June 19, 2019
The Intercept

Donald Trump, Iran: Gulf of Tonkin Redux

by Jeremy Scahill

As the U.S. accuses Iran of attacking civilian ships while offering scant evidence, grave historical parallels are emerging with the Gulf of Tonkin incidents in 1964 that were manipulated to justify Lyndon Johnson's dramatic escalation of the war in Vietnam. California Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna is preparing legislation aimed at stopping an attack on Iran, and he says he would not put it past national security adviser John Bolton to manipulate evidence. . . .


Non-Proliferation Treaty (July 1, 1968)
- Forbids the five member states with nuclear weapons from transferring them to any other state
- Forbids member states without nuclear weapons from developing or aquiring them
- Provides assurance through the application of international safeguards that peaceful nuclear energy in NNWS will not be diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices
- Facilitates access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy for all NNWS under international safeguards
- Commits all member states to pursue good faith negotiations toward ending the nuclear arms race and achieving nuclear disarmament.

[AUDIO: Fifty years ago, in a bold and far-reaching covert operation, the CIA overthrew the elected government of Iran. Although the coup seemed successful at first, its "haunting and terrible legacy" is now becoming clear.

Operation Ajax, as the plot was code-named, reshaped the history of Iran, the Middle East and the world. It restored Mohammad Reza Shah to the Peacock Throne, allowing him to impose a tyranny that ultimately sparked the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The Islamic Revolution, in turn, inspired fundamentalists throughout the Muslim world, including the Taliban and terrorists who thrived under its protection.

In his new book "All The Shah's Men," New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer asserts "It is not far-fetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York."-- Stephen Kinzer, "All The Shah's Men," NPR On Point, August 20, 2003]

[The CIA's Roosevelt and Wilber now traveled to London with the coup proposal they had drafted together in Cyprus. After meetings with MI6, a reworked version emerged. The plans were next submitted to the Americans at the famous June 25 meeting mentioned earlier. Churchill greenlighted the operation on July 1, and President Eisenhower on July 11. . . . Wilber instigated what he described as "a war of nerves," with the help of two Iranian assets, code-named Nerren and Cilley. A CIA courier arrived with a large number of anti-Mossadeq cartoons and posters that enabled Wilber to launch a massive propaganda campaign aimed at discrediting Mossadeq's government. Articles stressing the Communist threat were planted in the foreign and local press. Intelligence networks were meshed, and agent provocateurs, specialists in inciting trouble that could be blamed on the Communists, were hired. Weapons were distributed to the tribes. An armed gang kidnapped, tortured, and killed Tehran chief of police. The Grand Ayatollah conveniently issued fatwahs against the Communists. (p. 334)

In America, generations of schoolchildren have been bred on textbooks suggesting that not once - not in Mexico, Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, Samoa, Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Chile, or Iran - did the United States promote violence or wage a war of aggression. Indeed, even the evilest empires profess similar virtue: Hitler concocted a Polish act of aggression to justify Germany's declaration of war in 1939, and all of Stalin's wars were purportedly in defense of the Soviet socialist motherland. And even when empires cease to exist, their political heirs stubbornly resist acknowledging human rights abuses long past, as is the case with Japan regarding war crimes in China and Korea, or with Belgium regarding Emperor Leopold's offenses in the Congo, or with Turkey regarding the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire (p. 413)--Shareen Blair Brysac and Karl E. Meyer, "Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East, W. W. Norton & Company; 1st Edition edition (June 17, 2008)]

Juan Cole, "Iran has US Surrounded, All Right,", December 12, 2011

[JCPOA imposes more restrictions on Iranian enrichment capabilities and stockpiles, and on inspection and monitoring of compliance, than has been imposed on any country in the course of the entire nuclear era.--"The NPT, Iran, and Israel's Hypocrisy," The Wisdom Fund, October 16, 2013]

"Neocons, Netanyahu Pushing U.S. Into War With Iran, Russia," The Wisdom Fund, March 15, 2017

"Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2018," Congressional Research Service, December 28, 2017

[The Japanese owner of a tanker attacked in the Gulf of Oman claimed Friday that it was struck by a flying projectile, contradicting reports by U.S. officials and the military on the source of the blast.--Linda Givetash and Arata Yamamoto, "Japanese tanker owner contradicts U.S. officials over explosives used in Gulf of Oman attack,", June 14, 2019]

Jon Gambrell, "Oil tanker attacks echo Persian Gulf's 1980s 'Tanker War',", June 14, 2019

[The Iranians certainly have a strange method of bomb disposal if they carry it out using unarmoured personnel, with as many as possible crammed into a small boat in immediate contact with the "mine."--Craig Murray, "The Ugly View of Western Democracy,", June 18, 2019]

"Factbox: The Global Hawk drone shot down by Iran,", June 20, 2019

Chad Garland, "Iran attack marks first known successful strike on high-flying Global Hawk drone,", June 20, 2019

[shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world's $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.--Pepe Escobar, "Iran goes for 'maximum counter-pressure',", June 20, 2019]

[Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) aerospace force, posed with debris that officials said was pulled from the sea near the Straits of Hormuz--Richard Sisk, "Iran Makes Show of Drone Wreckage After Trump Calls Off Retaliatory Strike,", June 21, 2019]

[U.S. and Iran are parties to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, which provides "that every State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory."--Marjorie Cohn, "Iran Had the Legal Right to Shoot Down US Spy Drone,", June 21, 2019]

"US must act responsibly to protect lives of its forces: Senior Iranian commander,", June 23, 2019

Khury Petersen-Smith, "Iran's Not the Aggressor -- The US Is,", July 17, 2019

Seyed Mohammad Marandi, "A US Led Naval Coalition In The Persian Gulf Will Raise The Threat Of War,", July 17, 2019

[A country that has virtually one major wealth-producing base (ie oil) and just a few desalination plants that pump fresh water into its major cities, is a very soft target indeed.--Ghassan Kadi, "Iran vs Saudi Arabia: it's game-over,", September 19, 2019]

[Hassan Ali Al-Emad, Yemeni scholar and the son of a prominent tribal leader with ascendance over ten clans, begs to differ. "From a military perspective, nobody ever took our forces in Yemen seriously. Perhaps they started understanding it when our missiles hit Aramco."--Ghassan Kadi, "How Yemen's Houthis are bringing down a Goliath,", September 25, 2019]

Conn Hallinan, "How the Saudi Oil Field Attack Overturned America's Apple Cart,", September 27, 2019

[Fact is that Trump is following the plan of the Foundation For The Defense of Democracy (FDD) . . . FDD advisor Richard Goldberg was appointed to National Security Council to push for attacking Iran. FDD continued to pay his salary. FDD was tasked by Israel to instigate a U.S. war on Iran.--"The Revenge For The Assassination Of Qassem Soleimani ,", January 4, 2020]

Red Lines Live: US & Israel pushing Iran to brink of war, November 29, 2020

Gareth Porter, "How Israel deployed an intelligence deception to justify killing Mohsen Fakhrizadeh,", December 2, 2020

[Iran has requested the international police organisation to arrest Trump and 47 other American officials identified as playing a role in the assassination of top general Qassem Soleimani last year.--Maziar Motamedi, "Iran issues Interpol notice for 48 US officials including Trump,", January 5, 2021]

How The US-UK-backed Iranian Coup of 1953 Birthed The US Iran Rivalry, RT, February 1, 2021

"How Israel Became a Nuclear State," TRT World, April 23, 2021

Deseri Tsepetis, "The Hypersonic Arms Race Is Ramping Up and That's Dangerous,", October 10, 2021

Henry Holloway and Tariq Tahir, "China takes lead in hypersonic arms race as US, Russia & NK battle for 21,000mph nukes that can hit anywhere in MINUTES,", October 17, 2021

back button