The Distortion of Reality
Take a look at this video for a minute: click here. Pretty amazing, pretty fantastic, right? When I first saw it I remarked to myself that that has got to be the most amazing catch I've seen since Willie Mays' famous catch in 1954. And then later in the day, very curious about the amazingly talented ball girl, I ran across Snopes.com's exposure of the whole video sequence as an extremely clever, viral Gatorade commercial. The ball girl had been flung into the air by stunt men above who hoisted her up with cables, and digitized editing and speech had done the rest, even adding the ball, to create an apparently seamless, very real sports event. Ball girl, I am pained to say, is a phony. To read how the producers did it, click here. And what is the moral here? We can no longer believe our own eyes in the media.
Now what has this got to do with Iran exactly? Actually, it has something to do with the entire fabric of modern civilization, with the media, with politics, with our perception of reality, for this little video is so convincingly real to the average eye, so minutely nuanced in every little detail that it is stark proof-positive that technology has now ushered in limitless horizons for propaganda, falsehood and deception. Let us think back to Colin Powell in February 2003 giving his infamous Power Point presentation that was essentially setting up Iraq for the kill. At one point he had to revert to some 3-D animations to show those supposed mobile biological/chemical warfare labs in the desert. That software technology in and off itself wowed millions, but some of us knew then and there, because Powell was really resorting to fancy cartoons, that something was definitely not right.
Indeed, nothing was right, as it turned out. But if they had gone to the extent taken in making the Ball Girl video, with actual video footage, they would have possibly fooled everybody at that point in time. Maybe they had that capacity but thought better of it, because the White House, State Department and Pentagon still would not have found their fantasy mobile labs in the desert, and this would have exposed the fact that they had utilized cutting edge video technology to create great new levels of deceit.
But in light of the proven capabilities of media technology to now manipulate or fabricate reality, we have to start asking ourselves, what else might we have been shown in the media in the last few years that just isn't real, that is pure lies, pure propaganda, pure wizardry? What readily comes to mind is the veracity of the infamous Osama bin Laden "Confession Tape" in late 2001, in which a healthy, suddenly plump and rounder-faced bin Laden is sandwiched, chronologically, between an earlier and then later al Qaeda video showing an increasingly gaunt and sickly bin Laden.
In fact, some of us have intuited that bin Laden likely died in December of 2001, which would mean that somebody has been pulling the Ball Girl routine on the world for some seven years now, with artistic renditions of bin Laden in audio and video format. This is why I am rather convinced that bin Laden will never be captured and never be prosecuted, despite the melodramatic pledges of both Senators McCain and Obama to do so. Good luck Senators! Meanwhile, both Pro-Taliban tribal warlord Baitullah Mehsud recently and the late Benazir Bhutto, in an interview before she died, have stated that bin Laden is dead. But this kind of fly in the ointment news never reaches the mainstream media, with its ever-fleeting relationship with truth.
The media's pathetic acquiescence to White House/Pentagon propaganda in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq was part and parcel of the grand Neocon strategy to capture the media and play it like a talking puppet. The Neocon strategy in turn is lifted right out of the pages of Mein Kampf, and let us never forget that. Hitler's autobiographical manifesto is actually one of the first extensive works on mass psychology and how to manipulate the masses. His propaganda principles are now time-tested and proven to work, and work well, so long as you are dealing, of course, with ignorant and authority-craving people, eager to believe whatever their rulers throw at them. That they were so effective in 2002 and 2003 during the propaganda onslaught against Saddam Hussein doesn't speak well of the sophistication of the American people or of much of the planet for that matter, for Bush had his cheerleaders in many, many countries brainwashing their citizens, particularly those that became the Coalition of the Willing.
Let us recall Hitler's core tenets, repetitiveness and simplicity, the Big Lie, and a unified organization, with the following quotes, first with:
"But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success." -Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Ralph Manheim translation, p.184)
Then there is what can only be described as the Nazis' grandest propaganda principle:
"All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."
-Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (James Murphy translation, p. 134)
Finally, Hitler points out the need to have a focused, overbearing and passionate organization:
"Propaganda tries to force its doctrine on the whole people.....Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea, while the organization achieves victory by the persistent, organic, and militant union of those supporters who seem willing and able to carry on the fight for victory."
-Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Ralph Manheim translation, p. 582)
Thus, all of the above principles must be implemented to be truly effective, and done so by a strong propaganda apparatus, dedicated and single minded, that brooks no internal dissent, and ultimately no external dissent. When you stop to analyze the last seven years of the Bush Administration in general, and the strategy and tactics employed to drag America into war against Iraq in particular, then you will see all these principles at work.
We indeed saw the effort to purge the government of all dissent, as whistle-blowers and contrarians were forced out on the street or resigned in disgust, while true believers were hired by the droves to fill the ranks of the various departments of the Executive Branch. We saw the corollary attempt to stack all the Federal courts with the same true believers. And we saw the Republican Party become ascendant, for a time at least, in the Legislative Branch, although even when later back in minority status, the Neocon Republicans still seem to frame the debate and control the issues.
