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February 27, 2012

Power that knowledge will bring

The Canadian Charger

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If the corporate media is successful in drumming up support for war against Iran, the only predictable outcome will be enormous suffering for ordinary people, according to Dr. Michael Keefer, recently retired professor of English at the University of Guelph.

Speaking at the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto recently, at a presentation entitled From Media Lies to Hot Wars, Dr. Keefer quoted Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange to illustrate his point.

“I believe if we look at what makes our civilization civilized it's that people must have the power that knowledge will bring - because knowledge will always rule ignorance. You can either be informed and your own rulers, or you can be ignorant and have someone else, who is not ignorant, rule over you,” Mr. Assange said.

Dr. Keefer then wondered aloud how much we know about the goings on of our own government.

“Did we consent to naval involvement in 2003 in the war in Iraq?” he asked.

Of course we didn't, and that's Dr. Keefer's point. He said the information stream that appears in the media is put through multi-filters by advertisers and government agencies, with government agencies playing a major part in controlling the media, the result being that decades of indoctrinating the public with an anti-communist ideology has been supplanted by indoctrinating the public with the “War on Terror.”

When preparing for war, politicians in western democracies know it's important to get the voters onside; and the media is a powerful tool in accomplishing their goal, so it shouldn't be surprising that Dr. Keefer quoted media analysts' reports showing that three weeks prior to the war in Iraq, only three percent of U.S. television commentators opposed the war. And after the start of the war, U.S television commentators supporting the war outnumbered those opposed to it by 25 to one. 

“They galvanized public opinion that led the nation to war under false pretences,” Dr. Keefer said.

He then presented an example of this phenomenon being used again to convince the U.S. public that Iran is developing nuclear weapons with the goal of threatening U.S. soldiers and the very existence of the State of Israel, despite the fact that U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Israeli intelligence officials have said, as recently as January 2012, that Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons.

“Leon Panetta said: 'Are they trying to develop nuclear weapons? No, but we know they're trying to develop a nuclear capability and that's what concerns us.' PBS News  correspondent Margaret Warner edited his statement leaving out the first part of his statement (where he said they weren't trying to develop nuclear weapons).”

In Canada, Foreign Minister John Baird constantly repeating the soundbite “Iran is the greatest threat to peace and security in the world,” buttressed by Prime Minister Harper making similar comments, helps instill the message that war with Iran is necessary for our very survival.

But as with the war in Iraq, Dr. Keefer – at the risk of being labelled a conspiracy theorist – feels the public is being deceived; and that, in fact, there may be ulterior motives for championing war with Iran. He said regime change in Iran has been the U.S. long term goal since at least the captivity of the U.S. embassy staff in Iran, which began in November 1979 and, currently, the decline of the U.S. empire may also be a factor.

“Economic and political instability makes war tempting, Dr. Keefer said.

“Economically, the U.S. has hollowed out all but it's military capability. It's dealing with the occupy movements at home and worried about the great power China, in partnership with Russia. China is the coming economic power. It spends the second most money in the world on its military.”

While acknowledging the preponderance of U.S. and Israeli air and naval power is overwhelming, Dr. Keefer said Iran has Russian-made submarine missiles which can travel at 2.5 times the speed of sound, making aircraft carriers obsolete.

“The U.S. military said it has no answer to these anti-ship missiles.”

Because China and Russia both see it as imperative that the U.S. and Israel are not allowed a free hand in the region, Dr. Keefer said Russia has sent Iran missile technology and China has sent anti-aircraft equipment which would make an air war with Iran much tougher than before these developments.

Moreover, he said some analysts have said that if Israel and the U.S. attack Iran, it may result in not just an open war in the Middle East, but a great power war as well, with dire consequences.

“If nuclear weapons are used, a major threshold will be crossed.”

Consequently, Dr. Keefer said we need to do all that we can in expressing the ancient Greek concept of fearless speech -  which is a rough translation of the Greek parrhesia, which designates those who take a risk to tell the truth; the citizen who has the moral qualities required to speak the truth, even if it differs from what the majority of people believe and faces danger for speaking it.

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