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Spinning us to war in Iran

By Antony Loewenstein - posted Wednesday, 15 March 2006

During former US President Bill Clinton’s recent trip to Australia, he said the two greatest threats facing the 21st Century were terrorism and global warming. The Age welcomed Clinton’s presence in Melbourne as the coming of an almost god-like figure. “While much of the world’s population struggles simply to survive”, it breathlessly offered, “Large numbers of the rest of us are searching for heroes”. The fact that Clinton oversaw the bulk of sanctions against Iraq, and the death of over 500,000 men, women and children, was airbrushed out of existence. For The Age, Clinton wasn’t Bush or a Republican, and therefore was a person worthy of respect.

Clinton was right on one issue, however. Global warming is a major problem and still largely side-lined by governments and mainstream media alike. Readers of the UK Guardian on February 8 were treated to this striking piece of news:

Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations. The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months.


Sweden is the first Western country to attempt such an endeavour and yet the news was ignored in Australia. Instead, our self-appointed “terrologists” prefer to focus the public’s attentions on the next target of liberation: Iran.

As the quagmire in Iraq deepens, and Islamophobia becomes both politically correct and encouraged, the same figures that led us into Saddam’s lair are now trying to achieve a similar result next-door. Perhaps somebody should inform John Howard. He told Southern Cross Radio on February 27 that Iraq was “inching towards a more stable future” and foreign troops were needed for the “stabilisation process”. In reality, the occupation is the main source of the ongoing insurgency.

We live in an environment where Muslims are portrayed as backward, looking for Western assistance and irrationally violent. Take this example from UK columnist Julie Burchill, writing in Haaretz on February 17:

Anyway, from now on I think I'll get just a few less accusations of racism when I point out that Muslims can be a bit, well, narrow-minded. Mind you, it's a long hard struggle trying to make bleeding-heart liberals see sense. Especially when you live in a country where a sizable part of the print and broadcasting media are such guilt-ridden cretins when it comes to Islam that if they saw Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein sexually sharing their own grandmother, they'd swear the poor old lady asked for it.

Perhaps Muslims need a good dose of Western invasion and occupation. And Iran is the next victim. A poll taken in the US in mid-February suggested that people believe Iran will develop nuclear weapons and use them against the United States. We are constantly told that Iran is a “threat”. Barry Cohen, federal Labor MP from 1969-1990 and a minister in the Hawke Government, informed readers in The Australian on February 17 that Iran was led by fanatics and desired to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons. “The fanatics don’t care if they die,” he wrote, “On the contrary, many will welcome it. At the risk of being repetitive - we have a problem.”

His solution wasn’t articulated.


Larry Derfner, a senior journalist and columnist at the Jerusalem Post, offered another perspective. He believes Iran is going to get nuclear weapons whether the West likes it or not. His answer, however, was for Israel to build “more and better nuclear weapons of its own”. This kind of “deterrence”, Derfner wrote, “works well”. He also encouraged the Jewish state to develop better chemical and biological weapons than Iran.

Republican Senator John McCain told US television recently the, “Iranian threat to the world is the biggest since the Cold War”.

The rise of a supposedly nuclear Iran is not to be tolerated but meanwhile India and Pakistan can build their arsenals. Israel’s “open secret” of between 200 and 500 nuclear warheads isn’t even susceptible to international inspections, while Iran has allowed UN inspectors to comb the country looking for weapon’s material.

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About the Author

Antony Loewenstein is a freelance journalist, author and blogger. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, Haaretz, The Guardian, Washington Post, Znet, Counterpunch and many other publications. He contributed a major chapter in the 2004 best seller, Not Happy, John!. He is author of the best-selling book My Israel Question, released in August 2006 by Melbourne University Publishing and re-published in 2009 in an updated edition. The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. His 2008 book is The Blogging Revolution on the internet in repressive regimes. His website is at and he can be contacted at

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