Furthermore, the effort to create a united front marching for the victory of the "Idea", the comic-book "War on Terror", extended well into the ever-consolidating and petrified-of-being-lambasted-as-unpatriotic, corporate media. And once Iraq was actually invaded, we then saw the spectacle of the embedded reporter who seemed to do everything except take a gun and shoot some "Hajis" to fit in with the troops, and who waited around expectantly, much as a dog waits for crumbs to be thrown at it, for the next press conference by some puerile officer who would present the latest Pentagon adjustment of reality.
We also saw two Big Lies arise, the great WMD myth, followed up by the great Saddam-al Qaeda-link myth. These were hammered into our heads daily, relentlessly, with evidence even being fabricated, during and after the buildup to war, fulfilling the third essential component to propagandizing the masses, repetitiveness.
Thus first we saw the perfect propaganda storm engineered to invade and occupy Iraq, not to mention Afghanistan, and now we are witnessing the same phenomenon being put into play again against Iran. There is absolutely no doubt that the Neocon movement wants to attack and emasculate Iran, and so, as all inherent Fascists would do by instinct, they have crafted three key Big Lies about the Republic of Iran: 1) that Iran is a terrorist state threatening the Middle East and actually the entire world. 2) that the Iranian government is training and supplying various Iraqi elements to kill Americans inside Iraq as well as destabilize the Iraqi government, and 3) that Iran is Hell-bent to create weapons-grade uranium and nuclear weaponry.
To support the first allegation, the Bush Administration depends to a great extent on the support Iran gives to Hamas and Hezbollah, whom the State Department ritually declares terrorist organizations annually, and thus to paint Iran as guilty of terrorism by association. Yet the fundamental reality that even Israel tacitly admits to is that both Hamas and Hezbollah are popular resistance movements, not al Qaeda-like terrorist organizations, that are borne from the Israeli occupations, past or present, of Palestine and Lebanon respectively. Israel, to underscore this point, has just negotiated a ceasefire, however unstable, with Hamas, recognizing that Fatah leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is basically a politician without a constituency, utterly weak and compromised, propped up only by Israeli and American support. It is Hamas that represents the majority of the Palestinian people.
Then there have been vague and shadowy reports and rumors surfacing in the media that Iran is in league with al Qaeda, not only historically absurd, but again without confirmable substance. But this serves the purpose of reinforcing the image of Iran as a terrorist state, guilt by insinuation.
Regarding the second Big Lie, that Iran is supplying lethal explosive devices to the Iraqi resistance, this has been debunked rather regularly by various independent journalists, who also point out that what weapons do reach Iraq from Iran are largely bought from the Black Market and then smuggled in. Meanwhile, Iraqis are fully capable of manufacturing their own IEDs and EFPs. Gareth Porter has also just written a devastating piece in Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch Newsletter entitled "The Story of Gen. Petraeus' Deception and How It Easily Duped the Press and Congress", which has not been released to the public yet, so I will not try to quote from it, but the crux of it is that General Petraeus, who is an embarrassment to the memory of men like Eisenhower and MacArthur, has been colluding with Dick Cheney in a full scale propaganda campaign against Iran with no real substance, one that has been consistently exposed and debunked by Iraqi officials, including Kurdish Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, as well as by foreign reporters. Even the American military has had to renege on some of its past accusations against Iran publicly, they were so patently untrue.
Petraeus has taken his own Faustian plunge into the world of lies, fabrications and deceit, and how the Devil gets his due from him will remain to be seen.
If you are frantic to read Porter's article, by the way, go to http://www.counterpunch.org/ The first paragraph of the home page tells you how to subscribe to the newsletter. The newsletter you want is Volume 15, Number 11.
Regarding the third Big Lie, that Iran is developing weapons-grade uranium for a secret nuclear weapons program, Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, has written a hard-hitting, well-researched article for Asia Times eviscerating this canard. It is entitled "The myth of 'weapons-grade' enrichment".
First he points out the almost abject servility of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon toward one of the worst longtime offenders of various United Nations statutes and resolutions over the decades, Israel, one of those statutes being that member nations do not threaten each other. Ban is very quick to criticize Iranian President Ahmadinejad's rhetoric against Israel, but is totally silent while Israel has repeatedly, over the past few years, threatened to bomb Iran, not in self-defense from any attack, but as a preemptive strike against some hypothetical future threat.
This is uttered while the head of the IAEA, Mohammad ElBaradei, has stated, fatalistically, that an Israeli attack on the Middle East will provoke a regional fireball. Yet Ban is doing nothing to defuse tensions, and is actually tacitly taking sides in the confrontation, another blow to the credibility of the United Nations.
Worse still, Kaveh points out, is the American media's actively taking sides in the dispute by faithfully regurgitating all of the Neocon propaganda, from Bush to Cheney to Bolton to McCain to Olmert, ad infinitum, about Iran's phantom Nuke program. I quote:
Instead, the US media in particular have allowed themselves to become an unwitting accomplice of Israel's anti-Iran propaganda machine, dutifully recycling the line that Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons, has amassed "weapons-grade" enriched uranium, and is thus on the verge of arriving at "the point of no return" with respect to bomb-making.
