Propaganda Versus Reality In the Terror War

Terrorism: Propaganda Versus Reality

There is hardly an accusation more damning in American political discourse than to be declared a “sponsor of terrorism.” We are used to certain countries, primarily Iran, being labeled by government officials and media outlets as state sponsors of terrorism. In the case of Iran, this claim is certainly true. But Sun columnist Michael Johns ’20, echoing a statement by former President George W. Bush, takes this accusation to the extreme by claiming that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The recent historical record, however, shows that this is far from true: It is the United States that routinely tops the list of rogue states with little regard for international law and diplomatic norms.

To make such an accusation against a country merits an investigation into its veracity. Johns references Iranian support for violent non-governmental actors such as the Lebanese militant-political party Hezbollah and Shi’ite militias in Iraq, as well as its ties to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as proof that Iran reigns world champion of terrorism. In analyzing Johns’ and Bush’s accusation, it will be helpful to consider some of the most extensive instances of international terrorism since the 1979 Iranian Revolution brought about Iran’s current regime.

First, we turn to the ongoing Yemeni Civil War, the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” according to international observers. The suffering is far from limited to traditional wartime deaths, which number at just under 100,000 so far. Some 85,000 children under the age of five died of starvation as of November 2018, a result of a famine caused by a military blockade of Yemen. It is unlikely that this famine and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians via airstrikes will come to an end soon, as the state-terrorist perpetrator’s principal military ally has blocked all efforts to end its patronage of the regime committing these crimes.

But the perpetrator of these atrocities is not the Iranian-backed Houthi Movement, and Iran is not the unrepentant enabler: The perpetrator is Saudi Arabia, and its patron is the U.S. Executive Branch. Saudi Arabia regularly commits the same types of outrageous human rights violations against its own citizens for which Johns rightly condemns Iran. We can therefore conclude not only that Iranian support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen is not an example of Iran’s alleged supremacy in the realm of international terrorism, but that a closer look at the reality of the war in Yemen paints a radically different picture of who is sponsoring “terrorism” in the country.

Johns’ next example of Iranian terror is the regime’s support for Hezbollah, a Lebanese political-military faction that emerged as an armed Shi’a-Islamist opposition to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon in the 1980s. Hezbollah is best remembered in the U.S. for perpetrating bombings against Israeli-allied and American targets in Lebanon during the country’s civil war. Iran has been a consistent ally of Hezbollah since its founding.

Perhaps the most extensive example of state-sponsored terrorism contemporary to the emergence of Hezbollah is that of the Contra War in Nicaragua. The Contras were a collection of paramilitary organizations and mercenaries receiving funding, intelligence, training, and arms from the CIA for most of the 1980s. They systematically killed civilians and attacked public spaces in order to bring the popular Nicaraguan government to its knees, a tactic that an honest observer might refer to as “terrorism.” Contra fighters routinely committed the types of gruesome executions we tend to associate with ISIS. In 1986, the World Court ruled that the Reagan Administration had violated international law in aiding the Contras, and Nicaragua continues to seek billions in reparations. By 1990, the Contra-led assault on Nicaragua had claimed over 30,000 lives — an example of terror contemporary to the first phase of Hezbollah terror in Lebanon, but on a much larger scale. Atrocities of larger magnitude were carried out at the same time in El Salvador and Guatemala, perpetrated by U.S.-backed military dictatorships rather than rouge rebel armies, all part of a strategy of financing groups violently opposed to political reform in Central America.

With so many examples of U.S.-backed terrorist groups and murderous regimes contemporary to each instance of Iranian sponsorship of terror, you begin to wonder how Johns and so many other American commentators have managed to present the narrative that Iran is the leading sponsor of terrorism in the world. The U.S. government does have a list of state sponsors of terrorism that includes only Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea. All are authoritarian regimes that brutalize their own populations. But curiously absent from the list are the chief U.S.-backed human rights abusing states of our time, such as Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States, Egypt, Israel, Colombia and the Philippines, to name a few.

