uranium-enrichment and other specific programs.
And, last but not least:
3) Allegations about Tehran’s violations of its citizens rights, the Islamic regime’s repression of women, its arbitrary and unjust repression of dissidents, and the like.
None of these three sets of allegations needs to be 100 percent false to count as war-propaganda — this depends on whether the Washington regime wants war (rather than simply to demonize a targeted enemy state), and whether and how thoroughly it selects from and arranges information about the target in a manner such that it stirs up paranoia and hatred towards it. But the fact remains that the Washington regime directed all three categories of war-propaganda at Iraq prior to launching the March 2003 invasion. And despite the critical findings of post-invasion inquiries about the fraudulence of Charges One and Two where Iraq was concerned, and the critical leak in Britain of documents such as the so-called "Secret Downing Street memo" (July 23, 2002), the regime has managed to resuscitate all three of these war-propaganda themes with respect to Iran. (For sources and comments dealing with the post-invasion inquiries, see Here – I and Here – II.)
As the serial invader of Afghanistan and Iraq threatens to attack yet another country in the region — in fact, a country geographically sandwiched in-between the other two countries – we’ve been watching it resort to the exact same sales pitches that it used previously.
Indeed. Among Western intellectual circles, No. Three appears to enjoy the greatest amount of "traction." (Compare "Release Haleh Esfandiari" to see exactly what I mean.)
"Post Labor Day Product Roll-out: War with Iran," Barnett Rubin, Informed Comment Global Affairs, August 29, 2007
"‘By the Conjunction of Terrorism and WMD’," ZNet, August 21, 2007
For Your Archives (September 3): When the rightly notorious quote from the former White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card, which first entered the public realm on page A1 of the September 7, 2002 New York Times, under the half-illuminating, half-in-the-bag headline, "Traces of Terror: The Strategy. Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq" (i.e., the second being the illuminating half), was first reported, the Times reported it exactly like this:
White House officials said today that the administration was following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein.
The rollout of the strategy this week, they said, was planned long before President Bush’s vacation in Texas last month. It was not hastily concocted, they insisted, after some prominent Republicans began to raise doubts about moving against Mr. Hussein and administration officials made contradictory statements about the need for weapons inspectors in Iraq.
The White House decided, they said, that even with the appearance of disarray it was still more advantageous to wait until after Labor Day to kick off their plan.
"From a marketing point of view," said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, "you don’t introduce new products in August."
A centerpiece of the strategy, White House officials said, is to use Mr. Bush’s speech on Sept. 11 to help move Americans toward support of action against Iraq, which could come early next year.
("Traces of Terror: The Strategy. Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq," Elizabeth Bumiller, New York Times, September 7, 2002.)