(from Reuters, via FOXNews, used without permission)
This is news?
President Ahmadinejad's list of American crimes include
- America's support for the 1953 coup that ousted the "democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh and installed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi"
- Shooting down an Iran Air Airbus A300
- The U.S. Navy missile cruiser Vincennes, 1988, Persian Gulf)
- "America's efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions"
(information and quotes from The New York Times)
And, those American 'crimes' actually did happen.
CIA Ousts Elected Government - 1953True enough. As far as it goes.
A coup overthrew Iranian Premier Mohammed Mossadegh. Depending on how one views the Cold War, he was either a victim of capitalistic, imperialistic, warmonger oppression: or someone in cahoots with the Iranian Communist party, and who had nationalized some foreign oil holdings. (That's the cue for "It's All About Oil!")
The History Department at the University of San Diego has an interesting timeline of the Iran Crisis of the fifties. From USD's account, it sounds like getting the Shah back on the throne was Eisenhower's fault (the timeline identifies him as "Ike"). I haven't discovered details about how Mossadegh's government wound up being elected in the first place.
American Warship Shoots Down Unarmed AirlinerAlso true.
Iran Air Flight 655 was, in fact, an Airbus A300. The Vincennes was (and is) an Aegis class cruiser with advanced tracking radar. And, the Vincennes did shoot down IA 655 on July 3, 1988. One version of this incident is that American sailors saw a perfectly harmless civilian airliner on their radar, and decided to shoot it down. And, as far as that goes, that's an accurate account.
As usual, it's not quite that simple.
The Strange Matter of the Silent Air CrewOne detail that doesn't get discussed all that much is what the Iranian Airbus A300's crew didn't do:
"10:49 AM –Vincennes warns aircraft on military frequency, no response
"10:50 AM –Warnings repeated, civilian and military channels, no response"
"USS Vincennes Incident" (Spring, 2004)
It seems to me that a flight crew of a civilian airliner would be highly motivated to let a warship with the Vincennes' firepower know who and what they were. But, for whatever reason, they didn't.
Aegis Computers, Memories, and a MysteryThe Vincennes' computers recorded that the Iranian airliner was ascending. The crew remembered clearly that it started descending - just like a military aircraft starting an attack. Oddly, they might both be right. The Aegis tracking system may have started feeding the crew tracking data about another aircraft, that actually was descending, but identifying it as the IA 655 airliner.1
If they hadn't been in a war zone, with the death of 37 Americans on the USS Stark fresh in their minds (May, 1987, Exocet anti-ship missiles), and with literally seconds to make a life-or-death decision, the Vincennes' track coordinator would almost certainly noticed the error, and corrected it.
Cool Titles, Easy Reading, and Public PerceptionI think one reason that Ahmadinejad's version of the incident is better-known is that it is a close match to articles with cool titles like "Sea Of Lies" (Newsweek (July 13, 1992)). Detailed information and background tends to be in reports with dusty monikers like "Manipulating the OODA Loop: The Overlooked Role of Information Resource Management in Information Warfare" (...Air Education and Training Command (December 1996)).
Given a choice, which do you think most people would feel like reading?
America Thwarts Iran's Nuclear AmbitionsAlthough Iran started working with nuclear reactors back when the Shah was in charge, the 'Iranian nukes' issue is very much current events. Iran seems to be insisting that it needs nuclear power for strictly civilian purposes - and has been making weapons-grade fissile material off and on for years.
So, this charge is true. And, since I'm rather concerned about what the Ayatollahs would do with nuclear bombs, if they had them, I'm okay with America, and the United Nations, 'thwarting' Iran's nuclear plans. (I discussed this recently: "Iran's Nuclear Program, Israel, Iraq, America, Bush and Obama: Simple? Not!" (January 11, 2009).)
Facts, Selective Awareness, and American 'Crimes'President Ahmadinejad's list of 'crimes' sounded pretty bad. He is, after all, among those who seem to believe that America is behind most of the world's problems - just like the Zionists.
Since the ideas and languages of that view are very familiar by now. I thought it might be a refreshing change of pace to take President Ahmadinejad's wish list, and re-phrase it.
Iranian Preisdent Ahmadinejad wants apologies because America
- Doesn't want religious fanatics to have nuclear weapons
- Helps Jews defend themselves from neighbors who want to kill them
- Stopped the (real) torture and killing at Abu Ghraib
- Allows its armed forces to defend themselves
- Is one of the countries that people try to break into, instead of the other way around
- Helped bitter enemies get back on their feet after WWII
- Is helping Iraq recover from Hussein's three decades of neglect
- "Iran's Nuclear Program, Israel, Iraq, America, Bush and Obama: Simple? Not!"
(January 11, 2009)
- "Barack Obama's Presidency: History Being Made"
(November 6, 2008)
- "Military support for Iran pres raises controversy"
Taiwan News (January 28, 2009)
- "Iranian Leader Demands U.S. Apology"
The New York Times (January 28, 2009)
(includes a list of American 'crimes' that's more extensive than most)
- "Ahmadinejad demands apology from US"
Radio Netherlands Worldwide (January 28, 2009)
- "Iran leader wants U.S. apology for past 'crimes' "
MSNBC (January 28, 2009)
- "Obama's changes welcome, if serious: Ahmadinejad"
Sify News (January 28, 2009)
- "Iran bans weekly for featuring Obama on cover"
Sify News (November 8, 2009)
- "Iran 1953"
History Department at the University of San Diego (timeline 1906-2006)
- "USS Vincennes Incident" (pdf)
Dan Craig, Dan Morales, Mike Oliver, MIT (Spring, 2004)
- "Infosphere Threats"
Mr. Timothy L. Thomas, Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS (September-October 1999)
- "Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Combat Identification"
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Technology (May 1996)
- "Manipulating the OODA Loop: The Overlooked Role of Information Resource Management in Information Warfare" (pdf)
Gregory M. Schechtman, Captain, USAF, Thesis, Graduate School of Logistics and Acquisition Management of the Air Force Institute of Technology, Air University, Air Education and Training Command (December 1996)
(This paper mistakenly identifies the date of the Vincennes / IA 655: Airbus A300 incident as "3 July 1992," but otherwise seems accurate)
- "ADA259045 - Reconstructing Combat Decisions: Reflections on the Shootdown of Flight 655"
Nancy C. Roberts, Naval Postgraduate School Monerey CA Dept of Administrative Sciences, Defense Technical Information Center (October 1992)
- "Nuclear Weapons"
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), GlobalSecurity.org
1 Turns out the Iranian airliner was sharing that general area with "...a second aircraft, a low-flying A-6 Intruder, descending in altitude, from the carrier Forrestal. By a bizarre serious of events attributable to the Aegis system itself and not to operator error, she [Captain Dotterway] believes the track identification numbers of the Iranian airbus and the A6 were transposed. Under normal circumstances, the track coordinator would have identified the number conflict and rectified it. However, given the time compression of approximately 180 seconds, the confusion over track numbers was never resolved...."
("ADA259045 - Reconstructing Combat Decisions: Reflections on the Shootdown of Flight 655" (October 1992))