Bush’s State of the Union: More Iraq and Roll Tactics?

January 26th, 2007



The same night that television viewers in some DC media markets watched President Bush deliver the State of the Union address, some also were treated to a new ad campaign “aimed at educating the American public.”

Here’s the text of one of the 30-second spots:

The clock is ticking…and time is running out.

Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism – supporting attacks that have killed hundreds of Americans.

An Iranian group boasts 25,000 members who are ready to become suicide bombers in the US and Europe.

Now, in violation of the UN, Iran is developing a dangerous nuclear capability and has threatened to share it with others.

Stand up for peace. Call the White House and ask them

(Wait for it…wait for it…)


That certainly is a mighty wind-up for a feeble little pitch (and the ad is, for the record, more than a little misleading).

So, who is it out there who wants the good citizens of America – or the part of it that plays ring-around-the beltway – to march with their pitchforks to the White House to demand economic sanctions??? And is it any coincidence that these ads were running on the night that President Bush made the startling assertion that “Shia extremists,” who are “known to take direction from Iran” are “different faces of the same totalitarian threat” responsible for the 9/11 attacks?

OK, so his argument is more subtle than labeling Iran part of “an axis of evil,” as he did in his 2002 State of the Union address. But he is basically making the same assertion that he did then about Iran, not to mention Iraq: it is a direct threat, a “grave and growing danger” to the United States.

And the President has pledged to take action against that danger. To refresh your memory, he said in 2002: “We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

The abject failure of his preventive war strategy appears to have done little to change the President’s opinion: “This war is more than a clash of arms—it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance,” he said this week.

And today, the White House announced or leaked (there isn’t much difference to Dick Cheney, apparently, as the Scooter Libby trial is making clear) that it has declared open season on Iranian agents in Iraq. Now, there’s a legitimate debate to be had about dealing with Iranian operatives in Iraq, but to make sure the policy is public and is about killing said operatives, well, that’s another story. Whatever the military goals of that strategy, it’s looking an awful lot like a psychological operations campaign – whether it’s aimed at recalcitrant Iranians, reluctant Europeans, or the American people is unclear. Maybe all three.

But the point is unmistakable: the United States is escalating its campaign against Iran, either as a matter of propaganda or military action – or both.

So now let’s get back to that ad about Iran that ran the week of the State of the Union address. It was sponsored by a group called the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC). An innocuous-enough sounding name, to be sure – it could be just another think tank.

In fact, if you look them up on Wikipedia, you’ll see that AFPC “has played an essential role in the U.S. foreign policy debate” and is “dedicated to bringing information to those who make or influence the foreign policy of the United States.” Of course, you’ll see the identical text on answers.com and sourcewatch – and AFPC’s own website.

But take a look at its funding sources – a veritable who’s who of the right-wing conspiracy.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with an independent organization having a point of view, but this is all sounding eerily familiar. This is exactly how the Bush Administration laid the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq. They orchestrated a campaign of what the intelligence community calls “denial and deception” through the President’s bully pulpit, innuendo, exaggeration, syllogism, proxies like the AFPC, and selective leaking to willing reporters.

It may be that this time, the Bush Administration is aiming this denial and deception at Iran, to try to pressure their ridiculous President into compliance. But last time, it was the American people who were the Administration’s target – I’m not so sure we aren’t again.

The clock is ticking, indeed.

There’s no question that developments in Iran are deeply troubling, and Iran’s President is a crazy anti-American and anti-Semite, who thumps his chest at the US and says he wants to blow up Israel. But this is not the same face of the same evil that took 3,000 American lives on September 11, 2001. This nation will be making a grave mistake if we allow this President to act again on the same tragically mistaken belief that got us where we are in Iraq.

So by all means, march to the White House with your pitchfork and demand that this President not enmesh the United States in an even worse situation than we are already in.
Better yet, march to Congress and make sure they pass a resolution that clarifies that any previous authorizations do not include military operations against Iran. Only Congress can declare and fund war.

The President will have to come back for that one, and this time, let’s hope Congress won’t be rolled.