"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Monday, May 01, 2006

Fabricated Crisis

The media has for some time now been discussing the probability of military action against Iran, based on the purported but unsubstantiated threat posed by the current regime. The thrust of the argument being that Iran can not maintain a peaceful nuclear programme, therefore the civilised West must consider, and plan for, perhaps even nuclear pre-emption.

The 'threat' fabricated by the US and UK governments is generally echoed by the faithful mainstream media with little comment on the the legality of an attack and even less on the harmful effects of plan B, sanctions.

The possible effects of sanctions are innumerable and the loss of life can only be guessed at. But one need look no further than Iraq to increase the accuracy of your guess.

Former Assistant Secretary General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, in interview with Larry Everest:

"The fact that today, on average, according to UNICEF, 5,000 children are dying every month because of sanctions is a violation of human rights. "


The fact that the sanctions 'succeeded' in their +stated+ goal, ridding Iraq of WMDs, is irrelevant. Not least because this salient fact had literally no baring on the what is occurring in Iraq today.

A prime example of the deficient reporting is this, from The Irish Times:

"The crisis is made much more serious by the Bush administration's policy that Iran cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, combined with its outright refusal to engage Iran directly in negotiations. The logic of this position seems to point inexorably to escalating towards a military confrontation. Tension is being escalated by mutual obduracy in Tehran and Washington, putting radicals in the ascendant. Military action by the US outside UN auspices would be a dangerous folly. It would precipitate regional turmoil, escalate anti-American terrorism, disrupt world oil supplies and therefore the international economy, and reinforce popular support for the Iranian radicals whose sources of power are uneven and precarious."

The Irish Times

In an otherwise fairly unbiased account of the situation, albeit a fabricated situation, as it is, there stands out that typical inhumane streak more common in the Economist or the Financial Times. The effects of sanctions are limited to... possible retaliation, an increase in support for 'hardliners' (to be solved militarily at some later date) and most important of all, economic risk.

This type of reporting regularly gets passed off as the complete picture and yet the duties of the publication as set out by The Irish Times Editor clearly show some disparity between what is printed and what she intends to output.

"We are conscious of our power and responsibility when we deal with issues or events that touch upon the private lives of individuals."


In an email to the BBC's Steve Herrmann, Media Lens reader Darren makes a few simple requests:

"Dear Mr. Herrmann,

I see the BBC's continued, disproportional focus on Iran continues unabated, with now a fully interactive map placed on the home page,which helpfully, allows your readers to local it's "Key nuclear sites"(what are they: power sites or weapon's installations; it is not clear). Why this continued disproportional focus on Iran? Why is there not a map of Italy instead?

But seeing the BBC has clearly allocated extra resources to presenting Iran, perhaps you might consider articles on the following topics:
* how many civilians would be killed in a US strike (nuclear or otherwise) on Iran? What would be the effect on children living near bombed installations?
* how prepared is Iran for protecting its civilians? I.e. how well developed are its emergency services, and hospitals? * what are the opinions of ordinary Iranians? Do they fear themselves,or their families, would be harmed in any attack? What will ordinary Iranians do to prepare for such an attack (perhaps you can provide some pictures of home made shelters, etc?) * what would be the legality, or otherwise, of any attack on Iran? I.e.explain the UN articles which allow for any military operation against another country, and a discussion on whether the US will achieve the requirements.


Media Lens Message Board

The Irish Times publishes several stories a day on the growing/mounting/escalating 'situation', that is actually Iran's 'inalienable right' to 'develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination' afforded to it under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with little or no discussion of the effects on ordinary Iranians, those who would be bombed.

If it is unavoidable for the mainstream media to simply repeat the words of those in power as fact, then in the interests of some journalistic, or even human, morality, Darren's simple requests are not unresonable.

"Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."


Email the Irish Times editor at:

gkennedy@irish-times.ie, edsoffice@irish-times.ie, lettersed@irish-times.ie

[cross posted on Indymedia http://www.indymedia.ie/article/75776]