Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wide Asleep in America's 20 Most Popular Posts of 2013

A New Year is upon us.

Reflecting on the year gone by, I feel that a few thank yous and shout-outs are due.

First and foremost, thank you to you, the one reading this right now and those who have ever visited this site with an open mind and without an agenda. Your eyes are everything.

In February 2013, I was lucky enough to join the incredible staff at Muftah, an online magazine dedicated to insightful, truthful and humanizing analysis of the Middle East and North Africa. It has been my pleasure to have spent much of the past year as one of Muftah's editors for its Iran, Iraq, and Turkey pages. I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to Muftah's founder Maryam Jamshidi for her tireless and inspiring work, her limitless patience, and for the opportunity, trust, and guidance she has given me.

Through Muftah I have had the privilege to work with some of best analysts and commentators around, including Murtaza Hussain, Rania Khalek, Roqayah Chamseddine, Reza Sanati, Holly Dagres, Tyler Cullis, J.A. Myerson, Sina Toossi, Muhammad Sahimi, Eldar Mamedov, Melissa Etehad, Graham West, Gareth SmythDavid Shams, Farhang Jahanpour, Jeremy R. Hammond, and Falguni Sheth, among others.

Muftah also allowed me (now and then) to write about lovely - non-nuclear related - things like art, fashion, film, theater, architecture, music, sports and photography, as well as the occasional triumph of humanity over propaganda.

I also must acknowledge the amazing support given to me by the editors of Mondoweiss, Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz. Their confidence in their work and willingness to risk everything for the truth is courageous and rare. That I continue to be a contributor to their site is a great honor to me.

2013 also provided me with the good fortune to write for Extra!, co-author an article with the great Jon Schwarz and do some interviews with intrepid reporters John and Molly Knefel on Radio Dispatch (see here and here), Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio (see here and here and here), and Steve Rendall of the indispensable FAIR Counterspin (see here and here).

And now, in no particular order (sort of), and with full awareness of the shameless, self-promotional nature of this first post of 2014, here are some of the more popular articles I wrote last year:


Posted the day before the 2013 Academy Award ceremony crowned Ben Affleck's Argo the Best Picture of the Year, this post is unquestionably the most popular of the year; in fact, it's by far the most read article I've ever written.

Addressing a number of the historical inaccuracies and problematic propaganda that permeates the film, the post got a huge boost from its inclusion in a press release by the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) and being kindly promoted by both Glenn Greenwald and John Cusack.

The article was subsequently picked up by a number of other outlets and cross-posted (in various forms) at Mondoweiss, PolicyMic, Council for the National Interest, and The Political Film Blog.

Oscar Prints the Legend:
Argo's Upcoming Academy Award and the Failure of Truth
Saturday, February 23, 2013

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 have spent the last three decades tirelessly exacting revenge on Iran for what happened.

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.

Read it here.


The Ironic Lady:
Margaret Thatcher, Supposed Champion of Freedom and Democracy, and Her Dictator Friends
Monday, April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher died Monday, April 8, 2013, at the age of 87. Predictably, there were no dearth of hagiographic profiles of the former British Prime Minister in the mainstream press and scathing vitriol elsewhere. But while The Economist hailed Thatcher for her "willingness to stand up to tyranny" and Barack Obama calls her "one of the great champions of freedom and liberty," it should be remembered that, throughout her career, Thatcher was a staunch supporter of many of the world's most brutal regimes, propping up and arming war criminals and dictators in service to Western imperialism, anti-Communism and neoliberal hegemony.

Read it here.


Muck and Meir:
Prolific Analyst Botches Facts to Vindicate Failed Iran Sanctions Policy
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Israeli commentator Meir Javedanfar has made a very successful career of trafficking conventional wisdom and mainstream narratives about Iran's nuclear program.

In an op-ed for
The Guardian, Javedanfar highlights a sequence of events over the past few years to show that Iran's decisions to engage in talks have been directly influenced by embargoes on Iranian oil and gas, which have hurt the Islamic Republic’s economy.

But the facts simply don't work in Mr. Javedanfar’s favor.

Read it here.


The Language of Power:
Obama's "Humanitarian Hawk" & Israel's New Gladiator at the UN
Thursday, July 18, 2013

In her first appearance before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Samantha Power, Obama's pick for next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, made clear that she will spend her time in the role much as her predecessor Susan Rice did: acting as Israel's consummate defender, fear-mongering about Iran, and opposing any move to champion Palestinian human rights or self-determination.

Power has already proven herself a loyal replacement, disavowing any semblance of past critical thinking when it comes to Israeli human rights abuses and abrogation of international law and opposing fear-mongering about Iran's nuclear program. It is no surprise Washington hawks, Zionist ideologues and even the Israeli government are falling over themselves to sing her praises.

Read it here.


The Crying of Flight 655:
The Washington Post and the Whitewashing of a War Crime
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When Washington Post foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher told the story - virtually unknown here in the United States - of the downing of Iran Air Flight 655, which occurred 25 years ago during the Iran-Iraq War, his omission of vital context, crucial facts, and sufficient skepticism of official U.S. government claims did little to illuminate the full scope of the tragedy and the American hubris behind it.

