Outrage: Yet Another Surge
by Sam Gardiner
The President said he's not going to attack Iran. If that’s true, I am left wondering why the outrage effort. Why has the White House created an interagency working group whose mission is to build outrage in the world about Iran? The whole effort is so much in the pattern of message preparation for Gulf II that I am left concerned.
In other words, not only does it look as if there are military preparations for striking Iran, it looks as if the White House is doing public opinion preparations for a strike on Iran. Three items stand out this week.
The British Daily Telegraph quotes a senior European defense official: “North Korea had invited a team of Iranian nuclear scientists to study the results of last October’s underground test to assist Tehran’s preparations to conduct its own possibly by the end of this year."
I don’t know a single serious student of the Iranian nuclear program who would give the report any credibility. I talked to a Newsweek reporter about the story. He said the same about the Telegraph guy wrote the article. The story, however, is extremely important.
Using the playbook on strategic communications, when you want to plant a false story, you first find a reporter or a newspaper that will accept what you give them. With just one plant, you can achieve an echo that will support your cause.
It has not been usual for stories to be planted in UK newspapers. There is a great deal of message cooperation between the US and the UK.
In the early part of the fighting in Afghanistan, Cherie Blair and Laura Bush were both telling the press, using exactly the same words to argue why we had initiated the attack. They both said if you wear polish on you nails you could have your nail pulled out. The obvious conclusion was that we should be enraged.
During Gulf II preparations, we saw leaks from officials to UK newspapers with wonderful pieces of information such as the fact that Saddam Hussein was given a passport by France so he could leave Iraq. We read that the reason Saddam Hussein was not found was because the Russian Embassy had allowed him sanctuary. Stay enraged with Iraq, the French and the Russians.
US reporters maintain their integrity by writing that it was “reported in the Telegraph” and don’t have to violate any standards of journalism. With this story, the echo appeared in over 300 outlets over the course of the week. It was immediately reported on Fox News.
There are now many in the world who are outraged that Iran is less than a year from a nuclear weapon.
The other significant item has been some short ads that have appeared on television stations in the Washington area. These ads say things like, “Iran sent thousands of children marching to their deaths to clear minefields, armed with only plastic keys to unlock the gates of heaven.” Obviously, we are to be enraged.
As with the planted story, I can’t prove this is coming from the Media Outreach Working Group, but the pattern makes me very suspicious. Tracing individual and group connections to the ads, the DNA is Republican. During the preparation for Gulf II, we saw the same kind of ads. We also know the RNC has spent money for ads supporting White House policy positions in other cases.
Finally, the Holocaust surfaced in a major way this week. Certainly, the President of Iran whose mouth exceeds his authority in the country created the opening. I fear the strategic communications teams will exaggerate to build outrage.
` To see how this is unfolding, we need to start in Israel. Just as with the UK, the US does message coordination with Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the opposition party there and a friend of Vice President Cheney, is embracing the Holocaust strongly. He says Iran is on its way to doing a second Holocaust. Just like Hitler, Iran wants to kill all the Jews. That’s why Iran needs to be confronted. Newt Gingrich has picked up on the theme.
This week the United States went to the UN to get a resolution condemning those who denied the Holocaust.
The President of Iran crossed the line with his rhetoric. I worry, however, this could be the main theme for generating support in the United States for the eventual attack on Iran. If you are interested in marketing a war, the beauty of this theme is that there are not many Democrats who would be able to object if that case is made. It also appeals to the religious right. It is a wonderful path to outrage.
I’ve written quite a bit on how the messaging was done for Gulf II. You can find the stuff in numerous places on the web. The title is “Truth from These Podia.”