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Tilting at Windmills

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January 11, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

TALKING....Walter Russell Mead on why the "incident" in the Strait of Hormuz this Sunday between three U.S. naval vessels and five Iranian speedboats is important:

From the 18th century to the present day, threats to American ships and maritime commerce have been the way most U.S. wars start. The pattern began early. Attacks by the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean led President Thomas Jefferson to send the U.S. Navy thousands of miles on a risky expedition to suppress the threat to American merchant ships in 1801....The widespread (though probably erroneous) U.S. belief that the USS Maine had been destroyed by a Spanish mine in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, forced a reluctant President William McKinley to launch the Spanish-American War in 1898....The Tonkin Gulf incident in 1964 (alleged attacks on U.S. ships by North Vietnamese boats) led Congress to authorize President Lyndon Johnson's use of force in Indochina.

As we learn more about the Iranian incident, Tonkin Gulf is looking like a pretty apt analogy. The American videotape was spliced together, the threatening voices probably didn't come from the speedboats, and there's no sign that any "boxes" were dropped in the water. On the Iranian side, their competing videotape is simply a complete fabrication, taken earlier in the morning and having nothing to do with the incident. So in the end, as Fred Kaplan concludes in Slate, nobody knows what was really going on, who authorized it, or how close we came to getting sucked into a shooting war:

And yet, as Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, told the Boston Globe's Bryan Bender and Farah Stockman on Monday, the U.S. commanders have no systematic way to halt a conflict if it begins to spiral. "I do not have a direct link with my counterpart in the Iranian Navy," he said. "I do not have a way to communicate directly with the Iranian Navy or [Revolutionary] Guard."

Through the darkest days of the Cold War, Washington and Moscow maintained a hot line. During most of those times, there were parallel forums for communication between the two sides' senior officers. Iran doesn't pose anything remotely resembling the threat that the United States and the Soviet Union posed to each other in those years. Here is yet another reason to establish diplomatic relations with Iran. You don't have to be friends to talk.

Amen.

Kevin Drum 12:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (72)

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Comments

It's worth noting that both the Maine incident and the Gulf of Tonkin incident were fictionalized for the purposes of getting us into war. So Walter's probably correct that the speedboat incident fits that pattern.

Posted by: Tom Nawrocki on January 11, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

One key difference: Our presidents during the cold war didn't want to start a war with the USSR.

Posted by: thersites on January 11, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, big, armed warships assigned to sail through an area where they might come into conflict, with no way to short-circuit the escalation of a mistaken encounter? It's almost as if someone was trying to create the pretext for a shooting war, isn't it?

Hmmm.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 11, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Through the darkest days of the Cold War, Washington and Moscow maintained a hot line. During most of those times, there were parallel forums for communication between the two sides' senior officers.

How many Congressional resolutions were passed labeling the Red Army a 'terrorist organization'?

The more the Cheneyists play the Iran Card, the more pathetic they look.

Posted by: Zap Rowsdower on January 11, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Uh actually no. Haven't we all agreed that the Darkest Days of the Cold War were the Cuban Missile Crisis? The hotline was installed in response to THAT so technically all the days it existed were not the darkest.

Anyhow yeah, it sucks.

Posted by: MNPundit on January 11, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Most likely if we had shot up a speedboat, assuming it was making a Cole style suicide attack, it wouldn't start a war, but be yet another international incident. During the late eighties we blew up several Iranian speedboats, and some oil platforms without real escalation ocurring. That still doesn't mean it wouldn't be prudent to set up a hotline, just that war usually isn't only a hair-trigger incident away.

Posted by: bigTom on January 11, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Pol Pot apologist http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2002/2002-June/015122.html
Gareth Porter on this incident, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=40747
POLITICS-US: Official Version of Naval Incident Starts to Unravel
Analysis by Gareth Porter*

Posted by: Michael Pugliese on January 11, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I think what bigTom says is correct, but only if you presume that the involved parties do not WANT to go to war. I think that was true in the examples he gives and may well be true now. But I;m not certain of it.

