Friday, January 11, 2008
The Pentagon has a well-known problem when it comes to basic concepts like, you know, Truth and such. Of course the American People understand that the Pentagon is engaged in War on Their Behalf, and the constellation of Enemies against which the Pentagon wages War includes the Devil Regime of Iran (a regime which has been At War With Us since 1979. If Rick Santorum says it, it's got to be True!) Psychological warfare and Information Operations (which includes fabrications and lies) are part of the arsenals marshaled against Our Enemies, and so, from time to time, the Pentagon, at the direction of its civilian superiors or on its own, trash-talks the Enemy du jour, and comes up with lies and fabrications and misdirection in order to make its point.
We all understand this. Don't we?
So. Over last weekend, there was an Incident in the Gulf, during which some Iranian vessels dashed to and fro near American warships entering the Strait of Hormuz. Apparently the Iranians asked the warships identity, which, surprisingly enough, was provided. The Iranian speedboats then sped away.
As it so happens, His Imperial Smartass was then planning to Go To The MiddleEast, to direct his Little Brown Brothers in the fine art of Negotiations. Given the tensions of the times, no such Progress Through the Realm can be made without threatening the various Enemies thereabouts, and so, it seemed meet to create an International Incident, rattle the sabers, beat the wardrum a time or two, just to let the Devils in Tehran know who's The Boss.
Except that within hours the story coming out of the Pentagon fell apart, and the Incident turned out to be far less interesting, let alone "provocative," than Pentagon and the Imperial State Security Apparatus was saying. The Pentagon itself admitted as much, even as His Imperial Mischief Maker was in the region going on about how the Devils in Tehran were trying to force his Peaceloving Self to bomb the shit out of them.
What's curious here is that apparently the Pentagon came up with this Incident and characterized it as Threatening and Provocative and appended some dreadful radio transmission of someone saying something drôle into a microphone to enhance the Threat Posed by the speeding speedboats. The Pentagon even claimed, apparently falsely, that the Iranians were so Threatening and Provocative that the Imperial Warships were about to fire on them. The Imperial State Security Apparatus then ran with this clumsy fabrication, throwing down gauntlet after gauntlet, and the American media uncritically reported as fact what the Pentagon and the ISSA were telling them about Deviltry from the Perfidious Enemy.
But Doubts immediately arose, and "Gulf of Tonkin" was heard in the land. (The Gulf of Tonkin Incident -- which never happened -- was the shameful precipitating excuse for the American air war against North Vietnam.) And shortly the Pentagon backed off its claims about Threats, but still insisted on denouncing the Provocations of Iran, though this obviously didn't quite mean War. The ISSA and the Imperial Motorcade in the Territories apparently didn't get the message right off, and kept throwing its hissies over Iranian Perfidy, and issued more of its boilerplate threats against Tehran.
Meanwhile the Iranians release their own tapes which seem to show that there was no Incident at all, it was a purely routine encounter that happens -- without any gnashing of teeth or rending of garments -- every day.
Glenn has more.
Can we stop this dangerous nonsense now?