John Bolton. Mike Pompeo. The US warmongering senators of the past and now. The late John McCain. American colonialists or imperialists. All of these people are no doubt getting absolutely lambasted today and in coming days as warmongers, in the news surrounding the apparent downing of an American Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk in the area near the Strait of Hormuz early Thursday morning, local time. The only problem is that they are not the real warmongers. The real warmongers are far, far worse than any of the named people above.
President Trump’s name is not on the list above, but that is not because he is a warmonger. In fact, anyone following his actions through his presidency knows that he is not at all interested in the continuation of pursuing foreign wars everywhere. And as we will see, he is in fact one of the most significant voices of reason in this current episode.
The biggest warmonger is the most selfish of all, because through that warmonger’s actions, thousands, or even millions of people could be sent to their deaths.
Have you guessed who the biggest warmonger is?
It is the mainstream news media, along with some alternative media outlets as well.
The reason why is as brutal as it is simple. Wars sell papers. And in the New Media of today, wars create clicks.
Fox News jumped on this warmonger bandwagon today. With its piece entitled in huge print “US Navy Drone shot down by Iranian missile over Strait of Hormuz in ‘unprovoked attack,’ central command says” the usually somewhat more objective news outlet hopped on the train. This was followed up with both the political character assassination attempt by former Vice President Joe Biden against Donald Trump with a piece condemning his policy in the region.
Lindsey Graham reliably chimed in with saber-rattling rhetoric in his piece, entitled “If Iran attacks shipping again, ‘US should consider taking out their Navy, oil refineries.'” This piece also was on Fox.
CNN jumped in the game with its “Iran shoots down US drone” piece, as well as Breitbart’s headline leader “Globe tense after Tehran shoots down US drone“, which actually takes the would-be reader to what appears to be a special section on their site covering this matter.
For much of the day, these screaming headlines seemed to be almost urging America to go to war. As I mentioned in a previous news piece here on the Duran, this would be a catastrophically stupid move.
And now, to President Trump’s reaction today, because it is thankfully quite clear that he knows this. On this one we can actually credit the usually vile and slanderous CNN with a near-top-of-the-page headline “Trump downplays Iran tensions after drone shot down.” Fox, to its credit has a similar piece leading on its front page, though with a photo of the President, the drone and the phrase “Will not stand for it” just above, Fox unfortunately appears to be pursuing the sensationalism of the moment.
President Trump has indeed stated that he acknowledges the fact that this incident could have been a mistake or some action done by someone “loose” on the ground. As soon as the hype over the incident itself clears, no doubt the media will then resume its attack on Mr. Trump, calling him “indecisive” because he didn’t order US forces to go blow up something in Iran.
But in reality, the US president is displaying some real wisdom. A somewhat buried article on the cable websites notes that the President is not deciding to do just what his advisors say. It is admittedly likely that John Bolton is doing his reputed thing and calling for military action, with Mr. Pompeo doing much the same. This is to be expected of these men according to their pattern of behavior before. But one of the privileges of having advisors is to be able to disregard that advice, or use it to get to a different conclusion.
There is no cause for war with Iran.
Admittedly, it appears that Iran is trying to force the US and Europe to accede to the JCPoA on Iran’s own terms (a colleague here in Moscow told me today that he considered this attempted blackmail by the leadership of Iran), and it is not likely to succeed. President Putin publicly cautioned the US against military action, but as we noted yesterday, what is not publicly noted is what conversations are going on between Moscow and Tehran. But as Iran both denies shooting illegally shooting down the drone (over international waters) and also has taken no further action, it is plain that the Iranians do not want war either.
The way many media outlets sensationalize this crisis, it appears that for them, to not end up in a shooting war would be a letdown. It is logical. War does indeed attract attention, fear, lots of sensationalism and if there is video, well, then! You have a guaranteed ratings hit on TV for all the viewers being made anxious about what might come next.
But this neatly ignores the fact that war is the court of last resort politically, and in situations like this one with Iran, where the word “nuclear” is repeatedly on the table, and where the troublemakers are, or are backed by, powers which have themselves been in conflict with one another, then we begin to see how unwise it is to resort to sensationalism and inflammatory propaganda. Plus, even in the most conventional situations, war is enormously destructive and the innocent always suffer.
Again, this comes back to a real need among the news media to be cautious with its writing and rhetoric. Loose lips sink ships, so the saying goes, and bad or sensationalist reporting on a crisis may actually serve to inflame the crisis, particularly in a time where people even in leadership positions tend to not think for themselves. This is particularly a problem in the United States.
Again, looking at the whole situation from a neutral point of view, there is no cause for a war here. There certainly is a disagreement on many levels, but to go to the point of destroying things on a massive scale – there is simply no call for that. No one is invading anyone. This is not a pacifist or appeaser’s position, it is simply pragmatic, and rather tough, because it emphasizes that the problems must be solved, not fought over.
Good media coverage should, ideally, try to reflect that position, rather than act like throwing gasoline on a fire.
It is not weak to be careful. President Trump just demonstrated that in his response today. The United States has carried quite a record of rushing into combat against the wrong enemies only to find that it is supporting the wrong side in these conflicts. A very winning move in such a game is not to play.
There are two focuses of tension this incident brings forward today. One is Iran’s current dilemma, as they wrangle with the prospect of how to get out from under what apparently are extremely painful sanctions. The other is how the US will deal with its decisions, whether it will act as it has for decades and rush militarily to judgement, or if it will pause and refuse to engage unless it truly has no alternative.
The world needs and deserves some changes on both these fronts.