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The 99%: Netanyahu successful as Americans agree on Iranian ‘nuclear threat’

on 26 Comments
(Source: Gallup)

A few months ago, Netanyahu’s presentation to the United Nations of a fourth-grader’s drawing dramatizing Iran’s imminent nuclear weapons capability drew gales of laughter. But maybe it was successful after all.

A Gallup poll taken this month shows that 99% of Americans agree that Iran’s development of nuclear weapons is a critical or important threat to US interests over the next decade (83% for critical, 16% for important). Of course, Netanyahu had a lot of help. About 99% of Congress appears to be with him, US mainstream media has toed the line, and even uber-liberal Ben Affleck chimed in with a super popular movie depicting Iranians collectively as a medieval lunatic population time-warped to the present. The imposition of crippling sanctions that have made 75 million Iranians miserable is considered the soft alternative approach.

Evidence that Iran is complying with the NPT and has no nuclear weapons program is swept aside as propaganda. Arguments that a nuclear-armed Iran could be “contained,” that is, deterred from committing national suicide by striking far more advanced countries that have hundreds of nukes pointed back at Tehran, are disparaged as dangerously naïve. It’s tough to get 99% of Americans to agree on anything, but if Obama wants to take advantage of this consensus and pre-emptively strike against a foe that presents such a “critical danger” to US interests, it won’t be public sentiment that stands in his way. Hopefully there are other constraints. Who’s laughing now?

David Samel

David Samel is an attorney in New York City.

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26 Responses

  1. seafoid on February 22, 2013, 10:24 am

    New York is likely to be hit by a storm bigger than Sandy within 10 years.
    Iran can’t flood the subway system but climate change can.

    and “the economic power of china”. LOL. Gallup should have asked ” do you think the US should sell dollar bonds to China or let the bond market collapse “

  2. seafoid on February 22, 2013, 10:29 am

    “Settler policy imperils Israel’s foundations”

  3. BillM on February 22, 2013, 10:43 am

    Sigh. Development a nuclear weapon by a state that’s not developing nuclear weapons: huge threat. War between two nuclear powers (India and Pakistan): not a big deal.

    What this shows, of course, is that the vast majority of Americans (and really people everywhere) don’t give a damn about foreign policy; they care about issues closer to home that are easier for them to relate to and that impact them more directly.

  4. dbroncos on February 22, 2013, 10:44 am

    Obama wouldn’t have any trouble getting public support for a “surgical strike” against Iran’s nuclear sites. It seems the only real oppisition he has is from the people in the military who understand that bombing Iran’s nuclear sites could easily lead to a wider war. Obama gives me the impression that he’s opposed to military aggression against Iran but he’s shown us in the past that his convictions have as much foundation as a plastic sack in the wind.

  5. blg432 on February 22, 2013, 10:45 am

    The steady stream of Iranian propaganda in cinema and television is successful.

    Recall this piece of propaganda from CBS on Ahmadinejad.

    • DaveS on February 22, 2013, 3:05 pm

      bob, I had never seen that. Very significant. One thing I would note is that least year’s best foreign film was A Separation, which not only was a truly great movie, it depicted Iranian society as complex, with familiar themes of good and evil, truth and layers of deceit, class conflict, but ultimately run by the rule of law. In other words, these ordinary Iranians were far less killable than those in Argo.

      • blg432 on February 22, 2013, 6:42 pm

        Good point, David.

  6. Scott on February 22, 2013, 10:46 am

    I like the post, and agree that Netanyahu has sort of succeeded. But I don’t agree with the characterization of Argo, which I thought was fairly nuanced of its depiction of Iranians, even as it portrayed (why not? ) brutality in a country in the throes of revolution. Do others agree?

    • DaveS on February 22, 2013, 2:54 pm

      Scott, I didn’t see much nuance there. Even if it accurately depicted some events of 1979, the movie highlighted the understandable anti-American feelings among a people whose democratic election had been sabotaged in 1953, and tyrannical ruler had been supported for a quarter-century, by the US. The movie, however, was made at a time when there is serious discussion about whether the US “must” bomb this country to prevent the “fanatics” depicted from obtaining nukes. I don’t think the passage of 34 years from the movie’s events will be significant to too many viewers. Of course, it is impossible to measure to what degree Argo contributed to the poll results as opposed to all the other factors, but if you viewed the film from the perspective of what should we do now with these people, I think it was very pro-intervention, whether or not Affleck or anyone else intended it to be so. And while I was quite impressed with the five-minute prologue of 1953-79 history, and understand that it was inserted to give some balance and context, I don’t think it succeeded.

    • Woody Tanaka on February 22, 2013, 3:18 pm

      I agree Scott. I thought that the depiction was far from the one-sided cartoon view that some people have.

    • Avi_G. on February 22, 2013, 4:05 pm

      The problem with Argo, as others closer to the events — including some of the embassy staff who left in the days prior to the embassy incident — have explained when they voiced harsh criticism of the movie given that it took “creative license” (Like Kathryn Bigelow did with Zero Dark Thirty) to manipulate facts and entirely change the story to fit the filmmaker’s agenda.