Posted by: Pat on January 11, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Adm. Gary Roughead's problem could be quickly solved, because there is a logical intermediary in the region: the Maliki government in Iraq, which has very good relations with Tehran.

However, the problem is that forces within the US government (Dick Cheney and his allies) want a conflict with Iran. Let's face it; a responsible government, one that properly worries about being bogged down in Iraq and risking opening a whole new front with Iran, would have responded to the "incident" by opening back channels, possibly through Maliki, to set up the kinds of communication links that the admiral referred to, instead of splicing together and leaking a video designed to rile up the base and beat Iran over the head with.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 11, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The US Navy will wait for an Iranian jet liner full of cvilians to enter its line of fire and shoot down before it bothers attacking little speed boats with just a few sailors on them. As members of the US armed forces know, it is a lot more fun, and much safer, to kill civilians.

What the members of the US armed forces do not know, is that in order for W. Bush and his masters to start a war with Iran some of them will have to be sacrificed to persuade the American public to go to war. The W. Bush regime is purposely putting US armed forces members in harms' way with the hopes some of them will be killed by Iranians in order to start more war.

Posted by: Brojo on January 11, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

The blame of Spain for the Maine explosion, contra Mead, is not "probably erroneous." The U.S. Navy, some years after the Spanish-American War, found it definitely erroneous.

Mead also missed the British Orders in Council and impressment of sailors as a prime cause of the War of 1812.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 11, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Thank god that impeachment is off the table!

Posted by: dontcallmefrancis on January 11, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

The significance of the incident has nothing to do with a possible pretext for war and everything to do with a possible rehearsal for a Cole-like suicide attack. US warships have beefed up defenses against small boats close by and this may have been a test of alertness and a way to study the response aboard the US ships. Apparently, the speedboats were weaving in and out of the wake and may have been studying the fields of fire for the anti-small boat weapons. The British failed a somewhat similar test last year.

A year from now you folks will have lost the Cheney boogie man ad President Obama may have to deal with the real world. That will be a shock; hopefully not a fatal one.

Posted by: Mike K on January 11, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

"The widespread (though probably erroneous) U.S. belief that the USS Maine had been destroyed by a Spanish mine in the harbor of Havana, Cuba..."

"Probably erroneous?" Further evidence that one may be entirely uninformed and still be paid handsomely to ignorantly opine.

It's only been thirty years since Admiral Rickover concluded that the coal bunker had combusted spontaneously.

Posted by: Chris Brown on January 11, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Now Bush is saying we could be in Iraq for another 10 years sure we can if you people vote for McCain because he said "The American public could care less if we stayed over there for a 100 years" I want to know when McCain started speaking for me because if he believes that then he is as delusional as Bush, now do we want another Republican in the White House like Bush hasnt the republican party already done enough damage to the United States, I say YES, Flush all Republicans right down the shitter they ought to be use to the smell.

Posted by: Al on January 11, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

"If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies."

Moshe Dayan

Posted by: Randy Kirchhof on January 11, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

My only question is why is it taking the Bush administration so long to fabricate an "incident" so they can start the war? Are there a lot of people in the military simply not willing to go along with it?

Posted by: Speed on January 11, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

The USS Maine is still controversial. From Wikipedia:

"1999 National Geographic investigation - In 1999, to commemorate the centennial of the sinking of the Maine, National Geographic Magazine commissioned an analysis by Advanced Marine Enterprises, using computer modeling that was not available for previous investigations. The AME analysis examined both theories and concluded that “it appears more probable than was previously concluded that a mine caused the inward bent bottom structure and the detonation of the magazines.” Some experts, including Admiral Rickover’s team and several analysts at AME, do not agree with the conclusion, and the fury over new findings even spurred a heated 90-minute debate at the 124th annual meeting of the U.S. Naval Institute."

Posted by: Speed on January 11, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on January 11, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Way back in the computing stone age (middle 90s'), I seem to remember some naval warfare game that had a scenario about/in this area. Something about how the speedboats were able to take out any size naval force...quickly! Does anyone else?

