It’s Not JUST the Beltway Bandits That Have Bad Ideology

Grassroots Democrats, who by and large, take their cues from the DC folks, are just as confused and philosophically disengaged. The StopIranWar.com people led, I assume, by General Wesley Clark is a great example of this confusion. The first sentence of their website tells me most of what I need to know. These folks either don’t get it or are scamming me.

All Americans want to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and interfering on the ground inside Iraq.

Being that Wesley Clark seems to be pretty involved in this (if he didn’t start the group) I can’t say for sure that it’s even grassroots, really. But assuming it is, it bears the same trademark of confusion and political lability as do many Democratic initiatives concerning the war. Here it is:

They claim to want to prevent war with Iran.
This is something I’m sure most Americans could agree with but the 2nd half of the sentence contains the hook they think is needed to get people to join the group.

“Stop Iran…from interfering on the ground inside Iraq”
Implicit in this is support for US military presence and action inside Iraq. Whose side is StopIranWar on? Groups like this don’t really know whose side they are on. They generally don’t like the idea of starting a war. But if they can’t stop said war, they will support ‘their country’ in that war. To be clear on how sophomoric their politics are, they say they want to prevent war with Iran but in their opening sentence of position, they state agreement with one of the US administration’s main rationales for attacking Iran.

By getting people to sign on to the idea that Iran is, as they term it, interfering, inside Iraq, they help the administration’s war propaganda apparatus establish justification for attacking Iran. Is this group part of the administration’s war propaganda apparatus? It’s difficult to know but if we are to judge them by what they are doing, it can’t be ruled out. They claim to oppose saber rattling but, of course, most of their position paper is just that, saber rattling. They refer to the US and its military as ‘the world’s most powerful nation‘ while tagging Iran with labels such as ‘scheming regional power‘ and ‘extremist‘.

Dumb? Typically confused effort? Or purposeful psychological manipulation to help lay the foundation to start the war they say they want to prevent?

9 Responses to “It’s Not JUST the Beltway Bandits That Have Bad Ideology”

  1. I can’t for the life of me figure out where you’re coming from, and I have no idea what compelled you to write this.

    StopIranWar.com is a joint effort by General Clark and VoteVets.org to raise public awareness about the seriousness of the Bush administration’s warmongering towards Iran, and to send a strong message to our elected officials that we need a surge in diplomacy (NOT war!) to work out solutions to what is threatening to become a regional problem. Clark opposed and warned against invading Iraq from the beginning and is devoting some serious time and frequent flyer miles to advocating for policy change to get us the hell out of there. VoteVets are Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans who also oppose the Bush administration policies.

    It’s very important for the American public to realize what is happening in order to be innoculated against the fear that this administration is so fond of using to sell people on the idea of “clash of civilizations” and endless war. This is a very important campaign, and nobody who has gotten on board is “confused” in the least.

    If you need further clarification, please feel free to email me.

  2. As a member of the grassroots community in support of the StopIranWar effort, I can assure you that I do not want war with Iran. It would be unbelievably catastrophic.

    The “my country” you speak of has taken a wrong turn in its foreign policy by its invasion of Iraq. The tragic results of that speak for itself.

    The primary purpose of StopIranWar is to encourage diplomacy and the use of all the means at our disposal to engage Iran in meaningful dialogue; to find common ground with the people of Iran and to enable Iran to be a constructive partner in the effort to promote regional cohesion and peace in the Middle East. In addition, it’s a vehicle to communicate the risk of another unnecessary war to the large numbers of Americans who are not paying attention, to raise their awareness of the “iceberg” in front of the us in time to add their voices to those who want to see the ship of state change course before we attack yet another country and hit that iceberg.

    Wes Clark has been advocating this approach consistently. He knows all too well that broadening the Middle East conflict is a lose-lose proposition for all the countries in the region and for the rest of the world as well. He has consistently referred to the Iraq invasion as a foreign policy disaster and a “strategic blunder” of the greatest magnitude.

