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Shameful Symbolism: Commemorating the Ten Year Anniversary of the Beginning of the Disastrous Iraq War

obama_in_israel_pic_3

By Doug E. Steil | Aletho News | February 25, 2013

Nearly ten years ago, on the eve of the Jewish festival of Purim, invoking the slaughter of Persians, an American student protesting house demolitions in Gaza, Rachel Corrie, was killed by a bulldozer (March 16, 2003).

Shortly after this festival had ended, the Iraq War, waged primarily on behalf of Israel — and still in progress on a more covert level — began on land amidst much media fanfare, including live television coverage. Around the time of the vernal equinox on March 20, 2003, multiple tank formations entered from staged positions in Kuwait, and even now there is still no end in sight to the ongoing slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in that region.

To commemorate and possibly even celebrate the tenth anniversary of this disastrous debacle, of “Neocon” inspired servitude to Zionism, Israel will welcome Obama on his first official state visit on March 20, yes, just at the time of the equinox (11:02 GMT), a key reference point used in astronomy, astronautics, and astrology.

Here is the planned itinerary:

Obama is scheduled to land in Ben Gurion International Airport around noon on Wednesday, March 20.

How symbolic!

This scripted event should not be lost on the alternative media. Ten years ago it used to be taboo to openly talk about the “War for Israel” because a large segment of the population was still enthralled by the lies (for instance, “Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction” and “war for oil”) the media deployed in order to trick them into supporting the operation. Now, after the lies have been exposed, it’s a brazen “in-your-face” attitude that is regularly on display, and Obama’s planned ceremonies in Israel next month will only highlight the obsequious stance of the US government vis-a-vis Israeli leaders dictating their demands.

Since the symbolism is important, though shameful, beware of “coincidence theorists” who will want to deny the intent of the timing!

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Shameful Symbolism: Commemorating the Ten Year Anniversary of the Beginning of the Disastrous Iraq War

David Cameron’s Mission to India

By Deepak Tripathi | February 24, 2013

Leaving the scandal of horsemeat contamination of processed meat products behind, the British prime minister David Cameron flew to India for a three-day visit (February 18-20), boasting the largest-ever trade delegation he had led to a foreign country. The aim of young Cameron was to clinch multi-million pound deals with the world’s second most populous nation, and a vibrant and rising economy. The reasons behind his mission to India were domestic as well as foreign.

Cameron leads a wobbly government in coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party, which has all but abandoned many of its policies on civil liberties, minority rights, the nature of Britain’s relationship with the European Union and the welfare state. In essence, the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Nick Clegg has the title of deputy prime minister with no portfolio, have become the enablers keeping in power a Conservative Party that is itself fatally divided over how far right to move on some of the most fundamental issues.

Britain’s Conservative prime minister, his finance minister George Osborne, and a group of ministers to the right, are enforcing draconian cuts that, many experts complain, are making economic recovery more difficult. The Liberal Democrats have become supporters of war. A former Liberal Democrat leader, now a party grandee, Lord Paddy Ashdown, recently defended President Obama’s drone wars that, according to several authoritative studies including one by Stanford and New York Universities, have killed thousands of innocent people. In an astonishing defense of Obama’s “kill list,” Lord Ashdown asserted that the president’s policy had more accountability than ever before. A U.S. president secretly ordering to kill specific individuals, and others who happen to be in the targeted area, without Congressional or judicial scrutiny, is somehow “more accountable than ever”? One does not know what to say––except that power has clearly elevated Lord Ashdown and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to a different planet.

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Cameron went to India to seduce politicians in government and big business with a basket of offers. He reminded his hosts of India’s colonial links with Britain, and sought to press the Indian government to buy Eurofighters, in which Britain has a stake, instead of French multi-role combat planes already being negotiated. Cameron had been promising his party MPs that he would be pushing the deal aggressively, failing to realize that the Indians do not like being told by the British, especially by a Conservative prime minister. In such an event, the Indian response would likely be to buy from any one except India’s former colonial rulers.

