The Greater Islamophobia: Bombing, Invading, and Occupying Muslim Lands (I)
Jeffrey Goldberg, an establishment journalist, has made a career out of shilling for Israel and war-cheerleading against various Muslim countries. Goldberg’s polite, professional, and mainstream expression of Islamophobia is far more pernicious than the rude, amateurish, and fringe Islamophobia of Pamela Geller.
This Thanksgiving, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs crossed swords over Butterball’s halal turkeys; the animosity between the two has reached the point where Goldberg refers to Geller as his “arch-nemesis” and Geller calls Goldberg a “Jewicidal Jihadi”(whatever in the world that means).
But while Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Geller may disagree over such silly matters as “stealth halal” turkeys (which I call the “Lesser Islamophobia”), Goldberg and Geller are guilty of advocating the “Supreme Islamophobic Crime”: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands. With regard to this “Greater Islamophobia”, establishment journalists like Jeffrey Goldberg have a lot more influence than the Pamela Gellers of the world in promoting the war hysteria necessary to sustain the political and popular support for American wars against an increasingly long list of Muslim countries.
The Crusades that ravaged the Muslim world centuries ago were fueled by mindless hatred of the Other, a hatred without which it is unlikely that a whole civilization could have been successfully mobilized against another. Similarly, the United States of America has taken up the sword against the Muslim world, something that simply would not be possible without large segments of the society accepting an anti-Muslim worldview as axiomatic.
Islamophobia is necessary to wage war against the Muslim world but it is also the inevitable result of such wars. There is a need to spread the Supreme Islamophobic Myth that radical Islam is the greatest threat to world peace and must be fought. This need exists (1) in order that nobody, especially the American population itself, realizes that the opposite is true (that it is the United States–not any Muslim country–that is committing the “supreme international crime” of waging aggressive wars in foreign lands), and (2) in order to justify endless war and military occupations.
It is important to understand that one reason Jeffrey Goldberg rejects the Lesser Islamophobia such as Pamela Geller’s silly “stealth halal” turkey nonsense is because, in his own words, “Pamela Geller…gives the fight against Islamist terrorism a bad name.” In other words, the Lesser Islamophobia gives the Greater Islamophobia “a bad name” and might turn people away from bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.
We saw a similar dynamic earlier this year when Harry Reid, Lindsey Graham, and others suggested that formal action be taken against the Quran-burning Florida preacher Terry Jones. Jones was vilified as an Islamophobic bigot (and there is no doubt that he is one), whose (Lesser) Islamophobia was supposedly placing U.S. troops in Afghanistan at risk. Yet, these same individuals are among the greatest defenders of the Greater Islamophobia, which is the real cause behind Muslim anger: the bombing, invading, and occupying of Muslim lands. In fact, their opposition to Pastor Jones was that he was making it more difficult to sustain the military campaign against Muslims. As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald wrote:
[T]here is an extreme irony in Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham, of all people, suddenly worrying about actions that trigger anger and violence in the Muslim world. These two Senators, after all, have supported virtually every one of America’s actions which have triggered vastly more anti-American anger, vengeance and violence in the Muslim world than anything Pastor Jones could dream of spawning — from the attack on Iraq to the decade-long occupation of Afghanistan to blind support for Israel to the ongoing camp at Guantanamo.
Similarly, war-cheerleading journalist Jeffrey Goldberg supports the Supreme Tenet of Islamophobia: seemingly endless war against the Muslim world. Even before the blood of Afghan and Iraqi citizens dried from the American sword, U.S. war rhetoric against two other Muslim countries–Iran and Pakistan–has ratcheted up. Just like in the lead up to the Iraq War, the Jeffrey Goldbergs of the mainstream media have been furiously at work making the case for war.
To understand the war-obsessed brain of Jeffrey Goldberg it would be worthwhile to look back to his 2008 article Re-Thinking Jeffery Goldberg. In it, he reveals the interesting fact that not even Jeffrey Goldberg can keep track of how many Muslim countries Jeffrey Goldberg has called to attack. He writes:
Last year…I called for the immediate invasion of Yemen (or possibly Oman)…
Was it Yemen or Oman? Goldberg can’t remember–surely, we can’t expect him to remember such a long list of countries to invade. The article reveals how flippantly Goldberg discusses such matters; it’s just table talk for him. Bomb Yemen? Oman? Iraq? Iran? They all sound so similar!
