Ann Wright recalls that a U.S. military warship shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988 and Washington insisted afterwards that it was correct in doing so.
The Iranian military shot down a U.S. spy drone last week, bringing the two countries to the brink of war.
Iran said the drone was over Iranian airspace, as the country’s foreign minister detailed in a tweet.
The U.S. says the drone, a $22 million RQ-4A Global Hawk, was in international airspace.
But why should one believe the U.S. with its history of lying?
Remember back to 1988, during the Iran-Iraq war, when the USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser, shot down Iran Air Flight 655 with all 290 people on board including 66 children. The regularly scheduled passenger flight was over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on the routine flight path shortly after taking off from Bandar Abbas heading on the 28-minute flight to Dubai. Its transponder was signaling it was a civilian aircraft.
The U.S. warship was in Iranian territorial waters after one of its helicopters drew warning shots from Iranian speedboats that were guarding Iranian waterways.
Yet, the U.S. maintained that it was correct in shooting down a civilian aircraft that it said the crew thought was a military aircraft. It took years before the U.S. offered recompense through the International Court of Justice.
When a group of us were on a citizens’ peace delegation to Iran in February we visited the Tehran Peace Museum. We knew from previous trips that the wound of the destruction of Iran Air Flight 655 was still raw. This time we presented the director of the peace museum with a book made by a member of our delegation with the names of all of those killed on Flight 655, along with our apologies.
In a 2000 BBC documentary titled “The Other Lockerbie,” and in an M.I.T. study of the Flight 655 shoot-down, U.S. government officials stated in a written answer that they believed the shoot down of Iran Air 655 may have been caused by a simultaneous psychological condition among the 18 bridge crew of Vincennes, called “scenario fulfillment,” which is said to occur when people are under pressure. U.S. officials said that in such a situation, the crew will carry out a training scenario, believing it to be reality while ignoring sensory information that contradicts the scenario. In the case of this incident, the training scenario was an attack by a lone military aircraft when in fact, in reality, the aircraft was a civilian passenger plane on a regularly scheduled flight.
Let’s hope Bolton and Pompeo’s “scenario fulfillment” does not lead the White House to further military confrontation, much less an attack on Iran.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. She is co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”
This article first appeared on Code Pink.