Cameron leads a party which continues to live in the Churchillian past. He simply misread India’s historical development, and was badly advised as he embarked on his visit. Cameron failed to accept the reality that India, a country twenty times larger in population than the United Kingdom, was not a client state that could be pressured. The Indians would be courteous in welcoming him, but were quite capable of turning the tables, and would rebuff unwanted offers. The signs were there some while ago when India told Britain that it did not want a few hundred million pounds worth of British aid, describing it as “peanuts.” The British government’s increasingly hostile anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies to placate the political right at home were alienating many Indian residents and new students coming to Britain. The consequences of this went largely unnoticed in Cameron’s circle.

There is an unmistakable propensity in today’s Britain to blame “immigrants” and “asylum-seekers” for all the ills––from filth to chaos and crime in the streets, as well as unemployment among white Britons. Alienation and frustration of those less fortunate are alarming, but their causes are easier to explain. However, the eagerness of the political class to join in the chorus of xenophobic hysteria, and to craft legislation to placate the Right are much harder to understand because of the risks this entails. News reaches distant places with lightning speed in a globalized world. Indian students, increasingly better informed and direct, told the BBC, as Cameron sought to woo them, that they thought the British attitudes were a “little racist.” They would rather seek other destinations for education, or stay in their own country.

As he visited the historic Golden Temple of Amritsar and the nearby site of the 1919 Jallianwala massacre of hundreds of men, women and children, committed on the orders of General Reginald Dyer, Prime Minister Cameron described the episode as a “deeply shameful event.” But he stopped short of issuing an outright apology. That was not enough for historians and ordinary citizens alike in India. Among other questions raised was whether the British government would please return the Koh-i-noor to India. The world’s most precious diamond had been taken to Britain following the imperial power’s annexation of the Punjab into the Empire in 1849. For ten years prior to that, the British administrators had failed to execute the last will of the Punjab ruler Ranjit Singh, who had the diamond until his death. Cameron could not have agreed, so he said that he did not believe in “returnism.”

By the time the British prime minister met his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Delhi, the deal to sell AgustaWestland helicopters to India seemed to have been scuppered. It was suggested to Cameron that Britain cooperate with the Indian authorities in providing more information about allegations that the Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer based in the United Kingdom had attempted to bribe influential figures to secure the deal with India. The British prime minister promised to do so, and returned home, leaving a “wish list” behind.

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on David Cameron’s Mission to India

Myth Making at History2

America Unearthed taken to the Wood Shed (Lost Colony)

America Unearthed Debunked Lost Colony from Ryantineocon on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/60433843

http://www.cashatteras.com for real history not polluted by the entertainment industry.

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | Comments Off on Myth Making at History2

Obama’s Israel Trip

Ignore the hype. It’s four more years of settlement growth

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | February 25th, 2013

NAZARETH — Israeli and Palestinian officials have been in Washington laying the ground for President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and the West Bank, scheduled for next month and the first since he took office four years ago.

Topping the agenda, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, will be efforts to restart the long-stalled peace process. Last week Palestinian officials said they had urged the White House to arrive with a diplomatic plan.

The US president began his first term on a different footing, ignoring Israel and heading instead to Cairo where he made a speech committing the US to a new era in relations with the Arab world. Little came of the promise.

Now he apparently intends to start his second term — as Netanyahu resumes office too, following last month’s elections — with an effort to engage with Israel and the Palestinians that is almost as certain to prove an exercise in futility.

The prospect of reviving the peace track between Israel and the Palestinians is not one that is appetising for either Obama or Netanyahu. Both are bruised from locking horns over a settlement freeze — the key plank of the US president’s efforts — during his first term.

But equally, it seems, the price of continuing inaction is high too. The Palestinians have repeatedly embarrassed Obama at the United Nations, not least by isolating the US in November as it opposed an upgrade in the Palestinians’ observer status. Inertia also looks risky given the growing unrest in the West Bank over hunger-striking prisoners.