It would also be worthwhile to take into account his ideological background: Jeffrey Goldberg, like Pamela Geller, is a militant Zionist extremist. He “moved to Israel while still a college student” where he served “as a military policeman in the Israeli army”, earned the rank of corporal in the Israel Defense Forces, and served as a prison guard in “the Ketziot military prison camp”, the conditions of which Defence for Children International called “truly appalling”; Human Rights Watch declared the Ketziot prison camp a “clear violation of the IV Geneva Convention.”
Glenn Greenwald wrote of Jeffrey Goldberg so:
[Jeffrey] Goldberg[‘s …]devotion to Israel is so extreme that he served in the IDF as a prison guard over Palestinians and was described last year as “Netanyahu’s faithful stenographer” by The New York Times’ Roger Cohen…
The link between Zionism and Islamophobia has been investigated before; the connection between Zionism and warmongering is even clearer. So, it is no surprise that Jeffrey Goldberg is a war-cheerleader. The Institute for Policy Studies calls him “a hawkish ‘pro-Israel’ commentator” whose “articles have often seemed to parallel efforts by hawks to push the United States into war.”
His most recent war-cheerleading articles have been against Iran and Pakistan, which is what I will focus on here. Goldberg is not the only journalist beating the drums of war, but he is one highly prominent figure in the establishment media who serves as a quintessential example of the typical hypocrisy, profound double standards, and bloodthirsty warmongering that permeates the national discourse.
America’s Hypocrisy toward Iran
Jeffrey Goldberg urges President Barack Obama to launch “missile strikes” against Iran for its supposed nuclear weapons program:
The International Atomic Energy Agency is set to release a report today offering further proof that the Iranian regime is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.
No intelligence is entirely dispositive, but the evidence on hand about Iran’s nuclear activities, even before the release of the latest report, is fairly persuasive, and the IAEA isn’t known to be a den of neoconservative war-plotting. It isn’t interested in giving Israel a pretext for a preemptive attack on Iran unless it has to.
The question now is what Israel — or the U.S. — will do about it.
The Israeli case for preemption is compelling, and has been for some time.
Notice that Goldberg doesn’t even care what the IAEA report would say: he wrote this article beforethe report was published. Either way for him, the Iranian regime is producing nuclear weapons and should be attacked.
Goldberg fails to mention what The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh pointed out in an excellent article explaining why the IAEA’s change in leadership from the respectable Mohammed ElBaradei to Yukiya Amano gives reason to doubt its impartiality: according to leaked cables obtained byWikileaks, the American permanent representative to the IAEA commented that “[Amano] was solidly in the U.S. court in every strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”
Furthermore, despite all the war-cheerleading from America’s propaganda press, “there is nothing [in the report] that indicates that Iran is really building a bomb.”
In any case, Jeffrey Goldberg’s article on Iran in 2011 should evoke in the reader feelings of deja vu: in the run up to the Iraq War, Goldberg published a very similar article against Saddam’s Iraq. Then, Goldberg had written:
“It is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years,” [a German official] said.
There is some debate among arms-control experts about exactly when Saddam will have nuclear capabilities. But there is no disagreement that Iraq, if unchecked, will have them soon, and a nuclear-armed Iraq would alter forever the balance of power in the Middle East. “The first thing that occurs to any military planner is force protection,” Charles Duelfer told me. “If your assessment of the threat is chemical or biological, you can get individual protective equipment and warning systems. If you think he’s going to use a nuclear weapon, where are you going to concentrate your forces?”
There is little doubt what Saddam might do with an atomic bomb or with his stocks of biological and chemical weapons.
Simply exchange “Iraq” for “Iran” and we now have Goldberg’s 2011 article. Goldberg was one of the key journalists who played a part in pushing the case for war against Iraq, by spreading the lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (on the verge of becoming nuclear) and that he was somehow connected to Al-Qaeda and 9/11. Goldberg even repeats the claim that “Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years”: he says bombing Iran will have a “reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years.”
Goldberg and his ilk had succeeded in misleading the American public with regard to Iraq, pushing the nation to war and leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. He served an important role in spreading the government’s propaganda in order to justify the “supreme international crime”: initiating a war of aggression.
And now Goldberg et al. are at it again, this time against Iran. The image at the top of this article really speaks to the “now
serving bombing customer #224″ mentality that permeates the American military juggernaut.
