Travesty Theatre: Iran, the Los Banos Reservoir, and RDX

While most Americans spent Wednesday with their attention focused on the New Hampshire primaries, in hope of the 2008 presidential election, the current president was continuing the travesty that is his presidency.

los_banos.jpgReminiscent of the Gulf of Tonkin incident that was used to begin action in Vietnam, US government official claims are reported as absolute truths.

During the Gulf of Tonkin incident the official story sold to the American people was that the North Vietnamese torpedo boats launched an unprovoked attack against a US destroyer on a routine patrol.

Sound familiar?

Here is what the LA Times reported:

A group of small Iranian boats charged and threatened three American warships just outside the Persian Gulf, military officials said Monday, elevating tensions and illustrating how easily a military confrontation could develop between U.S. and Iranian forces. [LA Times]

Another wrote:

According to U.S. military officials, five Iranian boats made hostile moves toward U.S. ships entering the Persian Gulf while threatening to “explode” them. Although the U.S. military has labeled the incident a “significant confrontation,” the Iranian government has characterized it as a routine event. [SF Gate]

NY Times editors warned:

Iran played a reckless and foolish game in the Strait of Hormuz this week that except for American restraint could have spun lethally out of control. [NY Times]

More embarrassing than this charade was the way that Republican candidates tonight tried to one-up each other with their bellicose rhetoric:

Huckabee said that anyone who challenges the Navy again should be prepared to go to the “gates of hell.” Thompson jumped in, saying anyone testing the U.S. Navy might soon meet the “virgins” that Islamic terrorists expect to meet in heaven.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas called the bellicose language frightening and reminiscent of the reaction to an alleged naval exchange in 1965 that led to the Vietnam War. “I would certainly urge a lot more caution than I’m hearing here tonight,” Paul said.

Romney cracked that Paul should stop reading Iranian propaganda, drawing what sounded like some boos from the audience and a steely glare from Paul. [McClatchy]

However, the reality seems that just like the fabricated Gulf of Tonkin incident, this one was also a Hollywood-type production made in Washington. More and more evidence is accumulating making the whole instance seem nothing more than another Bush concoction. A video was released by the Pentagon with boats hardly bigger than the ones we rent when we jet ski at the Los Banos Creek Reservoir. Are we really supposed to believe that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard sent these to take on 3 warships? This has to be a joke.

The media rushed to report that the Iranian boats dropped white boxes that may have contained mines. However, even the Pentagons own video fails to show anything of the kind.

The Iranians have already labeled the video released with the audio as a fabrication. Even the NY Times (although it wont ever say it was a fabrication) indicates just that:

The audio includes a statement that says, I am coming to you, and adds, You will explode after a few minutes. The voice was recorded from the internationally recognized channel for ship-to-ship communications, Navy officials have said. 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.” [NY Times]

Audio and video recorded separately and then combined.they dont even know where the audio transmission came from? This joke would be far funnier if so many lives were not at stake.

The international press will slowly move to tell the truth, but mainly in the back pages of its News section. Memories are short and somehow just as America invaded Iraq due to its stockpiling of WMDs, all will be forgotten.

Yes, governments lie. Hardly new.I have seen it my whole life. Sikhs have always been used as a soft target by the Indian media. Read headlines with caution. When you read about Sikh terrorists suddenly being apprehended with RDX (it is always with RDX, never with anything but RDX, cant we ever have anything else?) after going through some sort of shadowy training by ISI in Pakistan (always Pakistan, youd think Pakistan doesnt have enough trouble then to give some Sikhs some RDX), admire the travesty theatre. But then realize that the real travesty is the tragedy faced by those falsely accused and wrongfully imprisoned.

Whether Sikhs by India or the Iranians by America, it is the innocent that suffer.


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19 Responses to “Travesty Theatre: Iran, the Los Banos Reservoir, and RDX”

  1. sizzle says:

    Wow, your Sikh connection at the end is quite the stretch to justify this rant on this blog.

    Are you actually comparing the Sikhs in India to the current fascist Iranian regime? Are you actually lambasting the U.S. government in the same manner that you accuse it of using – exploiting fears and paranoia through speculation, whether those are of the scary Iranians or scary Big Brother?

    And to answer your question – the video was taken by crew members on hand held cameras. The audio was from ship to ship radio. The camera didn't pick up the audio (perhaps the photographer wasn't in the place to hear it?), so they combined it for the ease of the viewing.