Ahead lie potentially even bigger headaches, including the doomsday scenario — from Israel and Washington’s perspective — that the Palestinians approach the International Criminal Court to demand Israel be investigated for war crimes.

The perennial optimists have been searching for signs that Obama is readier this time to get tough. Neither of the president’s recent major appointments — John Kerry as secretary of state and Chuck Hagel, nominated as defence secretary — has been welcomed in Israel.

US determination has been buoyed, it is argued, by what is seen as a tide change in Israeli public opinion, highlighted by the surprise electoral success of centrist Yair Lapid and relatively poor showing by Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Netanyahu’s officials sense similar motives, complaining that Obama’s visit so soon after the election is direct “interference” in coalition-building. The centrists, they fear, will be able to extract concessions from Netanyahu, who will not wish to greet the US president as head of an extremist government.

Israeli officials, meanwhile, look eager to mend fences: they have hopefully codenamed the visit “Unbreakable Alliance” and announced an intention to award Obama Israel’s highest honour, the presidential medal.

The more hopeful scenarios, however, overlook the obstacles to a diplomatic solution posed both by Israel’s domestic politics and by the Palestinians’ inability to withstand Israeli bullying.

Not least, they ignore the fact that Netanyahu’s Knesset faction is the most right-wing in Likud’s history. He cannot advance a peace formula — assuming he wanted to — without tearing apart his party.

Equally, there is nothing in Lapid’s record to indicate he is willing to push for meaningful compromises on Palestinian statehood. On this issue, he occupies the traditional ground of Likud, before it moved further right. A recent poll found half his supporters called themselves right-wing.

Last week Netanyahu signed a coalition pact with another supposed centrist, Tzipi Livni, a former Likud leader who now heads a small faction called Hatnuah. The goal, as one Likud official cynically put it, was to use Livni to “whitewash the Netanyahu government in the world’s eyes”.

In other words, Netanyahu hopes a Livni or a Lapid will buy him breathing space as he entrenches the settlements and pushes Palestinians out of large areas of the West Bank under cover of what the Israeli newspaper Haaretz termed a “booby-trapped diplomatic process”.

What of the Palestinians? Will they not be able to mount an effective challenge to Israeli intransigence, given an apparent renewed US interest in diplomacy?

Here is the rub. Netanyahu already has a stranglehold on the politics of his potential peace partners. He can easily manipulate the fortunes of the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on the two biggest tests he faces: the “peace process” overseen by the international community, and reconciliation talks with the rival Palestinian faction Hamas.

The latest talks between Hamas and Fatah broke down in Cairo this month, even though unity, in the view of most Palestinians, is a precondition of their seeking viable statehood. The talks’ failure followed the “arrest” by Israel of 25 Hamas leaders in the West Bank, seizures that Palestinian human rights groups and Hamas warned were intended to disrupt reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Israel has repeatedly undermined Abbas’s rule, and kept his PA close to collapse, by turning on and off one of its major sources of income — tax monies Israel regularly collects on behalf of the Palestinians and is supposed to pass on.

As a result, Abbas is trapped between various pressures impossible to reconcile: the need to keep Israel happy, to maintain legitimacy with his own people and to foster a shared political agenda with other Palestinian factions.

The sticks that Israel wields force Abbas to keep the door open to negotiations even as most Palestinians recognise their utter pointlessness. Likewise, his constant need to appease Israel and the US serves only to widen differences with Hamas.

The Palestinians are stuck in a political and diplomatic cul-de-sac, unable to move forward either with the development of their national struggle or with talks on viable statehood. Whatever Obama’s intentions, the reality is that this will be another four years of diplomatic failure.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He won this year’s Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli court extends remand of Issawi’s brother

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Shireen, Samer and Shadi Issawi
Palestine Information Center – 25/02/2013

RAMALLAH — The Israeli Magistrate Court in occupied Jerusalem extended on Sunday the remand of Shadi Issawi, the brother of hunger striker Samer Issawi, and did not allow him to see his lawyer.

