Once again, two of the leading U.S. newspapers botched their reporting on Donald Trump’s latest threats of military action against Iran. Today’s articles in both the New York Times and the Washington Post take the Iranian military “threat” seriously, at something approaching face value, and include militant blather from aggressive pro-administration figures. At the same time, the two papers downplay one key factor, Trump’s desire to wag the dog to bolster his declining popularity, and completely ignore another: the years-long effort by Israel and the pro-Israel lobby to instigate a war between the United States and Iran.
The articles in both papers are weighted heavily toward military and “national security” experts. The Times, for instance, includes a warmongering statement from former national security adviser John Bolton high up in the report, at paragraph 6, even though Bolton is out of government — but nowhere asks genuine Iran experts, like the National Iranian American Council, for their more measured analysis.
The Times article does include tantalizing references to Israel, but the paper characteristically does not follow them up. After reporting that Iran successfully launched a satellite yesterday, the paper suggests that Tehran’s previous failures to put satellites into orbit may have been “caused by active American and Israeli sabotage programs.”
The Times also notes that for the first time that Iran used a mobile launcher for its satellite, “which struck both American and Israeli officials as a major advance.” But readers are never informed just exactly why Israel is butting into an article that is supposed to be about tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
The Washington Post report is also dominated by detailed bellicose comments from pro-Trump administration figures — and only in the next-to-last paragraph adds the view of “Trump critics,” who argue that “he is risking war, and perhaps doing so to distract from domestic problems, including the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Post article does include a hidden clue to the Israel angle, when it quotes Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is waging a relentless propaganda campaign against Iran. The FDD is a notorious front for the U.S. Israel lobby; one expert noted that its “chief funders have been drawn almost entirely from American Jews who have a long history of funding pro-Israel organizations.”
Neither the Times nor the Post mentions Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire, pro-Israel gambling magnate who along with his wife Miriam is Trump’s largest donor; “they speak to Trump all the time,” the Israeli press has reported. Sheldon Adelson called on President Obama to nuke Iran; pushed for Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal; and informed speculation was that Trump picked the war hawk John Bolton to please Adelson. The gambling magnate is reportedly going to donate $100 million to Trump and the Republicans this year.
Trump himself probably does not want war. But he does want that $100 million. The ongoing provocative moves by the U.S. increase the risk of an accident that could spark conflict. After all, no one wanted World War 1 to break out when and where it did, either.