Posted by: landofid on January 11, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

"On the Iranian side, their competing videotape is simply a complete fabrication, taken earlier in the morning and having nothing to do with the incident."

Any evidence for that ?

After all of the 2 countries one has a recent track record of aggression and lying , and iran doesn't.

Posted by: kb on January 11, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah but the Spanish-American war turned out pretty awesome for us (sucky for the Philippines though, hey if they were still Spanish in the 40s would they have been tacitly allied with Japan, like with Franco and the Blue Division and such?) so it's not as big a deal...

Posted by: MNPundit on January 11, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

landofid:
http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,95496,00.html

Posted by: anonymous on January 11, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Through the darkest days of the Cold War, Washington and Moscow maintained a hot line. During most of those times, there were parallel forums for communication between the two sides' senior officers."

The hot line dates from after the Cuban Missile crisis (1962). It was not used until the June 1967 6-Day War, when US and USSR consulted one another to ensure the war did not widen. And then it was LBJ and Kosygin talking to one another, not military commander to military commander.

The Cuban Missile Crisis so scared both sides that from then on, we never had another crisis that came so close to spiraling out of control. I think that would have been the case, hot line or not.

But, yes, the easier the two sides can talk, the better.

Kaplan is simply wrong that during the darkest days of the Cold War the US and USSR had an easy way to communicate. It wasn't at all easy.

Had the US an easy way to talk to Iran, it wouldn't have made much difference to the US commander in the Strait of Hormuz. (Since when do opposing commanders talk to one another?)

According to the Pentagon, the Iranians were acting in a threatening manner. The rules of naval engagement are a few centuries old and are probably well-understood by all commanders.

That the US warships didn't fire on the Iranians (assuming the Iranians were doing what we're accusing them of) is a miracle.

We know that a while back, the Iranians seized some British marines and held them hostage. And then there's the USS Cole incident in Aden where two guys in a skiff were allowed to come amidships and set off an explosion that nearly sank one of the Navy's unsinkable warships.

In that part of the world, the Navy operates with a shoot-first, ask-questions-later mindset.

To me, that we didn't fire on the Iranians means they were not the threat we're now claiming they were.

Posted by: Auto on January 11, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Trust me, speedboats, regardless how fast, represent absolutely zero threat to a US Naval Warship armed with the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS - pronounced "sea-whiz") as literally all US ships are.

20mm depleted uranium shells at 4,500 rounds per minute would obliterate any small craft that got close enough to make the ship nervous.

Posted by: Davebo on January 11, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

In that part of the world, the Navy operates with a shoot-first, ask-questions-later mindset.

The US Navy should remove itself from that part of the world before it shoots down another jet liner. The US Navy has no business in the Persian Gulf except to make conflict with Iran.

Posted by: Brojo on January 11, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Davebo: Trust me, speedboats, regardless how fast, represent absolutely zero threat to a US Naval Warship armed with the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS - pronounced "sea-whiz") as literally all US ships are.

What you mean is, speedboats pose absolutely no threat to US Navy ships if the US ships open fire - an important distinction.

Posted by: alex on January 11, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

And then there's the USS Cole incident in Aden where two guys in a skiff were allowed to come amidships and set off an explosion that nearly sank one of the Navy's unsinkable warships.

I wasn't aware our Navy had developed unsinkable warships. If so that's quite an achievement.....

Posted by: Stefan on January 11, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Way back in the computing stone age (middle 90s'), I seem to remember some naval warfare game that had a scenario about/in this area. Something about how the speedboats were able to take out any size naval force...quickly! Does anyone else?

I think this is what you're thinking of:

War-Gamed: Why the Army shouldn't be so surprised by Saddam's moves.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Friday, March 28, 2003, at 4:55 PM ET

....The war game, which was called Millennium Challenge 02, took place over three weeks last July and August. Planned over a two-year period, at a cost of $250 million, the game involved 13,500 personnel from all four services—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines—who waged mock war in 17 simulation locations and nine live-force training sites. The scenario envisioned a war in a fictitiously named Persian Gulf country that resembled Iraq.