    I have no idea who you are, but your blog landed in my Google search for information about Iran. However, I do know who Wes Clark is and how passionately he believes we need to prevent the next war before it starts. I’ve never failed to be impressed by his ability to analyze a wide range of issues in great depth and to develop creative solutions. He’s made many trips to the Middle East recently, knows leaders and citizens from all the ME countries and has seen the potential for postive engagement to replace threats and enmity.

    And I know, too, that VoteVets is a committed group of Iraq & Afghanistan veterans who’ve seen these wars up close and are advocating a change of course based on their first hand experiences. No way would they be attempting to shape public opinion in favor of another war.

    So there’s no ulterior psychological motive here. Stop Iran War means exactly what it says: Stop the next war before it starts.

    Those who initiated this effort are exceptionally bright and insightful and are putting themselves on the line daily trying trying to influence public policy for the better.

    So, Anonymous Blogger, I find your conclusions way off base.

  3. Let me see, are you implying that the strife and bloodshed going on in Iraq is a good thing? Because, along with many other factions (including our occupation), some Iranians are contributing to that. And, frankly, yes, I’d like to see the Iranians desist, as their participation is one factor that adds to the strife and adds to the number of casualties, both Iraqis and our soldiers. There would be one less factor contributing to violence in Iraq. Iraqis would be safer, our soldiers would be safer, and we’d be closer to bringing them home.

    It’s because I want our soldiers home and safe that I’d like to see the Iranians find reasons to support stability in Iraq rather than violence. NOT because I support the Iraq occupation, as you erroneously conclude.

    The way to achieve a reduction in Iranian support of violence is to give them a stake in regional peace that’s more valuable to them than a stake in ongoing war. That can only be done with the hard work of diplomacy, which is exactly what StopIranWar.com is advocating.

    War with Iran would not only be tragic in the scope of it’s destruction, it would give the Iranians all the more reason to increase their participation in the violence in Iraq.

    Please don’t try to derail a project that has as it’s goal effective diplomacy instead of war.

    Sign the petition. (If you don’t like the words, you can edit them.) Then write to your Senators and Congress people. There are links for that as well, and again, the text is editable. Then use the tools available to write to the media.

    Fight the real battle for a rational and peaceful solution with those who think the only tool we need is war, not with a group advocating for a diplomatic approach to the problems of the region.

  4. You all seem to agree with one of the main Bush administration rationales for US military engagement with Iran, its alleged interference in Iraq. If you all truly desire a diplomatic approach I suggest you remove the Bush language from the first sentence of your website and focus only on diplomacy instead of repeating the Bush saber-rattling.

    Thank you for caring enough to comment since you feel I have erred in my analysis of the StopIranWar campaign. The language on the website seems very clear to me. And it is the face of your campaign to the entire world.

    StopIranWar.com reads (and I’ll cut and paste to be sure this is error-free):

    All Americans want to stop Iran from…interfering on the ground inside Iraq.

    To indicate the priority of this objective it is important to state that it is the very first sentence of the entire campaign website. There isn’t evidence that Iran is as the site puts it, ‘interfering’ in Iraq. But for purpose of this conversation, let’s assume it’s true. Is Iran interfering in Iraq on the side of US military objectives? I think not.

    If Iran was in Iraq, Iran’s goals would not be aligned with those of the invading power, the United States military. Thus in asserting that Iran is ‘interfering’ in Iraq and making an end to this interference a top priority, you are aligning yourself with the goals of the US in Iraq.

    See what I mean?

    I not only oppose Bush policy in Iraq, I SUPPORT the resistance struggle in Iraq to those policies. There is no firm evidence (besides the word of the Bush administration) that Iran is ‘interfering’ in Iraq but if it was it would certainly be in opposition to the Bush policies StopIranWar also claims to oppose.

  5. I don’t support Bush – never have, never will – but I do support the rights/needs of the Iraqi (and Iranian) people to live without violence, if they can get past the mess we’ve made.

