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Thursday, January 10, 2008


tonkin on the hormuz

this just became too unbelievable to pass up.

this shows what the bush administration considers to be a "provocative" action by the iranian "navy" against three american warships in the straits of hormuz. here's my exerpted email to good friends on seeing this.

this is a f***ing joke, right? THIS is what our vaunted billion-dollar persian gulf warships think of an a "threat"? THIS is what the bush administration sees as a "military confrontation"? a couple of second-rate cigarette boats?

i see bigger military threats on f***ing lake geneva, for god's sake!

someone, please, please, get these psychotics out of office NOW -- BEFORE they have a chance to take a bass boat and a couple bottle rockets and turn it into world war 3!

the scary part is this:

some group of guys in the defense department and the white house thought, "people may not take us seriously about iran being a threat to world peace and a threat to the united states unless we release this video! this video and these pictures will show everyone how right it is that we bomb iran because they are a really big problem! they need to see how dangerous iran is!"

some people really high up in the bush administration look at this video -- and think that we will all see a very serious threat to world peace in it.

and they think we will either because they think we're stupid -- or because they see a very serious threat in it.

i think this white house has gone so far down the rabbit hole that they are capable of almost anything. maybe it isn't likely, but i will not be surprised if we see them (or the israelis with our assistance) using tactical nuclear weapons in iran before 2008 is out. a classic psychotic-paranoid response is to validate the overmagnified threat by overmagnifying the response to it.

from the outset the whole thing -- particularly the hilarious "threatening" voiceover, which has a very "all your base are belong to us" vibe -- has the look of a high school AV project gone wrong. indeed, perhaps thankfully, it now does seems that the administration probably just considers us all to be very stupid -- as the united states fifth fleet is responding to iranian accusations of fakery and countervideos by... well, you read it.

The Navy never said specifically where the voices came from, but many were left with the impression they had come from the speedboats because of the way the Navy footage was edited.

Today, the spokesperson for the U.S. admiral in charge of the Fifth Fleet clarified to ABC News that the threat may have come from the Iranian boats, or it may have come from somewhere else.

We're saying that we cannot make a direct connection to the boats there," said the spokesperson. "It could have come from the shore, from another ship passing by. However, it happened in the middle of all the very unusual activity, so as we assess the information and situation, we still put it in the total aggregate of what happened Sunday morning. I guess we're not saying that it absolutely came from the boats, but we're not saying it absolutely didn't."

i think most of us have heard and seen enough federal government statements to know that this is the navy saying it wants no part of the responsibility for what it likely thinks is a very poorly done-up piece of white house propaganda -- perhaps comparable in ridiculousness to their yellowcake fabrication. it's particularly brazen propaganda, though, seeing as the gulf of tonkin is still well within the cultural memory.

the only remaining question is this: whose voice is it on the american tape? michael ledeen again?

UPDATE: it gets even more uproarious/frightening, per juan cole.

This episode is just about the most pitiful thing I have seen since Bush came to power, and believe me I've seen plenty.

there's nothing more disgusting and trivializing than a modern american presidential "debate", and my advice to anyone who wants to win the nomination with a shred of credibility remaining is frankly not to participate. of course, very few if any of the field have anything i'd construe as credibility to lose, so there's that. the comic fox news coverage is, of course, obscene -- and makes very clear that the objective of the network is guarantee that someone like ron paul cannot win or even accumulate any momentum toward winning the republican nomination.

yet he remains, as far as i can tell, the only remotely sane man seeking the republican nomination. he's far from flawless, but he is not a madman -- and i don't think you can say the same of, say, rudy giuliani. and for that of course he is mocked -- because this is, after all, a republican presidential primary debate.

"One of the most animated exchanges came when the candidates were asked whether they backed the Navy's cautious response recently when Iranian boats reportedly harassed U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf.

Huckabee said anyone who challenges the Navy again should be prepared to go to the "gates of hell." Thompson said anyone testing the Navy might soon meet the "virgins" that Islamic terrorists expect to meet in heaven.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul called the bellicose language frightening and reminiscent of the reaction to an alleged naval exchange 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 boos from the audience and a glare from Paul."

i don't pretend to understand what motivates men like mitt romney or mike huckabee or john mccain -- except to say i know that it is nothing they would ever genuinely and publicly discuss. but i can certainly see that they at least consider jingoism, xenophobia and bloodlust to be prime political fertilizer.

paul is of course completely correct -- highly-placed elements of the the bush administration (notably the office of the vice president) are wailing at the slightest breeze to go to war with iran, and it seems plain to jaded eyes that this incident was in fact contrived by the same men who lied us into iraq with the intention of rousing blind war hysteria, aimed at generating political support for extending american imperial dominion in oil-rich central asia.

there are, of course, many more stupid americans than smart ones. mencken was dead right:

“No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

and in so saying summed up democracy's fatal flaw.

UPDATE: ah. it was the filipino monkey. not enough for the hysterical and motivated to quit decrying iran, but it goes to show that all radio harassment is local.

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