Shireen Issawi, the sister of Shadi and a lawyer, said that the arrest of Shadi and extending his remand fell in line with pressures on Samer to end his seven months hunger strike.

She charged the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) with targeting all members of Samer’s family, recalling that the IOA razed the home of her third brother Rafat at the start of the year and cut water supplies to her family home in addition to detaining her and her fourth brother Firas for a period of time.

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israeli court extends remand of Issawi’s brother

Minister: Autopsy shows torture killed Jaradat

Ma’an – 25/02/2013

BETHLEHEM – An autopsy has revealed that Arafat Jaradat died of extreme torture in Israeli custody and did not have a cardiac arrest, the PA Minister of Detainee Affairs said Sunday.

At a news conference in Ramallah, Issa Qaraqe said an autopsy conducted in Israel in the presence of Palestinian officials revealed that 30-year-old Jaradat had six broken bones in his neck, spine, arms and legs.

“The information we have received so far is shocking and painful. The evidence corroborates our suspicion that Mr. Jaradat died as a result of torture, especially since the autopsy clearly proved that the victim’s heart was healthy, which disproves the initial alleged account presented by occupation authorities that he died of a heart attack,” Qaraqe said.

A spokeswoman for Israel’s Prison Authority said Saturday that Jaradat had apparently died of cardiac arrest in Megiddo prison. An emergency service team had tried to resuscitate him but failed, she said.

Qaraqe described the claim as a fabrication and called for a committee to investigate those responsible for Jaradat’s death.

The minister said Jaradat had sustained injuries and severe bruising in the upper right back area and severe bruises of sharp circular shape in the right chest area.

The autopsy revealed evidence of severe torture and on the muscle of the upper left shoulder, parallel to the spine in the lower neck area, and evidence of severe torture under the skin and inside the muscle of the right side of the chest. His second and third ribs in the right side of the chest were broken, Qaraqe said, and he also had injuries in the middle of the muscle in the right hand.

Jaradat’s heart was in good condition and there were no signs of bruising or stroke, the minister added.

Israel’s Health Ministry said the injuries found in the autopsy could have been caused by the medical emergency team’s efforts to resuscitate Jaradat.

“These initial findings are not enough to determine the cause of death,” the Israeli ministry said, adding that further test results were not yet in. An Israeli police spokesman said the investigation into Jaradat’s death was still ongoing.

Qaraqe’s deputy, Ziyad Au Ain, urged any doctors, including Israeli doctors, who doubted that Jaradat was tortured to death to view his body in Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron.

“Jaradat died due to torture and not a stroke or heart attack,” he said, adding that those responsible must be sued either through Interpol or the International Criminal Court.

Palestinian Prisoners Society president Qaddura Fares added that the autopsy revealed seven injuries to the inside of Jaradat’s lower lip, bruises on his face and blood on his nose.

After the autopsy, Jaradat’s body was transferred to the Palestinian Red Crescent at the Tarqumiya crossing west of Hebron, and taken to the Al-Ahli Hospital. He will be buried on Monday in his hometown Sair.

Jaradat’s lawyer Kameel Sabbagh said he was tortured by Israeli interrogators.

Sabbagh, who works for the prisoners ministry, was present at Jaradat’s last hearing on Thursday, which an Israeli judge postponed for 12 days.

“When I entered the courtroom I saw Jaradat sitting on a wooden chair in front of the judge. His back was hunched and he looked sick and fragile,” Sabbagh said in a statement Sunday.

“When I sat next to him he told me that he had serious pains in his back and other parts of his body because he was being beaten up and hanged for many long hours while he was being investigated

“When Jaradat heard that the judge postponed his hearing he seemed extremely afraid and asked me if he was going to spend the time left in the cell. I replied to him that he was still in the investigation period and this is possible and that as a lawyer I couldn’t do anything about his whereabouts at this time.”