    Also, read up on political maneuvering on the world stage. Using military means to bait a nemesis into action is somewhat common. Also, try reading up on the USS Cole.

    For the sake of this blog, I'd suggest taking down this post.

  2. sizzle says:

    Wow, your Sikh connection at the end is quite the stretch to justify this rant on this blog.

    Are you actually comparing the Sikhs in India to the current fascist Iranian regime? Are you actually lambasting the U.S. government in the same manner that you accuse it of using – exploiting fears and paranoia through speculation, whether those are of the scary Iranians or scary Big Brother?

    And to answer your question – the video was taken by crew members on hand held cameras. The audio was from ship to ship radio. The camera didn’t pick up the audio (perhaps the photographer wasn’t in the place to hear it?), so they combined it for the ease of the viewing.

    Also, read up on political maneuvering on the world stage. Using military means to bait a nemesis into action is somewhat common. Also, try reading up on the USS Cole.

    For the sake of this blog, I’d suggest taking down this post.

  3. Jodha says:

    Sizzle:

    Hardly a stretch — main point — Governments lie and people die.

    I see a parallel in the current White House Administration's attempt to set the grounds to wage another war to the Indian Government's attempts to jail members of a particular political party.

    Many are under the impression that the US Government or Indian Government are incapable of lying. Any proof presented is interpreted as "conspiracy theory." I am trying to engage those to critically think and move beyond government propaganda. (Leave that to Fox News, CNN, etc.)

    Manipulating a video in any way and not being forthright in that manipulation, even if it is as you claim for 'ease of viewing', is a fabrication.

    If you follow the NY Times link, military officials are NOT even sure where the audio came from.

    From A post on the New York Times news blog yesterday from a former naval officer with experience of these waters said that the radio frequency used in the Strait of Hormuz was regularly polluted with interfering chatter, somewhat like CB radio. "My first thought was that the 'explode' comment might not have come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2239119,0…

    Innuendo and deliberate insinuation have been the traits of the current White House administration. Many in America still believe that Saddam Hussein is somehow still linked to the events of 9/11.

    'Using military means to bait a nemesis' may be common, but so is completely lying and fabricating an incident to make another appear as the aggressor.

    Thanks for your suggestion, but for the sake of the blog (and our current conversation), I will leave it up.

  4. Jodha says:

    Sizzle:

    Hardly a stretch — main point — Governments lie and people die.

    I see a parallel in the current White House Administration’s attempt to set the grounds to wage another war to the Indian Government’s attempts to jail members of a particular political party.

    Many are under the impression that the US Government or Indian Government are incapable of lying. Any proof presented is interpreted as “conspiracy theory.” I am trying to engage those to critically think and move beyond government propaganda. (Leave that to Fox News, CNN, etc.)

    Manipulating a video in any way and not being forthright in that manipulation, even if it is as you claim for ‘ease of viewing’, is a fabrication.

    If you follow the NY Times link, military officials are NOT even sure where the audio came from.

    From A post on the New York Times news blog yesterday from a former naval officer with experience of these waters said that the radio frequency used in the Strait of Hormuz was regularly polluted with interfering chatter, somewhat like CB radio. “My first thought was that the ‘explode’ comment might not have come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2239119,00.html

    Innuendo and deliberate insinuation have been the traits of the current White House administration. Many in America still believe that Saddam Hussein is somehow still linked to the events of 9/11.

    ‘Using military means to bait a nemesis’ may be common, but so is completely lying and fabricating an incident to make another appear as the aggressor.

    Thanks for your suggestion, but for the sake of the blog (and our current conversation), I will leave it up.

  5. sizzle says:

    Again – connecting the current Iranian situation with Sikh/Indian government relations are a massive stretch. There isn't a clear analogy to be made, and you attempt one with, "Governments lie and people die," which isn't especially enlightening and is overly broad.

    Further, the Iranian saga has nothing to do with the theme of this blog. You tie in the Sikh connection in the final paragraph. The last line of your post is especially preposterous:

    Whether Sikhs by India or the Iranians by America, it is the innocent that suffer.

    So, to address the actual content of your post head-on, especially in light of your assertion that governments lie, I copy and paste this comment from another site:

    The whole point of not buying into propaganda from your home country is to defy being lied to. You're downright stupid if you don't even consider that other nations may be lying to you as well. Just because you don't buy into propaganda from your home country, doesn't mean you should buy into the other side of the story without question.

