Cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face

The Washington Post’s editorials on foreign policy issues have almost always been confrontational towards whatever country the United States government considers too disobedient. Even the Post’s Op-Ed page is less predictable and servile than its editorials. Abandoning their duty to inform the public and hold the powerful accountable, the paper’s hawkish editorial writers are no different from their counterparts in the ultraconservative Washington Times or the Soviet-era Pravda in Moscow.

Currently this servility is on display in a Post editorial on August 21, “”, devoted to incriminating Iran based solely on unverified claims by the Pentagon that Iran is murdering U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Buttressing the White House’s declared intention to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, The Washington Post flatly states, with no supporting evidence, that IRGC “is waging war against the United States and trying to kill as many American soldiers as possible.”

The speculation is contradicted by the Post’s own coverage less than a
year ago. In a dispatch from southern Iraq titled “British Find No
Evidence Of Arms Traffic From Iran,” the paper’s staff writer Ellen
Knickmeyer reported last October 4:

“A few hundred British troops living out of nothing more than their
cut-down Land Rovers and light armored vehicles have taken to the
desert in the start of what British officers said would be months of
patrols aimed at finding the illicit weapons trafficking from Iran, or
any sign of it…. [After two months, they have] found nothing to support
the Americans’ contention that Iran is providing weapons and training
in Iraq, several senior military officials said.”

Following Israel’s devastation of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the
Post similarly urged the Bush administration twice to “get tough” with
Iran, which it blamed for sponsoring terrorism in Lebanon.

The Post’s unquestioning service to empire is all too familiar. Back in
the 1980s, the paper made a habit of playing stenographer to the Reagan
administration as it justified its murderous intervention in Central
America. Reagan falsely claimed that the US had to train and arm the
despicable Contra rebel army against Nicaragua because the country’s
leadership was channeling Soviet weapons to neighboring El Salvador in
a bid to destabilize U.S. client states in the entire region. The
Washington Post editorial writers never wavered from that fabricated
line, not even when they feigned outrage at the scandalous Iran-Contra
scheme by Reagan’s subordinates to fund the war on Nicaragua in
violation of a Congressional ban.

Similarly, the Post never questioned Reagan’s full support for the
fanatic Saudis and Pakistanis who fought the Soviet occupiers in
Afghanistan in the name of freedom for Islam. It was those very evil
forces who later regrouped as al-Qaeda to exact revenge on the American
“infidels” on September 11, 2001.

One would expect an independent major newspaper like The Washington
Post to remind the Bush administration that Iran was a victim of
Taleban terrorism and made common cause with the U.S. as Washington
overthrew the Afghan government that harbored the perpetrators of the
9/11 terrorist attacks. Instead, the paper supports the Bush
administration’s newly announced multi-billion dollar weapons shipments
to Saudi Arabia, whose ruling elite notoriously supports anti-American
extremists. That despite the well-known fact that Saudi funds and
jihadis are strengthening the Sunni fighters in Iraq who kill American
troops daily.


The Post editorial writers believe, as does the White
House, that the massive arms buildup, and the material support
Washington is (according to Seymour Hersch) giving to Sunni extremist
groups in Lebanon, are necessary to contain Iran. A more twisted
editorial logic is hard to imagine. Apparently, cutting one’s nose to
spite one’s face is considered professional journalism at The
Washington Post.

Based in Washington DC, Rostam Pourzal writes regularly on the politics of human rights.

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