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The amnesia's back 

This time it's nuclear-powered

As I wrote recently, I can't even keep up with the insanity that has become the routine daily experience of life in America. Gore Vidal has famously called us the "United States of Amnesia" and last week was a mind-blowing example of that.

I'm talking about the astonishing revelation that Preznit Bush and Quickdraw Cheney have been hatching a plan to launch a major air attack on Iran. This was first revealed by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. Hersh, America's best investigative reporter and a Pulitzer Prize winner, earlier revealed the Abu Ghraib scandal and made his name during the Vietnam War by writing about the massacre at My Lai. In short, he's seldom wrong.

Now, this isn't an ordinary air attack the administration is planning, according to Hersh. No, indeed. Sources told Hersh that our imperial leader is considering the use of nuclear strikes capable of destroying underground bomb-making facilities. But, Hersh says, the administration believes the air strike would also so horrify Iran's citizens that it would trigger regime change.

Hersh believes Bush, who often has claimed to be directed by God in the formulation of one disastrous policy after another, has a literal Messiah complex. World opinion, domestic political fallout and the terrible legacy a nuclear strike would create do not cross the new Christ's mind.

Meanwhile, Bush has characterized Hersh's story as "wild speculation," while Cheney has refused to deny it, saying the administration has always had several alternative plans on the table to force Iran to discontinue its uranium enrichment program. Diplomacy, other administration officials claim, is of course the preferred approach.

Amid this "emergency," the New York Times published an article last Thursday in which experts said that even if Iran is attempting to build a nuclear bomb, it is years away from doing so.

What is most astounding in all of this is that, once again, the nation's media are docilely reporting the development in exactly the same way they reported the run-up to the Iraq invasion. Hersh's story is being reported and even corroborated by a few mainstream media, but then Bush, Cheney and other administration officials are marched out to deny the story and make the claim -- just as they did about Iraq -- that they are pursuing every diplomatic avenue.

This is the media once again misconstruing the principle of objectivity. Hersh reports fact-based allegations and then the Bush crowd is allowed to simply deny them without any evidence or further inquiry by reporters. In the screwy world of hack journalism, a contrary opinion is now considered an objective response to a factual investigation. Journalists have become moderators instead of truth seekers.

As Paul Krugman wrote in last Monday's Times, there is no reason to believe anything the Bush administration is claiming about this. We now know beyond any doubt that while Bush was claiming to seek a diplomatic solution to the nonexistent problem of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he had already decided to attack the country. He had been thoroughly advised that there were almost certainly no weapons, just as this time he's been advised that Iran is years from posing a nuclear peril. But, Messiah that he is, he has decided it's his job to protect us through another pre-emptive attack.

It is unfathomable to me that we may be on the eve of using the first nuclear weapon since the attack on Nagasaki, but the American media by and large ho-hums the issue, many probably believing, as some did in the case of Iraq, that our own government could not undertake such a disastrous course of action. And yet this administration has never learned from its mistakes, whether in foreign or domestic policy, even when Republicans themselves have tried to convince Bush to moderate his radical agenda.

I suspect many in the media likewise believe our nation will not overnight turn 10 million alien residents into felons and attempt to deport them, breaking up families and violently disrupting the economy. The same amnesia that allows us to forget how we ended up in Iraq and the suffering we caused at Nagasaki allows us to forget the meaning of the Statue of Liberty in order to create a new icon: a literal wall along the Mexican border.

Our fear of terrorism, so exploited by our fear-mongering president, has turned into xenophobia and a new form of racism. We know after the last two elections that the Republican theocrats will do anything necessary to maintain their power, and it should be little surprise as the midterm Congressional election approaches to see foreign skies lit with nuclear shock and awe, and minorities blamed for our lowering standard of living and collapsing health care system.

Where in hell are the media's reporters, who should be telling the unvarnished truth? Isn't it time they end their expeditions to Aruba hunting for missing white women? And where are the editors who know the difference between a pandering feature story and the news of America's amazingly rapid decline into a fascist state?

Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology.

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