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Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Using the threat of Iran to bring back the Cold War

Posted by James McPherson on July 8, 2008

Apparently longing for the bad old days when it actually mattered much as a nation in the overall scheme of world politics, the Czech Republic has agreed to let the U.S. deploy part of a disputed, unproven and perhaps unworkable anti-ballistic missile defense shield in former Soviet-held territory.

“Ballistic missile proliferation is not an imaginary threat,” said Condi “Mushroom Cloud” Rice, an expert on imaginary threats. The Bush administration promotes the shield as it has promoted pretty much everything else it has wanted to do since Saddam Hussein was dug out of a hole, as a defense against Iranian extremism. In this case, the shield would supposedly defend the U.S. and European allies from long-range missiles launched from Iran.

Even if Iran had weapons capable of reaching the U.S. and a reason to risk total annihilation by using them, of course, this would be a ludicrous argument. On the other hand, Bush and his cronies know that most Americans couldn’t use a globe to find Iowa, let alone Iran. If we really worry about missiles from the Middle East hitting the U.S., we should be building defenses in Canada. But then the Canadians aren’t as easily swayed by promises of foreign aid as are the eastern Europeans (and even Poland, another planned shield location, is holding out for a bigger U.S. payoff, which may force a shift to another former Soviet territory, Lithuania).

Iran’s missiles could reach Europe, and so maybe that alone is an argument for the shield, and of course the Bush administration strives to never avoid exaggeration, unless outright lying might work better. But Europeans also have little to fear from Iran, since the European Union is Iran’s biggest trade partner. Eastern Europeans do fear Russia, however, so they’ll appease Bush’s bait-and-switch if the U.S. might protect them from the Russians. And speaking of the Russians, of course they’re protesting the U.S.-Czech plan, with Mad Vlad Putin claiming it could lead to a new Cold War. They were already upset and understandably suspicious because Bush had previously rejected a missile treaty that even Ronald Reagan thought was OK.

And perhaps a new Cold War–which more than anything else helped give various forms of conservatism both the enemy and the credibility they needed to gain power–is Bush’s real aim. After all, just before he ran for office he bought a ranch like Reagan had, fashioned himself as a bumbling cowboy like Reagan did (OK, how much of that was intentional is debatable, but still…), attacked a country he thought would be easy to whip (sorry, Gee-dub, Iraq ain’t no Grenada), and tried to bring back the Gipper’s “Star Wars” defense system.

And still Bush’s approval ratings hover in the 20s. So maybe if he can get Putin (or Putin puppet Dmitri Medvedev) to rebuild the Berlin Wall, then insist that he tear it down, all in the next five months…

We could even lend some wall-building expertise and some undocumented labor.

Next day update: The Bush and news organizations are making a big deal of the fact that Iran just just fired nine missiles–with a maximum range of 1,200 miles. Of course Fox’s headline (for what it made the lead story of the day) was the scariest: “Iran Test-Fires Missiles Capable of Hitting Israeli, U.S. Bases.” Not Europe or the U.S., of course, meaning it took only a day for Condi Rice to be again revealed as a serial exaggerator. But with media attention spans being what they are, if the administration screams loud enough, perhaps people will think today’s story actually supports yesterday’s claims. The least surprising part of today’s story? “Oil prices jumped on news of the missile tests.”

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7 Responses to “Using the threat of Iran to bring back the Cold War”

  1. Gabrielle said

    “On the other hand, Bush and his cronies know that most Americans couldn’t use a globe to find Iowa, let alone Iran…”

    So sad, and yet so true. I had an online discussion ended the other day when the other person, an Australian, discovered I was American: “Oh, that explains it…never mind then, I really don’t expect any of your people to be able to think for themselves anyway.”

  2. Iowa’s the one that looks like a face of a giant man, isn’t it?

  3. James McPherson said

    Actually it’s the one about halfway between the two stacked rectangles and the giant mitten. Ask any presidential candidate–they get to know every breakfast joint and corn fuel processor in the state.

  4. Stefan Fobes said

    All the claims about Iran, such as funding terror in Iraq, are lies. Ahmadinejad has no power, according to the Iranian constitution. It all lies with the “shadow president” Ayatollah Khomenei. And that wipe Israel off the map? He was quoting Khomenei, and that wasn’t even what he said. This and more here.

    http://warofillusions.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/lies-damn-lies-and-the-case-for-an-iran-war/

  5. Luis Lopez said

    Um, not to be nitpicky or anything, but the current Supreme Leader of Iran is Ali Khamenei, not Ayatollah Khomeini. Ayatollah Khomeini died in 1989.

  6. […] with human rights abuses in countries that we see some reason to demonize or invade (Iraq, perhaps Iran, sometimes Libya), but ignore those abuses elsewhere (Saudi Arabia, China, Darfur, sometimes […]

  7. […] States by the Bush administration, which of course did so much to promote good relations with Iran. Tagged with: Bush administration, Iran, National Public Radio, Roxana Saberi, Bye bye Miss […]

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