American reporters gave Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi information minister under Saddam Hussein during the American-led invasion of 2003, the disdainful name “Baghdad Bob” (and the British called him “Comical Ali”). He spouted wildly inaccurate propaganda during his daily press briefings, praising the Iraqi troops and telling fabulous tales of how they had crushed the foreign invaders, even as those invaders could be seen on the screen moving in on him.
Well, Iranian brigadier generals seem to be emulating Bob. Two recent quotes (with some editing of the English):
Brigadier General Hossein Salami, lieutenant commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps: “The IRGC is never intimidated by the hugeness of the aircraft carriers and the roaring of missiles of U.S. and trans-regional enemies, and their equipment is nothing more than rusty iron in its eyes.” Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, the minister of defense, in a telephone conversation with his Syrian counterpart just as he took over from his assassinated predecessor, paraphrased by the Islamic Republic News Agency: “Iran is confident that Syria’s powerful defense system will made the United States, its regional allies, and Israel back down from their plan of achieving their goals in the region. He said the Zionist regime and terrorists can not affect Syrian army’s strong will and can not build a stronghold for Israel through psychological operations in Syria.”
Comments: (1) One hopes that these remarks are not sincerely believed for, as Geoffrey Blainey convincingly argues in The Causes of War, the leading cause of fighting is over-optimism: “Wars usually begin when two nations disagree on their relative strength, and wars usually cease when the fighting nations agree on their relative strength.” (2) Even if not sincerely believed, such claims take on a life of their own and often lead to regrettable consequences.