Selling Iran, Part Two

This is what we face in trying to stop the march to war with Iran:

The words “terror, terrorism, and terrorist” are used fourteen times in four minutes. “Al Qaeda” is mentioned four times. The word “arson” is used exactly five times in comparison. Fox News is playing the simple, yet efficient trick of putting two incompatible words into one sentence, or one paragraph, to make them into one idea. It’s exactly what these jokers pulled when they convinced half of America that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, just by saying “Iraq” and “9/11″ together often enough.

Fox will defend itself by saying that they’re just discussing a tantalizing possibility. Sure, it’s possible that an al-Qaeda cell set off explosives in the suburbs of San Diego. But it could just as likely have been death-rays from Mars. Actually, here’s a thought: replace the word al-Qaeda with “Mars,” and you could probably get Americans to let you double the budget for NASA.

Speaking of budgets, Bush wants emergency funding for bunker-busting bombs. The Pentagon brass has analyzed and positioned its combat power against Iran. And the top G.O.P. nominees are busy positioning themselves as THE bomb-Iran candidate. The three components of post-9/11 war — money, military, and marketing — are all being lined up for Operation “Bring It On.”

And all this since my last post on this topic just three days ago…which tells you how vital it is that opponents of a third Bush war pay attention to the White House marketing effort and derail it at every turn. First, I wrote about how important it is for antiwar activists and politicians to avoid getting caught up in the details, CALL OUT anyone trying to link Iran and 9/11, defuse the immediacy of the issue, and put Iran’s nuclear “threat” in perspective. This second post is an attempt to create an alternative creed — instead of beating a drum for war, someone needs to call a cadence towards sanity.

The sanctions announced today declare parts of Iran’s military to be terrorist organizations, and three large Iranian banks to be funding sources for terrorism. The standing government and economic structures of Iran — agencies, bureaus, branches — are being declared illegitimate, and by extension, the entire regime in Tehran. Bush warned us of “World War III” if Iran acquires the knowledge to build nuclear weapons — knowledge the United States accidentally gave them in 2000. So the equation is set: “Iran = nuclear terrorism.”

With a clear majority of Americans opposed to a new war with Iran, it’s time for Democratic candidates (and Republican Ron Paul) to step up to microphones and call a different tune: NO NEW WAR. Other than Paul, no matter who the Republican nominee might be they should get tagged early and often with the label of “WAR CANDIDATE.”

“NO NEW WAR! A vote for (the Republican) is a vote for war!”

Furthermore, opposition must offer clear and simple alternatives, preferably with positive action words. Democrats should “DARE TO USE DIPLOMACY.” In other words, what works are concise statements that don’t get fuzzy or hang at the end of conditional words.

If you can’t get the point across in three seconds, don’t even bother. Here is what will NOT work: “I am opposed to any funding bill which does not require the president to operate within the framework of diplomacy, using military force as a final resort.” Leaving open the possibility of military force makes the speaker’s stand seem weak. Using a long string of words to connect two ideas (“bill” and “diplomacy”) makes it complicated. A congressman saying this sentence will not rally anyone to their cause.

As the Kerry campaign showed us, nuance kills.

Next time: Smashing the Icons.

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