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16 Jan, 2016 13:15

Fox News, high on American hubris, goes ballistic over Iran

Fox News, high on American hubris, goes ballistic over Iran

Whatever happened to the days when the primary purpose of journalism was to hold our government accountable for its stupid actions, like when the US Navy, for example, strays into the territorial waters of an Islamic nation at the worst possible time?

Just how long and deep America has snorted from the cracked mirror of imperial power, intoxicating the nation with delusions of grandeur and exceptionalism, was nowhere more apparent than this week in the Fox News studios where five pugnacious pundits cheerleaded for a full-blown clash with Iran (the Full Metal Jacket moment starts around the 3:10 mark).

What triggered Fox News to go ballistic against the Islamic Republic? Apparently Tehran committed the unforgivable act of detaining 10 US sailors after their two patrol boats entered Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf either due to mechanical or navigational problems.

Video footage of the American sailors kneeling on the deck of their boat, hands locked behind their heads, as members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard prepared to detain them was simply too much for Fox analyst Andrea Tantaros, who commented with her trademark tenacity as if life were one big happy Rambo movie:

“Again, they were on their knees and they weren’t at their weapons. They should have been at their weapons, not on their hands and knees in submission surrendering.”

So let’s get this straight, Andrea: After less than a dozen US sailors stray into Iran’s territorial waters, you find it incredulous that these men did not act defiant despite being completely in the wrong, not to mention completely surrounded and outgunned. It would have made perfect sense, you think, for them to risk life and limb, not to mention the outbreak of a regional war, over the simple mistake of misreading a nautical map or a malfunctioning motor?

But Tantaros’ epic solo performance does not end there. She proceeded to launch a salvo attack against US Secretary of State John Kerry for “thanking the Iranians for essentially humiliating us.”

“But that’s what the Iranians want, and I just find it to be completely egregious and another failure of... thanking one of our enemies for basically putting out propaganda that embarrasses the United States of America.”

Tantaros then contrasts Kerry's apparently audacious behavior with that of former Republican president Ronald Reagan and how he “handled the Iranians” during the Iran hostage crisis (Nov. 1979 to Jan. 1981) when some 60 US diplomats and civilians were held hostage in Tehran for 444 days.

“Reagan didn’t thank them for taking Americans hostage… he threatened to drop a bomb – a nuke – on downtown Tehran. That is how you handle them. But yet again we see this administration kowtowing to a very dangerous regime and showing signs of weakness. These acts of provocation will continue because of it.”

Tantaros apparently has got her history confused with some other US bombing of a sovereign state for no particularly good reason because Reagan never said he would “nuke” Tehran if they did not hand over the hostages. In any case, hold your fire, Andrea, because the Iranians in last week’s incident were not holding the American sailors “hostage,” but rather were detaining them for questioning – a completely normal protocol under such circumstances – before allowing them to depart in the very same boats they arrived in.

By conjuring up the insane idea of bombing Tehran over nothing more than a mishap, Tantaros has exposed herself as a smoking gun, a media weapon of mass destruction, proving exactly how lethal and dangerous the Western mainstream media message has become irrespective of the channel. Instead of these media pundits speaking from a position of level-headed neutrality, reasonably weighing issues of enormous gravity in a fair, unbiased and non-hysterical manner, they come out screaming and shooting from the hip. At the same time, allowing any opposing voice to balance the circus act has now become an exception as opposed to the rule.

It may well prove to be the tragedy of our times that the Fourth Estate is actually proving to be more gung-ho about war and conflict than those men and women now serving in the military forces.

Tyler Rogoway, writing in Foxtrot Alpha, responded to Tantaros’ tantrum by asking, “What exactly did they expect the Iranians to do here?”

“Boarding any boat is a risky business, let alone one that is bristling with heavy machine guns, stuffed with small arms, and operated by a country that you have extremely bitter relations with and see as a reasonable foe,” Rogoway wrote. “Are we supposed to believe that the Iranians should not care about the safety of their own crews executing such a dangerous task?

Not just that, but having a crew put their hands up during a boarding action like this is also for their own safety, so that no mistakes or misinterpretations are made that could lead to a massacre."

There were other portions of the Iranian video that have attracted the ire of US pundits. First, the Iranians were seen as behaving hospitable, accommodating and even friendly - exactly the opposite as to how they are regularly portrayed in the Western media. Is that what Tantaros meant when she accused the Iranians of “putting out propaganda that embarrasses the United States of America”? How dare those Iranians act different from our well-established stereotypes!

Indeed, compare the treatment of those 10 (now-freed) Americans with those desperate detainees still locked up inside of Guantanamo Bay detention center.

It may well prove to be the tragedy of our times that the Fourth Estate is actually proving to be more gung-ho about war and conflict than those men and women now serving in the military forces.

And while the US sailors were not exactly treated to bed and breakfast at the Ritz Carlton, they were seen seated on the floor on Persian carpets and pillows, enjoying a local dish of finger food complete with bottled water. Again, not the Ritz, but certainly better than being stuck in the middle of the Persian Gulf with a broken motor.

Other issues that the mainstream media could not forgive were the apology delivered by the apparent commander of the US group (who also added that conditions provided by the Iranians were “fantastic,” a remark that certainly made Tantaros and friends cringe in horror), and the hijab that a US naval servicewoman was seen donning, in conformity with Islamic tradition. But as the old saying goes, when in Rome - and especially without a visa and invitation - better do as the Romans do.

The real history that Tantaros should have referred her audience to was not some mythical threat of a nuclear strike, an event the world can ill-afford, but rather the Gulf of Tonkin incident – an alleged attack on the USS Maddox by the North Vietnamese on August 2, 1964, which in fact, as former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted years later, “never happened.”

Nevertheless, that much-publicized non-event granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the power to declare war against North Vietnam, thus opening one of the most tragic chapters of American (and Vietnamese) history.

With that cruel history lesson in mind, the uncanny timing of those two US patrol boats straying into Iranian waters may strike some as suspicious. After all, the Iranian nuclear deal was just days away from going into effect, the Iranian people were about to be freed of painful sanctions, and oil promised to flow once again from the Islamic country to international markets.

Although all of that spells a great change of fortune for the Islamic Republic, many US politicians (and certainly just as many Fox pundits) have already declared their extreme dissatisfaction with the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Tehran, going so far as to say they will work to dissolve Obama's diplomatic work once they are in power.

It almost makes one wonder if somebody somewhere in the upper echelons of power was hoping to provoke some sort of clash between the American and Iranian naval forces, thus keeping Washington and Tehran sworn enemies.

After all, as the saying goes, history has a strange way of repeating itself.



The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.