I as outlined the other day, there have been many immediate responses to Jeffrey Goldberg’s latest war-mongering propaganda. Goldberg, the same ex-IDF soldier that once pushed so strongly for America to attack Iraq, argues that there is a better than 50% chance that Israel will attack Iran before next summer. The article goes on to detail how Iran is the newest Nazi Germany and how, contrary to what DM Barak believes, a “nuclearized Iran represents, among other things, a threat to Israel’s very existence.” To be fair, Goldberg did outline some of the consequences of war, but the piece was unquestionably a push for the United States to take a more hard-line militarized stance on Iran.
Like many, I believe that Iran, even a nuclear Iran, would not pose an existential threat to Israel and would certainly not pose any grave danger to US interests. Further, the argument that Goldberg uses to push for war is tired and repetitive. While I will let others dismantle Goldberg’s push to destroy the Middle East (see my previous post for a good list of responses), I would like to highlight two points that, while not original, are worth repeating.
First, I wonder why Goldberg has any credibility left after his shameful reporting leading up to the Iraq war in 2003. He wrote numerous articles decrying the immediate need to take out Iraq while scribing brilliant conclusions, such as:
The administration is planning today to launch what many people would undoubtedly call a short-sighted and inexcusable act of aggression. In five years, however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.
[tweetmeme] In 2006 Americans recognized how Goldberg was part of a concerted effort to push America towards an unnecessary war. Ken Silverstein wrote an article for Harpers reminding readers of the thin line between dishonesty and simple manipulation on which Goldberg tiptoed in 2002. Silverstein, talking about Goldberg, remarked:
Prior to the American-led invasion of Iraq, Goldberg wrote two lengthy articles in theNew Yorker which argued that there were extensive ties between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Much of what he wrote in a mammoth March 2002 story was based on the testimony of Mohammed Mansour Shahab, a prisoner in a Kurdish-controlled town in northern Iraq. Jason Burke of the London Observer later demolished Goldberg’s story when he spoke to the same prisoner and found that he couldn’t even describe the city of Kandahar, where Shahab had claimed that he’d traveled on Al Qaeda-related business. “Shahab is a liar,” Burke concluded. “[S]ubstantial chunks of his story simply are not true.” Goldberg also peddled the Iraq–Al Qaeda connection during a February 2003 interview on All Things Considered, delivering the grim news that Saddam’s agents had some years earlier helped Al Qaeda “in the teaching of the use of poison gas.”
Goldberg should have no journalistic credibility left. Sure he is a good writer who maintains impressive contacts in the American and Israeli Administration, but why does anyone trust him when he pushes America to attack another country?
The second point I want to make about Goldberg’s article has already been made by Stephen Walt, but it is worth repeating. Goldberg’s article serves to propagandistic purposes: first it pressures the Obama Administration into at least addressing the military option and second it mainstreams (to use Walt’s words) the idea of a war against Iran. The more Goldberg and others talk about the inevitability of war with Iran, the less shocking and horrible it sounds if Obama were to make such a terrible decision. Says Walt:
In short, a central purpose of this article is to mainstream the idea that an attack on Iran is likely to happen and savvy people-in-the-know should start getting accustomed to the idea. In other words, a preemptive strike on Iran should be seen not as a remote or far-fetched possibility, but rather as something that is just “business-as-usual” in the Middle East strategic environment. If you talk about going to war often enough and for long enough, people get used to the idea and some will even begin to think if it is bound to happen sooner or later, than “’twere better to be done quickly.” In an inside-the-Beltway culture where being “tough” is especially prized, it is easy for those who oppose “decisive” action to get worn down and marginalized. If war with Iran comes to be seen as a “default” condition, then it will be increasingly difficult for cooler heads (including President Obama himself) to say no.
Goldberg et al used this same strategy prior to the Iraq war and are now trying to flood the minds of Americans with views of an Iranian war. Simultaneously, they are trying to box President Obama into a corner and force him into making what would inevitably be the worst presidential decision since, well, Goldberg helped convince Bush to invade Iraq. It is important for those who are not hungry for death and war to consider this and fight this push against normalization.
A war with Iran would be disastrous for America: it would leave American interests across the region open to probable attack, cause thousands of American deaths, risk American dominance in the world oil market while turning many Arab countries sentiments towards Iran to sympathy, anger US allies and risk shutting the all-important Strait of Hormuz and threatening global economic stability. This is not a normal, everyday war. It is unnecessary and dangerous and the thought of attacking Iran should be shelved immediately.