Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Time to Apologize

By Paul Iddon

In light of the 23rd anniversary of the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 over Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf by the USS Vincennes - one feels as a gesture of improving bilateral relations with Iran - the United States should formally make an apology, not to the present Iranian government but to the Iranian people themselves.

U.S.S. Vincennes firing a missile.
The shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 is often cited as the primary incident that showed Iran that no matter what it would not be allowed win its war against Iraq, upon accepting a UN mandated ceasefire agreement Ayatollah Khomeini likened it to drinking a chalice of poison. The Ayatollah had launched a counter offensive war against Saddam Hussein following the Iraqi Army being forced out of Iran in 1982, as this war dragged on thousands of Iranians died in suicide waves trying to capture significant holy cities such as Basra and Karbala in Iraq, many of them victims of what would become a pointless and prolonged war with no overall positive outcome.

After taking the ceasefire Khomeini seized an opportunity less than a year later when he issued a fatwa on novelist Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses offering $2 million to anyone who murdered him, this effectively took attention off the fact Khomeini had lost a holy war waged in the name of Islam.

While then US President Reagan did express regret to the loss of lives in the Iran Air 655 disaster he continually asserted that the Vincennes was operating in international waters, Vice President George H.W. Bush on the other hand vowed never to apologize for the United States, stating among other things that he didn't care what the facts were, supporters of the Iranian regime and those who always seize with glee the opportunity to slander US action often cite the fact that the crew were awarded medals for essentially murdering civilians, those said medals however were rewarded for the effectiveness of the US naval vessels in engaging small Iranian gunboats in surface engagements throughout the Earnest Will naval operations.

Today the United States and Vietnam have taken the first steps in a joint effort to completely clean up the Agent Orange contamination, 12 million gallons of Agent Orange were poured over Vietnam during that war, this joint clean up effort is symbolic a gesture of looking to the future and not remaining bitter and spiteful over the past.
Making a highly publicized and formal apology to Iran would also be a symbolic gesture to moving forward, it could be conducted in a similar manner to British Prime Minister David Cameron's formal apology to the people of Derry for the Bloody Sunday shootings in Northern Ireland in 1972 - which saw British paratroopers shoot dead 13 protesters in the Bogside Area of Derry City.

It is of the authors opinion that at present it would not be ethical for the United States to apologize to a dictatorial regime like that of Khameini's on behalf of the Iranian people whilst said regime continues to brutally crush even peaceful regime opposition groups that model their non-violent protest methods after those of the Czechoslovakian Velvet Revolution of 1989.

Rick Steve's cleverly summed up the political tension and feud between both the United States and Iran in one of the lectures he made after his visit to the latter, he very eloquently and poignantly pointed out that in the United States one politician can hum 'bomb bomb bomb Iran' to the beat of the Beach Boys song 'Barbara Ann' and another from the polar opposite party say that if Iran takes a certain action they will simply 'obliterate them', he then went on to say that he thinks this is politicians in both these countries shoring up their bases and their people against the other by using fear in order to drive their own political agendas, to an extent he is absolutely right.

The shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 whether accidental or not was an attack against every Iranian, any Iranian could have been on that flight that fateful morning, any Iranian could have had loved ones or relatives on that flight that morning, therefore it was in all technicality an indiscriminate and heinous attack on Iran's civilian population and should be recognized as such regardless of whether or not it was truly accidental or intentional.

That being said the fundamental moral point is that this can't be properly done until the Iranian people are all given the opportunity to elect and appoint who they wish to represent them in an authentically democratic and pluralistic manner, when they have such representation then it would be appropriate for the United States to issue a formal apology and offer its hand in friendship for a more promising and beneficial future for the respective peoples of the two nations whose relationship over the last few decades has been turbulent at best.


Anonymous said...

Why is someone like Paul Iddon who does not know what he is talking about, apart from widely available yet grossly inaccurate "facts" found on random websites (god forbid should the internet not have been invented, then paul Iddon would have been forced to read books!).

Fighting a war against an invading enemy is not considered suicide and it is an insult to the Iranian soldiers who died defending their country. Nader, you should be ashamed of yourself for allowing such a person to ruin the credability of this blog.

Also trying to motivate people by saying that a holy sight will be conquered is not the same thing as wanting to conquer the holy sight. In 1982 Iran did not suddenly become an aggressor, Saddam was just on the losing side. Had Iran stopped fightin in 1982 just because it was not in Iran's land, Saddam would have been given the time to re-arm itself and launch another invasion.

Such a shame that a topic like this (a terrorist attack against a civillian airline) has to be written by Paul, who no less than a week ago accused Iran of threatening its neighbours with nuclear weapons (the same weapons that the NIE said did not exist and were not in the process of being built a few months ago).

Pyruz would have been a better author and i hope Paul can to another blog and bless another audience with his conspiracy-theory-regurgitating-skills.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how protecting your nation from an invading force can ever be considered pointless!

I also wonder how a President who has a two term limit and is leaving in 2013 can be considered a dictator!

I shall not be visiting this site on Wednsdays.

Anonymous said...

"That being said the fundamental moral point is that this can't be properly done until the Iranian people are all given the opportunity to elect and appoint who they wish to represent them in a free and fair democratic election"--Iddon

Consider this in its entirety:

Then consider this:

and this:

These are the facts and expressed will of the majority of Iranians inside Iran. Deal with it, Mr. Iddon.

And is it "pointless" to defend one's homeland? And look at how many lives would have been saved had Iran defeated Saddam in the 80s. Iraq wouldn't have invaded Kuwait. There'd have been no Desert Storm, no OIF. No sanctions against Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of children. Etc. etc.