    The only way that will happen is through diplomacy – which takes skill and hard work – and which Bush doesn’t seem to understand.

    You’re saying that maybe there are no Iranians working inside Iraq. But we’re saying that even if there are, that’s no reason to attack their country.

    Yes, of course, the Iranians oppose the Bush policy in Iraq, partly because they perceive themselves to be the next target.. Given the “axis of Evil” designation, they have a motivation to keep Iraq unstable to keep the U.S. bogged down so that it’s harder for the U.S. to attack Iran.

    All I’m saying is that with skilled diplomacy we can try to neutralize that motivation by removing the “you’re next on our hit list” idea. The Iranians can help Iraq constructively rather than destructively if we don’t keep threatening them. And I don’t mean help from a Bush policy perspective, but from a humanitarian perspective.

    The real point of the website is to get messages to the administration, Congress and the media to encourage diplomacy vs. war as a way of achieving some stability and peace in the region.

  6. I appreciate the concern expressed in this blog, but I think it is misplaced in this instance. First though, thanks for your openness toward having a discussion about this here.

    I read the other comments and will try not to repeat them in mine. It would be accurate to call me one of the grass roots supporters of the StopIranWar.com initiative. I strongly support it, and I am working to spread the word on it, so let me briefly try to explain why.

    Although I personally am on the political Left, in my opinion the StopIranWar campaign is not predominantly aimed at the left, which I think is tactically wise. It is aimed at the majority of the American public who are centrist, center left, and center right.collectively. While helping spread word about StopIranWar.com, I have pried myself loose from the leftist activist web sites that I tend to spend my time on, and have ventured into far less sheltered waters. It can be alarming to do so.

    I agree most Americans clearly would like to prevent war with Iran, but it seems a far greater percentage of them than I would have guessed think that the only way to prevent that war is by the U.S. taking a strong hard line against Iran now and not wavoring. In other words the current U.S. policy toward Iran has a lot of support. Even Bush says (in public) that he wants to prevent war with Iran, However support for unconditional direct diplomacy with Iran now is far from universal with the American public. Peace activists are clear about the need for this, but outside of our ranks the picture is far more muddled.

    Constant anti-Iran propaganda had taken a serious toll, and many people are convinced that Iran is run by madmen who can not be trusted or reasoned with. This is the exact same public opinion climate that was created toward Iraq in 2002, which laid the ground work for an American attack on that nation With Bush/Cheney still in the White House, it simply is not enough to just have anti-war activists and supporters of Iraq’s resistance opposing an attack on Iran, we need broader opposition to military action, and we need it now.

    Here is the full first paragraph found at StopIranWar.com:

    “All Americans want to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and interfering on the ground inside Iraq. Yet President Bush’s saber rattling gives the US little additional leverage to engage and dissuade Iran, and, more than likely, simply accelerates a dangerous slide into war. The United States can do better than this.”

    That obviously isn’t language aimed at the left, but it is an effective opening to reach the American center. I am finding that most people, at the very least, assume that Iran is intentionally not being helpful to efforts to stabalize Iraq and reduce the violence there, and more likely is helping further instability in Iraq. And I am finding that the vast majority of people who I talk to start out holding a strong position that we can’t risk letting Iran get nukes.

    Hell, I assume that Iran has strong incentives to make sure Iraq remains in chaos, and given those incentives, I have no doubt they in some way are acting consistent with those incentives. Why on earth would Iran not want the U.S. pinned down and weakened militarily inside Iraq when it is obvious to them that the Bush/Cheney Administration wants to depose the current Iranian government and is very open to using force against Iran to do so?

    So that first paragragh does no damage to anything, Sure, Bush will keep pounding that Iran is “interfering with Iraq”. We obviously are also. There is some basis in fact for saying that Iran is playing a major role inside Iraq. Iran’s agents are certainly active inside Iraq – Iran would be led by idiots if they were not. Iran has legitimate self defense reasons to want America’s military to be bogged down and bled dry inside Iraq, and, conversely, of course most Americans don’t like it when people kill American solidiers.

