30 years on the 3rd of July
The 3rd of July has a special significance for anyone who remembers the Iran Iraq war and the circumstances of the conclusion to that stalemate war. The Iran Iraq war that had gone on for 8 years without the result America needed from their horse in the race.
President Ronald Reagan assured the Iranian people in a televised address that they would never be allowed to win their war with American backed Iraq. Two weeks later he put his money where his mouth was.
It takes a firm grasp of the balance between ethics and popularity from a government to do what the US did to end the Iran Iraq war on this day in 1988. Whatever one might think of Reagan’s bravado and VP Bush’s “I will never apologize for America killing children, no matter what the facts are” position, there is no doubt that the Ayatollah Khomeini ended the war directly after this incident, knowing he was up against an unwinnable force. The Reagan Bush years mark a highlight in US foreign policy. Small wonder so many Republicans revere the memory of the man who made an acting career out of slapping women in the face. You don’t mess with Ronnie. Or his memory.
After all, anyone prepared to execute so many children in cold blood is an enemy to be feared.
IA Flight 655 exploded with no survivors around right about now, thirty years ago. The war ended. And the final chapter was written just 5 months later, involving a PAN AM Jumbo over Lockerbie.
Whoever would have thought the release of a sick old man from a Scottish prison in 2009 could provoke such outrage in America, the basis of which appears to be directed toward the moral character of a man involved in bringing down a plane with 270 innocent civilians on board. 270 innocents whose lives were snuffed out so cruelly in so cowardly and unjustified a manner. This monster Megrahi.
I am reminded of events preceding the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on 21 December 1988. About five months before. I refer of course to the other civilian plane crash that occurred on 3 July, 1988, when 290 innocent civilians, 66 of whom were children, died.
On that day a guided missile cruiser, the USS Vincennes, fired upon an Iranian Airbus, Flight 655, operating an established route between Teheran and Dubai, while flying inside Iranian airspace. In fact Flight 655 is still the designation for Iran Air between Dubai and Teheran.
This event occurred just weeks after President Ronald Reagan assured the Iranian people in a televised address that they would never be allowed to win their war with American backed Iraq. The shooting down of Flight 655 was effective, showing Iran that Reagan did not make idle threats, and the 8 year Iran/Iraq war ended shortly after this incident. Clearly those 290 deaths were not in vain. A successful strategic strike, even if a few civilians had to die.
Reagan’s Vice President in 88 was Bush (Daddy of Dubya). Bush said in reaction to the outcry at the time:
“I’ll never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don’t care what the facts are”
The author of the Iran Air misfortune was Captain Will Rogers III of the USS Vincennes. A man about whom much can be said and much speculated was cleared of any wrong doing. And lives a sunny retirement in San Diego.
Will Rogers 3rd was presented with the Legion of Merit decoration “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer … from April 1987 to May 1989“, by none other than Americas then President, George Bush senior in one of his first duties as President.
Months later the wife of Capt. Will Rogers III, skipper of the San Diego-based Vincennes, escaped unharmed moments before a pipe bomb exploded under her van, igniting a fire that gutted her vehicle at a busy La Jolla intersection.
Hours after the 7:40 a.m. explosion, the FBI took control of the investigation, suspecting that the bombing might be an act of “domestic terrorism” linked to the Vincennes’ accidental downing of an Iranian civilian airliner in the Persian Gulf last July, killing 290. The Navy and Marine Corps tightened security at every military installation in San Diego County.
“Certainly it raises the question whether there was a terrorist group involved in this,” said Gary Laturno, an FBI spokesman. More speculation followed that Will Rogers was having and affair, and behind the plot to kill his surplus wife.
The baying for pay-back-blood that accompanied the Pan Am bombing has been entirely absent from Western media almost from the moment the Iran Air Flight 655 met the sharp end of the SM-2 antiaircraft missiles.
Perhaps Gaddafi celebrating Megrahi’s release is a deliberate reminder of the celebrated return offered to Capt Will Rogers III? (Megrahi was dying, and released from his Scottish jail on compassionate grounds. He died not long after his return to Libya.) Of course Gaddaffi was to be executed not too long after that.
It is inconceivable that no link exists between Pan Am Flight 103 and Iran Air Flight 655 and yet in all the miles of newsprint arising from Megrahi’s release I did not find one reference to Iran Air Flight 655.
To recap by way of conclusion on 2 events from 1988:
1. Iranian plane bombed by Americans. 290 dead. American shooter given medal by the President. Compensation paid to victims.
2. American plane bombed by Arabs. 270 dead. Arab fall guy who convinces no one of his guilt must rot in jail until dead or Americans will stop drinking Scotch whiskey at a time when they clearly need it the most. (US threatened sanctions against Scotland for their compassionate release of this dying prisoner, whom many believe was not involved in the Pan Am bombing at all.
On that day, and the date is clouded in controversy as well, Captain Mohsen Rezaian was piloting his fully loaded Iran Air Airbus airliner through 13,000 feet on a routine Sunday morning flight across the Persian Gulf to Dubai, when a burst of shrapnel ripped off the left wing and tore through the aft fuselage.
The complete case study by the US Naval Institute of what happened that day is HERE
Any way you cut it. This day in 1988 the US fired 2 missiles at a civilian airbus, killing 290 people. And that is sad.