Marked in black

This Gallup poll on the identity of America’s “greatest enemy” got fairly good press coverage when it was released in late March, but there’s a lot of food for thought in it that is worth addressing even if we’re a couple of weeks on from the headlines themselves. First, it’s not shocking to see Iran, America’s multi-decade bête noire, at the head of the list. The U.S. government has done a serviceable job of heightening the perceived threat from that country over the past few years, and the dark hand of Iran is increasingly being pointed to as an explanation for continuing stagnation and violence in Iraq (see Gen. David Petraeus’s testimony to Congress on April 8 and 9). Iran was the first choice of 25% of respondents, a proportion which is certainly high, but nowhere near as high as Iraq’s 2001 market share of 38%.

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Arriving late for the war party

The White Rabbit is late for a date

There is an old Canadian joke that Maclean’s magazine will give you all the news that you can find in Time or Newsweek with only a six week delay. The latest issue of the Canadian weekly lives up this venerable gag by running a cover story asking “Is it time to bomb Iran?” The feature-length article, written by Michael Petrou, is premised on the notion that those dastardly Mullahs are working to acquire the bomb and something, anything, must be done to stop them. As a piece of war propaganda the article is fairly subtle: it doesn’t advocate a pre-emptive attack but rather raises the possibility that one might be necessary (while acknowledging the practical risks). The goal of the article is to make war palatable, understandable, and forgivable.

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