The ‘Iran Democracy Fund’ was recently awarded $60 million. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason to this re-appropriation, especially since more than two dozen Iranian American and human rights groups appealed to Congress to eliminate the program given that the program had backfired, undermining democracy efforts in Iran and leading to wider repression of activists. It therefore begs the question why the United States would deliberately waste tax payers’ money while causing hardship on aspiring democrats in Iran?
Perhaps the answer lies in the lead up to the Iraq invasion.
Post 9/11, Mr. Bush’s core agenda was Iraq, but for this he needed the American people on board. Their reluctance to go to war had to be overcome. To this end, it was necessary to promote a policy that was altruistic. The American public were made to believe that war was necessary to defeat evil.
The Iraq agenda was so important to the Bush administration that the White House had even formed “an interagency” ‘Iraq Public Diplomacy group’ comprised of NSC, CIA, Pentagon, State and USAID staffers.” The Iraq Public Diplomacy Group created the ‘Iraqi Voices for Freedom’ – voices which spoke of Saddam’s brutality and torture, while they made themselves available for interviews, especially to foreign press (non-American). In addition to this, a public relations firm, the Rendon Group, helped create the Iraqi National Congress (INC) in order to promote ‘the democratic voice of Iraq’. This firm helped President Bush sell the war to the public by linking Iraq to al-Qaeda and presenting Saddam Hossein as an imminent threat. They repeatedly linked Saddam and the shocking pictures of the Twin Towers with Saddam Hossein, where there was no link,; but this was accomplished by sheer repetition. False allegations of his capability to launch WMD in 45 minutes was imbedded in the minds of the masses by showing video clips of 1988 chemical attack on the Kurds of Halabja in an attempt to convince people that an attack against Saddam was to defeat evil.
What is more telling is that concurrent with the INC, a Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI) was formed by a group which called itself ‘distinguished Americans who wanted to free Iraq from Saddam Hossein’s rule’. The distinguished members of CLI had close links to the Project for the New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that shaped the Bush foreign policy (CLI members were involved with Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf (CPSG) prior to Operation Desert Storm . Let us be reminded that the idea of “babies thrown from incubators” story of Gulf War I, was the creation of a P.R. firm; Hill & Knowlton – which was of course false).
The CLI does indeed have many distinguished members; Richard Perle, Bernard Lewis, William Kristol, Randy Scheunemann, Newt Gringrich, John McCain, James Woolsey, and the list goes on, but not to be left out, former secretary of state, George P. Schultz. Prior to the Iraq invasion, Shultz was Bechtel’s senior counsel and director . Fiercely pro-war group with close ties to the White House, he made it clear that the ouster of Saddam’s regime was not enough, and that it was necessary ‘to work beyond the liberation of Iraq to the reconstruction of its economy.” Shultz not only used his political influence to help bring this war about, “but key Bechtel board members with advisory positions to the Bush Administration, helped ensure that Bechtel would receive one of the most lucrative contracts for rebuilding what they had helped to destroy”
It was not the first time that Bechtel had been given a lucrative contract in Iraq. According to the Haaretz, Hanan Bar-On, the former deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, confirmed that during the mid 1980s, Israel was involved in talks on a plan for an Iraq-Jordanian pipeline to the Red Sea port of Aqaba. Among the participants in these talks was Donald Rumsfeld, then an adviser to U.S. president Reagan ( and at the time of the Iraq invasion two, secretary of defense). The American corporation Bechtel was slated to build the pipeline . These talks were taking place as Saddam Hossein was dropping chemicals on his own people and his neighbors, the Iranians. In 1985, the deal was called off as Hossein had concerns about the safety of the pipeline going through Israel.
The question to ask is why did Congress approve the Iran Democracy Bill when it means more crack down on the pro-democracy movement?
The devious NIE report is intended to link Iran with a WMD program. The message is to make the masses believe Iran has deviated from the civilian program and that it is a threat to world peace. With the funding, the U.S. government is deliberately sending the Iranian government into a fit of paranoia believing that it has every intention of undermining it – which of course it does. The natural reaction of the Iranian government is to ensure it foils the American plans – as such, it curbs liberties at home even more. America successfully aborts the aspirations of democrats – once again.
As Brian Eno argues, American P.R. companies who have already “preconditioned the emotional landscape,” will indulge in “large-scale manipulation of language,” and help to “create an atmosphere of simmering panic where American imperialism would come to seem not only acceptable but right, obvious, inevitable and even somehow kind” Mr. Bush’s plan, along with those who have managed to hold U.S. foreign policy and the interest of United States hostage, to attack Iran.
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has lived and studied in Iran, the UK, France, Australia and the US. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and she is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Middle East Studies concentrating in Political Science. She has done extensive research on US foreign policy towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program.