Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone:
There’s a weird set of internalized assumptions that media members bring to stories like this Iran business. In fact there’s an elaborate belief system we press people adhere to, about how a foreign country may behave toward the U.S., and how it may not behave. It reminds me a little of a passage in Anna Karenina about the belief system of noblemen in Tolstoy’s day:
Vronsky’s life was particularly happy in that he had a code of principles, which defined with unfailing certitude what he ought and what he ought not to do… These principles laid down as invisible rules: that one must pay a cardsharper, but need not pay a tailor; that one must never lie to a man, but one may lie to a woman; that one must never cheat anyone, but one may a husband; that one must never pardon an insult, but one may give one, and so on.
We have a similar gentleman’s code, a “Westernized industrial power” code if you will, that operates the same way. In other words, our newspapers and TV stations may blather on a thousand times a day about attacking Iran and bombing its people, but if even one Iranian talks about fighting back, he is being “aggressive” and “threatening”; we can impose sanctions on anyone, but if the sanctioned country embargoes oil shipments to Europe in response, it’s being “belligerent,” and so on.