The Iranian regime has been caught putting out another doctored picture, this time of its new fighter jet. The jet, which was made public last week, probably can’t actually fly. But that hasn’t stopped a young IRGC member with Adobe photoshop from pretending it can! See the picture below:

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Jonathan Jones, writing in The Guardian, points out that Iran joins a long list of despotic historical fabricators:

Long before Photoshop, in an age when it required delicate physical intervention with a scalpel to photomontage a new reality, dictators routinely vanished people. Stalin’s demonised “other”, Leon Trotsky, was removed from an inconveniently prominent position in a photo of Lenin: the same photographic death befell many lesser commissars. Even Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister of the Third Reich, was once removed from a photograph of Hitler. This exclusion of a valued ally is more baffling than a picture of Mussolini posing on horseback from which a man holding the horse was removed – leaving just the noble equestrian Duce.

Such manipulations did not end in the 1940s. In 1976 the so-called “gang of four” were notoriously removed from a photograph of Chinese Communist party leaders after these high-ranking officials were suddenly arrested following the death of Mao Zedong.

As Jones points out, this wasn’t the first time Iran has been caught puffing its chest via digital design tools:

In 2008 newspapers around the world carried a front-page picture of four Iranian missiles blasting into the sky on columns of fire: this image of a successful missile test sent out a clear message about the Islamic state’s growing military capability. But within hours, the same papers, including the New York Times, were retracting the picture and declaring it a fake. In what seemed to be the raw version of the same image, one of the four missiles had failed to launch – so it was neatly replaced with a Photoshopped blast-off. An image of semi-competence became a picture of power.

Outside audiences know to be skeptical of photographic evidence of Iran’s military prowess. So is it for domestic consumption? It seems likely, but divining who exactly the regime intended to intimidate is a fool’s errand. What is clear is that it intended to intimidate.

For now, try not to fear the regime’s most recent technological development. The giant missile defense cat.

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