Read it here.


AMAZEBALLS: Rachel Maddow's Ignorance on Iran
Thursday, June 13, 2013

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has a penchant for saying smug, self-satisfied and generally stupid things about Iran. She has claimed that the Iranian Revolution in 1979 marked the establishment of a dictatorship in that country, rather than the end of one; one that just so happened to be a monarchic dynasty that was proudly supported for decades by the United States government. Earlier this year, she weirdly decided to mock Iranians for their national and religious holidays because, y'know, she's progressive like that.

When it comes to Iran, the liberal media darling Maddow is no different than the neoconservative editors of the Washington Post. Facts are irrelevant and propaganda prevails.

Read it here.


Buckling to Bigotry:
The Newseum Dishonors Murdered Palestinian Journalists
Monday, May 13, 2013

Just two days before Palestinians commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, the names of two Palestinian cameramen targeted and killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza last November were dropped from a dedication ceremony held to honor "reporters, photographers and broadcasters who have died reporting the news" over the past year.

The move followed an Israel lobby pressure campaign led by anti-Palestinian organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the American Jewish Committee, efforts that were openly supported by the Israeli government.

The decision reeked of hypocrisy and Manichean double standards.

Read it here.


Looking For 'A New Devil’:
Israeli Leaders & Supporters Scramble After Iran Election
Monday, June 17, 2103

Hassan Rouhani's unexpected victory in Iran's presidential election sent Israeli hasbara into a tailspin. The desire for an Iranian bogeyman is so intense in the warmongering mainstream of Israeli and neoconservative discourse that any attempt to mask their pre-election desires and post-election frustration has been futile. Their entire game plan has been on display -- every Iranian leader is a New Hitler and every New Hitler must be stopped. The whole point is to stave off any possible reconciliation or even minor deflation of tensions between Iran and the West, namely the United States, so as to maintain permanent Israeli hegemony over the region and American largesse and diplomatic cover.

In a satirical commentary entitled, "A New Devil," Israeli columnist Yigal Sarna lamented, "Oh Hassan Rouhani, you moderate, who invited you? What did you have to come for? What are we going to do without the scarecrow, the fanatic Ahmadinejad?" He continued, What will we do without our Persian Hitler? What will Bibi draw at the UN? At whom will (Defense Minister Yaalon) storm and to whom will he send our smart bombs and how will Bibi distract people from the plundering here?

Read it here.


Nelson Mandela, 1918 - 2013
Friday, December 6, 2013

As countless obituaries, eulogies, elegies, panegyrics, and encomia pour in following the death of Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday December 5, 2013 at the age of 95, the sanitization and mythologizing of his principles and legacy is already in full swing across the political spectrum.

We will hear little of the fact that in his courageous and unfaltering stand for freedom and justice, he routinely refused to rhetorically renounce armed resistance to vicious, racist and violent oppression.

Endless comparisons between Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. will be made in the mainstream; yet few will note that both men were tireless critics and opponents of American aggression and imperialism and reviled by many in the U.S. establishment as threats to the existing power structure.

Read it here.


Ever-Closing Windows and Biden Time on Iran at AIPAC
Sunday, March 17, 2013

After a brief respite from incessant warmongering nonsense following the reelection of Barack Obama in November 2012, old rhetorical devices reemerged. With a vengeance.

With history repeating itself (remember in early 2001 when the Department of Defense reported, "Iraq would need five or more years and key foreign assistance to rebuild the infrastructure to enrich enough material for a nuclear weapon"?), it remains crucial to assess facts rather than blindly accept propaganda, to recall the lessons of the past in order to avoid future blunders and to know - unequivocally - that the implications and consequences of the pathological Iraqization of Iran inevitably lead to the commission of murderous war crimes, not merely Freudian slips.

Read it here.


Treaty Obligations, War Crimes and Accountability:
A Study in American Hypocrisy
Friday, August 30, 2013

With allegations of a horrific chemical weapons attack outside Damascus and new reports of a "napalm" bomb being dropped on a school playground in northern Syria, this statement, made by an American Commander-in-Chief, would certainly come as a surprise to many of Obama's predecessors, considering the use of chemical weapons has been standard U.S. military procedure for decades.

Read it here.


U.S. Intel Chief Says Iran Isn't Building Nukes.
Is Anybody Listening?
Friday, March 15, 2013

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday March 12, 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reaffirmed what the U.S. intelligence community has been saying for years: Iran has no nuclear weapons program, is not building a nuclear weapon and has not even made a decision to do so.

The annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” which compiles the collective conclusions of all American intelligence agencies, has long held that Iran maintains defensive capabilities and has a military doctrine of deterrence and retaliation, but is not an aggressive state actor and has no intention of beginning a conflict, let alone triggering a nuclear apocalypse.

Read it here.


George Stephanopoulos Thinks Iran is Enriching Weapons-Grade Uranium...But It's Not.
Monday, September 30, 2013

Iran's new foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared on ABC's "This Week" and addressed a number of the same questions every Iranian official is asked again and again in interviews by the American media.