In addition to being a hyper-aggressive superpower that bombs countries left and right (which, for Iran, is literally the case: countries neighboring it on both sides have been bombed, invaded, and occupied by America), the U.S. obliviously engages in the most egregious of hypocrisies. It simply does not enter into polite discussion in Western media–but it does in Iran, Pakistan, and the rest of the Muslim world–how hypocritical it is of the United States, the country with the most nuclear weapons in the world, to vilify a country for (allegedly) trying to build a single such bomb. The forbidden question to ask is: what moral right does the United States, the greatest nuclear power in the world, have to stop other countries from pursuing the same course of action?
Other absurdities include the fact that Israel, America’s closest ally, also has a secret (not so secret) nuclear weapons program, possessing “over 400 nuclear and hydrogen weapons.” Why can Israel have so many nuclear weapons, yet Iran cannot have a single one?
Furthermore, in the words of FAIR, “[t]he U.S. is violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).” As Jimmy Carter wrote:
While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea, American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons.
Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara issued an unusually honest assessment, saying:
I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous.
FAIR notes further:
The NPT’s preamble calls on nuclear weapons states “to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery.” Article VI of the NPT explicitly obliges signatories “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Thirty-seven years after agreeing to these conditions, the U.S.—the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons against human beings—spends $40 billion a year to field, maintain and modernize nuclear forces, including an arsenal of 10,000 warheads, 2,000 of which are on hair-trigger alert.
Meanwhile, Israel refuses to even sign the NPT. Why aren’t the war drums beating against Israel for its reticence in this regard? In fact, “[n]early 200 nations, signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), backed plans” to hold a conference to achieve a nuclear-free Middle East. The only country in the region refusing to hold such talks? Israel.
I’m sure the United States of America condemned Israel for this, and threatened sanctions and war. The President of the United States supported Israel in its decision and claimed that such a conference “singles out Israel.” Well, yes, I guess one might think it “singles out Israel” since Israel is the only country in the region to have nuclear weapons, the irony of which should not be missed considering Israel pushed war on Iraq and is now doing the same with Iran for trying to produce nuclear weapons.
But such ironies do not get discussed in America, only in the rest of the world. In the Muslim world, it is clearly understood that the United States and Israel are not against nuclear weaponry nor do they ever want a nuclear free Middle East–instead, they simply want to hold a nuclear monopoly. We get nukes; you don’t; if you break this “fair” agreement, then we’ll bomb you, on the grounds that you have nukes–we might even nuke you for having nukes, because nukes are bad, except when we have and use them. As George Orwell said: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”
Some Israeli apologists have argued that there is no equivalence between Iran and Israel since the former is a signatory of the NPT and the latter is not. This is a purposefully deceitful argument: can anyone imagine the sort of pressure (sanctions, military force, war, and/or occupation) that would await Iran had it refused to sign the NPT or now withdrew from it? (It is legal to withdraw from the treaty after giving three months notice.) If Iran weren’t a signatory of the NPT, we all know that the entire premise of sanctions and military action would be: Iran must sign the NPT! If Iran withdrew from the NPT, the entire premise would be: Iran withdrew from the NPT! Furthermore, proponents of the “Iran signed the NPT, Israel didn’t” defense should be asked: What about the United States, which signed the NPT and is in violation of it? Can Iran legally bomb the U.S. now?
Another counter-argument raised is the claim that the United States and Israel cannot possibly be equated with countries such as Iran. The implication here is that Iran is just so absolutely warlike that it cannot be trusted with nuclear weaponry. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israel are peace-loving democracies and can be trusted never to use them. Orwell’s quote–and Glenn Greenwald’s recent article on Orwell and Iran–come to mind.
There is the obvious absurdity that the United States is the only country to have used nuclear weapons against human beings (not once, but twice). Not only this, but the U.S. has never apologized for doing so; quite the opposite: Americans have always claimed that incinerating two civilian cities saved millions of lives, a morally repugnant lie that lives on. Only the most brainwashed mind could understand such depraved logic: bombing and killing thousands of people actually saves lives. In the words of George Orwell: war is peace.
Imagine if Nazi Germany had produced the atomic bomb first–and had nuked Great Britain or the United States (not once, but twice). The dastardly act would be remembered by the Western powers as the ultimate act of Nazi depravity; the atomic bomb would be viewed as the most Nazi-like of weapons, one that wantonly and indiscriminately incinerates civilian populations. In such a scenario, Nazi propaganda that such an act was noble because it “saved millions of German lives” would be scoffed at and not taken seriously. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
If Americans still engage in the morally atrocious act of justifying the mass murder of Japanese civilians from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (even though Japan had been ready to surrender long before it was nuked), one shouldn’t be surprised that the United States continues to ponder the use of nuclear weapons in the near future. Leaked documents have shown that the U.S. government has
outlined a broad array of contingencies under which the U.S. might use nuclear weapons. Among these contingencies: using nuclear weapons against countries with no nuclear weapons capacity, such as Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Here, we see the profound hypocrisy of the U.S. government on full display: while using the threat of Iranian nuclear attack as a moral pretense to wage war against Iran, the United States itself has long been planning “a broad array of contingencies” under which Iran may be nuked. Is this not a case of mind-boggling projection?