    But I'm glad you think they're innocent.

  6. sizzle says:

    Again – connecting the current Iranian situation with Sikh/Indian government relations are a massive stretch. There isn’t a clear analogy to be made, and you attempt one with, “Governments lie and people die,” which isn’t especially enlightening and is overly broad.

    Further, the Iranian saga has nothing to do with the theme of this blog. You tie in the Sikh connection in the final paragraph. The last line of your post is especially preposterous:

    Whether Sikhs by India or the Iranians by America, it is the innocent that suffer.

    So, to address the actual content of your post head-on, especially in light of your assertion that governments lie, I copy and paste this comment from another site:

    The whole point of not buying into propaganda from your home country is to defy being lied to. You’re downright stupid if you don’t even consider that other nations may be lying to you as well. Just because you don’t buy into propaganda from your home country, doesn’t mean you should buy into the other side of the story without question.

    But I’m glad you think they’re innocent.

  7. Jodha says:

    Sizzle:

    I don't assume all topics in this blog must have the word 'Sikh' directly in the title. However I do believe speaking truth to power is very Sikh-like.

    I absolutely believe the Iranian government lies just as does the Indian government, US Government, or any other government. I am not as naive as you suggest.

    However, in this particular case, the weight of the evidence suggests that in this new year, the White House will be continuing with the same tactics (lies, purgery, innuendo, and false insinuation) that have characterized the previous 7 years.

  8. Jodha says:

    Sizzle:

    I don’t assume all topics in this blog must have the word ‘Sikh’ directly in the title. However I do believe speaking truth to power is very Sikh-like.

    I absolutely believe the Iranian government lies just as does the Indian government, US Government, or any other government. I am not as naive as you suggest.

    However, in this particular case, the weight of the evidence suggests that in this new year, the White House will be continuing with the same tactics (lies, purgery, innuendo, and false insinuation) that have characterized the previous 7 years.

  9. Nicole says:

    Sizzle,

    Honestly I do not really understand why you do not see the analogy between Sikhs/India and Iranians/America. India has had control over media sources since God knows when and it has labeled what many people would consider nationalist attitudes as terrorist activities (referring to the Sikhs obviously) in order to validate its own actions.

    From where I'm standing, it looks like a similar picture. The US may be controlling media in a similar sense, by saying these white boxes were dropped and audio was sent. It may not be to validate any current action against Iran but obviously during the debate it became clear that it may be used to valid future actions. What is this all based on? A questionable truth or lie about some boats, boxes, and audio.

    So India lies to be able to march into our Gurdwaras, and America lies to possibly march into Iran one day. So what part of the analogy was such a stretch?

  10. Nicole says:

    Sizzle,
    Honestly I do not really understand why you do not see the analogy between Sikhs/India and Iranians/America. India has had control over media sources since God knows when and it has labeled what many people would consider nationalist attitudes as terrorist activities (referring to the Sikhs obviously) in order to validate its own actions.

    From where I’m standing, it looks like a similar picture. The US may be controlling media in a similar sense, by saying these white boxes were dropped and audio was sent. It may not be to validate any current action against Iran but obviously during the debate it became clear that it may be used to valid future actions. What is this all based on? A questionable truth or lie about some boats, boxes, and audio.

    So India lies to be able to march into our Gurdwaras, and America lies to possibly march into Iran one day. So what part of the analogy was such a stretch?

  11. sizzle says:

    Nicole –

    The original post is a stretch, misplaced on this blog, and just ridiculous for a couple reasons:

    1) First, the analogy is loose and sloppy with the only commonality between the two situations is the use of propaganda. In the case of Sikhs, the propaganda was wielded by a government that exercised almost complete control over a peoples that lived within its borders. In the case of the Iranians, this is just the latest incident in a string of many between two countries who are vying for favor on the world stage by playing political games. Iranians use just as much, if not more, propaganda as Americans. But, unlike in India of the past, Americans have dissenting voices all over the place. Hell, go to Daily Kos, The Nation, Crooks and Liars, etc, if you'd like to read more theories as to the motives of the U.S. government. Republican candidates using this incident to ballyhoo their foreign policy toughness is just political opportunism – not an indication that U.S. troops are preparing to goose-step through Tehran. If you legitimately believe that the U.S. is in a position to or about to start something with Iran after something as insignificant as a buzz by by Iranian swift boats, even if there is nothing Dubya would rather do……you're not very well grounded in reality.

