Barbarians from distant lands are threatening the United States, if a Bill signed by President Barack Obama last week is anything to go by.
They are gathering at the Mexican border, cutting fences and ready to wreak havoc on an otherwise serene US landscape.
Never mind that crazed, home-grown US terrorists are killing children. It is the Iranian menace that citizens must fear.
It's as comical as it is untrue. But the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, which became US law on December 28, is not meant to be amusing.
Iran's links with Latin American countries are growing. In US eyes new diplomatic ties and extended trade routes are a "threat" to be "countered" and "confronted."
Language in politics can be dangerous. It can misconstrue reality and turn fictitious scenarios into facts.
Despite its faltering economy the US continues to see a sharp growth in its think tank industry - men and women whose sole purpose is to invent and push political agendas.
American Foreign Policy Council vice-president Ian Barman did exactly that in a recent article in Forbes magazine.
Only in the past year, he wrote, "policymakers in Washington have woken up to a new threat to US security," citing an alleged Iranian assassination plot in the city.
This was supposedly a wake-up call to a "deeply worrisome reality." He referred to a study released in November by the Homeland Security Committee entitled A Line in the Sand.
This "documents the sinister synergies that have been created in recent years between Iran and Hezbollah on the one hand and radical regional regimes and actors - from Venezuela to Mexican drug cartels - on the other."
Odd, since as Agence France Press reported on December 29, "senior State Department and intelligence officials have indicated there is no apparent indication of illicit activities by Iran."
There are in fact two contradicting narratives on Iran's influence in Latin America.
One simply acknowledges the country's growing diplomatic outreach on the continent since 2005.
The other speaks of massive conspiracies involving Iran, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, drug cartels and even underground music piracy groups.
The alleged conspiracy is not only far-fetched. It is purposely fabricated to further punish Iran for its nuclear programme.
The panic over Iran's "infiltration" of the US "neighbourhood" in Latin America didn't start a year ago. It coincides with old Israeli-Western propaganda which paints Iran as a country whose main hobby is to assemble bombs and threaten western civilisation.
When pro-Israel think tank "experts" began floating a "what if Iran and Hezbollah join forces with Mexico's Los Zetas drug cartel" scenario a few years ago the idea seemed too absurd to contemplate a rational response.
Now it is actually written into the new Bill as if it is a fact (section 2, findings 12).
The Bill doesn't only lack reason and proper references. It also relies on wholesale allegations of little, if any, plausible foundation whatever.
"Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies with a presence in Latin America have raised revenues through illicit activities including drug and arms trafficking, counterfeiting, money laundering, forging travel documents, pirating software and music and providing haven and assistance to other terrorists training in the region," it claims (section 2, findings 8).
Since the whole exercise is fuelled by Israeli anxiety Hamas also had to be somehow pulled in, if vaguely: "Almost one-half of the foreign terrorist organisations in the world are linked to narcotics trade and trafficking, including Hezbollah and Hamas."
Author and journalist Belen Fernandez has been looking into this matter for years. In the article Distorting Iranian-Latin American Relations two years ago she wrote: "Iranian 'penetration' in Latin America has in recent years become a pet issue of Israeli Foreign Ministry officials and American neoconservative pundits, many of whom take offence at the perceived failure of the US government to adequately appreciate the security threat posed by, for example, the inauguration of a weekly flight from Caracas to Tehran with a stop in Damascus."
The issue for Israel and the US is political. Iran is indeed expanding its diplomatic outreach, but entirely through legal and official means, something the US has failed to do since it awarded itself exclusive hegemony over Latin America through the Monroe Doctrine in 1823.
US influence over Latin America has declined markedly over the last two decades. Powerhouses such as Brazil have grown in strength and popular governments have taken the helm in several countries.
But the US record in the region gives these countries plenty of reasons for seeking to chart an independent course. US policies in Latin America are not failing because of Iran's sinister plans, but because of something entirely different.
Demeaning Latin America as a hapless region waiting for US saviours and blaming Iran when the superpower's plans go awry might serve immediate Israeli purposes but its contribution to the increasing delusion permeating Washington is dangerous.
And there are few signs that politicians are waking up from Israel's overbearing spell. Take the author of the anti-Iran Bill, Republican Jeff Duncan of South Carolina.
He's a "freshman," but has big ambitions. He's quickly learned since joining Congress in 2011 that to succeed on Capitol Hill you must win favour with the Israel lobby.
He sponsored the Bill in January last year, just before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on a diplomatic tour of Latin America. This was unacceptable to the US, since the continent is seen as its backyard. It also drew the ire of Israel since that country works tirelessly to isolate Iran.
According to Duncan, the US isn't nearly pro-Israel enough. He was outraged by a token reference to Israel withdrawing from the occupied territories back in May, accusing Obama of siding with the "Hamas-led government.
"President Obama's statement that Israel should retreat to its impossible to defend 1967 borders breaks a promise to one of our strongest allies, threatens Israel's security and jeopardises the future of democracy in the region," he wrote.
This strange attitude towards politics and the supposed security of the US is the real threat, not Iranian embassies and water purification projects in some Latin American countries.
But amid rising religious zealotry, shrewd manoeuvering by pro-Israel lobbyists and the cacophony of think tanks there is little space for pragmatism on anything perceived to concern Israel.
So Obama enacted the Bill into law and funds have been secured to evaluate Iran's "threat" so that measures can be taken to counter the frightening possibilities.
What Duncan doesn't know, however, is that Latin America is no longer hostage to the whims of Washington. And the western hemisphere is no longer at the mercy of US foreign policy.
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