Iran’s Ukraine Air Disaster Not Terrorism

Iran’s Ukraine Air Disaster Not Terrorism

As published in the Victoria Standard: 12 February 2020

It is now apparent that the 176 fatalities on Ukraine Flight 752 were innocent victims of an Iranian military error. This tragedy has been compared to 1988’s U.S. Navy missile strike on Iran Air Flight 655, which killed 290 Iranian civilians. The US. Government denied responsibility for the attack and the matter remains in litigation. Unlike Flight 752, the 1988 incident was never characterized as terrorism in the Western press.

Exceptionalism is the common theme in mainstream commentary on the Ukrainian jet crash and America’s recent assassination of Iran’s General Suleimani. Basically, the U.S. government’s conduct in the Middle East, no matter how arrogant or violent, enjoys what some call the saintly glow of noble intentions. Libertarian think tanks, compliant academia and the corporate media actively promote this view.

The latter institutions have gradually altered public language to ease the exercise of power. For example, nations are deemed moderate only if they back U.S. foreign policy and even defensive actions by America’s latest enemies are casually described as aggression or even terrorism. Another tactic is presenting current affairs without historical context to manipulate public consent for military adventures.

Current tensions between Iran and the U.S. can be traced to 1953 when the CIA and Britain’s MI6 conspired with British Petroleum to remove the democratically-elected government of Iran. Prime Minister Mossadeq planned to nationalize Iran’s oil resources and direct most of the profits to the Iranian people. Following a bloody coup; Mossadeq was ousted and replaced by the late Shah, a vicious despot who crushed dissent with his brutal Savak; a security force trained in torture and murder by the CIA.

The bulk of Iran’s oil profits were once again routed to London and Houston; not to mention the Shah’s Swiss bank accounts. The ailing dictator was removed by Islamic revolutionaries in 1979, just before they began inflicting religious tyranny on Iran’s population. Suddenly; the U.S. government had another useful enemy in the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Canadian lawyers like Mark Arnold plan to litigate against Iran on behalf of the 57 Canadians of Iranian descent who died in the January eighth crash. Under Canadian law, the victims’ families could conceivably sue the Iranian government for perpetrating a terrorist act.

Unfortunately, such litigation applies only to the crimes of official enemies. Innocent bystanders (collateral victims) killed for being near the so-called terrorist targets of U.S. drones strikes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have little recourse to justice. The relevant Canadian government agencies I contacted regarding this inconsistency have so far declined comment.

It is certainly possible that Trump’s drone assassination of General Suleimani was a calculated electoral ploy. Recent history indicates that previous U.S. presidents benefitted from military assaults on minor powers incapable of serious retaliation. Ronald Reagan’s Grenada invasion, Clinton’s missile strikes against Afghanistan and George W. Bush’s 2003 Iraq Invasion were all timely and valuable distractions for presidents eager to distract voters from domestic concerns.

Iranians realize that the U.S. government seeks to control their oil and natural gas as they control Iraq’s resources. Therefore, the superpower will increase sanctions to limit Iran’s regional influence and ensure Israeli military dominance. The ongoing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is another part of this broad strategy.

In 2011, Turkmenistan signed an agreement with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India for the so-called TAPI natural gas pipeline to ports on the Indian Ocean. This plan would isolate Iran and reduce the value of its hydrocarbon resources. Although no pipelines have been built, that possibility might explain the lingering U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

Canada’s government is well-aware that powerful states have limited legal rights to interfere in the affairs of other nations but says little about aggressive U.S. behaviour in the Middle East. International law and the Geneva Convention make no exceptions for wealth and power regarding every nation’s right to self-defence against military, economic and diplomatic aggression.

Canadians ought to pressure their government to oppose U.S. aggression against Iran. The Iranian people want the same things we want, peace and security. Assassinations and sanctions only increase resistance and inspire retaliation. Canadians would not tolerate the sort of abuse that Iranians currently endure.