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Why Hawks Rely on Trolls and Smears

Jason Rezaian comments [1] on the story of the MEK’s fake mouthpiece [2], and concludes with this proposal:

So, instead of resorting to false narratives and personal attacks, we should cultivate our Iran policy — because there still isn’t a coherent one — the old-fashioned way: by making real arguments, backing them up with actual evidence and prioritizing real people over the tactics of manipulation and fraud preferred by authoritarians.

Rezaian is absolutely right that this is how our Iran policy and all of our government’s policies should be formulated, so it is worth considering why the Iran policy debate is so unlike this. Why are there so many false claims and malicious trolls, and why are they entirely on the hawkish side of the debate? Supporters of “maximum pressure” and regime change typically resort to fabrications, distortions, and misrepresentations of the evidence because both their assessment of the threat from Iran’s government and their response to it are divorced from reality. They massively inflate the threat from Iran, and then they propose heavy-handed, cruel policies to answer the threat they just exaggerated beyond recognition. Iran hawks rely on mobilizing armies of bots and trolls online so often because there are so few people here or in Iran that actually support a policy of collective punishment against an entire nation. When Iran hawks’ claims are placed under scrutiny, their arguments fall apart right away because they are based on fantasies and lies.

Iran hawks typically argue in bad faith. They will deny that they seek regime change in Iran when there is nothing else that they could be seeking. They feign concern for the Iranian people while imposing more and more destructive sanctions on them. They claim not to want war, but agitate for increasingly aggressive and provocative actions designed to foment conflict. Iran hawks pretend to worry about nuclear proliferation in Iran while actively seeking the destruction of one of the most successful and comprehensive nonproliferation agreements ever negotiated. They assert that Iran seeks nuclear weapons when Iran’s compliance with the same deal that they want to wreck proves that isn’t happening. These same hard-liners cannot rely on “actual evidence” to support their preferred policies because the evidence confirms that they just make things up and twist the facts to suit their purpose. Iran hawks can’t win the argument on the merits, and so they have to turn to underhanded tactics and smears.

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9 Comments To "Why Hawks Rely on Trolls and Smears"

#1 Comment By Sid Finster On June 11, 2019 @ 11:01 am

Because our Saudi owners object to the fact that Iran is Shia, and our Israeli masters object to the fact that Iran exists at all.

Therefore, the same crew that gave us the lies that brought us the War on Iraq are giving us the same lies to start a war on Iran.

This is not that difficult.

#2 Comment By Kouros On June 11, 2019 @ 11:39 am

Why is this attitude of US considered specific only to Iran? It is the same all over the world with anyone. If the US could do the same with Russia or China as it does with Iran, it would do, and as much as it can, it does. Or Venezuela, etc., etc., etc…

#3 Comment By SteveM On June 11, 2019 @ 1:08 pm

Daniel, I don’t know if you referenced these related interesting pieces. But as an FYI:

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Heshmat Alavi is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Subversive mercenaries working for the Deep State and also funded by self-interested billionaires. What can go wrong?

#4 Comment By Clyde Schechter On June 11, 2019 @ 1:39 pm

We will always have liars and sociopaths among us.

The question we need to ponder is how it came to pass that a cabal of criminal sociopaths came to control our foreign policy, and why our media publish their lies without any serious vetting.

#5 Comment By Oleg Gark On June 11, 2019 @ 1:46 pm

To continue to be of value to Israel for shaping their strategic environment, the American military has to remain engaged in the Middle East despite all efforts to extricate itself.

Iraq…done.
Libya…done.
Syria…almost done.
Afghanistan…not done, but mostly irrelevant to Israel.
Yemen, not done, but kind of a sideshow.

Left to its’ own devices, the US would probably leave the Middle East soon. That’s why the threat dial on Iran has been turned up to eleven for the past few months.

#6 Comment By Mark Thomason On June 11, 2019 @ 4:05 pm

“by making real arguments, backing them up with actual evidence”

I suspect the hawks are not rabid fools. They have real arguments and real evidence for them.

What they don’t have is the will to let us know what those arguments are, or to see the evidence.

Why? It isn’t because of secrecy. It is because if they acknowledged their real desires, they’d lose. We don’t want those things. So they lie and defame instead.

That means that the real need is to expose their actual arguments, and the actual evidence supporting their real aims.

We don’t need to create a framework of argument. We just need to expose their real thinking.

#7 Comment By What’s Going On Here? On June 11, 2019 @ 5:48 pm

Trump’s people have blatantly lied to Congress many times. Having paid no penalty for that, they have now hired foreigners to lie to the American public and spread lies about American citizens.

There was considerable and justified outrage over reports that Hillary Clinton hired a British spy to get dirt on Trump, but in at least one way this is radically worse. Clinton wasn’t serving in government when she did that, but Trump is the sitting president of the United States.

His people – serving government officials, all of them – hired foreign operatives to lie to and attack Americans.

That’s a big deal.

#8 Comment By the the On June 13, 2019 @ 12:34 am

Bolton is qualified to push a broom.

#9 Comment By Tony On June 13, 2019 @ 8:02 am

A very good article.

But bad faith also applies to other things such as the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the INF missile treaty.

The latest figure to attack this decision is William Nitze whose father negotiated the treaty.

He writes:

“The United States may be seeking to avoid scrutiny of our own possible noncompliance with the treaty. The Aegis ashore systems deployed in Romania and planned for Poland could be modified to have the ability to launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles in excess of the range limitations set by the INF and could be armed with these missiles very quickly. The INF Treaty not only prohibits both sides from deploying such weapons, but also provides that neither side have the launchers that would allow such weapons to be put in place quickly.”

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