Iran, Drones, and the Media


This week’s foreign policy freak-out has been over the Pentagon disclosing that Iran allegedly fired on a US drone flying in the Persian Gulf. The New York Times reports that a Predator drone was flying in international waters when Iranian fighters fired on the unmanned vehicle, and missed. The Times notes that this comes after the CIA lost a RQ-170 surveillance drone in Iran last year, which was well publicized in both the US and international media. According to a Pentagon spokesperson, the Russian-made SU-25’s “fired multiple rounds” but missed the Predator drone.

Pentagon officials would reportedly not speculate on whether the Iranian fighters were actually trying to shoot down the drone, or just firing warning shots. The Times also noted that the two fighter Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is under a separate chain of command from the regular military and known for aggressive tactics. The incident reportedly occurred 16 nautical miles from Iran in the Northern Persian Gulf (sometimes referred to as the Northern Arabian Gulf or NAG).

The mainstream media has so far covered this alleged incident completely uncritically. Glenn Greenwald raises some important points about the mainstream media coverage, specifically about CNN’s coverage, in a piece at the Guardian. He notes that CNN basically reported verbatim the Pentagon’s claims, and made no effort to Tehran’s rendition of events or even confirmation that it occurred. “It simply regurgitates the accusations of anonymous US officials that Iran, with no provocation, out of the blue decided to shoot at a US drone in international airspace,” writes Greenwald.

Today, Iran confirmed that it did in fact fire on a US drone. As Al Jazeera reports, Defence minister Ahmad Vahidi claimed that the fighters fired on the drone flying over Iran’s territorial waters. But, of course the US media is promoting the narrative that Iran shot at a US drone just conducting a “routine surveillance.” Nothing to see here. Remember the lessons that the mainstream media should have learned from the run-up to the Iraq War? Is there any doubt that the media would be complicit in a public relations campaign by the Obama Administration designed to drum up support for a war with Iran?

Image: No One Flying  by Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: hyperion327

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