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Attack Iran? Not 'If,' But When

Reported by Judy - February 5, 2006

Attacking Iran over its nuclear ambitions moved Saturday (February 4, 2006) from a matter of "if" to "when" on Fox News' "Bulls and Bears."

Host Brenda Buttner's opening question on this cheap imitation of a show on the stock market was, "Does Wall Street want military action (against Iran) sooner rather than later?" According to Buttner's framing of the issue, war is inevitable so the U.S. might as well get it over with so stocks will go up.

Buttner portrayed Iranians as crazy people who cannot be reasoned with in the matter of nuclear facilites. "We got a nut. He may have a bomb. He is friends with terrorists," she said. Portraying another country's leaders as nuts is a typical Fox approach. Fox likes to slam anyone who disagrees with the U.S. as irrational. Fox, of course, has no overseas bureaus, so it cannot offer viewers any in-depth reports on what goes on in other countries. It is cheaper just to dismiss people in the rest of the world as "nuts" who have no possible reason for failing to see things George Bush's way.

Buttner's panel was split on attacking Iran. Gary B. Smith, of Exemplar Capital, personally preferred to have the U.S. attack Iran but admitted that "the market would take it very, very badly." Bob Froehlich, from Scudder Investment, warned that the issue of attacking Iran was not a simple one because of its potential for affecting relations with other countries, such as China.

But Scott Bleier, from highbrredinvestors.com, was gung-ho. "I think we do attack strategically and take out what we know of through intelligence of their nuclear facilities. ... Iran is the hotbed, the root of Islamic terrorism. I think that the market would love it if we took decisive action to try to put them in their place," he said. Tobin Smith, of changewaveresearch.com, urged quick action, saying, "Let's get it over with."

Charles Payne, from Wall Street Strategies, sounded less bellicose than in previous weeks, saying, "I think the market would like to see diplomacy. It's a real good chance for us to buddy up with our friends in Europe. ... Let the system work."

Pat Dorsey, of morningstar.com, played his typical role as the only grown-up on the show, reminding the others that taking out the nuclear facilities will not be easy because they are widely dispersed and, at least in some cases, underground. Eliminating them would not be a one-day operation, but would take multiple sorties and even then, would only slow down rather than end Iran's nuclear development, he said. At the same time, it would likely turn reform-minded moderates in Iran against the U.S., he said.

Buttner's question accomplished two things. First, it continued to stoke fears in Americans, hoping that they will continue to support the infringement on their basic liberties being carried out by the Bush Administration in the name of fighting the war on terror. Second, it diverted attention away from the stock market's decline in the previous week. Rather than going up in the week after Bush's State of the Union speech, the market ended down. Rather than delve into the details of why that was happening, Buttner blamed everything on Iran. In Fox's view, there is never anything wrong with the stock market that a little war won't cure.

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