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Six questions reporters should ask of anyone advocating military action against Iran

irish 2012/02/28 14:31:45
Six questions reporters should ask of anyone advocating military action against Iran

ASK THIS | February 24, 2012

http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.v...


Avoiding another war of choice will require a media that digs beyond
agenda-driven analysis and prevents the debate from being curtailed,
write the authors. It will require a media that doesn't permit a
question of life and death to be framed in a simplistic manner that
leaves the U.S. with a false choice of either bombing Iran or accepting
an Iranian bomb.

















































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By Reza Marashi & Trita Parsi

National Iranian American Council


America is once again drifting toward war. Less than ten years after
the U.S. invasion (and subsequent occupation) of Iraq, its myriad
lessons seem forgotten. A familiar, toxic mix of sloppy politicians and
politicized foreign policy experts is telling the American public that
an irrational Iranian regime hell-bent on acquiring and using nuclear
weapons poses an imminent threat to its safety -- despite the highest
levels of America’s national security establishment speaking on the
record to the contrary.


The ghosts of America’s neoconservative past have successfully shaped
the policy around its selling points despite next-to-zero discussion
about the consequences of war. Obama administration officials have
always been delicate when pushing back against their hawkish
counterparts on Iran policy, and election-year considerations have
heightened those sensitivities to the point of near-paralysis.
Reductionism has focused the debate in America on how the military can
stop an Iranian nuclear bomb that is neither in existence nor imminent.


Many Americans who believe this dishonest discourse cannot be blamed
for basing their views on the misinformation they receive. A free press
that reports with neither passion nor prejudice is part of America’s
democratic fabric. And yet, we despair about the credulousness of the
U.S. media when it comes to this dangerous saber-rattling vis-à-vis
Iran. Rather than learning from sins previously committed in the run up
to the Iraq war, most media outlets are sticking to the same formula on
Iran. To avoid a disastrous repeat, their questions need to recalibrate
the frame of the debate to put it in its proper context.


To that end, the following are six questions reporters should ask of anyone advocating military action against Iran:


Q. America has not had a diplomatic presence in Iran
for three decades. As such, much of our knowledge relies on
intelligence. Given the controversy over our intelligence on Iraq, how
are we factoring in and addressing the uncertainty of intelligence on
Iran’s nuclear program?


Q. What are the views of the Iranian people in
regards to a potential war and the current sanctions regime? Is this
current path helping us win or lose hearts and minds in Iran?


Q. What are the forces behind Iran’s nuclear
program? Could one factor be a desire for a nuclear deterrence due to a
sense of insecurity and threat? If so, how can we affect Iran’s sense of
need for a nuclear deterrence? Does the increasingly bellicose and
confrontational approach of the West actually increase Tehran’s desire
for nuclear deterrence?


Q. The U.S. has thousands of nuclear weapons. Israel
has hundreds. Iran currently has a mighty arsenal of zero nuclear
weapons. The U.S. has successfully deterred Iran for more than three
decades. Why are we assuming that suddenly, deterrence will not work
with Iran anymore?


Q. The U.S. military leadership does not believe
Israel has an effective military option when it comes to unilaterally
destroying Iran's nuclear sites. A tense exchange is currently playing
out in public between the Netanyahu government and the U.S. military,
with Israeli officials accusing Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff
Martin Dempsey of having "served Iran's interests." What lies behind the starkly diverging views of the Netanyahu government and the U.S. military on Iran?


Q. According to the Congressional Research Service,
total war-related funding for Iraq has exceeded $800 billion -- an
average of approximately $100 billion per year. With these numbers in
mind -- and at a time of over 8 percent unemployment and unprecedented
government bailouts -- how will we pay for a war with Iran?


Looking back at America’s recent wars, the American people trusted
that their elected leaders accurately assessed the pros and cons of
their policies. It didn’t take long before protracted quagmires
collapsed that trust. With the notable exception of neoconservatives,
most Americans eventually realized the sad truth: their leaders didn’t
have a plan beyond bombing; they knew little if anything about the
country in question; and they failed to conduct a realistic cost
assessment -- in both blood and treasure -- of the endeavor. By the
time Americans realized all of this, the damage had already been done.


Avoiding another war of choice will require a media that digs beyond
agenda-driven analysis and prevents the debate from being curtailed. It
will require a media that doesn’t permit a question of life and death to
be framed in a simplistic manner that leaves the U.S. with a false
choice of either bombing Iran or accepting an Iranian bomb. It is the
responsibility of reporters -- not congressmen, senators,
neoconservatives or foreign governments -- to not only get answers to
their questions, but also to define the questions properly.


On Iraq, the mainstream media did not ask the right questions until
disaster was a reality. On Iran, those questions need to be asked now so
that disaster can be avoided.




Reza Marashi is Director of Research at the National Iranian
American Council and a former Iran Desk Officer at the U.S. Department
of State. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American
Council, is the author of the new book A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy With Iran (Yale University Press, 2012).

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Opinions

  • talking jaguar 2012/02/28 23:10:03
    talking jaguar
    +1
    Excellent post
  • irish talking... 2012/02/29 12:15:00
    irish
    thanks.
  • Sheepdog 2012/02/28 16:31:02
    Sheepdog
    +1
    I would add a seventh to that list; What are you insane?
  • irish Sheepdog 2012/02/29 12:15:10
    irish
    +1
    excellent.
  • JanHopkins 2012/02/28 15:41:58
    JanHopkins
    +1
    Leave Iran to the Iranians. We don't need it or want it.
  • Elephant Lord 2012/02/28 15:35:38
    Elephant Lord
    +2
    Getting all worked up about Iran's nukes is pretty hypocritical. After all, of all the countries to own them, we're the only ones that ever used nukes in warfare. Even if Iran gained nukes, I doubt they'de use them anytime soon.
  • irish Elephan... 2012/02/29 12:15:29
    irish
    i agree.
  • cddjmikey Elephan... 2012/03/11 08:31:45
    cddjmikey
    You have a madman in charge of Iran who denies that the Holocaust ever happened and would love to martyr himself and his country if it brought back the Caliphate of prophecy. I also don't doubt that one or more would find their way over to "The Great Satan" by way of terrorist suicide bombers.
  • irish cddjmikey 2012/03/11 11:46:39
    irish
    wrong,he is hardly a madman. the lies you sheeple believe are amazing.
    the "great satan" as yuo call it lives in tel aviv along with the madmen who would destroy the earth and where the terrorists live.
  • Autarchic 2012/02/28 14:36:28
    Autarchic
    +1
    Nonsense, it is all about money!
  • irish Autarchic 2012/02/28 14:37:58
    irish
    +1
    and oil and natural resources,the usual list!

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