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Robert J. Traydon
Even more shocking than the number of people who have
forgotten about Iran
Air Flight 655, is the number of people who’ve never heard about it in the
first place. Quite frankly, it is nothing short of astounding.
For those of you falling into either of these categories,
let me fill you in.
On July 3rd, 1988, a commercial passenger airliner, Iran Air
Flight 655, was flying along its official operating route from Tehran to Dubai.
While in flight, the Airbus-A300 was shot down by a United States Navy guided missile cruiser named the USS Vincennes, using two SM-2MR
All 274 passengers and 16 crew, were killed in aviation’s 8th
deadliest air-disaster of all time. Of the 290 people on board, 254 were
Most astonishingly, not only was the Iranian airliner still
flying in Iranian
airspace when it was shot down, the USS Vincennes was sailing inside Iran’s
territorial waters when it launched its missiles.
Despite this tragic ‘incident’ stinking of international
terrorism, the US government claimed the following: the crew of the Vincennes,
while engaged in a skirmish with Iranian gunboats, incorrectly identified the
Airbus-A300 as an attacking F14-Tomcat. This, even though the cruiser’s onboard
Aegis Combat System showed the ‘bogie’ ascending in altitude and transmitting a
Mode III civilian code.
Upon failed attempts to contact the ‘bogie’, Captain William C. Rogers III and his 18 bridge
crew members suffered a supposedly debilitating psychological episode known as
fulfilment’, which led to them ‘mistakenly’ shooting down Iran Air Flight 655.
Where the US prefers to believe that ‘scenario fulfilment’ killed
290 innocent people travelling on a civilian airliner, the Iranians see it as blind
aggression that resulted from downright incompetence on the part of the US Navy.
So, how exactly did the US respond to this ‘incident’?
The US government issued notes of regret for the loss of
human life. This was of little consolation to the Iranian nation and families
of the deceased, especially when the US vice president, George H.W. Bush, said
at the time: “I will never apologise for the United States – I don't care what
the facts are…”
And true to his word, with the tragedy’s 30th anniversary
less than a year away, the US has never apologised for the shoot-down.
Interestingly, the US Navy went on to award the entire crew
of the Vincennes with Combat Action Ribbons, the air-warfare
coordinator with the Navy Commendation Medal, and Captain
Rogers with the venerable Legion of
The closest the US ever came to acknowledging wrongdoing was
in 1996, when the US agreed to pay Iran US$131.8 million in settlement. This,
largely to discontinue a case lodged by Iran against the US at the International
Court of Justice with respect to the incident.
The reality is, Iran was powerless when confronted by the US
nuclear super-power – so powerless, in fact, that it couldn’t even muster an
official apology from the American president. And respectively, the US was so
undaunted by Iran that it believed it could get away with the incident without
even issuing a formal apology.
Whereas the US and much of the world have effectively
forgotten about Iran Air Flight 655, the Iranian leadership and its people most
certainly have not. This tragic event is remembered across Iran like the US
remembers 9/11, and the UK remembers 7/7.
Keeping Iran’s 7/3 in mind, Trump’s statements at the 72nd
United Nations General Assembly are given stark new context with respect to
their inappropriateness. His statements
“Iran's government (must) end its pursuit of death and
destruction … and (must) respect the sovereign rights of its neighbours.”
“We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilising
activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an
agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear
One only needs to consider the reverse scenario to
appreciate the resounding depth of this context.
Imagine a state-of-the-art Iranian guided missile cruiser breaching
US territorial waters off New York and then ‘mistakenly’ shooting down an
American Airlines Boeing-777 on its merry way to London.
Would President Trump be satisfied with ‘a note of regret
from the Iranian government for the loss of life’, followed by a scenario
fulfilment narrative, and then, to top it off, a blunt refusal by the Iranian president
to apologise for the incident?
I fear Tehran would have been vaporised within hours of the
‘unprovoked Iranian attack and unprecedented act of war’, irrespective of what
the salient facts were behind the shoot-down.
And so, with all this historical baggage in tow, either
forgotten or disregarded, US President Donald Trump will announce his decision
on the Iran nuclear deal this month – a deal that he has referred to as “deeply
flawed”, a “disaster” and an “embarrassment”.
In Trump’s not-so-humble opinion, the Iran nuclear deal is “one
of the worst deals” he’s ever seen, and that Iran is a nothing more than a “rogue
state” that’s trying to take the US for a ride.
Well, Mr President, in light of your nation’s not-so-stellar
history with Iran, you should be unreservedly grateful that the Iranians signed
the nuclear deal at all.
And, rather than denouncing the nuclear deal, you should capitalise
on this golden opportunity and commend the exemplary ‘sacrifice’ Iran has made to
voluntarily abandon their nuclear weapons program in favour of economic
prosperity – a sacrifice that North Korea is refusing to make, and a sacrifice
that the US itself is not even considering.
From a contrarian perspective, the audaciousness of Trump to
call Iran a rogue state, dictate its nuclear policy and undermine its right to
defend itself from the rash military actions of uncompromising, sovereignty-flouting
and disproportionally powerful nations, is something the whole world needs to reflect
- Robert J. Traydon is a BSc graduate of Engineering and
part-time author who has travelled to over 40 countries across six continents.
His writing explores a range of contentious environmental, economic and
political themes from a uniquely contrarian perspective.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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