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Friday, January 11, 2008

Be on your (Iranian) Guard?

***This post is from my friend Just Wondering over at Vim & Vinegar, a great read onto itself and what I hope will be a continuing cross posting project from such an amazing and creative writer. She has the gift!

It seems some drunk and/or foolish water skiers scared the bejesus out of our warships in the Strait of Hormuz this past week. Okay, that may not be exactly what happened, but it's probably as close to the truth as what the Bush administration would like you to believe.

Last week, the story was reported thusly: Iranians threatened U.S. ships in Hormuz: Pentagon. The "official" versions of the incident have varied so greatly since the initial report, one wonders if Betty Broderick is writing the script. The dialogue is certainly "made-for-TV." A recording released by the U.S. Navy features a voice saying in English, "I am coming to you. You will explode after a few minutes." Hmmm. I think a line from "Die Hard" would have been more compelling here. You know, something along the lines of Yippeekiyay, MoFo! The Navy now says that the voice on the tape may not have come from one of the threatening power boats, as originally implied. It could have come from anywhere. The shore, another boat. Anywhere! Not to make you nervous, or anything. Or, precisely to make you nervous.

I am not the first or the only person on the Internet to think, Gulf of Tonkin. Click on that previous link to read a 1994 article inspired by the 30th anniversary of that event (written by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon). Glenn Greenwald over at Salon has written a fine piece on the whole Strait of Hormuz episode, examining how it is (or, more accurately, is not) reminiscent of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and also looking closely at the issue of the authenticity of the aforementioned mystery voice on the Navy tape. In case you don't know, the Gulf of Tonkin was the site of a phantom "exchange of fire" between the U.S. Navy and North Vietnamese PT boats; a phantom scuffle that was used by President Johnson (and uncritically reported in the press) as the lie to send members of my family (both sides) to war in Vietnam.

Now, I'm not going to pound away at the obvious: the boy who cried wolf ... those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it ... we have nothing to fear but fear itself ... blahblahblah. Unlike Greenwald, and from my perspective as a mere member of the public who is also a consumer of news and information, I think the two incidents (Gulf of Tonkin and Strait of Hormuz) are readily comparable. This quote from that 14-year old article from Cohen and Solomon (linked previously), at least, ought to give us pause in the context of our present day circumstances:

Nearly three decades later [after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which took place in August of 1964], during the Gulf War, columnist Sydney Schanberg warned journalists not to forget "our unquestioning chorus of agreeability when Lyndon Johnson bamboozled us with his fabrication of the Gulf of Tonkin incident."
Well, been there, done that - quite recently. Can you say "Judith Miller?" And still, here we are, being told by this administration that we are facing down Iranian bionic speedboats with the capability to sink warships and leap tall buildings in a single bound ...
More from the FAIR article:

Schanberg blamed not only the press, but also "the apparent amnesia of the wider American public." [snap! and ouch] And he added, "We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth."
Boys and girls, someone is always banking on that innocence and that desperation. I leave you with these two tidbits: In spite of the dubiousness of the initial reports regarding the intensity of the Strait of Hormuz incident, the United States has sent a formal protest to Iran over the occurrence - whatever it was. I guess they want to make sure all the paperwork is in order. And, oddly, the White House is predicting that, although his approval rating is in the low 30's right now, the president's approval rating will be at 45% by the time he leaves office. Wow! That's quite a jump. When was the last time that this president's approval rating saw a 15 point bump? ... ruh-roh.

Just Wondering

Originally posted at Vim and Vinegar

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