Monday, January 16, 2006

The War Cry and Its Impact

An Iranian student studying journalism in a British university has compiled the news reports on Iran’s nuclear issue published by the major international publications. His purpose is to use it in a school project that he has undertaken. From amongst the approximately 300 reports and articles that this studious student has compiled, 210 are harsh and predict or advocate an attack on Iran. Even the leftist or left-leaning publications talk of hard times ahead. I do not recall such a uniform picture in the press. Not even during the period preceding the attacks on Afghanistan or Iraq, or even the Panama issue before that.

I think this collection should be looked at along with the publications that come out of Iran, so a more meaningful picture can emerge. From the 26 newspapers that are published daily in Tehran, 8 glamorize war and justify war everyday. They talk of readiness for combat and the collapse of the world civilization. Another three newspapers very cautiously criticize war stories and welcoming it.

So 80 percent of the major international press smells of a war in Iran. Since Iran resumed its nuclear activities last week, the world press has behaved like symphony, as if its mission is now to instill concern in the hearts and minds of the Iranian people. Keyhan daily printed the title of “Suspension Lifted”, as if to tell the world that Iran does not care about world opinion and so has started enrichment activities. This is while Iranian officials have told IAEA and others that research was never part of its voluntary suspension. Keyhan went even further to agitate the public and wrote that the international community had no nerve to stop Iran.

So both groups are making headway in scaring the Iranian public. And this is happening in Iran while in other places that are actually engaged in a real war, the publicity machinery is trying to calm its readers and the public. One story has it that US marines played soft and compassionate music to an Iraqi woman who had lost her husband and who spent a whole night at his grave, while the Americans guarded the place. Or another story in which an Iraqi child who has lost both hands because of bombardments, is learning to speak English with a British accent in England, while having forgotten his large family members and relatives back at home.

Contrary to the public talk in Iran, in Britain and the US people hardly talk of a war. Whenever there is an explosion or a bomb blast, the news covers it just for one day and moves on.

The creation of this war scare psyche in Iran takes place when there are no real signs of any war or preparations for it at this end. An Iranian cleric at the same time even talks of military and economic readiness and stockpiling for a forthcoming war, and talks of some 300+ nuclear sites in Iran that are well hidden and protected. Jerusalem Post too walks of the readiness of Israel’s military to strike at Iran’s nuclear installations, again with the objective of influencing public opinion in Iran. This propaganda is going on while leaders on both sides are also making efforts to avoid any conflict or confrontation.

The wise know the reasons behind this saber rattling and noise, while the reasons for concern among Iranians is also obvious.