My advice is to read those links I provided. Then study the tortured history of Iraq from after the Imposed War to the improvement in Iran-Iraq relations coming about after 2003, to realize what could have been following the removal of Saddam back in the 80s, which was the primary Iranian war aim.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1:35 PM

Thank you for writing my post for me! It contained all the points that I wanted to make about this not well-thought-through article.

Moreover, may I advise the writer to look up the word "dictatorial" in a dictionary as he seems not to know its proper meaning. Calling Ahmadinejad's government "dictatorial" shows how little understanding of Iranian politics the writer has.

Anonymous said...

Do not allow yourselves to be pushed into a defensive.

Iran won the war against Iraq as USA lost the war in Iraq.

Look what is happening in the ME and look me in the eye and tell me Iran is losing ground !

Anonymous said...

Such an apology will never happen.

Anonymous said...

This wanton and deliberate mass MURDER is one of the many disgraceful acts of US cowardice against Iran to support Saddam. The people of Iran will never FORGIVE or FORGET this sad chapter.

On that sad July 3, 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 (IR655) was shot down by the coward Will Rogers who was awarded a medal for shooting down commercial airliner. How low can the US sink?

Iranians and decent people around the world will always remember the cold blooded murder of Captain Mohsen Rezaian and the 290 passengers, mostly women and children. US murderers should be tried in the International Court, if it were impartial. This war crime should not be allowed to go unpunished.

Steve said...

There was not two wars, there was only one war, and it was started by Saddam Hussein/Iraq. And it was won by Iran/Khomeini. And it has cost close to a million Iranian lifes, because the US sent Saddam Hussein tens of thousands of tons of weapons and ammunition, including nerve gas.
It's Paul Iddon, who should apologize for spreading such nonsensical crap.

Anonymous said...

@ Steve, I fully concur and agree with your FACTUAL account of Jange Tahmili.

I am surprised that Nader allows Paul Iddon (never heard of him before) to post a very biased and REVISIONIST view of Iran and totally ignorant perspective on military strategic affairs. The most glaring example of Paul's unending ignorance was the bizarre Debka type article on Qatari and UAE "airforces" practicing on attacking Iran. I had posted a factual rebuttal to that nonsense based on the diminutive capabilities of both. Paul seems impervious to basic military calculus like STRATEGIC MASS and national power projection capacity.

As you correctly point out, the western nations reeling from the loss of "their Iranian gas station and puppet shah", particularly US, French and UK. They supported madman Saddam and supplied with with very optimistic "intelligence". Saddam, not being the smartest tool in the shed or a military man, got carried away with inflated Arab macho-ego and attacked Iran full scale on September 22, 1980 with complete Arab (with the expection of Syria and Libya)financial, political and manpower support, unlimited western and USSR weapons supply. The Iraqi's had been probing Iran's perceived post-revolutionary "weaknesses" since the failed US incursion at Tabas in April. The US had been supplying Saddam with detailed KH-13 and SR-71 magnified aerial/satellite images of Iranian military deployments (or lack of) and the technical condition of the airforce and the exaggerated hostility of pilots towards the nascent revolution. US had wrongly calculated that IRIAF could not fly the F-14A and would have difficulties launching even a squadron of F-5E or F4 Phantoms from the 13 operational TABS at the time. Little did they know. It was another failure of US "intelligence" and over-dependence on ELINT (electronic intelligence) over HUMINT (human intel).

Saddam being an uneducated bully and an irrational braggart without adequate grasp of Iranian history or illustrious martial history convinced himself that Iran was somehow at the verge of collapse. Saddam and his mentor Rumsfeld both severely miscalculated typical Iranian nationalism and attachment to its soil and were surprised at the ferocity of Iranian defenders, mostly volunteers (Basij, Sepah and some mostly disorganized officer-less Artesh at the initial stages). Even a complete buffoon would have figured out that in 1980, Iran's population of 47 million compared to Iraq's 14 would simply wear-out the Iraqis in a long-war and trench slug-fest of attrition, which Iranians with a very religious (martyrdom being the defining element of Persian psyche) and patriotically revolutionary population are renowned for. Like the German invasion of Russia, Saddam's ill-conceived war unleashed Iran's patriotic genie.

The brutal war launched by military ignorance by a deranged cowardly (spider hole fame) dictator like Saddam with unlimited Saudi and Persian Gulf Sheikhdom money was TOTALLY AN UNWARRANTED IRAQI AGGRESSION in the false belief that somehow Iran would collapse the Iranian Arabs of Khuzestan would revolt. Exactly the opposite happened, Khuzestanis proved to be Iranian first and put up staunch defence, until later joined in by millions of young men from all over Iran. This insane and unprovoked war proved to be Saddam's first and fatal miscalculation as the subsequent invasion of Kuwait over money proved.

I seriously suggest that Paul and others who are unaware of Iranian character kindly talk to the veterans of Jange Tahmili or read some objective history. Mr. Iddon indeed owes an apology to all Iranians for such callous REVISIONIST view of the war and cover up of US war crimes. This is an insult to all the brave martyrs and the sacred sacrifices of Iranians who defended their sacred land and national honour.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Nader, people come to your blog for objective and honest information. Allowing people, like this writer, with an agenda to add insult to injury on something as henious as shooting down a civilian plane full of Iranian civilians is just below the belt and unacceptable. I can understand people's hatred for IRI but to insult Iranians for defending themselves against America's one time idiotic stooge with inflated ego is a sure way to make enemies out of all Iranians. Mr. Nader, you should know better..

Anonymous said...

I do not understand why apologizing for a crime that been committed against Iranian nation, one has to wait until regime change or any other scenario.
united State has to apologize because it has done wrong against Iranian people by shooting down a civilian air liner full of civilian.