Tuesday, April 3, 2007

U(K)tter Bull – Answering the Independent’s Claim that the U.S. is to Blame for the UK’s Hostage Crisis

The article “The Botched U.S. Raid That Led to the Hostage Crisis,” appearing in the British newspaper, The Independent, is a just a horrid hit piece. It's rank speculation masquerading as fact with a twist of moral equivalence that turns reality on its head. In the scenario posited by the Independent, hostage taking Iran is simply an innocent victim who has struck back only after unreasonable provocation by a bellicose and reckless U.S. It’s dangerous and utter nonsense.

The Independent claims that Iran’s kidnapping of 15 sailors and marines was a response to an unjustified U.S. provocation - a “botched” raid it claims was aimed at securing two high ranking Iranians, the head of intelligence for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) and the deputy head of Iran’s National Security Council. The Independent tells us that these officials were openly in Iraq for meetings with Kurdish leaders on “bilateral security issues.”

As the Independent describes it, the alleged U.S. attempt to secure these two men has “provoked a dangerous escalation.” Moreover, the Independent asserts that the raid was unjustified, describing it as the moral equivalent of “Iran . . . kidnap[ing] the heads of the CIA and MI6 while they were on an official visit to a country neighboring Iran, such as Pakistan or Afghanistan.” The raid ultimately netted five people the Independent describes as “junior liaison agents,” but not the two senior Iranian officials supposedly targeted.

The premise that Iran is an innocent victim that the U.S. should be leaving Iran alone is ridiculous. The Independent is either wholly ignoring the larger picture surrounding Iranian actions, or they have they been asleep for a few years and need to catch up on current events. There is precious little of anything innocent about Iranian involvement in Iraq. Nor is there anything innocent about Iran’s surge towards acquiring nuclear weapons. By ignoring these, the Independent distorts reality and engages in a suicidal game of moral equivalence.

As to Iran’s involvement in Iraq, there is no question of the theocracy’s complicity in the death and mayhem going on inside the country. For example, see here and here. And that mayhem is not just aimed at Americans and Sunnis – and Shias for that matter, it’s taking the lives of British soldiers in Basra also. See here.

Such acts are a provocation to the US and UK -- a real one, involving blood and brain matter splattering across streets, limbs lost, and hearts taking their final beat. In various forms, it has been going on since 2003. And the instruments of that bloodshed are the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Quds Force operating inside Iraq. Such provocation demands an adequate response. It justifies not only covert action against Iranian interests, but also overt actions if the U.S. or U.K. were inclined to take it.

Two, there is nothing innocent about Iran and the pending nuclear crisis they are imposing on the world. How dangerous is a nuclear armed Iranian theocracy? No less then the preeminent scholar of Middle Eastern history and culture, Bernard Lewis, spoke to the world on this issue some months ago:

A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead--hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.
See here. Then today there was this assessment from the brilliant scholar, Thomas Sowell:

Once Iran has nuclear weapons, that will be an irreversible change that will mark a defining moment in the history of the United States and of Western civilization, which will forever after live at the mercy of hate-filled suicidal fanatics and sadists.

See here. The threat posed by a nuclear armed Khomeinist theocracy is palpable and existential. George Bush has promised to meet it. He has flatly stated that he will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. I trust he has said what he means. Indeed, even Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have made noises indicating that they would take military action to stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.

Everyday, we inch closer to open warfare with Iran as they refuse to give up their quest for a nuclear weapon. Iran has not responded to years of European diplomacy. Nor has the theocracy responded to sanctions. Quite the opposite, they have increased the speed of their nuclear program. If Iran is going to be made to stop, the mullahs must understand the price to be paid to continue on their current path will be be real and it will be severe.

Doing absolutely nothing beyond diplomacy and tepid sanctions leaves Iran’s theocrats with a belief that the West is a eunuch. And indeed, as any student of the Iranian Revolution knows, that is a cherished belief among the mullahs. One of Ayatollah Khomeni’s favored expressions was that the West “can’t do a damned thing.” Unfortunately for the world, Jimmy Carter was President when Khoemeni popularized that phrase. Interestingly, the U.S. hostages were released the day Ronald Regan was inaugurated as President. I have no doubt that there were limits to how far Khomeini was willing to test his thesis – and Regan’s inauguration as President marked one of those clear limits.

The only way we will stop Iran’s nuclear program short of open war is to make Iran’s mullahs understand that we are able and willing to engage Iran. As long as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei feels safe and secure, Iran will not turn from its path of murderous complicity in Iraq and the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Thus, unless we want open war in the very near future, we have to aggressively engage Iran on the margins and make them feel the pain. Put another way, in the larger context that takes into account Iranian direct support for warfare targeting the US and Britain inside Iraq, as well as the Iranian drive for nuclear weapons, the U.S. raids on Iranian high value targets are not only wholly warranted, they are a necessity born of self-defense.

