Swans Commentary » swans.com November 5, 2007  



The Inexorable March Into Iran
American People's Forgivable Irresponsibility


by Gilles d'Aymery





      "Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."
      "There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."
      "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

—Hermann Wilhelm Göring in a conversation with Dr. Gustave M. Gilbert, Nuremberg, April 18, 1946 (see Nuremberg Diary, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, June 1947, ISBN 0374223519 - pp. 278-279).


(Swans - November 5, 2007)  Unfathomably, Iran tops the chart of all the countries viewed by the American people as the biggest threat to the U.S., ahead of the perennial culprits -- China, Iraq, and North Korea, soon to be rejoined by the old scarecrow of yesteryears, Russia. If Iran develops the bomb, the American people in their overwhelming majority believe that Iran will attack Israel, Europe, or the United States. They further believe that Iran will provide terrorist organizations with some sort of nuclear device to attack the U.S. Not surprisingly, a majority of likely voters support a military strike against Iran and believe it will happen before the end of the Bush administration on January 20, 2009. But no worries, 30 senators have signed a letter telling Mr. Bush he had no congressional authorization to attack Iran, and the administration steadfastly repeats that the president wants diplomacy to work with the help of our friends and allies. The corporate media, meanwhile, keep ringing the alarm bells -- the Iranians are coming, the Iranians are coming! -- and the antiwar forces, or what remains of them, are increasingly being muffled by the forces of Law and Order.

First and foremost it should be noted that as abundantly explained in "Propaganda: Then and Now" (Swans, November 12, 2001) propaganda does indeed work. "Propaganda means repetition and more repetition!" Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda in Nazi Germany, used to say. "Nuclear Holocaust," "World War III," "Israel wiped off the map," "mushroom clouds," "the new Hitler," "this is 1938," "state-sponsor of terrorist organizations," "killing American troops through proxy militias," "arming and training the terrorists," "irrational mullahs," "islamofascists," "financing and training Hezbollah and Hamas," and all combinations therein repeated ad nauseam on cable and network news programs, in the written press, the blogosphere, the Congress, and in hundreds of position papers from countless think tanks right, left, and center. Even the humanitarian hordes are on board to defend women's rights and freedom of the press; supposedly, the anarcho-libertarian left is falling back on their sempiternal "neither-nor" position that they used so fruitfully with Milosevic and Saddam Hussein: Neither Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nor the U.S. It looks eerily like the fall of 2002 all over again.

It may be disappointing to observe the American people being taken for another wild destructive ride, but in their defense, that's all they hear. Göring was right on mark, "it is always a simple matter to drag the people along." That the people have turned against the Iraq War, yet 41 percent still "believe" that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was behind 9/11, ought to be viewed as simple forgivable irresponsibility. They don't know because they are not being told (or are actually being fed falsehoods and disinformation), aren't naturally curious, and are quite possibly the most insecure people on the surface of the globe. Fear is the common denominator of the American psyche all the way back to the first colonies in the 1700s and the birth of the nation. Enemies are always looming behind dark, dangerous, smoky clouds to take their life, liberty, and pursuit of [material] happiness away from them. Imbued with a sense of innate goodness, permeated by pseudo-religions, infused with the conviction that America is the best country in the world, any dissenting views or oppositions are inevitably deemed a sign of evil. Evil roams the world, envious of our freedoms and way of life, always seeking to destroy America, the last best hope on planet Earth. Our god-given right, besides going to the Mall, is first and foremost to defend ourselves against the dragons that wish to set us afire, with or without the help of our ever-changing friends and allies.

It may be hard to believe but in truth the American people have more often than not always been deeply antiwar, yet for curious and mysterious reasons they manage to repeatedly elect representatives who call themselves "leaders" and are a trigger-happy bunch of folks. This is a mystery that future anthropologists will debate when the culture of openness and great diversity has morphed into a bunker mentality and the American Experiment falls in moribund disrepair behind tall walls at the borders and gated communities guarded by private armies. Strangely enough, the American people have little or no trust in their government for most of their internal affairs, but they'll rally under the flag the moment their own distrusted government tells them they are under attack by the forces of darkness. Again, put it on the side of forgivable irresponsibility and remember Göring.

