For the past several days, the spin behind the headlines surrounding Iran's activities have been enough to send any one looking for cover -- or declare war. After all, nuclear bombs, missiles, and the stealing of a neighbor's oil fields is what prompted the "international community" to declare war on Iraq - twice. Why not Iran? As Bill O'Reilly said: " What spin is, is taking a set of circumstances, all right, and taking that circumstance and making it not what it is."
The latest rumor comes from the Saudi owned al-Arabiya (partially owned by Kuwait and Persian Gulf States) which announced that 11 Iranian soldiers had taken over an Iraqi oil field. Although this report was denied by Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji, and "A US military spokesman told AFP at Contingency Operating Base Adder", other media sources have run off with it. What was the intention of releasing such 'news'?
Clearly, what is not new is that Saudis (and Kuwaitis) are becoming an old hand at assisting Americans in their adventures in the region. In 1991, Nayirah, the 15-year old daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the U.S., used her ties with the PR firm Hill & Knowlton and came up with the audacious lie that the Iraqis were throwing babies out of the incubators in Kuwait. Hill & Knowlton's marketing helped build domestic support for the war. $40billion of the $60 billion US costs was paid by Saudi Arabia.
Thanks to their relentless efforts, Bush Junior dared to go where his father had not - Baghdad. Of course, once again, a PR firm, The Rendon Group, was paid millions of dollars to demonize Saddam in order to persuade the American public of the necessity of an illegal invasion. Bob Woodard (State of Denial) explains the Saudi role during his interview on '60 minutes'. "[Price]Bandar, who's skeptical because he knows in the first Gulf War we didn't get Saddam out, so he says to Cheney and Rumsfeld, 'So Saddam this time is gonna be out, period?' And Cheney - who has said nothing - says the following: 'Prince Bandar, once we start, Saddam is toast.'" "Bandar understood that economic conditions were key before a presidential election: "They're [oil prices] high. And they could go down very quickly. That's the Saudi pledge".
It would seem that the Saudis are at it again. They have attempted to buy the Chinese by offering them cheap oil in exchange for sanctions against Iran; but China knows better than to auction its future and national security for a bloody adventure. Saudi Arabia, in a change of tactic, spun a story about Iran invading an Iraqi oilfield which led to an immediate hike in oil prices. Could this have been intended as a punishment aimed at the Chinese for not cooperating while projecting Iran as an extreme threat?
Given their media ownership, this was easily accomplished. In 2005, while in Dubai, Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal boasted that he could change the news content that viewers around the world see on television thanks to his voting shares in News Corp. All other media jumped on the bandwagon. The only way to give authenticity and life to rumor is by ensuring that it comes from several sources.
The deep recession in America and the painful layoffs has been the result of two wars and a third silent war -- Pakistan. One in eight Americans and one in four children has turned to food stamps. Perhaps for those with a talent and willingness to be spin-masters, there is a bright future ahead in the public relations sector should we head for another war with Iran. For the rest who would rather live with a conscience, perhaps a little memory exercise would salvage our future.