Iran, Again

by , January 12, 2008

The Iranians have released their own video of the alleged "confrontation" that occurred between three US warships and five Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz:

The Pentagon’s narrative is very different. Coupled with a claim that the Iranians transmitted a radio message to the effect of "I am coming to you. You will explode shortly," here is the US government’s version:

The Iranian video is clearer, and much more convincing: there are background noises consistent with the visual images, unlike the Pentagon’s version. And I am not the only one to note these discrepancies. As the New York Times puts it:

"Naval and Pentagon officials have said that the video and audio were recorded separately, then combined. On Wednesday, Pentagon officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak officially, said they were still trying to determine if the transmission came from the speedboats or elsewhere.

"The audio includes a heavily accented voice warning in English that the Navy warships would explode. However, the recording carries no ambient noise — the sounds of a motor, the sea or wind — that would be expected if the broadcast had been made from one of the five small boats that sped around the three-ship American convoy.

"Pentagon officials said they could not rule out that the broadcast might have come from shore, or from another ship nearby, although it might have come from one of the five fast boats with a high-quality radio system."

As much as I hate to say it, the video released by the state-controlled media of the tyrannical Iranian regime is more coherent, and far more credible than Washington’s cock-and-bull story. And that’s truly a very sad state of affairs. But remember who put out all that ersatz "intelligence" about Iraq’s "weapons of mass destruction." To those who reflexively take Washington’s word over Tehran, I have three words to say: Niger uranium forgeries.

Mike Nizza, writing on the New York Times blog, reports:

"The list of those who are less than fully confident in the Pentagon’s video/audio mashup of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself. Unnamed Pentagon officials said on Wednesday that the threatening voice heard in the audio clip, which was released on Monday night with a disclaimer that it was recorded separately from the video images and merged with them later, is not directly traceable to the Iranian military."

Well, then, who was threatening "You will explode"? As a commenter on the Times blog notes,

"Over in the Gulf, Ch. 16 [the commonly-used UHF frequency] is like a bad CB radio. Everybody and their brother is on it; chattering away; hurling racial slurs, usually involving Filipinos (lots of Filipinos work in the area); curses involving your mother; 1970′s music broadcast in the wee hours (nothing odder than hearing The Carpenters 50 miles off the coast of Iran at 4 a.m.)

"On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf, slurs/threats/chatter/etc. is commonplace. So my first thought was that the ‘explode’ comment might not have even come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility. "

Given the likelihood of this scenario, I have to wonder: who was that "loser," anyway. An Iranian Revolutionary Guard– or an Iranian-sounding voice under American direction? And what about that mysterious onshore "facility," where they just happened to be "monitoring the events" – what a coincidence!

We were lied into war by the same people who are now trying to sell us their version of an alleged "provocation" – but who are the real provocateurs? Well, we don’t know the answer to that question, but given the track record of our own government, it would hardly come as a shock if it came out that the US version is a complete fabrication. As for the Iranians, no doubt their rather abbreviated clip has been edited to conform to Tehran’s official story, and yet, in the balance of things, theirs is the more credible account.

After all, why would the Iranians needle us, and give George W. Bush and the Israeli lobby the excuse they need to launch a war nobody wants? I heard a CNN reporter recently opine that the Iranians are "testing" us, but do they really need to come at our warships full bore whilst threatening to blow us up in order to do that? Surely a subtler feint would be more useful for "testing" purposes.

In short, it just doesn’t make any sense for the Iranians to have done what they’re accused of doing, and yet it does make perfect sense that an administration such as this one – which has been gunning for Tehran, lo these many months – would create an "incident" in the run-up to launching an attack.

As I warned weeks ago, when the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran came out, and people were shouting hosannas because they were convinced war had been averted: not so fast. The nuclear issue was never going to spark a war with the Iranians, because they had already abandoned their program: there was no smoking gun. The most likely path to an open armed conflict was always a border incident, either on land or in the Gulf. That’s why I’ve been hammering away at the idea that we need to get out of Iraq pronto: the longer we stay in, the higher the risk that we’ll be at war with the Iranians before anything can be done to stop it.

The momentum of events will have carried us forward to a confrontation that will impact us here at home as has no other conflict in recent memory. Oil at $200 a barrel, an inflationary spike that sends the markets reeling, and, perhaps, an international financial meltdown that will recall the Great Depression – all this, and the unspeakable carnage.

It isn’t going to be pretty. So what can we do to stop it?

This is an election season, and so we have an opportunity to influence the public debate: it’s the season when politicians are open to pressure from us plebeians. No matter whom you support, or which party you identify with, it’s important to make your views known. It’s an outrage that none of the supposed "front-runners" in the presidential race have made a statement on the Hormuz "incident" – or, at least, no such statement has been reported as of this writing, nearly 48 hours later.

How disengaged from world events this election is becoming, with no real discussion of the important issues and everything taking a back seat to the Chris Matthews "horse race" school of reporting. Here we are on the brink of war, and all they can talk about is Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and Hillary’s one recorded moment of authenticity. The Iraq war has been pushed to the background: the "surge," we are told, is "working." Move along – nothing to see here. As for the Hormuz incident: why aren’t the candidates being asked about it?

When it comes to directly answering the question of whether the President will come to Congress before launching an attack on Iran, this administration has a long history of evasions. I think it is fair to say, however – given the passage of the Kyl-Lieberman resolution and the White House’s expansive conception of presidential authority in wartime – that the answer is clearly and emphatically no. Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) has introduced legislation that would require the President to seek congressional authorization before taking military action against Iran, but that is stuck in committee, and failed to gain much support among the Democratic presidential aspirants. To be fair to Hillary Clinton, she signed on as a co-sponsor of the legislation: the only problem is, she’s just as likely to vote for war with Iran as she is to vote nay. Only two major party candidates that I know of rule out aggression aimed at Iran – and have spoken out loud and clear on the issue – and that is Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.

So what about Obama, the alleged "peace" candidate now being held up as the alternative to Hillary – and where is John Edwards on this question of a looming war with Iran? These guys are nowhere to be found when it comes to facing down the War Party when and where it counts – and, worse, their "antiwar" supporters are letting them get away with it!

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

My three-part series on the history of the Old Right in America is now posted in its entirety over at Taki’s Top Drawer. Part I is here; Part II is here; and Part III is here. I’ve had a lot of nice compliments on this one, and I sure did have a lot of fun writing it.

Read more by Justin Raimondo