Luring an Attack: Julian Borger Claims Insight Into Iran's Motives

The Editors, 16 November 2012 | 6 Comments

Categories: Iran | War | The Guardian | USA | Drones |

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Last week news reports emerged that Iranian warplanes had fired on a US Predator surveillance drone over the Gulf waters on the 1st November, 5 days before the US presidential elections. News of the incident was suppressed by the US until after the elections, we were told.

As is standard practice in reporting on military matters between the US and Iran, a Pentagon spokesman was the primary source for the reports. Also, as with previous coverage of Iran-US relations, there were here portrayed clear good guys and bad guys, with Iran the aggressor 'threaten[ing] to worsen relations between Washington and Tehran', according to The Telegraph, as the US benignly 'conduct[ed] surveillance flights' in the region. It is difficult to believe that the media would treat the incident with the same standard of reporting if the circumstances had been reversed. Were an Iranian surveillance aircraft to be found hovering off the US coast, would The Telegraph speak so kindly of it? If the US shot at an 'unarmed' spy plane would this be perceived as a sign that the US would ‘welcome a conflict’, as one ‘western official’ comments of Iran?

The presence of US surveillance drones in the region is taken for granted. The drone was ‘unarmed’, The Telegraph pointed out in the robot’s defence. (When drones kill Pakistani civilians in Waziristan, the question of whether those civilians were armed or not fails to arise; a different way of thinking applies when US robots are the target.)

The most alarmist of the reports came from The Guardian’s Julian Borger, who cites unnamed ‘western’ and ‘European’ ‘officials’ to depict a deep conspiracy on the part of ‘elements’ within Iran. The incident is taken as a sign that forces within Iran may be attempting to encourage an attack upon themselves; that a ‘war party’ in Iran ‘sees a conflict as a means of rallying support for the regime and cracking down yet further on dissent’.

To support this, Borger discusses the Washington restaurant bomb plot to kill the Saudi ambassador and the alleged involvement of the Quds force, the ‘covert external wing’ of the Revolutionary Guard. Borger relays a quote from an ‘official’, claiming that ‘the most likely explanation’ was that the plot was ‘designed by the Quds force to fail – thus sabotaging nuclear negotiations between the US and Iran’.

However, in a previous article (of January 2012) Borger concluded that, had the restaurant plot been successful, Obama would have been ‘obliged to respond militarily’ against Iran. Apart from the ethical questions raised by such a deduction on the part of a journalist, there is a contradictory logical to Borger’s hypothesis. His two theories combined depict the Iranians as willing war upon themselves as a result of both a successful assassination, and a botched attempt.

Or perhaps Borger is getting ahead of himself in proffering justifications for any potential future military attack on Iran on the part of the US. In his view, no matter the circumstances, the Iranians will have brought an attack upon themselves. In this scenario, the US is portrayed as a mere pawn, ‘obliged to respond’ to the carefully laid traps of the omniscient Iranians.

The headline of Borger’s article of last week, ‘Iran’s strike on US drone demonstrates the fragility of uneasy peace’, reflects this position, with Iran holding the cards with regards to the maintenance, or otherwise, of international peace. The image of the US as reluctantly policing the world is thus reinforced, depicted, as it is, as burdened with the task of maintaining this ‘fragile’ peace.

Categories in which this article appears: Iran | War | The Guardian | USA | Drones |

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Comments (6)

1. Christian16 November 2012 16:41

"Were an Iranian surveillance aircraft to be found hovering off the US coast, would The Telegraph speak so kindly of it?"

The US is currently involved in a war in Afghanistan (broadly supported by the Afghan government and people). The drone was flying surveillance over an area, then, in which it is actively engaged. I don't think the Iranians could say the same thing if a drone of theirs was found off the coast of the USA, so I would not expect the Telegraph to "speak so kindly" of it, were it to happen.

2. Amy, Editor News Unspun16 November 2012 19:48

American officials described the drone as conducting 'a routine surveillance mission on Nov. 1 in international airspace over the Persian Gulf'. Iran's defence minister said the drone had 'entered Iranian airspace'. Neither party have suggested that the drone was flying over Afghanistan.

3. R Sheehan26 November 2012 17:05

"The US is currently involved in a war in Afghanistan (broadly supported by the Afghan government and people). "


The point is, among our dear educated class, US violence is simply regarded as normal and correct. Any attempts at resistance to this imperialist violence are therefore abnormal and wrong. That's the mindset of these vulgar propagandists

4. Watcher46506 December 2012 06:23

This Julian Borger employs standard inverted Jewish logic and vague assumptions. Another name to be wary of.

5. Jimmy11 December 2012 19:19

To quote Christain.. "..The US is currently involved in a war in Afghanistan (broadly supported by the Afghan government and people).."

Funny, I don't recall the Afghan people, and their govt, yearning for the US to pop over and bomb them to smitherenes. Go on so called Christain, please tell us when the invite was sent... oh hang on, you can't cos you just made that up and hoped nobody would question it. Anyway the rest of the comment, which I havent quoted, doesn't even make sense.

Typical paid-Israeli-troll nonsense.

6. Yasha26 June 2013 11:35

Dear sir/madam;
I would like to thank you for the effort you are putting into better informing the public (or those who want to know) of how the events are actually unfolding as opposed to how they are portrayed by certain news mediums. However, as a source of news that I read frequently, I had hoped the articles published here to be rather more honest and academic (unlike those published in The Economist and ...), thus, the use of coined term "The Gulf" instead of its actual name (Persian Gulf) is rather disturbing. As I would not be referring to the United Kingdom as merely "The Country", as it would be vague and confusing.
The usage of the term not only is dishonest, but is also illegal (Please see UN editorial directives 1994 and 1999). While I have come to loose trust in what has been renowned as academic rigor in the Western Sphere, I hope that I would not draw the same conclusions on your outlet.

Yours Faithfully

Y. Shokuhi

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