Maintaining the continued threat of Iran’s nuclear program is consistently useful to the US government’s foreign policy rhetoric. For decades it has been used to justify sending billions of dollars every year to Israel for “self-defense” and to maintain the US’s own billion-dollar nuclear stockpile. It has been used to justify US sanctions on Iran, Israel’s assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists (implicitly), and various strategic proxy wars.
The New York Times’ timeline, just ahead of upcoming finalizing talks with Iran, covering “whether Iran is racing toward nuclear weapon capabilities” is therefore quite useful in upholding this theme. The Times says Iran’s potential nuclear weapons program is “one of the most contentious issues challenging the West, including the United States and Israel, which has been involved in a shadow war with the country,” using the singular “has” and thus shielding the United States from that clause, despite the US’s decades of “crippling” sanctions, to use its own term. Sanctions both deprive ordinary citizens of food and medicine and serve as a trapping prelude to war: the logic goes that if sanctions don’t work, meaning if you don’t bend to our will, we’ll have to take it up a notch.
The Times elided this fact when presenting the sanctions issue last month:
For more than a year, President Hassan Rouhani has been dangling the prospect of a bright economic future before the middle classes that elected him, promising to negotiate a deal with the West to limit Iran’s nuclear program and in that way end the sanctions hobbling the Iranian economy.
To say Rouhani has been “dangling” Iranians’ future is to intentionally omit the fact that the United States could end sanctions at any time. But it will not do that, and the New York Times doesn’t want it to, because the US believes the US and Israel should be allowed to have as many nuclear weapons as they want, but Iran can’t be trusted and doesn’t deserve them. Iran may be surrounded by US forces, enduring US sanctions and Israeli assassinations, but Iran is the one portrayed as the aggressor seeking violence, rather than the vulnerable nation seeking the only defense it sees left.
As FAIR showed, media discussion of Iran’s nuclear program has attempted to isolate Iran as the “rogue nation,” playing up a “a disagreement between Iran and ‘the world.’” In fact, “The Non-Aligned Movement–an organization representing 120 countries and more than half the world’s population–has consistently backed Iran’s right to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear program.” Increasingly, it is the US and Israel going rogue — with the New York Times’ support.