Cameron and Blair: The Media Continues to Dutifully Convey Intelligence 'Warnings'
For the invasion of Iraq in 2003, 'top secret' intelligence was used to create a media storm concerning weapons of mass destruction which could be deployed in 45 minutes. Now, the media reports on a 'top-secret' briefing by MI6 to UK ministers on the 'Iranian Nuclear Threat'. The routine appears familiar: When weapons inspectors fail to produce results, 'intelligence' is employed to continue the scaremongering that tends to soften public opinion towards a potential military invasion.
The Guardian's Julian Borger is once again instrumental in creating reports based on little more than the speculation (or, to put it another way, 'intelligence') of western leaders. IAEA inspections have produced no evidence of nuclear weapons production in Iran, so it follows that David Cameron appears to knows more than the IAEA themselves do about Iranian nuclear capability, telling (or, in the Guardian’s terms, 'warning') MPs that 'Iran is seeking to build an "inter-continental nuclear weapon"’.
In January 2003, in the run up to the war on Iraq, an article by then Guardian political editor Michael White, appeared under the headline: 'We must act now or pay the price, says Blair'. The subhead ran: 'PM insists that weapons of mass destruction will reach terrorists'.
Yesterday’s article in the Guardian, by Borger and political editor Patrick Wintour, does make the connection to Blair and Iraq, referring to ‘faint echoes of the warnings from Tony Blair's government that Iraq could fire weapons of mass destruction with 45 minutes' notice.’ However, this statement omits that the Blair government’s 'warnings' turned out to be utter fabrications. In discussing Cameron's 'warning' about Iran, the potential disconnect between what we are told and what is the truth might also be worth stressing.
MPs and the public alike are given plenty of 'warnings' about a country that has shown no effort or intention to launch a military attack on the UK. The idea that the position of the UK towards Iran is rather more aggressive than defensive does not appear in the media. The narrative must run that Iran has drawn sanctions, and whatever measures are to come, upon itself; that Iran poses the sole ‘threat’ to peace. (The Telegraph reports that the MI6 briefing ‘underlines the growing concern among western governments over the growing threat posed by Iran.’)
In the version of events portrayed to us through the media, the term 'threat' is applied exclusively to actions by Iran. The media does not entertain the idea that the US and the UK threaten Iran - despite sending warships past the Iranian coastline on more than one occasion, and repeatedly pointing out, as have Cameron and William Hague, that no options are ‘off the table’.
Some weeks ago William Hague was interviewed by the Telegraph, following which the entire UK media reported of Hague's fear of a 'nuclear arms race' in the Middle East. None of these news reports alluded to the fact that Israel is the only country to have nuclear weapons in the region, and so, will have been the first off the mark if any such arms race does develop.
Today, The Telegraph reports once again David Cameron’s claim that Iranian nuclear weapons would be 'very dangerous for the region because it would trigger a nuclear arms race', while once again declining to mention the region’s existing nuclear state.
Cameron has stated that 'no one wants to see conflict in any way'. In a similar manner, George W Bush claimed that 'America does not want war' shortly before destroying Baghdad. Bearing in mind that any action on Iran would be entirely illegal under international law, it is negligent that the Telegraph should write of such an illegal adventure merely that: 'The Prime Minister said it was a difficult decision not to rule out military action'.
'Soften up the British public'
Back in January 2003 a Guardian headline ran: 'Iraq and al-Qaida part of same picture, says Straw'. The writers, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, noted that Straw intended to 'soften up British public opinion for war in the Gulf by making a direct link for the first time between Iraq and terrorist groups such as al-Qaida' Considering Straw’s noted intention, he must have been quite pleased that such headlines helped so succinctly to get the message across.
Today's media continues in the same vein to provide headlines, both attention-grabbing and alarming, which merely amplify statements issued from parliament. An analysis of the facts and an attempt to define truth from the hearsay of official intelligence is needed to counter the persuasive power of a media which promotes the claims of governments irrespective of their relationship to reality.