- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 6, 2006

It’s always fascinating to return from travel overseas and step back into the alternative universe of America’s media elites. For a good part of the last month, I’ve been first in Eastern Europe and then in Vietnam — on assignment for upcoming episodes of “War Stories” on the Fox News Channel. Interestingly, the “foreign press” — to use a politically incorrect term — paid little if any attention to the issues U.S. mainstream media seem to find most stimulating.

There was, for example, very sparse coverage in the overseas media of the immigration protests here in the United States. I found nothing said or written about Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, U.S. “torture,” or Democratic demands for an immediate pullout from Iraq. The most noted topics were the Iranian government’s quest for nuclear weapons — and how uncertainty in the oil markets had driven up energy prices.

The overseas papers and television news also provided straightforward reports on the formation of a democratic coalition government in Iraq — and offered factual accounts of the joint visit to Baghdad by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, an occasion that seems to have escaped the attention of most of the potentates in the U.S. press.

Even in Hanoi — where the media is controlled by the Communist Party — these events were presented without editorial critiques and caveats. Coming back to Washington is a reminder of just how anti-American the American media elites really have become.

Nowhere is this bias more acutely obvious than in reporting on Iranian ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons. Nearly every broadcast and print story in the U.S. press focuses on the problem as the consequence of America’s “failure” in Iraq, our “blind” support for Israel, and the inevitable result of the Bush administration’s “arrogance.” This skewed perspective of course is routinely presented in a hostile Islamic press — along with a regular drumbeat of U.S. polls and public opinion surveys showing how unfavorably Americans view their commander in chief.

The consequence of mainstream media hostility to this president and the Global War on Terror is to leave the American people woefully ignorant of what’s really going on in places like Iraq and Iran and what our options are in either. So few American reporters venture outside the Baghdad Green Zone that good news from Iraq is virtually nonexistent. Were it not for U.S., British and Australian military “bloggers,” stories about battlefield successes — like last week’s counterterror offensives in Al Anbar Province — would be practically unknown to the outside world.

Unfortunately, there are far fewer “bloggers” with secure Internet access in Iran. Those who dare report from within on the doings of the paranoid regime running Tehran do so at great peril. Thus, the American public knows next to nothing about what’s really happening inside a government that today poses a major risk to U.S. security.

We are treated to little more than the malevolent, threatening rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, video of banner-bearing Iranian Republican Guardsmen goose-stepping through the streets of the capital, and file footage of white-coated scientists fiddling inside a nuclear lab. In the U.S. media, this kind of reporting is usually followed by the “observation” that “because we’re over-committed in Iraq, we have few options,” or words to that effect.

Hogwash. Hyperventilated rhetoric aside, the United States — precisely because we have forces in Iraq and Afghanistan — has considerable leverage on Iran. Notwithstanding Mr. Ahmadinejad’s wild-eyed bluster, even he knows Donald Rumsfeld was right when he said last week in Baghdad, “a successful democracy in Iraq is a failure” for Tehran.

Though American pundits constantly harp that the U.S. can do nothing about Iran without United Nations acquiescence, that isn’t true either. Unilateral U.S. action to freeze North Korean leaders’ financial assets has stopped a major counterfeiting operation, money laundering — and foreign travel by Pyongyang officials. The same can be done “for” the Iranian mullahs who have “hidden” their ill-gotten gains everywhere from Switzerland to the Cayman Islands.

And if we want to get up close and personal, Mr. Ahmadinejad and a “senior delegation” of officials from Tehran reportedly plan to attend the Iranian national team’s World Cup opening game in Nuremberg next month. Perhaps it’s time for the FBI to put out a BOLO — an Interpol notice to “be on the look out” — for all individuals wanted by the U.S. government for involvement in the seizure of the U.S. Embassy and hostage-taking in Tehran in 1979. Such action would make foreign travel by Iranian bomb-builders problematic at the very least.

These are but few of the nonmilitary “options” available for dealing with the Tehran despots. They are unlikely to adversely affect the welfare of Iran’s long-suffering people. Regrettably, it’s equally unlikely that the American people will see or read about them in the most Anti-American media on Earth — our own.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance.

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