    But the real question is how should the United States respond now to the complex web of tensions that exist in the middle east, with Iran only one part of that, but an important part? StopIranWar.com says war is not the answer, diplomacy is. The people behind StopIranWar.com; General Clark and VoteVets.org, are on public record in numerous places detailing how the United States is constantly threatening Iran, and is even actively interfering inside Iran trying to bring about regime change there. That perspective is an eye opener for many people, but they tend to not listen to perceived leftists when we make that argument.

    StopIranWar.com is making a lot of people actually think, and that is a good thing. It is making them see that hostile American policy toward Iran is helping drive Iran’s policy toward America. It is making people realize that a big part of why Iraq is such a mess now is because Bush continues to threaten Iran. By having American Veterans in the lead, StopIranWar.com can not easily be dismissed as a bunch of naive clueless peaceniks. It’s a wedge to break through and reach people that we on the left otherwise have very poor access to. By doing so it undercuts the Bush rush toward war with Iran ,which is very real and very dangerous.

    StopIranWar.com is a web site I can ask any of my relatives to visit, regardless of their political leanings. And that is the point. This is not about supporting the U.S, inside Iraq, it is about mobilizing a broad cross section of the American public against starting a new war with Iran, and instead embracing open ended regional diplomacy with all of the nations in the middle east welcome to take part in the deliberations, so that the legitimate national interests of those nations can be honestly addressed through negotiations, as an alternative to further violence.

  7. TomR,

    I can appreciate your initiative in this effort to prevent war with Iran. And the explanation in your comment is helpful. I’ll explain once more, the core of my disagreement with the campaign and why it will not be effective as is.

    1. The first rule of propaganda is to not use the enemy’s propaganda. The campaign violates this rule in asserting that StopIranWar.com, like the Bush administration, wants to end Iran interference in Iraq. I see the ostensible allure of such a strategy but unless you own a major news network, it’s a loser. What will happen–what is happening this very moment, actually—is people are reading fthe website and learning that Bush is right that Iran is inside Iraq interfering with the purported goal of stabilization by the US military. They will read the rest of your website and see your positions. Then, they will have about 100 times the exposure to ABCNNBCBS, FOX, the New York Times and all the other media that are serving as stenographers for the Bush administration. Those outlets will parrot the Bush claim that Iran is interfering in Iraq. That’s why we are having such a lousy time there and that is why we can’t take dealing with Iran off the table.

    Believe me, with you fortifying the Bush claim and then the average news consumer having much more exposure to the rest of Bush’s claims than to your website, in the end, you will have only assisted in the fortification of that single point:

    Iran is interfering in Iraq and needs to be stopped.

    2. In a politically Right Wing climate, playing to the middle never convinces the middle, it only emboldens the Right. You’ll notice, eventually, that the people who sign up are people who already agree. And not all of them will even sign on. I’m telling you point blank why I wouldn’t.

    Excise the get tough on Iran language and you’re going somewhere. It’s a mistake to think that by using Bush language you will gain some kind of credibility as not being Lefties, somehow impartial or balanced. There is no balance in this political environment. Did you somehow miss the lead up to Iraq? Every major news organization helped Bush. That is what we are dealing with.

    Imagine if we’d had half those organizations openly saying that Bush is lying and that the evidence for war is being faked.

    Now imagine if we’d had news orgs that said some of the claims were true but we need diplomacy anyways.

    Which would have been more effective? Going to the middle by validating the claims and saber rattling of political enemies seems savvy but ignores political realities, human psychology and has no contemporary track record of working.

    This is an information, communications and psychological war. Voluntarily ceding ground in an information war is not wise.

    Get rid of the saber rattling and you’ve got a decent campaign.

