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Finally some sensible media coverage on Iran

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While the rest of the western mainstream media (having not learned their lessons from their role in aiding and abetting the 2003 Iraq war) seem all to willing to let warmongers get the best of them, the Globe and Mail's Doug Saunders has given the global public interest some hope for his profession and a more peaceful world. 

This past Saturday (February 21, 2009, p. F3) Saunders wrote an article entitled "Iran: The Enemy that Almost Isn't," where he pointed out a number of inconvenient facts that are all-to-often left out today's mainstream media coverage on Iran, and pronouncements from irresponsible governments like our own Canadian government.  

The following are some of the much needed points/quotes that Saunders makes that we should all measure future, and hopefully more responsible, media reports and government news releases: 

-"It is likely that simply by looking at Iran as a threat, we've made it one." 

-"Imagine if, in response, the U.S. government made a public, formal apology for the 1953 Central Intelligence Agency overthrow of Iran's elected government, the act that had sent the country on the path to extremism in the first place." 

-Madeleine Albright, the U.S. secretary of state in March of 2000 said "...the United States has cordial relations with a number of countries that are less democratic than Iran.” 

-In 2003, moderate Iranian President Khatami "sent a Swiss official to Washington to make the peace offer. In exchange for recognizing Israel, cutting off Hamas and proving it had abolished any nuclear-weapons plans, Iran wanted an end to sanctions, normal diplomatic relations with the U.S. and recognition of its role in the region....So what happened? Well, nothing. George W. Bush was president, the Iraq war was just approaching the 'mission accomplished' phase, and nobody in the White House thought it would look good to make peace with Iran, a country that only the year before had been made a rhetorical component in Mr. Bush's 'axis of evil.'" 

-"That diplomatic snub was one of several humiliations, diplomatic and economic, that led to the defeat of Mr. Khatami's reformists in subsequent elections and the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's neo-conservative zealots." 

-"....one State Department official directly involved with the Iranian offer told me, 'It was like we missed the biggest Middle East peace opportunity of the decade, just so we could keep saying ‘axis of evil.'"

-"Most of the objection to this scenario [friendly relations with Iran] is based on our belief that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. But that, too, is almost ready to vanish into vapour. Our most authoritative source of information about Iran's nuclear program is the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which stated categorically, based on voluminous sources, that Iran had abandoned its nuclear-weapons program in 2003. Intelligence officials acknowledge openly that the past two years have not added a single new piece of information to that assessment." 

-"Iran, as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is closely watched: It has teams of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency in the country on a permanent basis." 

-"It was reported this week, based on a new IAEA report, that Iran has produced 'enough low-enriched, reactor-grade uranium to make a bomb.' This, as former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Cheryl Rofer has carefully documented, is scientific nonsense: Yes, that uranium contains enough U-235 to make a bomb. To get it out, you would need to kick all the inspectors out of the country, reconfigure thousands of closely watched centrifuges and engage in years of enrichment." 

-“As long as we are monitoring their facilities,” IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei said recently, 'they cannot develop nuclear weapons. And they still do not have the ingredients to make a bomb overnight.'" 

-"The countries that have actually produced atom bombs on the sly in recent years – India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – have done so by refusing to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, so there are no inspectors." 

-"Most informed observers, including Mr. ElBaradei, believe that Iran is merely “hedging” by keeping open the possibility of building a bomb within five to 10 years – exactly what Canada once did." 

Let's hope that Doug Saunders will inspire his journalistic colleagues to ask the right and hard questions of those who would want to see our 21st century continue to be embroiled in a culture of war.  

With Saunder's example of responsible journalism there is more hope that our global society can enter into what former Secretary General of UNESCO Federico Mayor called a Culture of Peace.

Dr. Paul Boin (pboin@uwindsor.ca) is an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Windsor, founder of the Media Justice Project and a member of the Campaign for Democratic Media. His forthcoming book “Media for the Public Mind: Creating a Democratic and Informative News Media” will be published by Fernwood Publishing in the Fall of 2009.  

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