    2. But even more egregious than that sloppiness, the analogy actually places in the shoes of the Sikhs the Government of Iran (not the Iranian people – they are powerless). Five words – Are you f*cking kidding me? As I think about why the original post pissed me off as much as it did, it's the parallel Jodha makes between innocent Sikhs and the "innocent" Iranian government. In order for the analogy to work beyond it's very remedial commentary on the use of propaganda, you have to draw parallels between the named parties. So – ok, the United States is like India in that you believe both use propganda to push forward diabolical plans. Again, sloppy, but, whatever, I'll let it slide. But now, the Iranian Government are in a similar position as the Sikhs. Really? REALLY? Are you living a pipe dream? Even if you attempt to analogize the Iranian Government to Sikh Separatist leaders, the analogy doesn't fly. Iran is a religiously fascist regime, exercising almost complete control over its citizens. They've cracked down on dissidents, executing many, even curtailing internet access and any sort of blogging (what ever would WE do?). The Iranian people are overwhelmingly pro-democracy and Pro-American, and yet cannot express these beliefs. Meanwhile, the Sikh separatist leaders exercised no such control over Punjab, soliciting support via grass-roots movements and not at all part of any recognized government. The Iranian Government is a master or propaganda (Jodha's sympathies despite their oppressive methods are an indication of their effectiveness), is a sovereign nation, and has a lot of power. Sikhs or Sikh separatists had no such thing. I could go on and on – but I hope you get the point. Its ridiculous to draw a parallel between the two. Indeed, as a Sikh, I find it incredibly insulting to use the oppression faced by past Sikhs to elicit sympathy for a fascist regime.

    Upon any analysis, the analogy is incredibly sloppy and nonsensical. It was made on a blog about Sikh issues, not on the Daily Kos. I suspect the analogy was made in the last paragraph to justify posting it on this blog. Unfortunately, it doesn't make an ounce of sense beyond a basic commentary on the use of propaganda. So, again – it doesn't belong here.

  12. sizzle says:

    Nicole –

    The original post is a stretch, misplaced on this blog, and just ridiculous for a couple reasons:

    1) First, the analogy is loose and sloppy with the only commonality between the two situations is the use of propaganda. In the case of Sikhs, the propaganda was wielded by a government that exercised almost complete control over a peoples that lived within its borders. In the case of the Iranians, this is just the latest incident in a string of many between two countries who are vying for favor on the world stage by playing political games. Iranians use just as much, if not more, propaganda as Americans. But, unlike in India of the past, Americans have dissenting voices all over the place. Hell, go to Daily Kos, The Nation, Crooks and Liars, etc, if you’d like to read more theories as to the motives of the U.S. government. Republican candidates using this incident to ballyhoo their foreign policy toughness is just political opportunism – not an indication that U.S. troops are preparing to goose-step through Tehran. If you legitimately believe that the U.S. is in a position to or about to start something with Iran after something as insignificant as a buzz by by Iranian swift boats, even if there is nothing Dubya would rather do……you’re not very well grounded in reality.

    2. But even more egregious than that sloppiness, the analogy actually places in the shoes of the Sikhs the Government of Iran (not the Iranian people – they are powerless). Five words – Are you f*cking kidding me? As I think about why the original post pissed me off as much as it did, it’s the parallel Jodha makes between innocent Sikhs and the “innocent” Iranian government. In order for the analogy to work beyond it’s very remedial commentary on the use of propaganda, you have to draw parallels between the named parties. So – ok, the United States is like India in that you believe both use propganda to push forward diabolical plans. Again, sloppy, but, whatever, I’ll let it slide. But now, the Iranian Government are in a similar position as the Sikhs. Really? REALLY? Are you living a pipe dream? Even if you attempt to analogize the Iranian Government to Sikh Separatist leaders, the analogy doesn’t fly. Iran is a religiously fascist regime, exercising almost complete control over its citizens. They’ve cracked down on dissidents, executing many, even curtailing internet access and any sort of blogging (what ever would WE do?). The Iranian people are overwhelmingly pro-democracy and Pro-American, and yet cannot express these beliefs. Meanwhile, the Sikh separatist leaders exercised no such control over Punjab, soliciting support via grass-roots movements and not at all part of any recognized government. The Iranian Government is a master or propaganda (Jodha’s sympathies despite their oppressive methods are an indication of their effectiveness), is a sovereign nation, and has a lot of power. Sikhs or Sikh separatists had no such thing. I could go on and on – but I hope you get the point. Its ridiculous to draw a parallel between the two. Indeed, as a Sikh, I find it incredibly insulting to use the oppression faced by past Sikhs to elicit sympathy for a fascist regime.

