How propagandists function: Exhibit A

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Jeffrey Goldberg, in the new cover story in The Atlantic, on an Israeli attack on Iran:

Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy’s nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean-built reactor in Syria.  An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity.

Good news!  Israel can successfully end a country’s nuclear program by bombing them, as proven by its 1981 attack on Iraq, which, says Goldberg, halted “forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, The New Yorker, 2002, trying to convince Americans to fear Iraq:

Saddam Hussein never gave up his hope of turning Iraq into a nuclear power. After the Osirak attack, he rebuilt, redoubled his efforts, and dispersed his facilities. Those who have followed Saddam’s progress believe that no single strike today would eradicate his nuclear program.

 When it suited him back then, Goldberg made the exact opposite claim, literally, of the one he makes today.  Back then, Goldberg wouldn’t possibly claim what he claims now — that the 1981 strike permanently halted Saddam’s “nuclear ambitions” — because, back then, his goal was to scare Americans about The Threat of Saddam.  So in 2002, Goldberg warned Americans that Saddam had “redoubled” his efforts to turn Iraq into a nuclear power after the Israeli attack, i.e.that Saddam had a scarier nuclear program than ever before after the 1981 bombing raid.  But now, Goldberg has a different goal:  to convince Americans of the efficacy of bombing Iran, and thus, without batting an eye, he simply asserts the exact opposite factual premise:  that the Israelis successfully and permanently ended Saddam’s nuclear ambition back in 1981 by bombing it out of existence (and, therefore, we can do something similar now to Iran).

This is what a propagandist, by definition, does:  asserts any claim as fact in service of a concealed agenda without the slightest concern for whether it’s true. 

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