Think Progress on manufacturing an incident to provoke Iran war:
Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh — a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker — revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.
In Hersh’s most recent article, he reports that this meeting occurred in the wake of the overblown incident in the Strait of Hormuz, when a U.S. carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats. The “meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. ‘The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,’” according to one of Hersh’s sources.
During the journalism conference event, I asked Hersh specifically about this meeting and if he could elaborate on what occurred. Hersh explained that, during the meeting in Cheney’s office, an idea was considered to dress up Navy Seals as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them. This idea, intended to provoke an Iran war, was ultimately rejected:
HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.
Might cost some lives. And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation. But that was rejected.
Hersh argued that one of the things the Bush administration learned during the encounter in the Strait of Hormuz was that, “if you get the right incident, the American public will support” it.
“Look, is it high school? Yeah,” Hersh said. “Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.”
Juan Cole points out:
The discussion in Cheney’s office was provoked by the Iranian speedboat incident in January, 2008, in which the Bush administration alleged that five small unarmed Iranian speedboats accosted a US naval vessel.
One thing Hersh, Think Progress and others have not mentioned is that the original incident was itself almost certainly a GOP provocation, since unarmed speedboats do not actually pose a danger to US destroyers, and funny business went on with artificial matching of videotape to an audio transmission in English of undetermined origin. When I gave the Iranian video and audio at my site at the time, wingnuts attacked me for allowing the other side to get a hearing. One of the techniques of the Right is to make sure only one voice can be heard, their own, and all other voices are condemned and marginalized as traitorous. It is so much easier to march people to war when there is only one public narrative available about its rights and wrongs. The chief use of “patriotism” by the Right is for the sake of the Big Lie.
You wonder whether one of the side effects of the revelation of Operation Northwoods, when in 1962 the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon signed off on a plot to kill innocent Americans on US soil and make it look as though Cubans in the employ of Castro had done it, was to remind Cheney and Bush of all the low techniques whereby war could be gotten up.
Certainly, we know that Bush and Blair considered trying to get Iraq to shoot at UN surveillance planes as a casus belli. (Hat tip: Kevin Drum.)
Irancove @ August 4, 2008