Friday, 19 October 2012

A Note on Iran and The Media

Glenn Greenwald wrote last week in The Guardian,
The US has Iran virtually encircled militarily. Even with the highly implausible fear-mongering claims earlier this year about Tehran's planned increases in military spending, that nation's total military expenditures is a tiny fraction of what the US spends. Iran has demonstrated no propensity to launch attacks on US soil, has no meaningful capability to do so, and would be instantly damaged, if not (as Hillary Clinton once put it) "totally obliterated" if they tried. Even the Israelis are clear that Iran has not even committed itself to building a nuclear weapon.
It is evident that mainstream US TV journalists are not going to challenge the bi-partisan consensus on American Foreign policy. Firstly, in the context of presidential elections foreign policy is not considered that important by most American citizens. Secondly, the idea is to get a mere statement of their position.

Both presidents aim to compete on how tough they are on Iran in order to get votes and get into office. And it is in neither of their interests nor that of major TV networks to ask fundamental questions about foreign policy nor to understand the basis of what is driving it in the Middle East and Central Asia.

One of the main reasons , of course, is that the plan to encircle and throttle Iran is part of the USA's ambition to gain hegemony over the region in order to control the oil and gas. This is something necessitated by the USA's overdependence upon it to fuel a high octane car based consumer economy.

The fact that Iran has, in Greenwald's words, 'shown no propensity to launch attacks on US soil' is, therefore, largely irrelevant. It stands in the way as the only Power that can challenge US hegemony in both the Middle East to the west of Iran ( through the support of Syria and backing Hezbollah ) and in Central Asia to the east.

In Afghanistan, the war has been mostly about the geopolitical advantages of securing the construction of the TAPI pipeline, one that will block off the rival IPI project and ratchet up the pressure on Iran's economy and society by reducing the revenue from gas exports to Pakistan and India.

If Greenwald is going to criticise Establishment journalism for not probing on foreign policy, then there should be at least some alternative attempt to understand why the USA has become so fixated on targeting Iran as the main threat to its interests in the Middle East and Central Asia. And that is something those opposed to Us foreign policy seldom often dwell on.

Populist journalism can be as tedious as Establishment journalism as it allows radical critics of US foreign policy to feel a frisson of superiority to the people in power without any recognition that if American consumer lifestyles, even of "anti-war" protesters, are to be preserved, then this foreign policy is inevitable.

The problem with those complaining about the US or Britain meddling in the Middle East and Central Asia is that, even when they criticise the US for invading Iraq for oil or targeting Iran to get 'regime change' ( also ultimately about control and protection of oil supplies ) , they seem oblivious to what actually powers their economy.

That is not to state that US foreign policy is "right" but to present in stark terms the nature of what US foreign policy has really been increasingly concerned with since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, increased competition with Russia and China and, with the opening up of the post Soviet "stans" to investment and oil development, a New Great Game.

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