In a word, the race to dupe public opinion about a "clear and present danger" posed by Iran's nuclear program, to justify Israel's threatened attack (with the US's tacit approval) is in full gear and the US media are by and large about to receive another "F" card, just as they did with the US's 2003 invasion of Iraq, when the "pluralistic" media became a shell of itself by blindly echoing the White House's spin about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. (Asia Times source)
Kaveh excoriates the corporate media, including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and the other usual propaganda channels for what is a cartoonish distortion of facts about Iran's legal nuclear energy program. To wit:
With leading nuclear experts, media pundits and members of the US Congress recycling it, this serious distortion has now acquired the status of a truism about Iran, and a dangerous one that lends itself to an unprovoked attack on Iran by Israel and or the US.
But, no matter what the influential position of their signatories, the narratives in the US media that persist in their claim that Iran has manufactured "weapons-grade" enriched uranium simply cannot stand the weight of scrutiny and are refuted by the IAEA's findings to the contrary. These narratives routinely refer to the IAEA's reports on Iran, yet turn a blind eye to those reports' explicit references to Iran's "low-enriched uranium" (up to 4%). (ibid.)
Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, speaks about the non-existent Iranian nuclear weapons program as if it already in place and being poised for launch against Israel, against Europe and against us, while, simultaneously, every little tidbit about any IAEA criticism against Iran is immediately blown out of proportion by disingenuous journalists like the smug Michael Gordon:
Thus, for instance, in a front-page article in the New York Times,  dated June 20, Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt break the sensational news about Israel's extensive maneuvers in preparation for an attack on Iran, indirectly rationalizing Israel's belligerency by omitting any mention of the IAEA's latest report confirming the absence of any evidence of military nuclear diversion and, instead, confining themselves to the following comment: "In late May, the IAEA reported that Iran's suspected work on nuclear matters was a 'matter of serious concern' and that the Iranians owed the agency 'substantial explanation'."
What ought to have been added was that the same IAEA report states unequivocally that it had received "no credible information" regarding the alleged "weaponization studies", nor has the agency detected any nuclear activity connected to those alleged studies. Besides, the same IAEA report more than a dozen times stresses the evidence of peacefulness of Iran's nuclear program. (ibid.)
So Hell-bent are the Bush Administration, AIPAC, the Israeli government, and certain blood-sport Europeans to attack Iran that all of Hitler's tenets of successful propaganda have already come into heavy and ever increasing play: the full-court press against the public and media and the constant, daily repetitions of the "mushroom cloud" fear factor, "killing Americans" and "evil terrorist state" from multiple directions. Glaring contradictions to their hype, such as the recent NIE report, as well as regular IAEA reports, are simply ignored. For example:
Thus, Mike McConnell, the US national intelligence director, told the right-wing Fox TV last Sunday that Iran was a year or two from developing its first nuclear bombs. McConnell's alarmist estimate on Iran is clearly at odds with the US's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, released late last year, that confirmed that Iran's nuclear program was, and had been since 2003, peaceful.
McConnell's own deputy, Donald M Kerr, has repeatedly defended the NIE report before the US Congress, stating that the US intelligence community does not plan to "revise" it. (ibid.)
If Iran was actually manufacturing weapons-grade uranium, Kaveh points out, the IAEA would certainly know it:
.....with the IAEA's robust inspection of Iran's enrichment facilities, any such diversion to "weapons-grade" enrichment would be instantly detected, simply because significant modifications, re-assembling and re-configuration of the cascades of centrifuges would be necessary and that could not possibly evade the IAEA's watchful eyes.
Yet, all of this is ignored, with the tacit suggestion that Iran's program is "unsupervised" when, in fact, it is one of the most exhaustively inspected and supervised nuclear programs in the world, in light of some 3,500 hours of inspection of its facilities since 2003. (ibid.)
Despite employing the Hitler paradigm again against Iran, the Neocon movement has been unable to maximize the tenet regarding a unified organization forcing its doctrine upon the public. The recent NIE report is a case in point. The Bush Administration is no longer able to repress dissent within the federal government and military. Too many people have woken up and are moving against the Neocons, just as within Nazi Germany during WWII, at a certain point, key generals and officers began plotting Hitler's overthrow. The only way the Neocons can whip everyone back into lockstep, and that may not work anyhow, is if another "9/11" occurs to provide the emotional drive to rally everyone around "the Fuhrer" once again.
And while the Neocons may control the corporate media, they are getting racked through the coals endlessly on the Internet. Their lies are being lacerated daily on various sites.
On the world stage, many governments, no longer enthralled with the "War on Terror", are disputing the Neocon agenda, in particular Russia, which has stated that it has asked the United States and Israel for any real proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons program and received none (see my diary entry, "Russia Calls Israel's and the White House's Bluff" (click here)) How damning a proof is that that the whole game is a charade?
What peace and truth-loving people have to do now is to continue to neutralize the three tenets of Hitler, by debunking the Big Lies, confronting the daily repetition of these lies with equal intensity, and resisting all attempts to beat and brow-beat, threaten and intimidate everyone into conformity, conformity to a sick death cult. For us to fail now invites further disaster. And, I might add, watch out for ball girls.