Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ahmadinejad Wants America to Apologize: This is News?

Actually, yes. For one thing, he wasn't speaking in Tehran. The Iranian president was in Kermanshah. And, he's responding to President Barack Obama's "conciliatory tone toward Iran," (The New York Times) which may be a hopeful sign of real change - or not.

(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)
Sounds pretty bad.

And, those American 'crimes' actually did happen.

CIA Ousts Elected Government - 1953

True 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 Airliner

Also 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 Crew
One 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 Mystery
The 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 Perception
I 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 Ambitions

Although 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
If the American government is supposed to apologize for that sort of thing, maybe all Americans should apologize because America
  • 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
So much depends on what facts one decides to admit.

Related posts: In the news: Background:
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))


Anonymous said...

Here are my views on this,

First Iran and America can never be friends at lease not now.


Because Iran has called America the great Satan and they have promised to destroy America, they are Islamic and we are not Islam teaches to kill who ever is not Islamic. They are radical Islamic not just Islamic.

They support the Holy war, They support the Shia law, they believe in the 12th Iman.

They aid our enemy's (Hamas, Hizbulah, Saddam when he was around)
They are about to go nucklar trigger happy(:
They have chanted and are chanting "Death to America!"

No matter how far to the left Obama may be he can not make peace with Jihadist. at least not peace that will last. Just look at Israel the jihadist tried peace and then they broke it then they tried it again and broke it again.
What makes us think Iran is much better?

I'm sick of the UN and the US just giving Iran a slap on the wrist and saying "Oh you better stop your wrong now" Where do we draw the line at? How far do we submit to peace?

For those who are reading this:

When I say Iran I mean the Iranian government. I believe their are innocent Iranians living under a dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

Correction: "Shia"

I meant Sharia law,

also I believe Wahhabism to be a issue as well.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.