Sunday, May 12, 2019

Trump regime exaggerated Iran threat, lied about carrier task force's deployment to Persian Gulf

USS Abraham Lincoln, a carrier
USS Abrahama Lincoln passes the Strait of Gibraltar on April 19.
Samuel Johnson said in 1758, “Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.” Sen. Hiram W. Johnson of California made that point more succinctly in 1916 when he said, "The first casualty when war comes is truth."

We found that out big time in Vietnam, with at least 3 million dead joining that first casualty of war, and in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands of fatalities. All of these killed men and woman were ultimately the victim of lies—or as lying is called when government propangandists do it: disinformation. But why use a five-syllable word when a one-syllable word does the job?

Over the past 27 months the White House has become the land of 10,000 lies, most of them about something other than existing or potential wars. But over the weekend we got a pair of linked whoppers that no doubt clenched a few jaws among sane people.

First, there was the Sunday claim in a brief statement by national security adviser John “Bomb-Bomb” Bolton that the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier task force and a bomber group were being sent to the Persian Gulf specifically because of “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran recently.

The idea behind this show of force, he said, was “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” The implication was that Iran was preparing to attack the United States.

The day after Bolton’s statement appeared, the problem with his claim of an imminent threat was noted—cautiously—by Navy chief Adm. John Richardson:
“The Abraham Lincoln Strike Group was planned to deploy for some time now,” Richardson told the SeaAirSpace conference. He touted the Lincoln’s new route to the Gulf as an example of “dynamic force employment,” a new Navy tactic that is meant to surprise potential adversaries by having US ships show up off their coastlines without warning.
He didn’t explain how a White House press release is an example of tactical surprise. [...]
The Lincoln has been deployed since April 1, when it left port in Norfolk to embark on a well-publicized around-the-world mission that will eventually take it to its new home port in San Diego. It has been operating in the Mediterranean for two weeks, and is currently conducting exercises off the Italian coast, after which it was likely to head through the Suez Canal, through the Red Sea and toward the Persian Gulf.
And then, on Tuesday came the take of Betsy Woodruff and Adam Rawnsley at The Daily Beast. They found the assertion that Iran was preparing to take action against the United States was, excuse the expression, trumped up. While some at the Pentagon, the CIA, and other intelligence agencies believe there is a threat from Iran, there is far from unanimity about its seriousness. “Overreaction” was the word choice of two of the unnamed sources interviewed by the Daily Beast reporters to describe the White House’s actions regarding Iran: congressional aide cast doubt on the claim that intelligence alone had driven the deployments. The administration, the source told The Daily Beast, was “pivoting off posture moves already underway to respond to what they interpret as real risk in the intelligence reporting.”
Still, the aggressive messaging, meant to dissuade Iran from unleashing its proxies on the U.S., could end up backfiring, the aide told The Daily Beast. “Even if you view it as non-escalatory or in the ‘escalate to de-escalate’ school (where a tough message is essential to walk things back) it’s taking place in an environment of increased pressure, including the [designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “foreign terrorist organization.” That context matters.”
Context, nuance, and cautious assessment do matter to many people seeking to be our leaders, but not at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. these days. Those elements just get in the way of the lies, which are so numerous they are generating a special Trumpian crypto-currency. When it’s golf game cheating or the pretense of being youthful and super-healthy, it’s easy enough to laugh off Trump’s lies. But when war may be in the making, the lies are cause for far more than mere eye-rolling and head-shaking.

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