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Cole writes: "The Trump administration is now in full disinformation mode, using all the classical techniques of propaganda to put the gullible US public on a war footing with Iran. Here is how it is done."

US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln transits the Suez Canal on May 9, 2019. (photo: Dan Snow/US Navy)
US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln transits the Suez Canal on May 9, 2019. (photo: Dan Snow/US Navy)

9 Easy Propaganda Steps to War With Iran

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

16 May 19


he Trump administration is now in full disinformation mode, using all the classical techniques of propaganda to put the gullible US public on a war footing with Iran. Here is how it is done.

1. Iran warmongers like National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pretend to speak for US interests instead of for the narrow and sectarian interests that want a war. Bolton has taken big bucks from the Iranian expatriate People’s Jihadis (MEK), which the State Department for long listed as a terrorist organization. NBC news at one point linked it to Israeli intelligence, and others have suggested a Saudi link. Pompeo is a Kansas oil man and we all know what oil men do to the Middle East (think Bush and Cheney).

2. Having hidden behind the flag, the latter-day Goebbelses then invent an emergency. The favored propaganda talking point at the moment is that US troops and diplomats are in danger. US troops and diplomats are always in danger. It is their job to be in danger. If we don’t want them in danger we should bring them home from dangerous places like Iraq.

3. The US State Department staff have worked in Iraq for a decades while taking occasional mortar fire in the Green Zone. There is no reason to withdraw them now. In fact taking them out weakens US-Iraq cooperation in making sure ISIL doesn’t com back. This move is merely crisis signalling by Trump and Pompeo. You do something dramatic that implies there is danger to create the aura of danger when actually nothing has changed.

4. Having presented us with this tautology, as though it were a new emergency, they then identify a villain. Villainization is the bedrock of all propaganda. In this case it is the ayatollahs of Iran. Once you have villainized someone you no longer need to explain their behavior. George W. Bush once said that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein acted as he did because he is evil. So it is alleged that Iran is the country putting US troops in danger.

5. The propagandists, like Las Vegas illustonists, use misdirection. They won’t tell you that US troops in Iraq are there to help the Shiite-led government of Baghdad mop up the remnants of the Daesh or ISIL terrorist organization, which is hyper-Sunni. ISIL has attacked Tehran and it massacred Iraqi Shiite troops with ritual slaughter deriding their Shiism. So the US, in helping Shiite politicians in Baghdad fight ISIL is de facto allied with Iran.. US troops are in danger from ISIL, not from de facto allies.

6. The warmongers engage in false flag operations to trick the target into over-reacting. Trump for no reason breached the 2015 treaty on mothballing Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran had signed with the UN Security Council states. Then he declared the Iranian national guard a terrorist organization. (State institutions cannot be terrorists by international law, though they can commit war crimes). The Iranian government, angry, declared the US army a terrorist organization. Presto! Bolton and Pompeo can now close the trap, saying that Iran and its Iraqi allies are about to attack US troops because they consider them terrorists.

7. The villainizing terms of the warmonger discourse that now dominates the airwaves drowns out the reality on the ground. Never mind that the more militant Iraqi Shiite militias like the League of the Righteous have disavowed any intention to assault US military personnel or that Iran’s clerical Leader, Ali Khamenei, says Iran will not go to war with the US.

8. Those who do not want war are made to choose between speaking out and being smeared as Iran apologists or being silent and letting the warmongers win. Villainization and polarization pull the carpet out from under rational discourse. Liberals are forced to admit that Iran is a “bad actor” or “spreads chaos” in the Middle East, even though Iran has been the status quo regional power in the past couple of decades and it is the US and its allies that have been the bad actor.

9. Attention is taken of the expansionist aggression of the US and its allies. Israel’s world-historical land grab in the West Bank and erasure of the Palestinian nation is never mentioned during the 24 hour cable news cycle in the US. Saudi Arabia’s brutal air war on little Yemen is almost never covered. Iran is castigated for dictatorship while Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, skates.