    Upon any analysis, the analogy is incredibly sloppy and nonsensical. It was made on a blog about Sikh issues, not on the Daily Kos. I suspect the analogy was made in the last paragraph to justify posting it on this blog. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make an ounce of sense beyond a basic commentary on the use of propaganda. So, again – it doesn’t belong here.

  13. Jodha says:

    Sizzle:

    Your problems with the post are duly noted. Reasoning through analogy is inherently problematic and I see the points you are trying to make. My emphasis was rather power hierarchies and the usage of propaganda. The US in terms of power hierarchy exists far above Iran. You have amply noted that which exists between the Sikh and the Government of India. Drawing an analogy between a state and a non-state entity may not have been the best choice, but I am still convinced that there is still something that can be derived from it.

    I do take exception to your characterization of the Iranian people. You may also be buying into propaganda if you believe they are 'pro-American.' With regards to being 'pro-democracy,' of course that is true. They ARE a democracy. Afterall Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 by a popular vote. Maybe they are not a democracy as you define or as America defines, but not all democracies look the same.

    With regards to the possibility of America 'goose-stepping' into Tehran, maybe for you I am not 'well-grounded in reality,' but I guess the same goes for Seymour Hersh, one of the most respected investigative journalists.

    While you are trying to characterize me as an Iranian apologist, I am only talking about a single incident. I have no truck with the Iranian government. I am apprehensive and skeptical of all government actions. However, in the incident at Hormuz, it seems to me that the White House, just prior to George W. Bush's trip to the Middle East, was CREATING an incident to convince the American's Arab allies join efforts with Israel against Iran. The Kuwaitis, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia are afraid of Iran's navy and the administration video may have been used to shore up opposition against Iran. Juan Cole's website provides excellent analysis.

    Finally, as it is my opinion, I will blog about it. I guess we will have to agree to disagree about what is written on this blog.

  14. Jodha says:

    Sizzle:

    Your problems with the post are duly noted. Reasoning through analogy is inherently problematic and I see the points you are trying to make. My emphasis was rather power hierarchies and the usage of propaganda. The US in terms of power hierarchy exists far above Iran. You have amply noted that which exists between the Sikh and the Government of India. Drawing an analogy between a state and a non-state entity may not have been the best choice, but I am still convinced that there is still something that can be derived from it.

    I do take exception to your characterization of the Iranian people. You may also be buying into propaganda if you believe they are ‘pro-American.’ With regards to being ‘pro-democracy,’ of course that is true. They ARE a democracy. Afterall Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 by a popular vote. Maybe they are not a democracy as you define or as America defines, but not all democracies look the same.

    With regards to the possibility of America ‘goose-stepping’ into Tehran, maybe for you I am not ‘well-grounded in reality,’ but I guess the same goes for Seymour Hersh, one of the most respected investigative journalists.

    While you are trying to characterize me as an Iranian apologist, I am only talking about a single incident. I have no truck with the Iranian government. I am apprehensive and skeptical of all government actions. However, in the incident at Hormuz, it seems to me that the White House, just prior to George W. Bush’s trip to the Middle East, was CREATING an incident to convince the American’s Arab allies join efforts with Israel against Iran. The Kuwaitis, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia are afraid of Iran’s navy and the administration video may have been used to shore up opposition against Iran. Juan Cole’s website provides excellent analysis.

    Finally, as it is my opinion, I will blog about it. I guess we will have to agree to disagree about what is written on this blog.

  15. HP says:

    Wow now that we have confirmations and several stories indicating that this was a fabrication by the navy in support of the president's trip to the middle east aimed in part at rallying Arab states to join the United States in an anti-Iran coalition.

    see : http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/1/16/15234/440
    and
    http://thismodernworld.com/4165

    -HP

  16. HP says:

    Wow now that we have confirmations and several stories indicating that this was a fabrication by the navy in support of the president’s trip to the middle east aimed in part at rallying Arab states to join the United States in an anti-Iran coalition.

    see : http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/1/16/15234/4407/463/437882
    and
    http://thismodernworld.com/4165

    -HP

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