As the “drumbeat to war” with Iran, as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) warns of, grows louder, a number of journalists have begun to compare the hawkish rhetoric from pundits with the calls for military action against Iraq in 2002. Scott Shane, writing on the frontpage of today’s New York Times, observed, “Echoes of the period leading up to the Iraq war in 2003 are unmistakable, igniting a familiar debate over whether journalists are overstating Iran’s progress toward a bomb.” Indeed, the ombudsman of The Washington Post and the public editor of The New York Times criticized their own journalists for overstating the evidence of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
Over the past week, journalists have raised the alarm about the increasing carelessness of the mainstream media in hyping the calls for war with Iran. But Fox News commentator and The Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson openly called for war against Iran and argued for the full-scale annihilation of the Islamic Republic during an appearance on Fox News’s late-night show Red Eye. Carlson responded to a question about U.S. military action:
CARLSON: I think we are the only country with the moral authority [...] sufficient to do that. [The U.S. is] the only country that doesn’t seek hegemony in the world. I do think, I’m sure I’m the lone voice in saying this, that Iran deserves to be annihilated. I think they’re lunatics. I think they’re evil.
Carlson, having called for the annihilation of Iran — a country with a population of over 74 million people — went on to acknowledge that “we should assess what will happen to the price of energy were we to do that.” Watch the clip:
Carlson doesn’t bother to make a case for why the U.S. should destroy Iran. But presumably he’s referring to the crisis over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. However, neither the IAEA nor U.S. intelligence reports conclude that Iran has restarted its nuclear weapons program. The IAEA and U.S. intelligence have expressed concerns about possible military aspects to Iran’s nuclear program and suspicions about Iran’s program intensified after Tehran refused IAEA inspectors access to facilities thought to be used for tests on how to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran also refused to agree to a process by which it would address IAEA concerns about “possible military dimensions” to its nuclear program.
But, much as in the case of the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, many journalists and politicians are ignoring the facts on the ground and pushing forward with calls for increasingly aggressive actions. Carlson, however, may stand alone in publicly calling for Iran’s outright annihilation.
Tucker Carlson emails Glenn Greenwald:
It’s my fault that I got tongue tied and didn’t explain myself well last night. I’m actually on the opposite side on the Iran question from many people I otherwise agree with. I think attacking could be a disaster for the US and am worried that Obama will do it, for fear of seeming weak before an election. Of course the Iranian government is awful and deserves to be crushed. But I’m not persuaded we or Israel could do it in a way that doesn’t cause even greater problems. That’s the main lesson of Iraq it seems to me.
That’s my sincere view, but I’d rather take some lumps and be misunderstood than seem like I’m reversing myself due to pressure from Twitter.