      One need not focus on the Western-Eastern aspect to see that the movie falsified facts. For example:

      In the movie, the six Americans claimed to have sought shelter from the Canadians after having been “turned away” by both the British and New Zealand governments.

      It turns out, however, that wasn’t remotely true.


      That was a rather convenient lie to tell on the part of the filmmakers in order to make the CIA look like heroes in the eyes of the average American – We’re the good guys

      In addition, the final scene where the plane is being chased by gun toting armed men on the back of pick-up trucks makes for good vilification imagery and for good suspense.

      But again, that never happened.

      And finally, I have a minor personal pet peeve with the film. In attempting to emphasize the ‘backwardness’ of the Iranians, it makes it a point for the flight crew in the movie to make an announcement aboard the plane, something to the effect that, “Alcohol may now be served now that we have left Iranian airspace”.

      Thank god, right? We are finally back in civilization. It’s a good thing pork wasn’t brought up, as then the filmmakers would be reminding viewers that Jews don’t eat pork, either. And we can’t have that. Better focus on East-meets-West and the manufactured clash of civilizations between Islam and the rest of the world.

      There were other problems with the movie, but I can’t recall them at the moment. As you can see, it left a ‘memorable’ impression on me.

      In all seriousness, however, the filmmakers took an historical incident/event and massaged it on a chopping block to fit their needs, disregarding in the process the truth.

      • Stone on March 4, 2013, 6:52 pm

        I was looking for a recent thread to put this in since I’m a little late to the party. I see that you mentioned Zero Dark Thirty:

        I haven’t seen the film. I don’t think I want to but the impression I got from the Time magazine cover story(which I read a few days ago) is that this is a film that Progressives or at least anti-war people should like for it shows that war is messy and that we sold our souls in order to get Bin Laden. It was quite “grey” in this way. It showed that things are murky in this new war. At least that’s what I got from the article. I mean if it showed that we used torture to get Bin Laden then I think that is good then. I mean it showed that we were inhumane when we wanted to get him. It shows that we were not sensible people. I think that’s good in that it shows that we weren’t always the “good” men and women. So I don’t get what the beef is from progressives then. Is it because they showed them using torture and that was justified because it “worked” and therefore the means justified the ends? Well, I don’t feel that way. I didn’t even want Bin Laden killed. I think we should have put him on trial. But I know I’m in the minority here so maybe the general public will feel differently and think “Hey, this torture stuff is good since it helped us get Public Enemy #1.” Well, if that is so then I feel sorry for the general public. But then I would also feel sorry for the progressive community for not sticking to their beliefs and hoping that people might feel differently after seeing the film. I think it depends on what angle you take coming into the film. I see the CIA, the MIC and the military in general as doing nothing but wrong. So I hope they are not chest bumping throughout the film. If they are doing what we would consider horrible things then that just proves their immorality to me.

  7. pabelmont on February 22, 2013, 10:50 am

    Will the real nuclear threat please step forward?

    The USA has acted at Israel’s behest so often and so extremely over the years — claiming that it does so contrary to the USA’s own national interest — as to create the impression that Israel is holding the USA hostage, using Israel’s nuclear weapons to do so. If this is so, no-one would admit it, and no-one has admitted it. If this is so, where would these threatening “nukes” be kept? On NYC roof-tops? Easily. Zionist A/C installers could have done it anytime in recent years.

    THIS is the real danger to the USA. It is not Iran’s or DPRK’s nukes that are the danger but the nukes of our so-called friend, Israel.

  8. gingershot on February 22, 2013, 11:26 am

    Total Saturation of the American people by the media/politicians as controlled by the Israeli Lobby

    Just like the Israeli Lobby/Israel did with Iraq – they have it down to a science

    Full Spectrum Dominance of mainstream American thought – that’s why Netanyahu says America is ‘so easy for him to manipulate’ – he’s spot on with calling that spade a spade.

    This poll is exactly what he’s talking about – Netanyahu/The Israeli Lobby/Israel has ‘manipulation of American consent’ down to a science – then just throw in a few Israeli Lobby operatives (a Ros-Lehiten or Jane Harmon or Joe Lieberman as chair of a few key Intelligence/’Homeland Sec’/Defense committees (with the help of AIPAC/Mossad/or etc) – and you’ve got not only CONSENT but you have POLICY

    This is why the ‘on it’s way to reality’ Hagel nomination is so devastating to the Israeli Lobby/neocons/Israel – Hagel is BEYOND the trance as much as Bibi is PART of the trance

    This is the difference between Brent Scowcroft saying Dubya was as if mesmerized by Ariel Sharon and someone who is stone cold sober looking at the Israeli menace

  9. doug on February 22, 2013, 11:27 am

    The problem with this poll is that “Development of nuclear weapons by Iran” is the only one of the 10 threats that doesn’t clearly exist. This is not to say that it doesn’t exist. The CIA’s NIE, which was widely disparaged by neocons, did not state Iran has no nuclear weapons program. It stated, some 6 years ago now, that Iran made a decision to terminate a nascent nuclear weapons program years earlier, that it was highly unlikely Iran had restarted the program, and that Iran was developing nuclear (as opposed to nuclear weapons) know-how but not actual weapons. However, it also stated that Iran would be increasingly likely to restart their weapons program at some point in the future absent agreement on extended protocols.