From this, it is clear that the U.S. government does not desire nuclear disarmament, but nuclear monopoly: this unequal balance of nuclear power leaves open the nuclear option against its non-nuclear enemies without fear of nuclear retaliation.
The same is the case with Israel, which has issued contradictory statements about the use of nuclear weapons. Yes, Israel has said “it would not be the first country in the Middle East to formally introduce nuclear weapons into the region”, but what does this vague statement mean? Do Israelis think Iran has now “introduced” nuclear weapons into the region? In fact, Israel “reject[s] no first use because they believe that there may be circumstances in which they would initiate use of nuclear weapons.”
Indeed, Israel endorses the Samson Option, whereby Israel will respond with “massive retaliation” (including the use of nuclear weaponry) if it feels threatened. What policy could be more maniacal than this? Here, we have Israel endorsing a policy of nuclear Armageddon, yet on the other hand we are constantly told that Iran, unlike Israel, might use the bomb–a bomb it doesn’t even have.
Meanwhile, the truth is that the Supreme Leader of Iran has rejected the use of nuclear weaponry because it is “forbidden in Islam”:
In a surprising development, Iran’s hard-line clerical establishment, which had bitterly resisted American pressure to open the country’s nuclear facilities to inspection, is using its religious influence to rally support for an agreement with the West to foreswear the development of nuclear weapons.
Led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation’s “supreme leader,” Iranian clerics have repeatedly declared that Islam forbids the development and use of all weapons of mass destruction.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its fundamental religious and legal beliefs, would never resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction,” Khamenei said recently. “In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form.”
The ironies just keep adding up: the United States–a country that has used nuclear weapons in the past, possesses the most nuclear weapons in the world, and actively makes plans on how to use nuclear weapons against its enemies–is threatening to take action against Iran for its alleged nuclear weapons program–a country that has never used them, does not have them, and has sworn never to never use them (not even in self-defense or retaliation). Only in the U.S. media could such absurdities go largely unchallenged.
If anyone tries to mention that the United States and Israel are far more warlike than Iran, he must be quickly shut up. One recalls the debate Ahmed Rehab had with Bill O’Reilly; asked Rehab: “How many countries has Iran attacked in the past 50 years?” The answer: zero. Meanwhile, the United States and Israel have attacked dozens and dozens of countries (in a future article, I will compile the lengthy list of nations that have been attacked by the U.S. and Israel.)
O’Reilly couldn’t give a straight answer to the question (the answer is zero–Iran has never initiated a war against another country) so he brought up the Iran-Iraq War and the current Iraq War. Yet, the Iran-Iraq War was not initiated by Iran–rather, Iraq attacked Iran. There is no debate about this fact, so either (1) O’Reilly is ignorant of the facts he cites, or (2) he is using a misleading argument, which really speaks volumes about how few countries Iran has ever invaded (zero) that he was forced to make one up. Worse yet, the example O’Reilly cited is an example of Iran being attacked by a country that received the military backing to do so by the United States. In fact, “the CIA authorized, approved and assisted…in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq” for use against Iran.
The second example O’Reilly cited was of the current Iraq War. Once again, O’Reilly reverses reality: Iran did not invade Iraq. He must have mistaken the United States for Iran. Both examples O’Reilly used show America’s belligerency, not Iran’s.
The other examples O’Reilly gave, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, also show that he simply cannot answer the question in a straight manner. The reason he can’t do so is because the answer is zero. Neither Hamas or Hezbollah is Iran. At most one could argue that Hezbollah operates as a proxy for Iran. In that case, we should compare the number of countries that the United States has not only attacked but how many the U.S. has done so by proxy. That list would certainly dwarf Iran’s.
The double standard is well-understood by Iranians and Muslims living in other countries: nuclear weapons are OK for America and Israel, but off limits to countries like Iran. Yet, it is exactly such countries that would most need nuclear weapons to act as deterrence against American and Israeli threats of military action, belligerence, and propensity toward aggression.
Part 2 of this article to be published within 24-48 hours.