TEHRAN, July 5 (MNA) -- I recall where I was and what I was doing on July 3, 1988, but it took a look at the Mehr News Agency’s website to jog my memory. Oh yes, the U.S. missile cruiser USS Vincennes did indeed attack an unarmed Iranian airliner flying within the commercial air corridor and blew it out of the sky, killing the 290 human beings on board.

I decided to do an admittedly unscientific survey and ask some Americans what “USS Vincennes” means to them. So far, from a sample of eight people, NO ONE could recall the significance of the name. After I informed them of the incident, one person remarked, “Ask me about something that happened here last week.” No wonder the Pentagon-controlled Corporate Media is so effective at forming public opinion -- there’s no historical recollection to get in the way!


The official U.S. State Department press release stated:


“Regrettably, in the course of the U.S. response to the Iranian attack, an Iranian civilian airliner was shot down by the VINCENNES, which was firing in self-defense at what it believed to be a hostile Iranian military aircraft.”


The official U.S. position maintained the following:


The Iranian Airbus was outside of Iranian airspace;


The aircraft refused to identify itself; and


It was descending towards the Vincennes in an attacking maneuver.


The U.S. position suggested that a group of small Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats had engaged American warships in broad daylight in international waters. In the course of the action, the commander of the Vincennes, William G. Rogers III, ordered a missile attack against what he believed to be an approaching F-14, a warplane about one-third the size of the civilian Airbus 300.


An analysis of the magnetic tape recordings from the USS Vincennes’ AEGIS radar tracking system revealed the following facts.


Iran Air Flight 655 was well within its assigned commercial corridor;


The transponder signal identified it as a commercial aircraft; and


The aircraft was still climbing after take-off from Bandar Abbas Airport, and was actually turning away from the Vincennes and NOT heading toward it.


Finally, the Vincennes was in Iranian territorial waters, about 9 miles from Qeshm Island at the time.


The facts lay the blame for the attack squarely on the U.S. While the U.S paid Iran $61.8 million for the 248 Iranian lives lost in the tragedy -- less than $250,000 per person -- Washington has never publicly admitted responsibility for the attack nor has it apologized to Iran for the loss of human life that it caused. As then Vice President George Bush stated with typical American arrogance, “I will never apologize for the United States -- I don’t care what the facts are.” 


Contrast this with the U.S. response to an earlier tragedy, Korean Airlines Flight 007 shot down by the former Soviet Union on September 1, 1983. At that time, President Reagan called it the “Korean Airline Massacre”, a “crime against humanity (that) must never be forgotten” and an “act of barbarism… (of) inhuman brutality.”


Now, if we are to believe the U.S. leaders these days, Iran is the number one threat to the peace and security of the world.


President Bush says, “Iranians should not have a nuclear weapon or the capacity to make a nuclear weapon.”


Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain says, “Iran is intent on acquiring nuclear weapons. Should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, that danger would become very dire, indeed.”


Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama first said something sensible. “They spend one one-hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.”


Later, Senator Obama jumped on the Iran threat bandwagon and said, “The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.”


Let’s look at some of Iran’s “threatening” behavior over the past century.


Iran became a constitutional monarchy with a parliament by means of a peaceful revolution in 1906, and Iran was neutral during World War I, but Russian and British troops violated Iran’s borders in 1914.


Iran tried to be neutral in World War II but was invaded by Britain and the Soviet Union.


Iran was one of the founding members of the United Nations in 1945.


Iran held democratic elections in 1951 but the winner, Mohammed Mossadeq, was overthrown as a result of U.S. and British interference in 1953.


Iran was invaded by Iraq in September 1980, and the U.S. supported Iraq.


It would appear that the U.S., Britain, and other Western powers are the real threat here and not Iran.


(July 5 Tehran Times Opinion Column, by Yuram Abdullah Weiler)





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