It is therefore revealed what is meant by “terrorism” in the vernacular of many American government officials and political commentators: “Terrorism” is a term which categorically excludes any state, paramilitary or rebel army that commits acts of politically-motivated violence so long as it is allied (or directed by) the U.S. If we want to “reign in Iran’s brutal regime” with any sense of moral high ground, then perhaps it is time to have an honest discussion about state-sponsored violence in the world and reject the blinding, hyper-nationalist ideology that refuses to recognize terrorism as such unless it is committed by an official enemy.

Jacob Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in applied mathematics at Cornell University. He can be reached at jtb257@cornell.edu. Mapping Utopia runs every other Tuesday this semester.

Trump Assassination of Iraqi and Iranian Govt. Officials An Obvious Act of “US STATE TERRORISM”

Iran summons Swiss envoy, condemns US ‘state terrorism’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

File photo showing Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi.

Iran has summoned the Swiss charge d’affaires, whose country represents US interests in Iran, over Washington’s assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, decrying the attack as a “blatant instance of state terrorism”.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Friday that the Swiss envoy was notified of Tehran’s “strong protest”.

“He was told that Washington’s move is a blatant instance of state terrorism and the US regime is responsible for all its consequences,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, the IRGC confirmed that Major General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC, had been assassinated in US airstrikes in Baghdad.

Look For Open War With Iran After Trump Assassinates Top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani

Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were killed in US airstrikes in the Iraqi capital Baghdad early on Friday.

Iran Leader vows ‘harsh revenge’ following assassination of Gen. Soleimani

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei speaks to IRGC Quds Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani in this file photo.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says those who assassinated IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani must await a harsh revenge.

In a statement on Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei said the “cruelest people on earth” assassinated the “honorable” commander who “courageously fought for years against the evils and bandits of the world.”

His demise will not stop his mission, but the criminals who have the blood of General Soleimani and other martyrs of the Thursday night attack on their hands must await a harsh revenge, the Leader added.

“Martyr Soleimani is an international figure of the Resistance, and all the devotees of Resistance are now his avengers,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

“All the friends and foes must know that the path of Jihad of the Resistance will continue with double motivation, and a definite victory awaits those who fight in this auspicious path,” the Leader said.

“The demise of our selfless and dear general is bitter, but the continued fight and achievement of the final victory will make life bitterer for the murderers and criminals,” he added.

In his statement, the Leader also offered condolences to the Iranian nation and General Soleimani’s family, and declared three days of national mourning.

Later in the day, the IRGC spokesman General Ramezan Sharif warned that the US’ “momentary pleasure” after assassinating General Soleimani will be short-lived, and will soon turn into lamentation.

He also said the IRGC is going to open a new chapter from now on and the front of resistance is going to set out a new starting point.

‘Iran more determined now’

Following the Leader’s remarks, President Hassan Rouhani strongly condemned the attack, and said the US assassination will make Iran and other free nations more determined to stand against Washington.

“The martyrdom of the great commander of Islam and Iran, and the courageous commander of the Quds Force, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, along with some of his companions especially the great fighter Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, by the aggressive and criminal US broke the heart of the entire nation of Iran and regional nations,” President Rouhani said in a Friday statement.

The assassination “doubled the determination of the great nation of Iran and other free nations to stand against and resist the excessive demands of the US and to defend the Islamic values,” he added.

“There is no doubt that this cowardly and evil move is another sign of the US’ desperation, inability and failure in the region, and the hatred felt by the regional nations toward this criminal regime,” Rouhani noted.

“The great nation of Iran and other free nations of the region will take revenge for this heinous crime against the criminal US,” he warned.

Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami also vowed that revenge will be taken against all those behind the assassination.

“Undoubtedly, this heinous crime which is a strong proof of the evil nature of the Big Satan, the arrogant US and it’s all-out support for terrorism in the region and Iraq, will be responded to in a crushing way,” the defense minister warned.

Earlier, former commander of the IRGC Major General Mohsen Rezaei also vowed a harsh revenge against the perpetrators.

Details of the attack

Speaking to Iran’s state TV, the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi explained that the US’ missile attacks hit two cars transferring General Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and 10 companions and bodyguards from Baghdad Airport to the city at 1 am (local time).

According to Masjedi, all the passengers have been killed, and arrangements are being made for their return to the Islamic Republic of Iran.