George Stephanopoulos, who effectively conducted the same interview with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad three years in a row, asked Zarif about possible concessions Iran is willing to make over its nuclear program. By doing so, however, he revealed that he knows very little about Iran's domestic enrichment program and the consistent findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Read it here.


Iran's Nuclear Rights vs. the West's "Bombastic Diplomacy"
Monday, November 11, 2013

The United States believes it can dictate which rights countries are entitled to on a case by case basis. In fact, Undersecretary Wendy Sherman said as much at a recent Senate appearance.

"The United States does not take [the] position" that enrichment is an inherent right of all nations, she said. "We take the position that we look at each one of these [cases]."

This is piecemeal international law and the explicit obliteration of the equal application of law for all nations. Essentially, if you are a willing and pliant client of the United States, you have certain rights; if you're not, you don't.

Read it here.


How Bogus Narratives Perpetuate:
The Guardian's Bad Facts on Iran Return
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Guardian has done it again.

An article entitled, "Supreme court quashes Iran bank sanctions and criticises secret hearings," published in the paper's Law section on June 19, 2013, reports on a British court ruling against the imposition of unilateral sanctions on Iran's largest private bank, Bank Mellat.

Both the report's third and eleventh paragraphs of the article contain the familiar - and incorrect - phrase "Iran's nuclear weapons programme."

Not only is the recurrence of such a phrase alarming due to its factual inaccuracy, but its repeated presence is all the more bizarre considering
The Guardian has already acknowledged that such a phrase is inappropriate in news reporting. Apparently, the Law editors didn't get the memo.

Read it here.


The Not-So-Complex World of Michael Bloomberg:
When A White Person Does It, That Means It's Not Terrorism
Thursday, May 30, 2013

While the NYPD continues to terrorize minority communities and the FBI continues to foil phony Muslim terror plots that it itself devises, plans and funds, rest assured that all the well-armed and well-represented white folks in our noble nation will continue to live free from suspicion, scrutiny, and surveillance no matter how much postal poison ;they send and mass shootings they carry out.

Read it here.


Atomic Errors: Propaganda & Ignorance in Reporting on Iran
Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whenever tensions over Iran’s nuclear energy program appear to dissipate and rational, fact-based reporting begins to replace agenda-driven rhetoric in the press, the folks over at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a Washington D.C. think tank that specializes in producing highly speculative assessments of the nuclear capabilities of countries loathed by the U.S. government, release a new study full of hypotheticals, allegations, and innuendo intended to restore alarmism to front pages and TelePrompTers.

Critical to the success of ISIS’s efforts and the endless self-promotion of its president, David Albright, are the dutiful stenographers in the media who eagerly promote to large audiences their claims as unchallenged fact, without even a shred of skepticism or hint of journalistic integrity.

On October 24,
USA Today published a story that not only reached new lows of shameless alarmism over Iran’s nuclear program, but also contained myriad factual errors about the program itself and Iran’s relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the organization which monitors the nuclear programs of nations around the world. Oren Dorell, the reporter who filed the story, along with his editors, bear significant responsibility for the spreading of disinformation, especially after a number of their mistakes were pointed out to them.

Read it here.


From Iraq to Iran: Memories Ignored & Lessons Unlearned
Friday, March 8, 2013

Back in September 2003, as it became ever more clear that Iraq had hidden no weapons of mass destruction, Blix condemned the United States and Britain for exploiting "the culture of spin, the culture of hyping" in order to sell their war. "They took away the question marks and put in exclamation points instead," he said the following year.

The tactics of collective punishment and threats of military action now leveled against Iran are the same as they were ten years ago against Iraq. Every week, the mainstream media peddles new stories of supposedly nefarious Iranian acts, only to be debunked and discredited after these narratives have irreversibly gained traction.

Read it here.


Time Warped: Repeated Rhetoric of Urgency from Israel to Iran
Thursday, December 26, 2013

An excellent piece by journalist and author Max Blumenthal in Mondoweiss details the repetition of the "time is running out" bromide, often used in discussions about the so-called two-state solution in Israel/Palestine by those who promote the endless and pointless "peace process," as a way to disingenuously maintain the status quo of Israeli occupation, colonization, domination and discrimination.

As evidenced by his research, the tired talking points that "time is running out" and that there is a "window of opportunity" have endured for decades.

The very same rhetoric - not merely similar, but rather identical - has long been reused and regurgitated to continually set back the clock on the allegedly always-imminent Iranian nuclear bomb. Diplomacy, for over a decade now, has had a determined expiration date that remains ever out of reach; the doomsday clock is always ticking, counting down to disaster, the "window" for a negotiated and mutual solution to the impasse is always "closing," the "point of no return" nearly here, the apocalyptic repercussions of Western weakness and Iranian progress just around the corner.

Read it here.


Benjamin and His Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Lies:
Netanyahu Cries 'Wolf'...Again
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been leading the charge against Iran since the mid-1990s, warning of weapons programs that don't exist and calling for sanctions and explicit military threats. His talking points since then literally have not changed and are identical to those he used to encourage the United States to invade Iraq a decade ago.

Read it here.


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