The USS Maine sank, someone shot something at somebody during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and many non-Iraqis triggered the invasion of Iraq by flying planes into skyscrapers. The media hyped attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman seem like another blatant attempt to pull the US into yet another war based on questionable pretenses. The information war regarding the incident is already very hot but ultimately the future of Iran is in Donald Trump’s hands.
The Mainstream Media has already come out in force to push the narrative that Iran was probably behind the attacks on the oil tankers even though US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered no actual evidence whatsoever to support his claim that the Persians did it. (Since then grainy video has come out showing nondescript men trying to attach or detach something presumably to the tanker from what is supposedly an Iranian vessel).
From a legal or moral sense it would have been much more proper if Pompeo would have waited long enough to provide solid proof that the Iranians did it before making a public condemnation of them. But then again, if his objective was to simply plant the idea that the Iranians did it into the Mainstream Media (and thus into the minds of the masses) then he played it perfectly as evidence is not required to achieve this objective.
From the standpoint of Information Warfare, it is very critical when a new event happens to put forward one’s version of the “truth” first before any other possible competing theories can arise. This could be why Pompeo or someone like him would chose to immediately come out with accusations thrown around as facts with no evidence to support them and no respect for the great Western concepts of “innocence until proven guilty” or the “right to a fair trial”.
Pompeo’s objective here is not the truth but to take that virgin intellectual territory regarding the interpretation of this issue before anyone else can, because once a concept has become normalized in the minds of the masses it is very difficult to change it and many people in Washington cannot risk blowing the chance to waste thousands of American lives invading Iran based on an ultimately false but widely accepted/believed narrative.
Not surprisingly foreign and especially Russian media has quickly attempted to counter the “Iran obviously did it” narrative before it becomes an accepted fact. Shockingly Slavic infowarriors actually decided to speak to the captain of a tanker that was hit to get his opinion rather than simply assert that Iran didn’t do it because they are a long time buddy of Moscow. The captain’s testimony of what happened strongly contradicts the version of reality that Washington is pushing. And over all Russia as usual takes the reasonable position of “let’s gather the evidence and then see who did it”, which is good PR for itself as a nation beyond this single issue.
In terms of finding the actual guilty party the media on both sides has thus far ignored the simple fact that if Iran wanted to sink a tanker it would be sunk. No civilian vessel is going to withstand an attack from a 21st century navy by having a particularly thick hull and the idea that the Iranians need to physically attach bombs to boats is mental. Physically planting bombs is for goofball inept terrorists, not a professional military. After all, even the West acknowledges that the Iranians use the best Russian goodies that they can afford and Russian 21st century arms will sink civilian ship guaranteed. The Iranians have everything they need to smoke any civilian vessel on the planet guaranteed from much farther away than 3 feet.
If Iran’s goal was to scare or intimidate the tanker they could have just shot at it with rifles or done something else to spook the crew and get a media response. When looked at from the standpoint of military logic, these “attacks” seem baffling as Iran could have just destroyed the boats or directly tried to terrorize them to make a statement.
Then again perhaps the Iranians do want to provoke the US into a war with them, by “kind of but not really” attacking these ships. Maybe they do want to fight a war they will ultimately lose destroying everything they have built after the revolution, but this seems highly unlikely. The Iranians for decade after decade have taken a reactive stance to US aggression and encirclement, why would they change that policy right now in order to go on offense against an enemy they cannot defeat in direct confrontation?
What may be reassuring to some but terrifying to others is that the final result of what is to be done about these “attacks” lies in the hands of Donald Trump. So far Trump has agreed with the Pompeo/Mainstream Media view of the incident. But Trump like all politicians says “a lot of things” and what really matters are his actions. As the President he can take this convenient incident and use it as a casus belli or he can simply and safely “condemn” Tehran with rhetoric and literally ignore the situation until it goes away which seems to be The Donald’s preferred method of keeping the peace. He has scolded many a nation but not actually pushed for a full fledged military response against any of them.
Proving who is guilty for the attacks on the tankers may take a long time or ultimately be impossible, but how this incident will be used by Washington will prove who Trump is… a patriot who wants to Make America Great Again by ignoring the chance to jump into foreign conflicts or yet another cowardly warmonger sitting in the Oval Office ready to waste US lives and resources without a care in the world.
By Tim Kirby
Source: Strategic Culture