Sabbagh said Jaradat’s psychological state was very serious and that he informed the judge his client had been tortured. The judge ordered that Jaradat should be examined by the prison doctor but “this didn’t happen,” the lawyer added.

On Sunday, thousands of Palestinians protested the death across the West Bank and Gaza, and at least two protesters were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli forces, including the 13-year-old son of a Preventive Security officer.

Dozens more were injured by rubber-coated bullets.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers used riot dispersal means against Palestinians hurling rocks at security forces.

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Minister: Autopsy shows torture killed Jaradat

Two residents from Burin arrested overnight: confrontations follow

ISM Media Group | Aletho News | February 25, 2013

Mahmoud Nasser Asaus (17) and Magdi Loai Najjar (24) were arrested last night by Israeli forces in the village of Burin and are now being held in Kishon Interrogation Centre in Haifa. Residents of Burin suspect this is the start of a wave of arrests following the Al-Manatir protest that took place In Burin at the beginning of February.

Several jeeps entered Burin at around 2.30am to raid Mahmoud and Magdi’s houses, taking them, handcuffed and blindfolded, to Huwwara military base. At 7am this morning they were transferred to Kishon Interrogation Centre where they are still being held.

These arrests come after the neighbourhood of Al-Manatir was established on a village’s hilltop threatened with confiscation by Israeli settlers. The protest camp was aimed at denouncing Israel’s grab of Burin’s land and to recover the hilltop which has been inaccessible for residents of Burin since 2007.

However, the neighbourhood of Al-Manatir, made up of metal huts and tents, was violently evicted by Israeli soldiers and border police on the same day it was established. Israeli forces protected and accompanied settlers from the nearby settlements of Bracha and Yitzhar; while they were stealing metal huts and throwing stones at Palestinian activists. Simultaneously, around twenty settlers attacked several Palestinian homes on the outskirts of Burin and chopped down one hundred olive trees. When Palestinians ran to the area to defend their homes, stone throwing between settlers and Palestinians ensued. Zakaria Najjar (17), was shot in the right leg with live ammunition by a settler.

During the eviction, eight people were arrested and three of them remained in Israeli prison for twelve days, finally being released without charges. Further reprisals took place in Burin the days following Al-Manatir. Ghassan (23) and Mohammed (19) Najjar were arrested for several hours and interrogated about the protest camp. In addition, the village was sealed off by military checkpoints. The hilltop continues to be inaccessible for residents of Burin.

Following last night’s arrests there have been further incursions into the centre of Burin today. The Israeli army again tried to raid the village resulting in confrontations that began at around midday. Tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets were fired directly into the gathering crowd; as yet no serious injuries have been reported. A further arrest was made by the Israeli authorities, Bahar Adnan Imran who is just 14 years old.

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Two residents from Burin arrested overnight: confrontations follow

Oscar Prints the Legend: Argo’s Upcoming Academy Award and the Failure of Truth

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | February 23, 2013

One year ago, after his breathtakingly beautiful Iranian drama, “A Separation,” won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, writer/director Asghar Farhadi delivered the best acceptance speech of the night.

“[A]t the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians,” he said, Iran was finally being honored for “her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.” Farhadi dedicated the Oscar “to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”

Such grace and eloquence will surely not be on display this Sunday, when Ben Affleck, flanked by his co-producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov, takes home the evening’s top prize, the Best Picture Oscar, for his critically-acclaimed and heavily decorated paean to the CIA and American innocence, “Argo.”

