In September 2002, US President George W Bush began a speech in Nashville with typically eloquent charm: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s Texas, probably Tennessee – that says, cheat on me once, shame – shame on you.” Deceive me – you can’t go wrong anymore ”.
It was exactly six months before the war on Iraq began in all its carnage, that the United States attempted to deceive the world into believing it to be justified by Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and his connections. with Al Qaeda. In reality, there were no weapons, and Al Qaeda only succeeded in prospering in Iraq because of – what else? – the american invasion.
Fast forward almost two decades, and the current US administration seems determined to debunk Bush’s saying that “you can no longer be fooled”.
Now, of course, the target is Iran – but the argument is exactly the same.
While we have already spent the last four years of Donald Trump’s presidency hearing about Iran’s evil nuclear ambitions, Trump & Co have, on the eve of their departure from power, decided to offer us one last hallucination – which they no doubt hope will do so quickly. contaminate the mind of the public and thus become accepted fact.
Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo present this final hallucination in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Tuesday: “Al Qaeda has a new home base. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran ”.
Never mind, Al Qaeda and Iran are, you know, deadly enemies. The truth does not matter in matters of national security.
Indeed, Pompeo asserted, Al Qaeda has found an even safer “haven of peace” than Afghanistan: “Unlike Afghanistan, when Al Qaeda was hiding in the mountains, Al Qaeda is operating today. under the hard shell of the protection of the Iranian regime ”.
Thanks to this soft deal, he said, al Qaeda now has access to a lot of money and “new tools of terror”, and is able to back down in Tehran and prepare for global attacks. Iran “allows Al-Qaeda to communicate freely with those who hold hatred abroad,” he added.
Naturally, Pompeo provided no evidence to support his grand vision – but that did not stop the Secretary of State from calling on “every country to recognize that this ungodly collusion dramatically increases the risk of terrorist attacks. against their people ”.
Anyone who misses the old Axis of Evil rhetoric will in the meantime be comforted to learn that there is now officially an “Iran-al-Qaeda axis” which is a “massive force for evil around the world”.
Pompeo is particularly concerned that this axis “threatens the progress” of peace accords that Israel actively signs with opportunist Arab nations, and that al-Qaeda may use regional terrorist attacks to “blackmail” the remaining nations. so that they refrain from jumping on the bandwagon.
Israel, for its part, is free to continue terrorizing Palestinians and other inhabitants of the region, without risking finding itself on an “axis”.
To conclude his speech, Pompeo took a little trip down memory lane – in 1983, when he was in his sophomore year at the US Military Academy at West Point, and picked up the newspaper one day to read that a loaded vehicle explosives had entered the barracks of the US Marines in Beirut, killing 241 “American warriors”.
Explaining that his life “would not be the same after this,” Pompeo reminded his audience that the terrorists at the Marine Barracks were part of an “early incarnation of Hezbollah.”
And the smoking gun, delivered with satisfied enthusiasm: “He had the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
If history and context were seen as important – rather than as an obstacle to spreading propaganda – Pompeo might have recalled that Hezbollah itself was the result of none other than the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 which killed some 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian citizens, the vast majority of them civilians.
Maybe taking the newspaper to read that Israel has slaughtered thousands of people just isn’t life changing. Nor can it be learned that the USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in 1988, claiming 290 lives.
And the United States continues to this day to end the lives of Iranians, whether through an illegal military attack – as in the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani last year – or by effectively sanctioning them to death.
Certainly, projecting the “terrorist” label onto the so-called “Iran-al-Qaeda axis” is a useful distraction from the fact that the United States has spent its recent history bombing, mutilating, irradiating and tormenting people across the country. ‘Afghanistan to Iraq. in Syria and beyond. But the populations victims of torment do not easily forget their aggressors.
It remains to be seen whether Pompeo’s sensational revelations are the prelude to a calamitous military enterprise by Trump – a coup de grace, so to speak – or are simply intended to force the rhetoric in a certain direction and potentially tie the hands of the United Nations. new administration.
Towards the end of his performance, the secretary pointedly wondered if the terrorist plots allegedly developed by the “Iran-al-Qaeda axis” were not the “next form of blackmail to put pressure on countries. for them to join a nuclear deal ”.
And as the United States takes blackmail to impressive new levels, there is no time like the present to remember that old saying from Tennessee… or Texas.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.