Wednesday, January 16, 2008

 

Hormuz is Persian for Tonkin

I was watching the documentary film The Camden 28 last night. When they flashed a sound bite from Lyndon Johnson I was reminded of the ongoing Israeli and American propaganda campaign against Iran and especially the most recent episode where large, modern, heavily armed American warships go half-way around the world, steam in or near Iranian territorial waters, and then complain because Iranian speedboats are "threatening" them.

Here's part of what Johnson said to the American people following the now-debunked Gulf of Tonkin incident:
Aggression by terror against the peaceful villages of South Vietnam has now been joined by open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America.
Of course, the Gulf of Tonkin incident came to mind right away when I first heard about the recent incident with Iran last week but the similarity of rhetoric is what caught me when I heard the Johnson quote last night. Consider, for example, this excerpt from a January 8, 2008, report by Agence France Press:
US President George W. Bush on Tuesday blamed Tehran for a "provocative" weekend face-off between US and Iranian ships as he prepared to take his warning that "Iran is a threat" to the Middle East.

"We viewed it as a provocative act. It is a dangerous situation and they should not have done it, pure and simple," Bush declared in his first public remarks on Sunday's incident in the Strait of Hormuz.

Shortly after he spoke, the Pentagon released a video and audio tape that appeared to confirm its charge that Iranian speedboats swarmed three US warships in the Strait and radioed a threat to blow them up.

"My message today to the Iranians is, they shouldn't have done what they did," he added. "I don't know what their thinking was, but I'm telling you what I think it was, I think it was a provocative act."
Here's part of the story as reported on the same day on the ABC News web site:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iranian boats aggressively approached three U.S. Naval ships in the Strait of Hormuz, a main shipping route for Gulf oil, at the weekend and threatened that the ships would explode, U.S. officials said on Monday.

Iran dismissed U.S. concerns about the incident, saying it was a routine contact. But the Pentagon termed the Iranian actions "careless, reckless and potentially hostile" and said Tehran should provide an explanation.

"This is a very volatile area and the risk of an incident escalating is real," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. "It is a reminder that there is a very unpredictable government in Tehran."

Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which is based in the Gulf, said five Iranian fast boats moved aggressively toward the U.S. ships in international waters and their actions were "unduly provocative." ...

The incident was the latest sign of tension between Washington and Tehran, at odds over a range of issues from Iran's nuclear program to U.S. allegations of Iranian support for terrorism and interference in Iraq.
Of course, like the charges that Iran is a threat to the US, key parts of the incident are distortions or fabrications. As the Inter Press Service reports in a story entitled " How the Pentagon Planted a False Hormuz Story":
WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (IPS) - Senior Pentagon officials, evidently reflecting a broader administration policy decision, used an off-the-record Pentagon briefing to turn the Jan. 6 U.S.-Iranian incident in the Strait of Hormuz into a sensational story demonstrating Iran's military aggressiveness, a reconstruction of the events following the incident shows.

The initial press stories on the incident, all of which can be traced to a briefing by deputy assistant secretary of defence for public affairs in charge of media operations Bryan Whitman, contained similar information that has since been repudiated by the Navy itself.

Then the Navy disseminated a short video into which was spliced the audio of a phone call warning that U.S. warships would "explode" in "a few seconds". Although it was ostensibly a Navy production, IPS has learned that the ultimate decision on its content was made by top officials of the Defence Department.
The Bush administration concocted or hyped a threat where no real threat existed. Who ever heard of such a thing? No matter, millions of American sheeple won't care, won't know, or, more likely, both. If they report it at all, the mainstream media will not give the hoax revelation anywhere near as much attention and prominence as the initial story garnered and the Bush administration and the Israel Lobby will continue to make hay with it. As the Associated Press reports today: "The push to contain Iran has been given new urgency by an incident in the Persian Gulf this month in which U.S. warships were harassed by the Iranian naval speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz."

And, writing for World Politics Review, Zionist Frida Ghitis observes:
Just when it looked like Israel was about to fail in its efforts to convince the world about the dangers posed by Iran, the Iranian regime itself stepped in to help Israel make its case.

When Iranian speedboats began harassing U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, it became clear that, with or without nuclear weapons, Iran can cause extraordinary pain to the entire world, sending oil prices sky high and leaving the planet's biggest oil producers unable to move their crude. That reminder from the busy sea lanes of the Persian Gulf could not have come at a more opportune time. (emphasis added)
Also, coming at a very opportune time is a New York Times article hyping the supposed threat posed by speedboats. "Iran Encounter Grimly Echoes ’02 War Game" by Tom Shanker opens with:
There is a reason American military officers express grim concern over the tactics used by Iranian sailors last weekend: a classified, $250 million war game in which small, agile speedboats swarmed a naval convoy to inflict devastating damage on more powerful warships.

In the days since the encounter with five Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz, American officers have acknowledged that they have been studying anew the lessons from a startling simulation conducted in August 2002. In that war game, the Blue Team navy, representing the United States, lost 16 major warships — an aircraft carrier, cruisers and amphibious vessels — when they were sunk to the bottom of the Persian Gulf in an attack that included swarming tactics by enemy speedboats.
If the war game is "classified" then that means the results have been leaked, undoubtedly with Bush adminstration connivance. And you have to get more than halfway into the article to learn that "The Blue Team defenses also faced cruise missiles fired simultaneously from land and from warplanes, as well as the swarm of speedboats firing heavy machine guns and rockets." Thanks New York Times for helping the Pentagon salvage a story that was fast going down the toilet by raising the specter of a swarm of boats firing rockets and backed by aircraft and cruise missiles where before only five Iranian speedboats existed.

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