This interview is a must watch. Twenty minutes with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Fox News reporter Chris Wallace.
For the average American, this interview is full – absolutely full – of surprises.
President Rouhani deserves a lot of credit for three things:
- He agreed to this interview knowing the questioning would be quite in the American narrative, and therefore hostile to Iran’s interests
- He was polite but icy, commenting on Chris Wallace’s notorious method of trying to corner the interviewee rather than get information from him and he stopped Mr. Wallace several times when the newsman cut him off. This tactic, extremely common with many top-tier American news media reporters is one of the most egregious tools of American propaganda. It is a way of preventing those listening to the interview from thinking and evaluating the situation for themselves, ostensibly because they might come to a conclusion that does not fit the established narrative. Mr. Rouhani knows that for his message to get out, he has to be able to say all of it.
- Mr. Rouhani does not mince words at all, for example, at calling out Israel as an ISIS base.
This exchange is fascinating. At [13:20] is one of the most controversial and meaty statements in the interview. Rouhani questioned why did the US bring down a civilian airliner (Iran Air Flight 655), in 1998, killing all 290 people on board. Chris Wallace quickly tried to acknowledge this accident, calling it a “terrible, terrible act”, but Mr. Rouhani would not be swayed. Wallace asked about Iran’s support of Hamas, Hezbollah and their actions, attacking civilians in Israel and Mr. Wallace asked directly, “Is this not terrorism?”
Mr. Rouhani’s answer: “You defending Israel, sir,the foundation of which is based upon attacking and usurping on the rights of others and on a daily basis, has targeted the people of Palestine, Lebanon and most recently, even Iraq as well as Syria… no, there is no terrorism throughout the world that matches the activities of Israel, that has been seeking for the past seventy-one years, since its inception, since its founding. So those who fight for the freedom of their lands and their homes are not terrorists. Those are terrorists, who render aid to Daesh, to ISIS. Israel is the country that takes care of the injured ISIS fighters, and they make weapons available to them. So Daesh – ISIS are the terrorists.”
Wallace (incredulous over this answer): “Israel supports ISIS?”
President Rouhani: “Certainly! Undoubtedly! Do you have any doubts? Would you like to see the proof? You should visit Israeli hospitals and see the injured Daesh ISIS war fighters, how they are being taken care of. You should see the weapons captured from ISIS fighters and see that they are Israeli-made. The challenge is that sometimes American media outlets fail to reveal the truth to the American public, and they only receive the news from one specific viewpoint, or channel, if you will. So that is why the people of America are quite, frankly, not well aware of the realities in our region. If the American people were to know that so many Yemenis on a daily basis with their [American] money and their weapons systems are being innocently killed and their lives taken away, they would not stay silent.”
The next question was about the status of Iran now in its reputed quest to build a nuclear weapon. Mr. Wallace asked how close the Iranians are to having a nuclear weapon now after all the activity that took place after the US left the JCPoA. And again, Rouhani’s answer is bigger than the question with his first sentence:
“Well, the construct of your question, sir, is one that is based on pre-judgement.”
The construct of your question is one that is based on pre-judgement.
Whether Mr. Rouhani is telling the truth or not in this interview, this question is the one that really ought to dog every single Western reporter. In this, President Rouhani is exactly right.
The news media in the mainstream, (and for the topic of Iran, most of Fox and especially Chris Wallace, joins that mainstream) is dedicated not to dissemination of information, but rather, the maintenance of a narrative. The narrative appears to be needed for some purpose, though in regards to the Middle East, it would take much more astute and well-informed analysts than myself to be truly qualified to say what that purpose is. One popular one is the advance of Zionism, and certainly President Rouhani’s comments about Israel’s complicity and cooperation with ISIS is something that really deserves a lot of attention.
The way this interview went, my personal perspective is that Mr. Rouhani is really quite angry. He was gracious to give the interview, and if what he is saying is all true, it was a gold-and-diamonds opportunity for him to get his point of view out to the American public. However (perhaps by design), it is likely that this interview will be drowned out by the Democrat Trump-impeachment craze. This is very sad because Rouhani does seem to be looking for a fair hearing.
This interview is an absolute must-watch for all of us to get just a chance to break out of the confines of the “standard narrative” concerning Iran. The Iranian people I keep contact with, as well as Americans who lived in the country before the Revolution, are unanimous in noting that this very ancient land had and still has a profoundly beautiful culture. Mr. Rouhani is no slouch, though it seems, as I have written before, that he and other speaking on behalf of Iran are too consumed by their own anger to understand that the way to get free of their mess is to be a bit more humble. After all, they have to bend a bit to the superpower. Not because the superpower is right, but because without bending it just gets worse. I still see no way the Iranians can win this without humility, but that is my opinion only.
At the same time, with the shocking things President Rouhani said here, much of which is the first time I have heard this point of view declared simply, succintly and in a fairly pragmatic way – being squelched for forty years (since 1979) would make me mad enough to spit, too. While humility seems to me to be the way to move forward (Trump does want to meet without conditions, after all), I cannot imagine what it would be like to be ostracized for no reason for forty years by the most powerful people on earth, people who at a whim can make life miserable for my people and our nation.
This one is a real thought-provoker.