Iran Holding Journalists Captive for No Real Reason

As this country moves closer and closer to corporate controlled news, Iran seems to be exhibiting even more profound government controlled news; and is behaving more like an autocracy and less like the democracy that many in Iran -- at least back when George Bush famously called it part of the "Axis of Evil" -- wish it to be. 

Calling out the worst in Iran, a country overflowing with a younger population that wanted to be more like the West in many ways, was probably not a wise strategy move.  Today, continuing to speak out nationally about the perceived need to "bomb Iran," is probably not a wise strategy either.

But these days, it seems, we increasingly seem to be looking at these foreign policy issues from our own perspective only (witness our strategic decisions on and handling of Iraq, for one example), and thus if Iran feels imposed upon by being dictated to by world opinion on weapons, we are oblivious to it. If threats of military action against Iran will lead to increased solidarity within Iran towards the outside world, we are oblivious to it.

Thus some of our rhetoric only tends to further hostility, causing the pronouncement of further animosity toward Iran in a sort of self perpetuating cycle.

At the same time, evidence is creeping up in Iran of exactly the type of increasingly authoritarian and controlling rule that it in some ways has historically been reflective of, and was trying to move away from.  And there is probably nothing else to create internal Iranian solidarity toward a government that it may not even like, than the perceived threat from the outside world.

As an example of this increasing government control, we see actions like these:
Iranian officials arrested a Japanese and two Canadian reporters during anti-government demonstrations this week and charged them with "unauthorized reporting," the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported Friday.
Is this a real report? Note that the Fars News Agency is described in the Washington Post article as "semi-official." 

The article's author, Thomas Erdbrink, was not available for comment, but an assistant at the paper stated that the news source is referred to as "semiofficial" because it is considered to have ties to the government, and is not completely independent as the agency claims. It is likely standard form, as the BBC appears to refer to the News Agency as "semi-official" as well.

Whether the potential tie to the government increases or decreases the likelihood of the story being true is unclear, as there are arguments in both directions: given the propaganda aspect, it could be falsely reported to have a chiling effect on foreign journalists, while on the other hand it is news that does not reflect well upon the government, making it thus less likely to be made up.

Erdbrink's article in the Post also seems to suggest that the Fars News Agency is actually "state run" -- althought it is not clear what this means. And wikipedia, in the link above, suggests that "The [Far News]agency is well known for saying lots of lies and for unreliability."

Either way, whether it is just the threat, or, far more likely, the actual capture of foreign journalists, it is chilling news. 

Additionally Erdbrink reports:
On Wednesday, authorities temporarily blocked all access to e-mail programs such as Gmail and Yahoo during the demonstrations to prevent people from sending images to foreign media organizations.
The Demonstration, apparently, was in response to a state sanctioned event commemorating the 1979 Embassy takeover, by those who don't think the current government is legitimate. 

One wonders -- given the antipathy that we have seen from the far right toward President Obama (and likely would have seen toward a President Kerry)--  if the situation in 2004 were reversed, with Kerry winning, and disputed vote blocking measures propelling him to victory in the election swinging state of Ohio, what we would have seen in America subsequent to that.

At least on the protest side, would it have been much different than in Iran?  Even today, the far right is doing everything possible to question the legitimacty of the current administation regarding an election which had no real outcome controversies as otherwise occurred in both 2000 and 2004.  (Witness the incessant attachment to the "birther" assertion -- That Obama's birth certificate is "not real" and thus he can not be President, for one.  The antipathy toward the Obama Administration's legitimacy is so out of control that even an National Review Online article that mocks the birther controversy as "lunacy" then itself, incredibly resurrects the question as "legitimate.")

Although again not nearly as pronounced in the U.S, very vague similarities between our two countries appear on the news side as well:

As more and more corporate takeover of our news here is occasioned -- something which undermines our necessary Fourth Estate check upon everything but perhaps upon what is needed most by government (protecting capitalism by promoting free competition, and protecting for externalities such as the environment and possibly health and safety) -- maybe, to a much lesser degree, we are becoming more like Iran in the sense of Authoritarian, top down, and concentrated, power and control.

It is certainly what the increasingly vocal far right in this country seem to want. And this story is being repeatedly missed -- most of all, of course, by that same increasingly corporate conglomeration controlled media.