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By Ashley DeLeon

Amidst intensifying frictions between the United States and Iran after the murder of Major General Qassim Soleimani, it is important to shed light on the continuum of American militarism and to demystify gray areas and false information circulating the media. As consumers of media, it is important to possess the ability to differentiate between “fake news” and reality in association with political affairs. This article will address common misbeliefs and misconceptions surrounding the current tensions between the United States and Iran, discrediting fallacies that have been woven into mainstream media.

On January 3, 2020, major news outlets reported that Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani had been killed via a targeted drone airstrike. This occurred 48 hours following a Twitter feud between Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Donald Trump. Trump taunted Khamenei with a statement alluding to an undertaking of “full responsibility” for any casualties of U.S troops in facilities abroad. Two days after Khamenei boldly responded, “You can’t do anything,” Soleimani and other military officials were killed at the Baghdad International Airport.


Following his death was an immediate declaration from Iran forewarning an intense retaliation against the United States, targeted primarily towards the U.S military’s presence in the Middle East. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-allied Hezbollah movement, stated on Sunday, January 5th, that targets include “…all the U.S. military bases in the region, their warships, every single general and soldier in our lands. It is the U.S. military that killed Haj Qasem and they must pay the price. We do not mean the American people.” Nasrallah adds, “There are many U.S. civilians in our region — engineers, businessmen, journalists. We will not touch them. Touching any civilians anywhere in the world will only serve Trump’s policy… The true, just retribution for those who conducted this assassination is an institution, which is the U.S. military. We will launch a battle against those killers, those criminals.”


Preceding this statement came a plethora of social media hysteria over a potential
military draft as #WorldWarIII trended on Twitter following the news of Soleimani’s death. Social media users have reported an abundance of memes, videos, and misleading information relating to the current political climate in Iran appearing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. As social media serves as a breeding site for “fake news” and misinformation, it is important to debunk many of the myths surrounding the current political situation in order to remain well-informed consumers of media. The information presented is accurate as of January 16, 2020.


False: Iran plans on attacking the United States in the near future, killing citizens and leaders.
Fact: Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Hezbollah movement, projected attacks on U.S military members and bases in the Middle Eastern region. He stated that American citizens will not be targeted. In a previous statement made by Ayatollah Khamenei on February 8, 2019, broadcasted by Global News, the Supreme Leader projected attacks against President Trump, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton.


False: U.S troops in Iraq are currently being withdrawn from the region.
Fact: On January 6, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated that despite the surfacing of a letter
suggesting the evacuation of troops, the letter was unsigned and misaligned with the current U.S
policy. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, clarified that although the phrasing of the letter “implies withdrawal,” this is not the case. Milley continues, “It was a draft, unsigned letter because we are moving forces around and we have increased helicopter movement in Iraq.”


False: The U.S will most likely implement a military draft.
Fact: Theoretically, the implementation of a draft is possible. However, it is unlikely to happen.
According to Davis Winkie, a project archivist for the Veterans History Project at the Atlanta History Center and North Carolina National Guard serving officer, “It would take an act of Congress signed into law by the president for the Selective Service Administration to go back in action and call people involuntarily to military service.” He continues by stating that the activation of a draft is primarily meant for extreme emergencies, noting that a full-scale warwith Iran would not be enough to reactivate the draft.


False: The crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 occurred due to aircraft
mechanical/technical issues.
Fact: According to security camera footage verified by The New York Times on January 14,
2020, filmed 4 miles from Iran’s military site near the village of Bid Kaneh, two missiles had
been launched 23 seconds apart and struck the aircraft, with an initial strike disabling the
transponder.


Brewing tensions between the United States and Iran have correlated to a spike in misleading headlines and misinformation in mainstream media, convincing readers that military attacks on the United States are set to transpire and that military drafts will be reactivated. While becoming more conversant with political affairs, media consumers can begin to recognize misconceptions in “fake news” reporting and become truly educated on the issue at hand.


Ashley DeLeon ‘23 is a Media Studies major and student writer for the Marketing &
Communications Department at St. Mike’s.