Taunting Iran: A Delicate Balance

Last week, the US government and the media warned of a dangerous incident in the Persian Gulf. The accounts dramatized a serious threat posed by Iranian speedboats to three U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Pentagon released a video of the Hormuz confrontation, parroted here by CNN. Their version of the incident contained an Iranian officer saying, “I am coming for you…you will explode after a few minutes.

However, new information has shown that the incident did not involve such a threat. From Gareth Porter:

The new information that appears to contradict the original version of the incident includes the revelation that U.S. officials spliced the audio recording of an alleged Iranian threat onto to a videotape of the incident. That suggests that the threatening message may not have come in immediately after the initial warning to Iranian boats from a U.S. warship, as appears to do on the video.

Also unraveling the story is testimony from a former U.S. naval officer that non-official chatter is common on the channel used to communicate with the Iranian boats and testimony from the commander of the U.S. 5th fleet that the commanding officers of the U.S. warships involved in the incident never felt the need to warn the Iranians of a possible use of force against them.

Further undermining the U.S. version of the incident is a video released by Iran Thursday showing an Iranian naval officer on a small boat hailing one of three ships.

Here is a video of the Iranian version of the incident.

Despite the substance of the video, the administration still used the incident to warn of an Iranian threat. Bush said there would be ‘serious consequences‘ if Iran attacked US ships and maintained that Iran is a ‘threat to world peace‘. The president has now embarked on a tour of the Middle East, which is sure to be hailed as evidence of his strong commitment to peace (despite the historical record). In reality, the trip is nothing more than a PR stunt which will attempt to warn other Arabs of a dangerous Iran. “Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere,” Bush said Sunday, “So the United States is strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf, and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it’s too late.”

An event like the Strait of Hormuz incident brings to mind another misunderstood event, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which led to the massive build-up of American armed forces in Vietnam. The Tonkin incident (though it never occurred) resulted in a joint resolution of Congress that granted President Johnson the authority to conduct military operations in SE Asia without a declaration of war. Ten years, 2 million Vietnamese and 58,000 American deaths later, where is an apology or an admission of error?

Our country must be overly questioning and critical when a supposed ‘dangerous incident’ occurs. We cannot afford to be duped yet again into another costly war.

Check here for more info on the Hormuz incident.

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Mid-week Roundup 12/12

Losing our minds over Illegal Immigration

NAFTA has the power to trump state laws!

The Historical Truth of Our Relations with Iran

Report shows Bush manipulated climate science, suppressed scientists.

Nigeria battles Pfizer in court for conducting an illegal, unauthorized drug trial on Nigerian children.

Bad News for Prescription Drugs: pharmaceutical sales reps may be given licenses.

Murdoch Ready to Makeover the Wall Street Journal

Did you know Venezuela is a Constiutional Democracy?

Taiwan and mainland China: conflicting amnesiacs

New Orleans Homes to be Demolished (with video)

Why Won’t the Candidates talk about Americans’ Economic Pain?

Nuclear Disarmament and Peace on Earth…what’s that?

A Decent Article by Sean Penn calling on Americans to do what’s right

Meet a Millionaire with a Lower Tax Rate than You! (with video)

Iran NIE Report

If you haven’t heard, a National Intelligence Report on Iran was made public that has failed to find any evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program there. It says that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program back in 2003.

In a recent press conference, President Bush said that he only learned of the report a week ago.

But Seymour Hersh wrote about the suppression of this report by Dick Cheney over a year ago, which he discussed on CNN recently.

Some have suggested there’s already evidence that Bush has known about this intelligence for months, as he has changed his language in referring to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Update: In fact, there is evidence that Bush knew ahead of time and continued to warn of Iran’s nuclear threat.

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Iran: Another Old Friend

Many in the United States are not aware of their own government’s history. It’s not that we are stupid; it’s just that we are misinformed and misled. Selective events are highlighted in our history books while others are ignored.

So in upcoming entries, I will make an effort to highlight some of those lesser-known events, as they prove to be quite revealing. Let’s begin with a country that has been on the lips of our leaders in recent months: Iran.

Back in World War II, Britain occupied Iran to protect an oil supply route to its Soviet ally and to make sure the oil did not fall under Nazi control. They forced the ruling monarch, Reza Shah, to cede power to his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (referred to as ‘the Shah’), who was thought to be more susceptible to Western influence.

Britain retained control of Iran’s oil after the war through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which you might know better these days as British Petroleum (BP). However, in 1951, under the democratic leadership of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s Parliament voted to nationalize the oil industry.

Britain would have none of it. They responded by pulling their oil technicians out of the country, imposing a worldwide embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil, and banning the export of goods to Iran. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (BP) even took their case against Iran’s oil nationalization to the World Court, but the court found in favor of Iran controlling its own oil.

British intelligence officials continued to persuade the United States that they shared an interest in maintaining Western control over Iranian oil. In 1953, the newly-elected Eisenhower administration approved the proposal for a joint operation to overthrow Prime Minister Mossadegh, to be known by the code name Operation Ajax.

CIA director Allen Dulles approved $1 million to be used “in any way that would bring about the fall of Mossadegh.” Kermit Roosevelt of the CIA (grandson of Teddy) traveled secretly to Iran to coordinate plans with the Shah and the Iranian military, and by the night of August 19, 1953, the coup was complete. The parliamentary government had been overthrown and the Shah was installed as ruler.

Two days after the coup, CIA officials funneled $5 million to help the shah consolidate his power. Mossadegh was imprisoned for three years and then put under house arrest; other government officials were rounded up and killed or imprisoned. The shah continued his rule as a friend of the United States, but a growing enemy of the Iranian people.

His brutal secret police force, SAVAK, managed by the CIA, was designed to control all aspects of political life in Iran. It suppressed opposition to the Shah’s government and kept the people’s political knowledge as minimal as possible. Its interrogation office used horrific torture tools and techniques to break dissenters while its censorship office prohibited books and monitored students, journalists, unions, and academics throughout the country.

In 1979, after 26 years of brutal rule and Western favoritism, the Iranian people erupted into a revolution that formed an Islamic republic led by Ayatollah Khomeini. The US came to be known as “The Great Satan,” and relations between our countries have become extremely tense.

We tried to stage another military coup in the early 80s, without success. Then we proceeded to support another friendly dictator (Saddam Hussein) during Iraq’s invasion of Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of people. Since then, the US has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, which it continues to escalate today.

In 2000, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made an admission rare to high-level government officials: “In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran’s popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. The Eisenhower Administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons; but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.”