(Yet More) Rumours of War and other tales from Psy-Ops Central by William Bowles

7 September 2007

“Reports that the Bush administration will put Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list can be read in one of two ways: It’s either more bluster or, ominously, a wind-up for a strike on Iran. Officials I talk to in Washington vote for a hit on the IRGC, maybe within the next six months.” — Robert Baer, a former high-ranking CIA field officer in the Middle East. [1]

It was early in 2006 when the first stories about an ‘imminent’ hit on Iran surfaced with everybody from Seymour Hersh to Michel Chossudovsky wading in with the ‘inside dope’ on the impending attack. So was it just their timing that was out?

Those of you who have read any of my ruminations on the topic will know how sceptical I felt, and still do feel about an ‘impending’ strike, not because it’s not on the cards, along no doubt with any other country that gets in the way of the US, but is this right time for it and, are other things afoot, and what if anything, can we do about it?

Look, whether viewed from a Left perspective or no perspective at all, the general feeling about US intentions and actions is akin to how anybody would feel if you woke up and found a 500 pound gorilla in your bed; there’s not much you can do about it.

What differs are the reasons why, which is the really crucial aspect.

But I digress (somewhat), for one has to ask why, at very specific times these rumours of war surface? Where do they come from? And why are certain kinds of stories picked up by the MSM and others ignored?

Of course the ‘credibility’ of the source has something to do with it, but much more important is the context, the setting for the story. It’s worth comparing the two sets of rumours’ timing: the last time, early in 2007 ‘coincided’ with a massive propaganda campaign around Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions and the US used the UN (via the International Atomic Energy Agency over which it had significant control) as its major propaganda vehicle.

The latest one by contrast, is a ‘home-grown’ affair and comes at a time when US control of the IAEA is not what is was, added to which there are deep divisions within the US ruling elite about how best to achieve their objectives (see PNAC etc).

“In August … the Senate unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Sen. Lieberman, I-Conn., accusing Iran of acts of war against the United States” [3]

Add the debacle of Iraq, where even the simplest of objectives; getting hold of the oil, seems even further away now than ever (this in spite of the fact that when the US invaded Iraq, it spared the oil ministry whilst deliberately dismantling the rest of the machinery of state).

The principle ‘hook’ on which the latest campaign is based, is not new (Iran’s alleged interference in Iraq) but now it takes centre stage as the nuclear weapons excuse no longer works.

“We have in front of us an agreed work plan. We agreed on modalities on how to implement it. We have a timeline for the implementation.” — Olli Heinonen, deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s compliance with the IAEA.[4]

And of course a compliant media responds just like Pavlov’s dogs; after months of propaganda about the Iranian ‘nuclear threat’, the ‘threat’ has disappeared from public view to be replaced by Iran’s ‘murderous intent’.

Whenever the US goes on a propaganda offensive, stories that ‘surface’ about imminent invasion, are part and parcel of the propaganda war, made all the more believable by the fact that all the pieces are in place (eg the 7th Fleet in the Gulf etc) for just such a scenario.

For example, one of the current crop of stories ‘doing the rounds’ concerns itself with details about targetting sites in Iran and another with US war preparations for the US Fleet in the Gulf. Both proved to be false, that is to say, be assured that the US has long had war plans for Iran, so why do these stories appear just now? (One was picked up by the Daily Kos and eventually denounced as a fake).[5]

One of the tactics used in Psy-ops (psychological warfare operations) is planting a story in an out-of-the-way place and wait for it to be ‘discovered’. This lends credence to the story as it appears to come from the ‘horses mouth’. The ‘Niger Yellowcake’ fake is a perfect example of how such stories get spread: ‘originating’ from within the Italian secret service, the story actually came from Ahmed Chalabi’s CIA-backed organisation, who fed it to the Italians, who in turn fed it to both the UK and US intelligence agencies and thus on to the IAEA, who promptly dismissed it as a crude fake. But the damage has been done; retractions never make the headlines. Timing is everything, the Niger Yellowcake fake appeared just before Colin Powell’s outrageous Powerpoint performance at the UN, which was so awful even Powell called it “shit”.