Over the past 12 months, rarely a week – let alone month – went by without new predictions of an ever-imminent Iranian nuclear weapon and ever-looming threats of an American or Israeli military attack. Come October 2012, into the fray marched “Argo,” a decontextualized, ahistorical “true story” of Orientalist proportion, subjecting audiences to two hours of American victimization and bearded barbarians, culminating in popped champagne corks and rippling stars-and-stripes celebrating our heroism and triumph and their frustration and defeat. Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir aptly described the film as “a propaganda fable,” explaining as others have that essentially none of its edge-of-your-seat thrills or most memorable moments ever happened. O’Hehir sums up:

The Americans never resisted the idea of playing a film crew, which is the source of much agitation in the movie. (In fact, the “house guests” chose that cover story themselves, from a group of three options the CIA had prepared.) They were not almost lynched by a mob of crazy Iranians in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, because they never went there. There was no last-minute cancellation, and then un-cancellation, of the group’s tickets by the Carter administration. (The wife of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor had personally gone to the airport and purchased tickets ahead of time, for three different outbound flights.) The group underwent no interrogation at the airport about their imaginary movie, nor were they detained at the gate while a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard telephoned their phony office back in Burbank. There was no last-second chase on the runway of Mehrabad Airport, with wild-eyed, bearded militants with Kalashnikovs trying to shoot out the tires of a Swissair jet.

One of the actual diplomats, Mark Lijek, noted that the CIA’s fake movie “cover story was never tested and in some ways proved irrelevant to the escape.” The departure of the six Americans from Tehran was actually mundane and uneventful. “If asked, we were going to say we were leaving Iran to return when it was safer,” Lijek recalled, “But no one ever asked!…The truth is the immigration officers barely looked at us and we were processed out in the regular way. We got on the flight to Zurich and then we were taken to the US ambassador’s residence in Berne. It was that straightforward.”

Furthermore, Jimmy Carter has even acknowledged that “90% of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian [while] the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA… Ben Affleck’s character in the film was only in Tehran a day and a half and the real hero in my opinion was Ken Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process.”

O’Hehir perfectly articulates the film’s true crime, its deliberate exploitation of “its basis in history and its mode of detailed realism to create something that is entirely mythological.” Not only is it “a trite cavalcade of action-movie clichés and expository dialogue,” but “[i]t’s also a propaganda movie in the truest sense, one that claims to be innocent of all ideology.”

Such an assessment is confirmed by Ben Affleck’s own comments about the film.  In describing “Argo” to Bill O’Reilly, Affleck boasted, “You know, it was such a great story. For one thing, it’s a thriller. It’s actually comedy with the Hollywood satire. It’s a complicated CIA movie, it’s a political movie. And it’s all true.” He told Rolling Stone that, when conceiving his directorial approach, he knew he “absolutely had to preserve the central integrity and truth of the story.”

“It’s OK to embellish, it’s OK to compress, as long as you don’t fundamentally change the nature of the story and of what happened,” Affleck has remarked, even going so far as to tell reporters at Argo’s BFI London Film Festival premier, “This movie is about this story that took place, and it’s true, and I go to pains to contextualize it and to try to be even-handed in a way that just means we’re taking a cold, hard look at the facts.”

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Affleck went so far as to say, “I tried to make a movie that is absolutely just factual. And that’s another reason why I tried to be as true to the story as possible — because I didn’t want it to be used by either side. I didn’t want it to be politicized internationally or domestically in a partisan way. I just wanted to tell a story that was about the facts as I understood them.”

For Affleck, these facts apparently don’t include understanding why the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun and occupied on November 4, 1979.  “There was no rhyme or reason to this action,” Affleck has insisted, claiming that the takeover “wasn’t about us,” that is, the American government (despite the fact that his own film is introduced by a fleeting – though frequently inaccurate1 – review of American complicity in the Shah’s dictatorship).

Wrong, Ben.  One reason was the fear of another CIA-engineered coup d’etat like the one perpetrated in 1953 from the very same Embassy. Another reason was the admission of the deposed Shah into the United States for medical treatment and asylum rather than extradition to Iran to face charge and trial for his quarter century of crimes against the Iranian people, bankrolled and supported by the U.S. government.  One doesn’t have to agree with the reasons, of course, but they certainly existed.

