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Posted by on Jan 10, 2008 in At TMV | 7 comments

A Sad Commentary on These Times

01aatonkin.jpg

It is a sad commentary on the times in which we live that my initial reaction to a Pentagon report that Iranian fast boats had swarmed U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday was disbelief. And that the incident was being used as a pretext to up the saber rattling instead of making a good-faith effort to engage Tehran diplomatically.

The Irani government downplayed the report, of course, and says that a U.S. video of the incident is a fake. I dunno. But I do know that after being lied to by my government with mind numbing regularity, it just isn’t possible to cast the U.S. as the good guy in this one.

The incident, of course, brings to mind the notorious Gulf of Tonkin Incident, a non-event that the Johnson administration used as a pretext for escalating U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

The so-called precipitating incident on August 4, 1964 actually occurred two days before the fabricated incident when North Vietnamese gunboats engaged the destroyer USS Maddox (see painting) in the South China Sea following covert U.S. attacks on North Vietnam. The U.S. used radio transmissions from the August 2 incident to argue that on August 4 the Maddox and destroyer USS Turner Joy were the targets of unprovoked attacks.

What is now certain is that on August 2 the Maddox fired on the gunboats first, the attack on the Turner Joy never occurred and a sonar technician who reported the firing of 22 North Vietnamese torpedoes confused them with the sound of the engine of his own ship.

How ironic that President Bush arrived in the Middle East this week not to engage in diplomacy with the country that can shut down the Strait of Hormuz, which is so crucial to world oil shipping, and restart its shuttered nuclear weapons program on a whim, but to rally opposition to it.

Cernig nails it at Newshoggers, writing that:

“We’re back to ‘bomb, bomb, bomb Iran’ because five ‘pimped out Boston Whalers’ — as Jules Crittenden puts it — got close to an Aegis cruiser, a mini-Aegis Arleigh Burke destroyer and a frigate with a combined firepower that could probably sink the entire Iranian Navy and down the entire Iranian Air Force. Now that really is absurd.”

Did I say what a sad commentary this is on the times in which we live?

Painting by E.J. Fitzgerald (January 1965)

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • rugger09

    and the USS Cole had eneough firepower to sink more than a thousand of the boats that blasted a giant hole in its side. 200 meters is insanely close, and a gap that can be crossed in no time. Had those speedboats been armed with explosives and closed on the US warships, what would your reaction have been? That the US attacked its own ships and killed its own sailors in order to stick it to Iran?

    Also if we wanted an excuse for war, we had one in March when Iranian surrounded one of our border patrols and US and Iraqi forces had to shoot their way out to avoid capture. Instead the DOD and Bush Admin. made sure this wasnt widely talked about, because they dont want a war.

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1605487,00.html

  • G_Hendricks

    That’s exactly what I was thinking. When I first heard that, the little voice inside my head started telling me, “Remember, the Gulf of Tonkin didn’t happen.”

  • Carrick

    Actually, the Gulf of Tonkin incident definitely occurred (the first incident). Even the Vietnamese confirm that.

    You guys are a bunch of nutters.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    Oh my.

    I’m not sure it’s fair to call anyone a “nutter” for questioning the legitimacy of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

    As I recall from reading history books, LBJ threatened the commies with retribution if a second incident occurred. The report of a second incident is what made the Congress grant LBJ all the authority he wanted. So the non-occurrence of a second incident is crucial.

    The US Navy’s own history page on Tonkin concedes there was no second incident.

    I hope that HTML works.

  • DLS

    No, what’s sad is exemplified not only by this, but by blaming Bush for Bhutto’s death, too, for example. That’s what should correctly be (self-)addressed.

  • shaun

    It is important from a contextual standpoint to remember at this point in an about to be declared war the U.S. had been running secret missions into North Vietnam and that is what provoked the North Vietnams on August 2.

    LBJ was flying without congressional approval (sound familiar?) and needed a pretext to get that approval.

  • kritt11

    DLS- Bush is not totally responsible for Bhutto’s death, but the US did engineer her return- mostly I blame Musharaf for failing to protect her, and the extremists. The US should have pushed Musharaf harder to ensure that she would be protected in the same way that he is. Bhutto requested more security and wanted tinted windows for her car, but never got it.

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