And there you have it. The hawks and war stenographers among journalists can be depended upon to go along, and to do breathless front page stories about the Iran danger.

Hitler followed the same steps in annexing the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, by the way. Nazi bullies attacked Czechs, allowing Hitler to declare that ethnic Germans were in danger. Slav politicians were demonized and accused of plotting aggression. After a while the German army was goosestepping throughout the Sudetenland. Propaganda and illogic are not new.

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A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+24 # Anne Frank 2019-05-16 13:58
Media regurgitation of government lies and public gullibility are not new, either.
+25 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-05-16 14:22
'Hitler followed the same steps....'
Such a fine example for the US to follow, no?
+25 # janie1893 2019-05-16 14:35
When are Americans going to call a halt the maniacal activity taking place in the White House? Where is Paul Revere when we need him?
+13 # jazzman633 2019-05-16 15:32
Where is Lincoln or Washington when we need him?

My favorite quote on rhetoric is Goebbels' "The truth is what most people believe. And they believe that which is repeated most often."

Also, he might have added, get things to the point to where you can say anything about them without protest. Then you can do anything TO them.
+14 # jazzman633 2019-05-16 15:37
Followed more than once. The people who wrote the Nazi race laws modeled them on Americans racism at the time.
+19 # tedrey 2019-05-16 16:38
John Bolton seems not to have found a single one of the (17?) US intelligence agencies to back his claims. How gullible are we?
+7 # tedrey 2019-05-17 09:41
Today's THE WEEK validates both Juan Cole and my own posts:

'"The Trump administration explained its decision to send an aircraft carrier, other battleships, and bombers to the Persian Gulf region and evacuate diplomatic personnel from Iraq by pointing to credible threats of Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. or allies' "interests." But new reports suggest Iran has mostly been girding itself for U.S. aggression.

"Intelligence collected by the U.S. government shows Iran's leaders believe the U.S. planned to attack them, prompting preparation by Tehran for possible counterstrikes, " The Wall Street Journal reports. The Daily Beast similarly says "U.S. intelligence officials assess that Iran's aggressive moves came in response to the administration' s own actions."
+16 # ChrisCurrie 2019-05-16 17:34
Creating Sitting Ducks and a MASSIVELY DEADLY WAR with Iran!

Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and Senator Tom Cotton appear to be attempting to start new US wars in Iran and Venezuela in order to seize control of the oil reserves in those two countries, and they also appear to believe their own lies too much! Putting a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf will make it a “sitting duck” for Iranian cruise missiles (and rockets) from their mountain caves along the eastern side of the Persian Gulf. Apparently, in order to please their corporate sponsors, Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and Senator Tom Cotton are willing to sacrifice that aircraft carrier and its accompanying naval vessels (and most of their crew members) in order to “justify” a massively bloody war with Iran
+1 # thorn262 2019-05-19 01:34
This aircraft carrier being in, presumed, gun-sights, reminds me of the war poster of a woman and her child sinking to the abyss after the (provoked) attack on the ('innocent') passenger liner, Lusitania, by a German submarine in 1915. The very first thing exercised, if a similar event occurs, will be the arousal of the piteous and indignant public in order to win 'justice' following the loss of our brave crews at sea, aka, rally 'round the flag, boys. A debate will go on: Who did it? Are we targeting the correct 'enemy'? Could this 'attack' actually caused so much cataclysmic damage? Was it an inside job?, God really wants us to kill the Muslims!, etc. All the while, the U.S. Gov and friendly allies will go its merry way in starting the next Big War. In other words, Mission Accomplished.
+12 # DongiC 2019-05-16 17:59
We need the Democrat-Social ists to stand up to the government war making machine. I think AOC, Sanders, Warren, Omar and Pressley et al can lead a staunch counterattack on the GOP and Congress still holds the purse strings. With the protestors from the Iraqi War, the anti-war people could be formidable. Let's start now and build a peace movement. It will be good practice for the coming crusade for the environment.

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