Just as George H.W. Bush once bellowed after a U.S. Navy warship blew an Iranian passenger airliner out of the sky over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 Iranian civilians, “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.” Affleck appears inclined to agree.

If nothing else, “Argo” is an exercise in American exceptionalism – perhaps the most dangerous fiction that permeates our entire society and sense of identity.  It reinvents history in order to mine a tale of triumph from an unmitigated defeat. The hostage crisis, which lasted 444 days and destroyed an American presidency, was a failure and an embarrassment for Americans.  The United States government and media has spent the last three decades tirelessly exacting revenge on Iran for what happened.

“Argo” recasts revolutionary Iranians as the hapless victims of American cunning and deception.  White Americans are hunted, harried and, ultimately courageous and free.  Iranians are maniacal, menacing and, in the end, infantile and foolish.  The fanatical fundamentalists fail while America wins. USA -1, Iran – 0. Yet, “Argo” obscures the unfortunate truth that, as those six diplomats were boarding a plane bound for Switzerland on January 28, 1980, their 52 compatriots would have to wait an entire year before making it home, not as the result of a daring rescue attempt, but after a diplomatic agreement was reached.

Reflecting on the most troubled episodes in American history is a time-honored cinematic tradition. There’s a reason why the best Vietnam movies are full of pain, anger, anguish and war crimes.  By contrast, “Argo” is American catharsis porn; pure Hollywood hubris.  It is pro-American propaganda devoid of introspection, pathos or humility and meant to assuage our hurt feelings. In “Argo,” no lessons are learned by revisiting the consequences of America’s support for the Pahlavi monarchy or its creation and training of SAVAK, the Shah’s vicious secret police.

On June 11, 1979, months before the hostage crisis began, the New York Times published an article by writer and historian A.J. Langguth which recounted revelations relayed by a former American intelligence official regarding the CIA’s close relationship with SAVAK. The agency had “sent an operative to teach interrogation methods to SAVAK” including “instructions in torture, and the techniques were copied from the Nazis.” Langguth wrestled with the news, trying to figure out why this had not been widely reported.  He came to the following conclusion:

We – and I mean we as Americans – don’t believe it. We can read the accusations, even examine the evidence and find it irrefutable. But, in our hearts, we cannot believe that Americans have gone abroad to spread the use of torture.

We can believe that public officials with reputations for brilliance can be arrogant, blind or stupid. Anything but evil. And when the cumulative proof becomes overwhelming that our representatives in the C.I.A. or the Agency for International Development police program did in fact teach torture, we excuse ourselves by vilifying the individual men.

Similarly, at a time when the CIA is waging an illegal, immoral, unregulated and always expanding drone execution program, the previous administration’s CIA kidnappers and torturers are protected from prosecution by the current administration, and leaked State Department cables reveal orders for U.S. diplomats to spy on United Nations officials, it is surreal that such homage is being paid to that very same organization by the so-called liberals of the Tinsel Town elite.

Upon winning his Best Director Golden Globe last month, Ben Affleck obsequiously praised the “clandestine service as well as the foreign service that is making sacrifices on behalf of the American people everyday [and] our troops serving over seas, I want to thank them very much,” a statement echoed almost identically by co-producer Grant Heslov when “Argo” later won Best Drama.

This comes as no surprise, considering Affleck had previously described “Argo” as “a tribute” to the “extraordinary, honorable people at the CIA” during an interview on Fox News.

The relationship between Hollywood and the military and intelligence arms of the U.S. government have long been cozy. “When the CIA or the Pentagon says, ‘We’ll help you, if you play ball with us,’ that’s favoring one form of speech over another. It becomes propaganda,” David Robb, author of “Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies” told The Los Angeles Times. “The danger for filmmakers is that their product — entertainment and information — ends up being government spin.”

