Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mistrusting The Narrative

By Cernig

There goes General Petraeus again, pushing the narrative ahead.
General David Petraeus, speaking at a U.S. military base about 30 km (20 miles) from the Iranian border on Saturday, said Iran was giving advanced weaponry to militias in Iraq.

"They are responsible for providing the weapons, the training, the funding and in some cases the direction for operations that have indeed killed U.S. soldiers," Petraeus told a small group of reporters when asked if the Iranian government was responsible for killing U.S. troops.

"There is no question about the connection between Iran and these components, (the) attacks that have killed our soldiers."

Petraeus did not say how he knew Iran's ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, was a member of the Qods force.

"The ambassador is a Qods force member," said Petraeus, before appearing to suggest that Kazemi-Qomi was not under the U.S. military spotlight because he was a diplomat.

"Now he has diplomatic immunity and therefore he is obviously not subject (to scrutiny). He is acting as a diplomat."

...Petraeus said he had no doubts about the Qods force.

"There should be no question about the malign, lethal involvement and activities of the Qods force in this country," he said.

Petraeus listed the type of weapons he said Iran was supplying to militias in Iraq.

He said this comprised advanced rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired "Stinger-like" air defense missiles and 240mm rockets. This was in addition to components used to make explosively formed projectiles (EFPs), a particularly deadly roadside bomb that has killed hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Petraeus also suggested there was an Iranian link in the assassination of two provincial governors in southern Iraq in August. Both were killed by roadside bombs.

"They are implicated in the assassination of some governors in the southern provinces," said Petraeus.

Asked to be more specific, he said one case "was clearly an explosively formed projectile."

"They only come from Iran and they are only used by militias so it's a sort of a signature trademark of militia extremists. The other case the suspicion is the same, we just don't have the same quality of forensics."

Asked if there was intelligence directly linking Iran to the two bomb attacks, he said: "I would not comment on this."
There's a few links made here possibly fall into the category of 'seeing what you want to see in the ink-blot'.

Firstly - Qods. In nine months of trying, the US has singularly failed to arrest a single probable member of Qods anywhere in Iraq. What is presented as proof of their involvement is, looked at with a sceptical eye, rather sparse - Iraqis alleged to be agents of Qods based on computer evidence seized after tip-offs by the MeK terror group, or who have confessed after "interrogation' by MeK interpreters working for the U.S. military. Alleging that a merchant, or an ambassador, is a member of Qods without actual, presentable, proof is akin to the kind of tit-for-tat accusations made during the Soviet/West Cold War and shouldn't be seen as anything more than that. No-one ever really expected the accusations to be proven true or false, but they were still just as useful for propaganda purposes.

I admit freely that elements of Qods may well be involved in Iraqi weapons smuggling - for a profit. The Qods is notoriously corrupt and interested in itself first and foremost. There has been exactly zero evidence presented to show that any Qods involvement in Iraq is anything more than freelancing to line individuals' pockets at the expense of their own state's arsenal. That may not be convincing on an emotional level to many, but it's simply facts and logic.

Which brings us to those "advanced rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired "Stinger-like" air defense missiles and 240mm rockets". All of these items have been found in Iraq, undeniably with Iranian markings. But all of those weapons are also widely exported to other nations by iran, many of whom have their share and more of corrupt individuals who will happily re-export such items on the black market to their own enrichment. Such re-direction has already been seen several times in respect of American weaponry exported to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, among others, which have then turned up in terrorist hands in Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran. On at least a couple of occasions U.S. military officers have been involved in these black market trades. Without proof other than the simple seizure of such weapons, there is no reason to suspect anything more in Iran's case than in America's that would stand up in a court of law.

Lastly, Petraeus' assertion that EFP's found in Iraq must be Iranian because only Iran makes EFP's is an outright falsehood, contradicted by seizures of EFP's and of manufactories for EFP's inside Iraq as well as by the existence of non-Iranian made EFP's elsewhere in the world. Here we have a perfect case of fitting the facts around the policy. Particularly since both governors Petraeus referred to were members of SCIRI - the Shiite political party with the strongest ties of all to Iran. If the General is to believed, Iran is complicit in killing its own strongest allies for no reason that he bothers to forward.

It's little wonder that others, even staunch allies, aren't convinced. The British certainly aren't.
Diplomatic relations between Britain and the United States over Iran are under increasing strain after Gordon Brown's special security adviser warned that American claims about Tehran's military capability should be taken 'with a pinch of salt'.
As a new conservative campaign group with links to the White House prepares to make the case that Iran is a direct threat to the US, Patrick Mercer urged scepticism towards any US justification for strikes against the country.

Mercer, the former shadow homeland security spokesman, who visIted the Iranian capital recently, said: 'There is increasing concern about the apparent evidence that America is preparing about Iranian military involvement.'
Mercer, who last month accepted a post as an adviser to the Brown government, said: 'All that I heard when I was in Iran was British authorities saying "be careful about what you hear from America". I'm not saying for one moment that it is necessarily wrong, but it's got to be taken with a pinch of salt. Is it American rhetoric, propaganda or fact?'

However he conceded that British military commanders had discussed the issue of Iran with their US counterparts, although there had been no offer of support for a US-led air strike against the country. 'Iran is a problem, there's no doubt about it. Whatever is going to occur vis à vis Iran is going to include at the very least British diplomatic effort.'

Meanwhile, a well-funded new conservative campaign group with links to the White House is making the case that Iran is a threat to the US and Israel and should be 'stopped'. Freedom's Watch was founded in March by a dozen billionaire and multimillionaire benefactors. Critics say the organisation is a neo-conservative 'slush fund' and front for White House policy, in particular the views of Vice President Dick Cheney.
I know it upsets some who are more enamoured of their own beliefs than in a realistic appraisal of the facts, but "taking it all with a pinch of salt" is all I've ever asked be done. Unfortunately, in the absence of actual evidence and in the presence of an emotional, illogical narrative that has replaced critical thought for many here in the U.S., by pushing for that measure of salt I've found myself as a reluctant apologist for an odious regime in Teheran. I'm not at all comfortable with that position, but I cannot in conscience abandon it while the prevalent narrative is for blame and demonization on the basis of that narrative alone.

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