David E. Sanger

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David E. Sanger is Chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. He is a neocon.[1]

Iran: War Drummer

Just like during the lead-up to the war against Iraq in 2003, the New York Times has lent itself to push for a war against Iran. In 2003, the hoax of Iraqi WMD was pushed as the justification for war; in 2011, the same justification is being used to push for a war against Iran. In 2003, Judith Miller played the ignominious role of hyping Iraqi WMD; in 2011, it is David Sanger who is the lead Iran-WMD-hyper. No matter how flimsy the evidence, and no matter about its dubious provenance, it is all acceptable fodder for Sanger and his editors at the NYT. Launching an attack against Iran has been a constant drumbeat by the Israel Lobby in the US and Europe, and the NYT together with Fox News play a leading role of pushing this agenda.[2]

A few days after Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense minister, admitted that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program, the New York Times ran a series of articles slighting Barak's assertion all the way to confirming the opposite, i.e., that Iran was actually pursuing such weapons program. Sanger was key in the NYT's drum beating, and this is what Ray McGovern, the former CIA senior officer who briefed several US presidents, had to say of Sanger's articles:

Next it was time for the Times to trot out David Sanger from the Washington bullpen. Many will remember him as one of the Times’ stenographers/cheerleaders for the Bush/Cheney attack on Iraq in March 2003. An effusive hawk also on Iran, Sanger was promoted to a position as chief Washington correspondent, apparently for services rendered. In his Jan. 22 article, “Confronting Iran in a Year of Elections,” Sanger pulls out all the stops, even resurrecting Condoleezza Rice’s “mushroom cloud” to scare all of us — and, not least, the Iranians. He wrote:
“‘From the perception of the Iranians, life may look better on the other side of the mushroom cloud,’ said Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He may be right: while the Obama administration has vowed that it will never tolerate Iran as a nuclear weapons state, a few officials admit that they may have to settle for a ‘nuclear capable’ Iran that has the technology, the nuclear fuel and the expertise to become a nuclear power in a matter of weeks or months.”[3]

Edward S. Herman, a long-time analyst of US propaganda, analyzed David Sanger's articles about Iran:

The second rule in supportive propaganda is to frame the issues in such a way that the premises of the propaganda source are taken as given, with any inconvenient considerations ignored and any sources that would contest the party line bypassed or marginalized. This technique is well illustrated in David Sanger’s “Diplomacy Fails to Slow Advance of Nuclear Arms,” the front-page feature article in the New York Times of August 8, 2004—a virtually perfect model of propaganda service.
The frame of Sanger’s article is the threat of the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, the efforts to contain that threat via diplomacy, the difficulties encountered in these efforts, U.S. and Israeli concerns over the matter, and the opinions of Western officials and experts over what should be done. All seven quoted sources in Sanger’s piece are present or former U.S. officials, which allows the establishment frame to be presented without challenge.
A basic Sanger premise is that the United States and Israel are good and do not pose threats worthy of mention, so that any “advance” in nuclear arms, or the possession and threat of use of such weapons by these states, is outside the realm of discourse. Thus, the ongoing and well-funded U.S. program of developing “blockbuster” and other tactical nuclear weapons, the Bush plan to make nuclear weapons not merely a deterrent, but usable in normal warfare, and the U.S. intention to exploit space as a platform for nuclear as well as other technologically advanced weapons systems, do not fall under the heading “advance of nuclear arms” and they are not mentioned in the article. These are not the views of the global majority, but they represent the official U.S. view, hence serving as a premise of the Times reporter.
A second and related Sanger premise is that the United States has the right to decide who can and cannot have nuclear arms and to compel the disarmament of any country that acquires them. He quotes Bush’s statement that he will not “tolerate” North Korea or Iran acquiring such arms, and Sanger treats the U.S. push to keep its targets disarmed as an undebatable position.
A third premise is that while Iran’s possible violation of its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty is newsworthy and important, the failure of the United States to follow through on its promise in signing that treaty to work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons through good faith negotiations, a commitment brazenly violated in the open Bush effort to improve and make usable nuclear weapons, is not newsworthy. Again, this is what a press arm of the government would take as a premise, and so does the New York Times (and virtually the entire corporate media).
A fourth premise of Sanger’s piece is that Israel’s refusal to have anything to do with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its possession and threat to use nuclear arms is not relevant as context in discussing the threat of Iran’s nuclear capability. Israel is referred to by Sanger only as fearing the Iran threat and possibly planning on preemptive action to eliminate that threat. The Arab states and most of the world cannot see the justice of Israel being allowed to acquire nuclear arms, even with superior conventional forces and a U.S. protective umbrella, while Arab states cannot do so. Again, as Israel is a U.S. client state whose acquisition of nuclear arms was facilitated and is protected by the United States, this matter is outside the orbit of discourse for U.S. officials and hence of the New York Times (etc.).
A fifth premise, implicit in the foregoing, is that Iran does not have a right to self-defense. Israel claims that its nuclear weapons are for self-defense in a hostile environment, but Iran, threatened by both Israel and its superpower ally, does not have that right, although its self-defense needs are far more serious than either Israel’s or the U.S.’s. This was a premise of officials, and hence of the New York Times, in dealing with Guatemala’s attempt to buy arms back in 1953, Nicaragua’s similar efforts in the 1980s, and Saddam’s mythical threatening WMD in 2002-3.
Sanger’s article is clean in the sense that there is no deviation from the party line on the source of any nuclear threat and the "advances" that are worrisome. The Times’ subservience to the state in the propaganda buildup to the invasion-occupation of Iraq was not new and was not terminated by that sad experience. On the contrary, it proceeds apace, with any lessons or qualms overpowered by institutional forces that press it to support state crimes now just as it did in the case of the overthrow of democracy in Guatemala in 1954 and other alleged "liberations."[4]

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References

  1. Scott Horton interviewing Ray McGovern, Torturing People and Debunking War Lies, Antiwar, 3 April 2012. Quotation: (about the NYT's Iran war drumming (24:10 min mark): ... and David Sanger is one of the main culprits here, and he was a culprit before about Iraq. He is a neocon pure and simple.
  2. Listen to discussions on this topic by Larry Everet (former CIA analyst) and MJ Rosenberg (former AIPAC staffer) at AntiWar radio, 8 and 7 November 2011 respectively.
  3. Ray McGovern, US/Israel: Iran NOT Building Nukes, Common Dreams, 25 January 2012.
  4. Edward S. Herman, Fog Watch: Iran's Dire Threat that It Might be Able to Defend Itself, Z Magazine, October 2004 Volume 17 Number 10.
  5. CNAS: Profile (Accessed: 8 November 2011)