Awarding “Argo” the Best Picture Oscar is like Barack Obama winning a Nobel Peace Prize: an undeserved accolade fawningly bestowed upon a dubious recipient based on a transparent fiction; an award for what never was and never would be and a decision so willfully naïve and grotesque it discredits whatever relevance and prestige the proceedings might still have had.*

So this Sunday night, when “Argo” has won that coveted golden statuette, it will be clear that we have yet again been blinded by the heavy dust of politics and our American mantra of hostility and resentment will continue to inform our decisions, dragging us closer and closer to the abyss.

***** ***** *****

* Yes, in this analogy, the equivalent of Henry Kissinger is obviously 2004’s dismal “Crash.”

*****

1 The introduction of “Argo” is a dazzingly sloppy few minutes of caricatured history of Iran, full of Orientalist images of violent ancient Persians (harems and all), which gets many basic facts wrong. In fact, it is shocking this intro made it to release as written and recorded.

Here are some of the problems:

1. The voiceover narration says, “In 1950, the people of Iran elected Mohammad Mossadegh, the secular democrat, Prime Minister. He nationalized British and U.S. petroleum holdings, returning Iran’s oil to its people.”

Mossadegh was elected to the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) in 1944. He did not become Prime Minister until April 1951 and was not “elected by the people of Iran.” Rather, he was appointed to the position by the representatives of the Majlis.

Also, the United States did not have petroleum interests in Iran at the time.

2. After briefly describing the 1953 coup, the narrator says Britain and the United States “installed Reza Pahlavi as Shah.”

Wow. First, the Shah’s name was not Reza Pahlavi. That is his father’s (and son’s) name. Furthermore, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was not installed as Shah since he had already been Shah of Iran since September 1941, after Britain and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Iran and forced the abdication of his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi.

During the coup in 1953, the Shah fled to Baghdad, then Rome. After Mossadegh had been forced out, the Shah returned to the Peacock Throne.

This is not difficult information to come by, and yet the screenwriter and director of “Argo” didn’t bother looking it up. And guess what? Ben Affleck actually majored in Middle East Studies in college. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t graduate.

The rest of the brief intro, while mentioning the torture of SAVAK, glosses over the causes of the revolution, but lingers on the violence that followed. As it ends, the words “Based on a True Story” appear on the screen. The first live action moment we see in “Argo” is of an American flag being burned.

Such is Affleck’s insistence that “Argo” is “not a political movie.”

Still, as Kevin B. Lee wrote in Slate last month, “This opening may very well be the reason why critics have given the film credit for being insightful and progressive—because nothing that follows comes close, and the rest of the movie actually undoes what this opening achieves.”

He continues,

Instead of keeping its eye on the big picture of revolutionary Iran, the film settles into a retrograde “white Americans in peril” storyline. It recasts those oppressed Iranians as a raging, zombie-like horde, the same dark-faced demons from countless other movies— still a surefire dramatic device for instilling fear in an American audience. After the opening makes a big fuss about how Iranians were victimized for decades, the film marginalizes them from their own story, shunting them into the role of villains. Yet this irony is overshadowed by a larger one: The heroes of the film, the CIA, helped create this mess in the first place. And their triumph is executed through one more ruse at the expense of the ever-dupable Iranians to cap off three decades of deception and manipulation.

And brilliantly concludes,

Looking at the runaway success of this film, it seems as if critics and audiences alike lack the historical knowledge to recognize a self-serving perversion of an unflattering past, or the cultural acumen to see the utterly ersatz nature of the enterprise: A cast of stock characters and situations, and a series of increasingly contrived narrow escapes from third world mobs who, predictably, are never quite smart enough to catch up with the Americans. We can delight all we like in this cinematic recycling act, but the fact remains that we are no longer living in a world where we can get away with films like this—not if we want to be in a position to deal with a world that is rising to meet us. The movies we endorse need to rise to the occasion of reflecting a new global reality, using a newer set of storytelling tools than this reheated excuse for a historical geopolitical thriller.

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Oscar Prints the Legend: Argo’s Upcoming Academy Award and the Failure of Truth