One ought to mention that the entire American domestic construct is based on the notion of negotiations and diplomacy in some twisted ways. It's a kind of top-down approach. Those who have power dictate the terms of the negotiating process. For instance, assuming that a corporation wishes to cut its employees' benefits or its payroll, the management will gladly sits at the table with the representatives of the workers (they used to be called Unions once upon a time). There, with bottled water galore, management will embark into productive talks, intimating that if the workers do not accept cuts, lamentably the company will have to close the plant(s) and relocate to name-a-country. This is called American diplomacy, which can be extended to other countries.

In 2002 and early 2003, we were heavily engaged in diplomacy with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. The country was under dire sanctions, and we wanted regime change. So, the diplomatic language was rather clear. Butt out or else... Else happened and we know the results. Bizarrely, the American people do not appear to grasp the correlation between the price of oil before the invasion and occupation of Iraq ($25 a barrel) and now ($95 a barrel). Somehow, the connection is not being made. Call it again a form of forgivable irresponsibility.

With Iran the diplomatic process is in full bloom. Our government, for reasons deemed acceptable by the American people, wants the Iranians to stop nuclear enrichment processing. In order to negotiate with the Iranian government, however, we want them to stop their nuclear enrichment process first. Then we may or may not decide to sit at the negotiating table. In other words, the object of the negotiation must be terminated before we even begin to talk about negotiating the termination. In order to help our diplomacy, we managed to set two rounds of international economic sanctions against the country with which we are seemingly negotiating. Most diplomatically, we are two weeks away from implementing a much direr round of economic sanctions, this time unilaterally. To add to the conundrum, our skilled negotiators refuse to talk to the Iranian government because the latter, according to our peaceful leader (remember, we are a peaceful nation), has become the Prima Dona of the Axis of Evil. Hence we are actually "negotiating" regime change.

Timing for the blossoming flower is right around the corner. Not this month, since we want to give diplomacy a chance -- that is, more drastic economic sanctions -- and get a few friends and allies on board. Not next month, for it would hurt the retail business just around Xmas, the live-or-die season for most retailers. It'll be hard to pull it off after May 2008 due to weather conditions in the Persian Gulf and the full-fledged US presidential campaign. So look for a strike, if history is any indicator, between February and April 2008, give or take one month. There is plenty of time to fashion the American people's mind. It can be expected that soon enough a substantial part of the American people will believe that Iran was behind 9/11 -- another forgivable irresponsibility

However, make no mistake. This forgivable irresponsibility is well intentioned, for the actions taken and supported by the American people are always done with good intentions, even when they are paving the glittering road to hell.

Hopefully, we'll all wake up from this nightmare and find out it was just a bad dream.


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External Resources

The Göring citation can be found in the 1995 Da Capo Press re-edition of The Nuremberg Diary posted on Google Books (scroll down to pp. 278-279).

Gustave M. Gilbert on Wikipedia. (Note that the citation posted on that page is slightly incorrect -- as of November 2, 2007.)

Nuremberg Diary on Wikipedia. (The citation posted on that page is also slightly incorrect. It misses, "Oh, that is all well and good, but, . . ." -- as of November 2, 2007.)

Hermann Göring on Wikipedia -- as of November 2, 2007.

Joseph Goebbels on Wikipedia -- as of November 2, 2007.


Internal Resources

Propaganda: Then and Now - Gilles d'Aymery - November 12, 2001

Patterns which Connect

Greater Middle East & Eurasia

Myths & Realities


About the Author

Gilles d'Aymery on Swans (with bio). He is Swans' publisher and co-editor.



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published November 5, 2007