Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is Jotman a disloyal ------------ ?

Threats to human freedom stem not only from totalitarian rulers – such as Burma’s. The foundation of civil society is civil discourse. Voices can be silenced through campaigns of innuendo, lies, smears -- and the attending fear of being smeared -- as surely as through government censorship.

Case in point: prior to the Iraq war, only a handful of American journalists dared to question the US Administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons program, or the prudence of war, or America’s utter lack of preparation for the post-war occupation phase. It was a time when US journalists cowered, fearful of being labeled “disloyal Americans” if they dared to question the White House in the wake of 9/11.

Today, generally speaking, the American news media is as cowardly as ever, even as the nation stands on the brink of a new, even more reckless war. US neo-conservatives – the minds who dreamed up the Iraq war – fervently advocate an attack on Iran. The president is listening.

As Seymour Hersh explained in the New Yorker, the neo-conservatives' propaganda machine, orchestrated by renegade US Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has shifted tactics. The polling they did over the summer indicated that an attack on Iran predicated on haulting Iran’s nuclear program would be unpopular with the American People. This prompted Cheney’s neo-cons to seize upon a more marketable excuse for war with Iran: fear of terrorism.

The new plan is to portray the Revolutionary Guard (RG) as a “terrorist organization.” The first step to war was getting Congress was declare the RG a terrorist group.* The second step occurred just today when the US President authorized severe sanctions against Iran (citing the US designation of the RG as a “terrorist organization”). Apparently sanctions are quite severe. It's clearly an attempted provocation.

Obstructing the neo-conservative movement's call for an attack on a third Middle Eastern country stands something rather inconvenient for them: the facts.

One journalist, James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly, wrote a series of articles investigating the prospects for victory should the US launch an attack on Iran. He spoke with leading US military planners, four-star US generals, Iran experts, etc. He found an overwhelming consensus within the US military leadership: America’s best war planners believe a US attack on Iran would be a foolish – likely monumental -- mistake. The Pentagon planners’ bottom line: success in a war against Iran could only come at an unacceptably high cost to the United States interests in the region -- and globally.

How does the White-House backed neo-conservative movement react to coherent presentations of fact, reason, and analysis; to the independent investigations of an outstanding American journalist? This week we learned the answer.

They smear him.

Just the other day Gabriel Schoenfeld of Commentary Magazine, a neo-conservative journal, asked “Is James Fallows a Disloyal American?” Basically, Schoenfeld took something Fallows wrote entirely out of context, setting him up for a smear-job (Fallows' response to Schoenfeld posted here).

Coincidentally, about a week before Fallows wrote the post for which he was smeared, I expressed the same idea in a post at This prompted me to leave a comment -- an invitation actually -- to Schoenfeld at his Commentary Magazine blog. Because my comment was not accepted for posting, I present my "invitation" here:

Dear Gabriel,

Are you looking for someone to smear today?

By your criteria, I seem to qualify for your one of your smears. I made the very same point as Fallows at my blog My own post predates what Fallows wrote. In fact, on account of my timely posting, I consider myself to be more smear-worthy than he.

In my post at, I explain how various interest groups -- the most often cited being those with ties to Cuba, Israel, Armenia, Poland, or Ireland -- can be seen to have influenced US foreign policy in ways that have not necessarily furthered the US national interest. That's smearable, right?

Wait, why am I asking you this question? You didn't actually read Fallows before you smeared him. Anyway, just take my word for it: it's essentially the point Fallows was making when you smeared him. For the benefit of your readers this what I actually wrote:

Can I expect the same smear treatment Fallows got? I don't see why I should have to settle for a second-rate smear. This means you will have to pretend -- as you did with Fallows -- that I was only writing about Israel.** You will have to make like my whole post was about Israel. (Never mind that I have never written an entire post concerned mainly with Israel on this blog, ever). As you well know, the truth is irrelevant to a good smear.

After you have smeared me, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Smile! As they say, "a smear a day, keeps Iran at bay."


P.S. Speaking of Iran, somewhere on my blog I wrote that I think the US should not bomb Iran. That makes me even more smearable, right?

The US stands on the verge of a completely pointless and self-destructive war with Iran -- a war advocated by the Vice President. The neo-cons work like a pack of attack dogs. The kennels for these hounds are the various right-wing journals and the so-called think tanks. US Vice President Dick Cheney's office calls out a command -- i.e. "get Willson!" -- and off they go. Fallows' research on Iran stands as a beacon of reasoned analysis in a sea of news media pandering to the US Vice President's world view (much of which amounts to the dissemination of Propaganda Headlines for the White House). As I have tried to show here, the recent smear-job on Fallows looks extraordinarily contrived. It smells like Cheney's dogs to me.

* Sen. Hillary Clinton actually voted for the resolution. Effectively the Senator from New York has now written George W. Bush a second blank check, having already authorized one reckless war, she went at least half-way to authorizing Bush to launch a second war! (I guess she thought the vote would make her look tough-on-terror).

** The neo-cons’ feigned alliance with America’s Jewish community is certainly useful to neo-cons when they want to smear someone. But like Americans in military uniform, the Jewish are expendable to the neo-cons. The shift in tactics vis-a-vis their Iran attack plan shows this to be the case: the neo-cons now advocate the destruction of the Revolutionary Guard, but are backing off talk about strikes against alleged Iranian nuclear sites. This is not what their “friends” in the Jewish American community want at all.

The US Republican Party plays a similar kind of manipulative game with America’s evangelical Christians. At election time Republican Party candidates pretend to care deeply about family values, but when in office, they promote the interests of America’s giant media conglomerates – corporations that profit wildly through the global dissemination of gratuitous violence, sex, and vapid celebrity-focused current affairs programming.

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