But all of that is mere context, for having now justified covert actions against Iran, such as targeting their senior officials in Iraq, it matters not to the instant case as the Independent provides no reasonable proof that the "botched" raid happened as they allege. The sole proof the Independent offers to establish that U.S. troops were targeting the two senior Iranian official is a bald assertion by the Chief of Staff to the governor of Kurdistan Regional Government. It is more then curious that the Independent should fail to tell us how he acquired his knowledge or give us any other indicia of the reliability of his statement. Certainly the Independent would have included anything that might have buttressed his assertion. Since I seriously doubt the Kurdish staff official was included in the planning of the raid, we can safely assume that he is not stating first hand information. In other words, it is apparent that this “source” is speculating or repeating speculation as to the target of the U.S. raid in question.

Moreover, as a logical matter, I have a lot of trouble believing that the U.S. could have “botched” a raid targeting the two senior Iranian officials given the scenario painted by the Independent. The target location of the raid was in a secure area regularly trafficked by Kurds. The two Iranian officials were operating in the open. In such circumstance, it is more then difficult to believe that the U.S. would pull the trigger on a raid by its Special Forces when the alleged subjects of the assault were not present at the target location. Raids such as this are not spur of the moment operations. With the two officials making no attempt to conceal their presence, they would have been easy to track, and the raid would not have commenced until intelligence confirmed the location of the two men. In short, there is no alternative reason to support the Independent's claim that the raid was actually targeting the two senior Iranian officials.

Further, the Independent takes some cheap shots at the U.S. regarding the five Iranians seized during the raid, surmising that they were cleary inocent diplomatic staff:

US officials in Washington subsequently claimed that the five Iranian officials they did seize, who have not been seen since, were "suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraq and coalition forces". This explanation never made much sense. No member of the US-led coalition has been killed in Arbil and there were no Sunni-Arab insurgents or Shia militiamen there.
Neither you, I, nor the author of this piece has any clue what intelligence the U.S. was operating on when it took these five Iranians into custody. But that does not stop the Independent. Let me ask, if you wished to set up a headquarters for a covert network, do you want it at a location crawling with US and British forces, or would you prefer an area that is easily accessible, in reasonable proximity, and with far less security roaming about? The Independent’s speculation based on just geographical location is nonsensical.

Next, the Independent speculates as to Ali Khamenei’s motivation in taking the 15 sailors and marines as hostages. The author gives not one shred of evidence for his assertion that the taking of the 15 hostages was a strike in retaliation for the “botched” raid. The fact that IRNA portrayed the U.S. raid as targeting the two senior officials tells us nothing. There is more then one reason to take the fifteen sailors and marines hostage that make more sense then simple revenge for a “botched” mission by the U.S.

One, the kidnapping fell on the eve of a Security Council vote to impose more sanctions on Iran for their failure to halt their nuclear program. That seems too fortuitous to be coincidental. Thus, it is conceivable that this kidnapping is meant to slow the pace of pressure being brought to bear on Iran over the nuclear program.

Two, given that the UK was targeted and not the US, it is quite possible that Iran is attempting to drive a wedge in the alliance between the US and the UK. If so, then the Independent is doing the work for Ahmedinejad and company by writing articles such as this one today, blaming the US for the kidnapping – not Iran.

Lastly, the Middle Eastern scholar and terrorism expert Walid Phares has written that the kidnapping is most likely a gambit by Khamenei to draw a limited military response, and that the kidnapping is directed squarely at quelling internal dissent in Iran that threatens the theocracy. See here.

I could go on here, but, what it boils down to that nothing in this article by the Independent blaming the US for the Iranian kidnapping withstands even minimal scrutiny. In sum, this is a hit piece that blames the U.S. for the an abominable act by the thuggish Iranian theocracy. And this is certainly not the mullahs first act of kidnapping. Actually, kidnapping is a well established part of Iranian foreign policy. Iran has been involved in kidnapping over 1,000 people since the mullahs came to power in 1979. But I digress.
Is the U.S. targeting Iranians in Iraq and elsewhere? I certainly hope so. Does that make the U.S. morally guilty for any Iranian retaliatory act? The answer is yes only if you are an apologist for Iran, or so steeped in the doctrine of moral equivalence that you cannot see a difference between Iran and the U.S. If so, please see the differences here. At any rate, I am not sure which of the two categories the Independent fits into, but it is at least one of them.

1 comment:

Epaminondas said...

It just doesn't matter, Scott, the entire idea which powers the left on all these events is a DELUSION


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