....Pentagon war games pit "Red Force" (simulating the enemy) against "Blue Force" (the United States). In this war game, as in many war games over the years, [retired US Marine Corp general Paul] Van Riper played the Red Force commander.

....At one point in the game, when Blue's fleet entered the Persian Gulf, [Van Riper] sank some of the ships with suicide-bombers in speed boats. (At that point, the managers stopped the game, "refloated" the Blue fleet, and resumed play.)....

ttp://www.slate.com/id/2080814/

Posted by: Stefan on January 11, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The US Navy should remove itself from that part of the world before it shoots down another jet liner. The US Navy has no business in the Persian Gulf except to make conflict with Iran.

This is naive at best. Like it or not, we are all participants in an economy that relies heavily on imported energy commodities, and a great many of those commodities come through the Strait of Hormuz.

If I had three wishes, one of them would be for energy independence, but that can't happen overnight. So in the meantime, we need to be reasonable - a quality that is not in abundance on either end of the wingnut spectrum.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 11, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

The significance of the incident has nothing to do with a possible pretext for war and everything to do with a possible rehearsal for a Cole-like suicide attack.

Really? Iran is planning to use a suicide attack on one ship to start a war with the U.S. that is not only the wet dream of their enemy the Bush administration, but would instantly get them wiped off the map via cruise missiles and tactical nukes?

If you press the little buzzer next to your bed the nurse will bring you some more meds.

Posted by: trex on January 11, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

"The US Navy has no business in the Persian Gulf except to make conflict with Iran."
______________________

To an extent, this is true. One of the primary tasks of the US Navy in the Persian Gulf is to prevent Iran from closing the Straits of Hormuz to oil tankers.

Posted by: trashhauler on January 11, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I've seen numerous reports these last few days that discuss the maritime incidents that dragged the US into wars. None of them mentions the Lusitania. Hello? WWI anybody?

Posted by: Eric on January 11, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"If you press the little buzzer next to your bed the nurse will bring you some more meds.

Posted by: trex "

Oh. I thought that was the buzzer I use when I need you to empty my bedpan.

Posted by: Mike K on January 11, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

>"This is naive at best. Like it or not, we are all participants in an economy that relies heavily on imported energy commodities, and a great many of those commodities come through the Strait of Hormuz."

Simplified translation: We are willing to kill for money.

Steal a little and they cut off your hand. Steal a lot and they make you king.

Kill a little and they hang you for murder. Kill a lot and they give you a medal.

Posted by: Buford on January 11, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

the wingnut spectrum

Nice bickering point.

Posted by: Brojo on January 11, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, interesting one and all, but I was thinking more along the lines of a home pc based game. Seems to me you could set your torpedos for 2-3+ fathoms of depth, fire, and forget. Boom. 2 or 3 out of 5 was hit. Still can't imagine the Iranians doing any seriously sactioned provoking. But then I am spending the day ice fishing tomorrow....

Posted by: landofid on January 11, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Nice bickering point.

Thank you. As I have made abundantly clear, I am brutally realistic. I can appreciate the sentiments that guide you, but I am not a sentimental person. I take stock and call 'em as I see 'em.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 11, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Oh. I thought that was the buzzer I use when I need you to empty my bedpan.

Bedpan? Doubt it. Your posts here clearly indicate that you shit yourself every time you even hear a story about a non-white non-Christian.

But thank you for a) heaping even more deserved humiliation on yourself, and b) conspicuously avoiding trying to defend the nonsense you posted.

Here's a clue for you Mikey: Al Qaeda can suicide bomb a ship because they're a covert criminal organization that provides no target for retaliation. Iran is a state occupying a geographic territory that can't hide from retaliation anywhere and is not about to start a war that would result in its decimation.

Further, Iran has no history of declaring war on its weaker neighbors, much less the greatest military power on earth.

