Editor’s Note: The U.S. mainstream news media’s failure regarding Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction didn’t stop with the post-invasion discovery that there were none of the promised WMD stockpiles -- and no nuclear weapons program, either.

At that point, as the Bush administration’s falsehoods became obvious, many U.S. news organizations simply shifted the blame onto the Iraqi government for supposedly “pretending” that it had WMD, a journalistic sleight of hand that historian William Blum says may be repeated in Iran:

The same questions were asked about Iraq following the discovery that Saddam Hussein didn't in fact have any weapons of mass destruction. However, in actuality, before the U.S. invasion Iraqi officials had stated clearly on repeated occasions that they had no such weapons.

I'm reminded of this by the recent news report about Hans Blix, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector who led a doomed hunt for WMD in Iraq. Last week, he told the British inquiry into the March 2003 invasion that those who were "100 percent certain there were weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq turned out to have "less than zero percent knowledge" of where the purported hidden caches might be.”

He testified that he had warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a February 2003 meeting — as well as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in separate talks — that Hussein might have no weapons of mass destruction. [Associated Press, July 28, 2010]

In August 2002, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told American newscaster Dan Rather on CBS: "We do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons." [CBS Evening News, August 20, 2002]

In December, Aziz stated to Ted Koppel on ABC: "The fact is that we don't have weapons of mass destruction. We don't have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry." [ABC Nightline, December 4, 2002]

Hussein himself told Rather in February 2003: "These missiles have been destroyed. There are no missiles that are contrary to the prescription of the United Nations [as to range] in Iraq. They are no longer there." ["60 Minutes II", February 26, 2003]

Moreover, Gen. Hussein Kamel, former head of Iraq's secret weapons program and a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, told the UN in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its banned missiles and chemical and biological weapons soon after the Persian Gulf War. [Washington Post, March 1, 2003]

There are yet other examples of Iraqi officials telling the world that the WMD were non-existent, including the submission of a 12,000-page report to the United Nations detailing how the weapons were destroyed.

If you don't already have serious doubts about the mainstream media's devotion to questioning the premises and rationales underlying American foreign policy, consider this: Despite the two revelations on Dan Rather's CBS programs, and the other revelations noted above, in January 2008 we find CBS reporter Scott Pelley interviewing FBI agent George Piro, who had interrogated Saddam Hussein before he was executed:

PELLEY: And what did he tell you about how his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed?

PIRO: He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the '90s, and those that hadn't been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

PELLEY: He had ordered them destroyed?

PIRO: Yes.

PELLEY: So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk? Why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade? ["60 Minutes", January 27, 2008. See also Consortiumnews.com’s “CBS Falsifies Iraq War History,” January 28, 2008, and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [FAIR] Action Alert, February 1, 2008]

Would it have mattered if the Bush administration had fully believed Iraq when it said it had no WMD? Probably not. There is ample evidence that Bush knew this to be the case, as did Tony Blair. Saddam Hussein did not sufficiently appreciate just how psychopathic his two adversaries were.

Bush was determined to vanquish Iraq, for the sake of Israel, for control of oil, and for expanding the empire, though it hasn't all worked out as the empire expected; for some odd reason, it seems that the Iraqi people resented being bombed, invaded, occupied, and tortured.

The result of Bush's Iraqi policy can be summed up by saying that it would be difficult to cite many other historical examples of one nation destroying another so completely, crushing and perverting virtually every aspect of their society and humanity.

Now Israel presses Washington relentlessly to do the same to Iran — not that the U.S. necessarily needs much prodding — primarily because Israel is determined to remain the only nuclear power in the Middle East; this despite Iran telling the United States and the world many times that it is not building nuclear weapons.

But if Iran is in fact building nuclear weapons, we have to ask: Is there some international law that says that the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China, Israel, France, Pakistan, and India are entitled to nuclear weapons, but Iran is not?

If the United States had known that the Japanese had deliverable atomic bombs, would Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been destroyed? Does USrael believe that there is not already enough horror and suffering in the news?

In what could be part of the preparation for an attack on Iran, 47 members of the House of Representatives recently put forth a non-binding resolution declaring Iran to be "an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel".

To illustrate this threat, the resolution quoted Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on several occasions avowing sentiments like: "God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism" ... calling for "this occupying regime [Israel] to be wiped off the map" ... "Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation" ... "I must announce that the Zionist regime, with a 60-year record of genocide, plunder, invasion, and betrayal is about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene" ... "Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come, and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started".

Pretty damning stuff, isn't it? N'est-ce pas? Nicht wahr? But there's a lot less here than meets the eye.

Notice that it doesn't quote Ahmadinejad in a single specific, explicit threat of an Iranian attack upon Israel or the United States. No mention or indication that "I" or "We" or "Iran" is going to do any of this, carry out any act of violence.
And I would say that that's because it's not what he meant.

In another quote, which the resolution fails to cite, the Iranian president in December 2006 said: "The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom." [Associated Press, December 12, 2006]

Obviously, the man is not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place very peacefully.

Furthermore, in June 2006, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated: "We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state. [Letter to the Washington Post from M.A. Mohammadi, Press Officer, Iranian Mission to the United Nations, June 12, 2006]

Why didn't the authors of the congressional resolution quote that one?
I think that one can derive a better understanding of the Iranian president's statements by seeing them as metaphor, as bragging, as wishful thinking, as well as poor translation (for example: "wiped off the map"), coming from a man foolish enough to publicly claim that there are no gays in Iran. [See Anti-Empire Report, October 1, 2008, second part]

But more significantly, the resolution offers no reason why Iran actually would attack Israel or the United States. What reason would Iran have to use nuclear weapons against either country other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?

Indeed, the very same question could have — and should have — been asked before the invasion of Iraq. Of the many lies surrounding that invasion, the biggest one of all was that if, in fact, Saddam Hussein had had those weapons of mass destruction the invasion would have been justified.

With all the lies exposed about the American Iraqi misadventure, I and many others had allowed ourselves the luxury, the hidden pleasure, of believing that the United States government and media had learned a lesson which would last for some time.

They'd been caught and exposed. But it's the same all over again with the lies about Iran and Ahmadinejad. (No, he's not even a Holocaust denier.)

In any event, Israel probably doesn't believe its own propaganda. In March of last year, the Washington Post reported: "A senior Israeli official in Washington" has asserted that "Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation." [Washington Post, March 5, 2009]

This was the very last sentence in the article and, according to an extensive Nexis search, did not appear in any other English-language media in the world.

And earlier this year we could read in the Sunday Times of London: "Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, 75, a war hero and pillar of the [Israeli] defence establishment, believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons. The views expressed by the former director-general of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission contradict the assessment of Israel's defence establishment and put him at odds with political leaders." [Sunday Times (London), January 10, 2010]

If any country in this world is a threat to use nuclear weapons with remarkably little regard for the consequences it's Israel.

Martin van Creveld, an Israeli professor of military history and loyal Israeli citizen, remarked in 2002: "We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that this will happen before Israel goes under." [Originally in the Dutch weekly magazine, Elsevier, April 27, 2002, pages 52-3; picked up in many other international publications]

Think of the scene near the end of "Dr. Strangelove." That's Israel sitting astride the speeding nuclear bomb waving the cowboy hat.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2; Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower; West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir; Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org. This article was originally published in Blum's Anti-Empire Report.

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