  8. A good discussion. What you say makes some sense to me, but ultimately I don’t find myself in agreement with you on this. Perhaps that’s because I think you are putting far more emphasis on a few words than a typical reader ever would. The words in question: “All Americans want to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and interfering on the ground inside Iraq” are no where further amplified in the text. And “interfering” is, when push comes to shove, a rather mild word . It could mean a very broad range of things. It could mean urging certain Shiite leaders not to attend a specific meeting with American officials for example. After that one sentance the StopIranWar text moves on to the unhelpful stance taken by the Bush Administration vis a vis Iran. I don’t think it is inflamatory.

    Let me turn your argument around and apply it from the opposite direction. You point out how incredibly pervasive the influence of main stream media is in shaping the public’s view point regarding war and peace. Against that onslaught of anti-Iran propaganda, a brief acknowledgement, on a web site urging diplomacy, that Americans would like to prevent Iran from interfering on the ground inside Iraq is essentially weightless in comparison.

    The StopIranWar petition will not function as a turning point for validating anyone’s perception of the validity of anti-Iran propaganda. Half the Democrats in Congress are regularly making much stronger accusitory statements against Iran than the brief reference found at StopIranWar.com. Americans already know that we are the ones doing most of the interfering inside Iraq.

    I agree that contained in my own comments above are explanations for why Iran has an interest in using their influence inside Iraq to complicate matters for America, but you and I know that nothing I wrote is either likely untrue, or likely to turn your readers here against Iran. If anything they make the case for diplomacy. Regarding StopIranWar’s petition, this is what I honestly feel. The opening line does help establish crdibility for the site with those who are already worried about Iran, even if it risks damaging its credibility with some people more like you or I. I’ll take that risk, because people like you and I are already on board efforts to stop the U.S. from attacking Iran.

    I think the opening line at StopIranWar.com is likely to fly right past 80% of the people who read it because it says nothing new or startling to anyone. Maybe there’s one or two people in a hundred who will seize on it to provide the final nail in Iran’s coffin for them, but that is a liberal estimate, because anyone with that inclination, after absorbing the media, has probably long since decided that we should nuke Iran, and if they hadn’t already decided that there’s no lack of other “information” “available” to them that would have pushed them to that position soon anyway. For the sake of discussion I’ll venture that 10% will react along the lines that you did, but they represent the people who need outreach to the least, they are already informed and for Peace with Iran.

    That leaves roughly another 10% of readers who already are convinced that Iran is messing with us some how, but who are not yet convinced that starting a new war against Iran soon is a good idea. I think the current text speaks directly to those people in a positive way. It says you don’t have to love or even respect Iran’s leders to seak peace with Iran. Those are the people most likely to have positive relations with the war hawks on Iran in both political parties. With Bush still in the White House, I think that it is is important to reach those people too.

    Anyway, nothing is black or white in this world. Probably both of us are right to some degree. There are few absolute no brainers when it comes to strategy.

  9. Tom R wrote:

    The opening line does help establish crdibility for the site with those who are already worried about Iran, even if it risks damaging its credibility with some people more like you or I. I’ll take that risk, because people like you and I are already on board efforts to stop the U.S. from attacking Iran.

    You are only seeing half of what I’m saying. I’m not concerned with alienating people already opposing an attack on Iran. You have to analyze this on a grander scale since a wide audience, not a particular geographic community, is your target.

    If there were 40 or 50 websites with significant resources all specifically campaigning against an attack on Iran taking the nuanced stance that StopIranWar.com takes might make some sense as it would provide diversity and moderation in the eyes of more conservative readers. However, there are a handful, at best, of websites dedicated to this particular cause. Most folks won’t run across more than one or two. Therefore, 99% of what the average reader not already opposing an attack, will remember is the first sentence of the StopIranWar website which is basically a validation of the Bush saber-rattling.

    I understand what you all are trying to do but unless you actually own a big media outlet, when you repeat the propaganda claims of the opposition, you don’t win.

    StopIranWar.com should consider scrubbing that first sentence. It is going to have counterproductive effects. Just oppose the war, don’t repeat the propaganda claims.

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