Headlines for the State

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We continue to march towards war with Iran. Lately there has been some news story almost every day warning us about the danger that Iran poses to us, as if to prepare the American people for why this war will be necessary. Below is a sample of some headlines from the last few weeks taken from mainstream news websites. The second column has additional text lifted from the story.

U.S. officials: Probe eyes Iran ties in Karbala attack

The Iranians may be behind Karbala

Bush vows firm response to Iranian military actions

Iran is trying to block U.S. from operating in Gulf region

Pentagon halts sales of F-14 parts

Some F-14 parts known to have reached Iran

ElBaradei calls for timeout on Iran nuclear program

Iran is conducting small-scale research enrichment program

Iran plans satellite launch, magazine reports

Satellite launch could help Tehran improve long-range missile program

Iran sets new missile tests as U.S. carrier dispatched

Some missiles capable of hitting U.S. allies in Mideast

Tehran Goes Latin

Iran is helping Hezbollah set up shop in Central and South America

Lawmaker: Iran installing 3,000 centrifuges

Many countries, including the United States, believe that Iran is using its nuclear program as a cover to produce an atomic weapon.

U.N. condemns denials of Holocaust; Iran demurs

The president of Iran is in fact saying, ‘There really was no Holocaust, but just in case, we shall finish the job.”‘

Bush: Iran, Syria fomenting ‘chaos’ in Lebanon

“Those responsible for creating chaos must be called to account.”

General: U.S. has proof Iran arming Iraqi militias

Iran is supplying Iraqi militias with a variety of powerful weapons

Feds: Hezbollah Growing Threat To U.S

An emboldened Hezbollah is a growing danger, and it's backed by Iran

(Please note: sometimes the news sites change the titles of their stories as they update them).

Some of these seem outright farcical. Are we to believe that Iran is setting up a terrorist network in Latin America? That's a headline one would expect in The Onion, not Newsweek. The article explains that there is "suspected" fund-raising for Hezbollah in the "lawless tri-border region, where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet." This area is not lawless; in fact it derives its character precisely from the fact that there are too many laws, i.e., it is a geographical convergence point for three over-taxed (and differently-taxed) and highly regulated markets. Thus it is a hotbed for smugglers, i.e., people who are trying to arbitrate the differences between the three systems. It never occurs to anyone this black market would disappear if the countries simply lowered or eliminated their ridiculously high tariffs on DVD players. Of course from "smugglers" to "terrorists" is always a small jump for a statist.

(A few months ago I watched a report on the CBS Evening News about this area. According to the CBS reporter, "several" terrorist camps exist there! She didn't name them, point them out on a map, show any video footage, or share any eyewitness testimony on the existence of these camps. She simply stated the existence of the camps as a fact, and afterwards the anchorman thanked her for her fine work).

Some of the entrepreneurs (excuse me, smugglers) who live here are of Arab descent and as is so common in their culture they send money to charities back home, and these charities may be linked to Hezbollah, and we all know that Iran supports Hezbollah, and so there you have it, there is growing Iranian terrorist network in Latin America. A "specialist in militant Islamic movements" helpfully informs us that “If I were a terrorist today, I’d be hiding out in South America.”

What else? Let's see, the Iranians have apparently purchased some F-14 spare parts. Given the fact that they have F-14s in their air force, and those planes are old and in need of spare parts, this would not surprise me. But the implication here is that they will be a threat in the coming war. One way to avoid this "threat" would be not to attack Iran. Regardless, I don't think the Iranians want to tangle with the US Air Force or Navy jets from carriers; they would have no more luck than Saddam's air force did. They will probably stick to cheap SAMs (Surface To Air Missiles). Or perhaps wipe out our army in Iraq.

How about the charge of "fomenting chaos in Lebanon." Perhaps Iran is guilty as charged, but if so, they need to get in line, because if anybody should be punished for fomenting chaos in Lebanon, it should be Israel, seeing as they recently attacked that country and destroyed millions of dollars in infrastructure and killed hundreds of civilians.

The least farcical and most troubling of these headlines is the most recent one, that the US is investigating the possibility of Iranian involvement in the Karbala episode. Let's take a closer look at this.

According to this article, two helpful American officials have volunteered that the primary reason for believing that the Iranians may have been behind the attack in Karbala is because of "the sophistication of the attack and the level of coordination." By this reasoning, at every point in the last three years when the insurgency became more sophisticated, it must have been due to outside involvement, as surely the insurgents themselves could never have figured out how to improve their tactics or build a better IED (Improvised Explosive Device).

Then Al-Maliki helpfully chimes in that "the Americans were basing their hunches about Iranian activities in Iraq on intelligence they’ve amassed." What intelligence? There is no further explanation. And who amassed it? The same people who amassed intelligence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? That didn't know that our asset Ahmed Chalabi was in bed with the Iranians? That told Cheney whatever they did so he was emboldened to announce that the insurgency was "in its last throes"? That were completely surprised by the existence of a large, armed, fanatical Shiite cult near Karbala? Are these the guys who took nearly three days to even correctly tell the press exactly how the Karbala victims really died? Give me a break, I think all the so-called "intelligence officers" know less about what's going on in Iraq than I do. I'm actually half-way serious when I say that.

But, apparently "some Iraqis" (getting now to some people that probably do know something about what's going on in Iraq) "speculate that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps carried out the attack in retaliation for the January 11 capture by U.S. forces of five of its members in Irbil." Well, here at last is something that sounds reasonable. And perhaps this is really what happened. It does seem like a stupid move, certain to further antagonize the US and perhaps even saving Bush the trouble of creating his own Gulf of Tonkin incident. But the government of Iran is no less idiotic and stupid than our own, so maybe they really did do it. Or maybe (for the conspiracy lovers out there) this is the Gulf of Tonkin incident we've been waiting for. I don't know, but it does seem like yet another milestone on the road to war with Iran.

Below I have composed some "headlines" of my own. There is nothing in the least bit farcical about them. Reading the material I have linked to might well lead you to conclude that it is the United States that is a threat to Iran, much more so than the other way around. And you would be right.

February 22, 2007

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