Just substitute an ‘n’ for the ‘q’ in ‘Iraq’ and try it again, but (oh!) with a bigger, more populous, and (oh!) different country

Updates

  1. Originally published,June 18, 2019, 7:36 pm.
  2. June 18, 2019, 9:45 pm:
    • The U.S. Steel plant in Clairton suffered yet another fire affecting the same two control rooms that were damaged in the previous fire.[1]

Iran

Having failed to persuade[2] with its earlier blurry black and white video, purportedly of Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from a tanker,[3] the Pentagon now has a sharper, color video (available via Politico’s tweet above).[4]

The video still doesn’t show national identification, although “Justin Bronk, a combat technology specialist at the Royal United Services Institute, said the patrol boat shown in the US military’s video was known to be the kind used by the IRGC.”[5] I would advise waiting for independent expert analysis of the new video itself: The color balance seems way off to me, leading me to suspect the color is not in the original, and I don’t understand why the Pentagon would first release a blurry black and white video if it had this much sharper color version available.

This evidence seems post hoc to me—actually, I just think they’re fabricating it just as fast as they can—and I’m thinking about those headlines I’ve seen about “deep-faking,” where anybody can be made to appear to have said or done anything—this doesn’t strike me as even a particularly good example of that. I am now inclined toward number three in my earlier list of possibilities:

Some or all of it is bullshit:

[T]he Japanese operator of Kokuka Courageous said the crew saw “flying objects” just before the attack, suggesting the tanker was damaged by something other than mines. Yutaka Katada, the company president, said reports of a mine attack were “false”.[6]

Avenues of information from the region are limited. The U.S. can pretty much say what it wants, claim whatever it wants to claim, and not many folks are going to question it. Remember, John Bolton, who is now Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, has been lusting for war with Iran for decades and he has falsified claims in the past.[7] Further remember that journalists have a long history of falling into line even with dubious White House and Pentagon claims on international affairs.[8][9]

Actually, it turns out that lots of people are skeptical—just not enough of them being journalists, and Andrew Butters has a blistering critique in the Columbia Journalism Review of “the hysterical way America’s relationship with Iran is covered in the US press.”[10] Jeff Schogol wrote for Task and Purpose that “not a single U.S. official has provided a shred of proof linking Iran to the explosive devices found on the merchant ships.”[11] An interview on National Public Radio yesterday illustrates the problems that 1) the Trump administration seems determined to sink the Iran nuclear deal that Europe would like to preserve, 2) the U.S. has a history of fabricating evidence in the Middle East (and elsewhere, as Butters points out[12]), and 3) the Trump administration has accumulated a reputation for falsehood.[13] This new video really doesn’t alleviate those doubts.

It’d be nice if our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief will finally realize that he needs to be credible with other people besides his base. I am not holding my breath.

Andrew Lee Butters, “What the press gets wrong on the US-Iran relationship,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 17, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/opinion/what-the-press-gets-wrong-on-the-us-iran-relationship.php

Jackie Northam, “White House Struggles To Convince Allies That Iran Is Responsible For Tanker Attacks,” National Public Radio, June 17, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/17/733497801/white-house-struggles-to-convince-allies-that-iran-is-responsible-for-tanker-att

Jeff Schogol, “As the US sends 1,000 more troops to Middle East, the Pentagon is a rudderless ship caught in a storm,” Task and Purpose, June 17, 2019, https://taskandpurpose.com/pentagon-adrift-iran

Al Jazeera, “US releases new images from suspected attacks on Gulf tankers,” June 18, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/pentagon-releases-images-gulf-oman-attack-190618055528966.html

Deutschewelle, “Germany says there is ‘strong evidence’ Iran behind tanker attacks,” June 18, 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/germany-says-there-is-strong-evidence-iran-behind-tanker-attacks/a-49248524


Pittsburgh

Kris Maher, “U.S. Steel Suffers New Fire Knocking Out Pollution Controls in Plant Near Pittsburgh,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-steel-suffers-new-fire-knocking-out-pollution-controls-in-plant-near-pittsburgh-11560795102


  1. [1]Kris Maher, “U.S. Steel Suffers New Fire Knocking Out Pollution Controls in Plant Near Pittsburgh,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-steel-suffers-new-fire-knocking-out-pollution-controls-in-plant-near-pittsburgh-11560795102
  2. [2]Jackie Northam, “White House Struggles To Convince Allies That Iran Is Responsible For Tanker Attacks,” National Public Radio, June 17, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/17/733497801/white-house-struggles-to-convince-allies-that-iran-is-responsible-for-tanker-att; Jeff Schogol, “As the US sends 1,000 more troops to Middle East, the Pentagon is a rudderless ship caught in a storm,” Task and Purpose, June 17, 2019, https://taskandpurpose.com/pentagon-adrift-iran
  3. [3]Nick Allen, Raf Sanchez, and Rozina Sabur, “US releases footage ‘showing Iran removing unexploded mine’ from stricken oil tanker,” Telegraph, June 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/14/us-releases-footage-showing-iran-removing-unexploded-mine-stricken/; Julian Borger and Patrick Wintour, “US says video shows Iranian military removing mine from tanker,” Guardian, June 14, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/13/mike-pompeo-iran-gulf-oil-tanker-attacks
  4. [4]Al Jazeera, “US releases new images from suspected attacks on Gulf tankers,” June 18, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/pentagon-releases-images-gulf-oman-attack-190618055528966.html
  5. [5]Al Jazeera, “US releases new images from suspected attacks on Gulf tankers,” June 18, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/pentagon-releases-images-gulf-oman-attack-190618055528966.html
  6. [6]Nick Allen, Raf Sanchez, and Rozina Sabur, “US releases footage ‘showing Iran removing unexploded mine’ from stricken oil tanker,” Telegraph, June 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/14/us-releases-footage-showing-iran-removing-unexploded-mine-stricken/
  7. [7]Dexter Filkins, “John Bolton on the Warpath,” New Yorker, April 29, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/05/06/john-bolton-on-the-warpath
  8. [8]J. Herbert Altschull, Agents of Power: The Media and Public Policy, 2nd ed. (White Plains, NY: Longman, 1995); David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2000); Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon, 2002).
  9. [9]David Benfell, “John Bolton’s wet dream may turn real,” Irregular Bullshit, June 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/06/14/john-boltons-wet-dream-may-turn-real/
  10. [10]Andrew Lee Butters, “What the press gets wrong on the US-Iran relationship,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 17, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/opinion/what-the-press-gets-wrong-on-the-us-iran-relationship.php
  11. [11]Jeff Schogol, “As the US sends 1,000 more troops to Middle East, the Pentagon is a rudderless ship caught in a storm,” Task and Purpose, June 17, 2019, https://taskandpurpose.com/pentagon-adrift-iran
  12. [12]Andrew Lee Butters, “What the press gets wrong on the US-Iran relationship,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 17, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/opinion/what-the-press-gets-wrong-on-the-us-iran-relationship.php
  13. [13]Jackie Northam, “White House Struggles To Convince Allies That Iran Is Responsible For Tanker Attacks,” National Public Radio, June 17, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/06/17/733497801/white-house-struggles-to-convince-allies-that-iran-is-responsible-for-tanker-att

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