But nothing just ‘happens’, forces have to be set in motion. There are fears to be created; rationales developed and importantly,’feelers’ sent out via a complicit media to test the waters, gage public reactions to the idea. Lately, we’ve had a rash of them appear [links], some plainly false, the rest? Well given all the firepower the US has in the Gulf (enough to take out the entire planet), it’s not difficult to see all kinds of scenarios which could serve to unleash it.

“[This] administration or the next will likely face a terrible choice: appease a nuclear Iran, or bomb it before their atomic weapons are ready to go.” — Michael Ledeen, [6]

Thus as the situation in Iraq goes from just plain bad to disastrous for the US, with its major ‘ally’ the UK, turning tail, it is necessary to create a diversion, thus ominous threats emerge in the form of ‘eyewitness accounts’ of war preparations.

Meanwhile, the BBC has been assailing us with endless accounts of ‘our boys over there’ which is now being described in the following manner:

“Since the end of the war in April 2003, troops have been helping to restore essential infrastructure and services and provide security.” — Where are British troops and why?

This is called cleaning up the mess left behind by these latter-day pirates of capital, turning the illegal invasion into a foreign aid exercise gone wrong and to add insult to injury, when read in the context of the article it’s the fault of the Iraqis that it has all gone wrong! ‘Those ungrateful Iraqis, here we are, laying down our lives just for your benefit and this is how you treat us!’, but this is what imperial hubris is all about.

US War Plans Are Nothing New
The US ruling class have spelt out their objectives many times in many official and quasi-official documents (eg, the Project for the New American Century) and the latest, published by the American Enterprise Institute titled ‘The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots’ Quest for Destruction’ and authored by one of the ‘brains’ behind the invasion of Iraq, Michael Ledeen, former Iran-Contra player and convicted felon.[7]

“[T]he White House decision to designate at least elements of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, using the president’s authority under a September 2001 executive order.” [8]

But such projects are years in the making and there are alternate scenarios to be developed because of course, reality intrudes, often in the most unwelcome manner, for example, Iraq and even though the occupation and its aftermath ranks as a crime ‘up there’ with the very worst of the crimes committed by the ‘usual suspects’ over the centuries, the public have begrudgingly accepted it, mostly out of sheer ignorance of the facts (thanks to a lying mass media in cahoots with the state) and that anyway, there didn’t appear to be any way of stopping it.

Logic dictated that the invasion of 2003 would happen (short of a revolution aka the 1974 Portugese ‘Revolution of the Flowers’); you don’t move an army of a quarter of a million all the way to the top of the hill and then turn around and march all them down just for the hell of it.

But the old adage, ‘once bitten, twice shy’ would seem to be applicable here. Given what an obvious disaster the occupation of Iraq is, especially from a propaganda perspective with all the lies that got exposed in the run-up and after, to the invasion, that selling yet another obvious disaster is proving to be extremely difficult, added to which there are divisions in the ranks, both literally and figuratively, as to the best way to ‘take out’ those damn Iranians and their dumb idea that they should be left alone to conduct their own affairs.


1. See ‘A Sept. rollout for Iran war’, by David Isenberg, Washington (UPI) Sept. 5, 2007

2. ibid

3. See ‘We Are Going To Hit Iran. Bigtime‘ by Maccabee, Sat Sep 01, 2007. The story was then picked up by the Daily Kos who in turn published retractions and explanations, here and here

4. See Note 1

5. See Note 1

6. See ‘Oil and security for Iraq investors‘ by Ben Lando, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 5, 2007.

7. See the following PDF files: ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’, and ‘The National Security Strategy of the United States of America’ and Vision 20/20.

8. See Note 1


Another piece also worth reading is, Bush Plans War On Iran’ By Prof. Marjorie Cohn, 7 September, 2007

‘IRAN: CONSEQUENCES OF A WAR’, Paul Rogers February 2006

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