New Yorker: Cheney orders media to war monger


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

August 31, 2007
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If there were a threat level on the possibility of war with Iran, it might have 
just gone up to orange. Barnett Rubin, the highly respected Afghanistan expert 
at New York University, has written an account of a conversation with a friend 
who has connections to someone at a neoconservative institution in Washington. 
Rubin can¹t confirm his friend¹s story; neither can I. But it¹s worth a 

        They [the source¹s institution] have ³instructions² (yes,
        that was the word used) from the Office of the
        Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in
        the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the
        American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the
        Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It
        will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to
        knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can
        be maintained. Evidently they don¹t think they¹ll ever get
        majority support for this‹they want something like 35-40
        percent support, which in their book is ³plenty.²

True? I don¹t know. Plausible? Absolutely. It follows the pattern of the P.R. 
campaign that started around this time in 2002 and led to the Iraq war. The 
President¹s rhetoric on Iran has been nothing short of bellicose lately, warning
of ³the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.² And the Iranian government¹s 
behavior‹detaining British servicemen and arresting American passport holders, 
pushing ahead with uranium enrichment, and, by many reliable accounts, 
increasing its funding and training for anti-American militias in Iraq‹seems 
intentionally provocative. Perhaps President Ahmedinejad and the mullahs feel 
that they win either way: they humiliate the superpower if it doesn¹t take the 
bait, and they shore up their deeply unpopular regime at home if it does. 
Preëmptive war requires calculations (and, often, miscalculations) on two sides,
not just one, as Saddam learned in 2003. When tensions are this high between two
countries and powerful factions in both act as if hostilities are in their 
interest, war is likely to follow.

It¹s one thing for the American Enterprise Institute, the Weekly Standard, et al
to champion a war they support. It¹s another to jump like circus animals at the 
crack of the White House whip. If the propaganda campaign predicted by Rubin¹s 
friend is launched, less subservient news organizations should ask certain 
questions, and keep asking them: Does the Administration expect the Iranian 
regime to fall in the event of an attack? If yes, what will replace it? If no 
(and it will not), why would the Administration deliberately set about to 
strengthen the regime¹s hold on power? What will the Administration do to 
protect highly vulnerable American lives and interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, and
around the world against the Iranian reprisals that will follow? What if Iran 
strikes against Israel? What will be the strategy when the Iranian nuclear 
program, damaged but not destroyed, resumes? How will the Administration handle 
the international alarm and opprobrium that would be an attack¹s inevitable 

If this really is a return to the early fall of 2002 all over again, then I¹m 
fairly sure that no one at the top of the Administration is worrying about the 

Postscript: Barnett Rubin just called me. His source spoke with a neocon 
think-tanker who corroborated the story of the propaganda campaign and had this 
to say about it: ³I am a Republican. I am a conservative. But I¹m not a raging 
lunatic. This is lunatic.²

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