    In the event Iran decides that a nuclear weapons program would be in their national interest they have the ability to do it. However, the consequences would be most extreme to Iran and only somewhat less so to the US, Why? Not because Iran has threatened to attack Israel, though this seems to be widelyt believed. Israel is the only country where top leadership has actually threatened to preemptively attack Iran. Israel will try to get the US to do so first and it seems the US has been maneuvered into agreeing to take the military action if Iran does start working on nukes. This was in return for Israel not bombing last fall.

  10. American on February 22, 2013, 11:37 am

    I take Gallup polls with a heavy dose of skepticism. Nate Silver explains why.

    • DaveS on February 22, 2013, 2:44 pm

      Silver was discussing election polls, which require a great deal of precision. If Gallup was off by three or five percentage points in such a poll, the difference could be enormous. Not so with this poll. How off would Gallup have to be to make any difference? Is it “only” 95% or 92% that feel this way?

      • American on February 22, 2013, 3:11 pm

        The election polls is not the only thing Gallup polls have been ‘way off’ on.
        Silver is talking about the ‘way’ the do their polls…..who they poll.
        And of course one always has to ask ‘who commissioned’ the poll….you seriously think Gallup or Pew or any them are beyond the reach of zio money and manipulation for the purpose of public perception?
        I don’t.
        The only poll I have any faith in as being done with the correct methodology and without influence is World Public Opinion Poll done by the Univ of Md. Kennedy Center. If they do one that say this I’ll believe it—the others, not so much.

  11. peeesss on February 22, 2013, 11:40 am

    I can understand the power of the bought /sold corporate Zionist , neo con media in the US. I realize, sadly, how uninformed and /or ignorant the vast majority in the US are about foreign policy,particularly, in the middle east. But 99% . That seems a little much.

    • on February 22, 2013, 3:15 pm

      peeesss – I’ll take your deal. How about paring that 99% down to its most optimistic estimate: the total of Democratic plus Republican actual vote percentage? That surely is a large enough sample to avoid any discussion of error of either type. This gives us a grand total of 98.3% boobies.
      (Not using the word “morons” because that one is defined statistically, not because it is a fighting word)

    • W.Jones on February 23, 2013, 2:57 am

      Yeah I know. I know I’m in the 17% who don’t think it’s critical. But I just dont get a sense everyday Americans think it’s a “critical” concern for them, as opposed to, say, hurricane Sandy.

  12. HarryLaw on February 22, 2013, 11:58 am

    The other constraints are the loss of oil to western economies through the Strait of Hormuz and the growing ability of the Iranians to keep it closed, in today’s world you must be well armed, because when it comes to the rule of International Law forget it, the US did a long time ago, the Iranians need to forget trying to forge an agreement over the nuclear issue, it was never about that, regime change in the so called arc of extremism is the name of the game and by any means, look how at the UNSC, the US failed to condemn a suicide bomber who killed dozens of innocent people in Damascus yesterday, pure terrorism, the US are using proxies to attack Syria the low hanging fruit, then Hezbollah, while pressuring Iran through sanctions,only because they are too big to attack directly, that poll indicates to me the US public could be sold 10 Iraq’s, and convinces me that either you do as uncle dictates or your dead, I do not think Iran will roll over, even if they caved on the enrichment issue which they will not since all major political parties support it, the US would simply move the goal posts, Russia and China know they would be next, US policy in the middle east is murderous and wrong and can only end in disaster, but do the US public care, NO.

  13. Rusty Pipes on February 22, 2013, 2:54 pm

    The neocons have advocated that narrative in the media. Few pundits who challenge that narrative get much opportunity to get their views aired in op-eds (and when aired, at nowhere near parity with the neocons and liberal hawks). Few, if any, congresscritters are willing to directly challenge that narrative, for fear of loss of support from donors or key voting blocks. Compared to that info-war saturation, Bibi’s UN graphic was just a small decoration on the cake — an attractive addition for the easily distracted, but the product was easily sold without it.

  14. Mike_Konrad on February 22, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Oh! For Pete’s sake: Armed Iranian Mullahs with nukes is a threat.

    PS: How come my posts are not tallying in the Archives. What email do I have to write to get this fixed.

  15. fillmorehagan on February 22, 2013, 4:14 pm

    If war with Iran broke out and gasoline prices surged to $8 bucks a gallon as a consequence and thousands of US troops died, public support for attacking Iran would fade faster than a cake of ice in the Amazon. And guess who would (rightly) get blamed for such a catastrophe.

  16. Citizen on February 24, 2013, 3:03 pm

    No question in my mind Americans are easily manipulated when it comes to anything Israel. Bibi was right about that. The only shoe left to drop for US war on Iran is in the hands of Obama and Hagel, IF Hagel gets the Pentagon cabinet slot. If he does not get that slot, war with Iran is just a question of exactly when during the next two years at most.

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