You are such a loon it's not funny. Have you considered undergoing a psychiatric workup? Either way, we'll all wait for your admission that you have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by: trex on January 11, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Original Brojo

"As members of the US armed forces know, it is a lot more fun, and much safer, to kill civilians."

Shorter Brojo

listen to me, Listen To Me, LISTEN TO ME!

Posted by: hotrod on January 11, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK
Most likely if we had shot up a speedboat, assuming it was making a Cole style suicide attack, it wouldn't start a war, but be yet another international incident. During the late eighties we blew up several Iranian speedboats, and some oil platforms

...and a civilian airliner...

without real escalation ocurring.

Sure, but its worth remembering that Iran was, at the time, involved in a life-and-death war with Iraq, which had launched an unprovoked war of aggression. There was no escalation, because every resource Iran had was already dedicated to fighting Iraq (the reason for the US's entry into the war was to protect the tankers, principally Kuwaiti, that were the financial lifeline for Iraq's war of aggression, since Iraq didn't have the money to pay for an extended war and was being bankrolled by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.)

And, because, frankly Iran couldn't do much to the US.

OTOH, with Iran not engaged in a life-or-death struggle with someone else right now, and with the US in a vulnerable position next door, the situation now isn't much like the situation then.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 11, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

trex, you folks are so funny that I used this thread for a post at my own blog. The childish invective that spews in response to any reasonable attempt at discussion that does not follow your silly theories of world affairs is evidence enough of the lack of seriousness on the left. Thanks for a good laugh and a topic that will make you folks look more foolish than usual.

Posted by: Mike K on January 11, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Trex----"Really? Iran is planning to use a suicide attack on one ship to start a war with the U.S. that is not only the wet dream of their enemy the Bush administration, but would instantly get them wiped off the map via cruise missiles and tactical nukes?"

The problem is how do we definitely know that the next speed boat is under the control of the Iranian government and not some other terrorist orginization
How many terrorists have blown themselves up while wearing Iraqi police uniforms?

Posted by: TruthPolitik on January 11, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Still waiting for Mr. Drum's source on how the Iranian tape is a complete fabrication.

Posted by: gordonminor on January 11, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

The childish invective that spews in response to any reasonable attempt at discussion that does not follow your silly theories of world affairs

Dude, the invective is well-deserved mockery at the conspiratorial, bigoted crap you reflexively post here.

Please do keep assiduously avoiding defending your position, though. Throw up those herrings!

The problem is how do we definitely know that the next speed boat is under the control of the Iranian government and not some other terrorist orginization

The warships did, can, and should maintain a vigilant stance. That has nothing to do with Mike's hallucinations about Iran plunging itself into a war it can't win.

Well, unless Mike's neighbor's dog told him of a secret Iranian super-weapon that we don't know about.

Posted by: trex on January 11, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Americans desiring a secure source for petroleum have justified Japan's agression prior to and during WW2.Whose idea was that anyway?

Posted by: tojo's ghost on January 11, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Why is this story important? It demonstrates a time-honored adage, especially relevant to our current illegitimate Reich:

Governments lie.
~ I.F. Stone

Official Version of Naval Incident Starts to Unravel
By Gareth Porter [Inter Press Service]

Despite the official and media portrayal of the incident in the Strait of Hormuz early Monday morning as a serious threat to U.S. ships from Iranian speedboats that nearly resulted in a "battle at sea", new information over the past three days suggests that the incident did not involve such a threat and that no U.S. commander was on the verge of firing at the Iranian boats.

The new information that appears to contradict the original version of the incident includes the revelation that U.S. officials spliced the audio recording of an alleged Iranian threat onto to a videotape of the incident. That suggests that the threatening message may not have come in immediately after the initial warning to Iranian boats from a U.S. warship, as appears to do on the video.

Also unraveling the story is testimony from a former U.S. naval officer that non-official chatter is common on the channel used to communicate with the Iranian boats and testimony from the commander of the U.S. 5th fleet that the commanding officers of the U.S. warships involved in the incident never felt the need to warn the Iranians of a possible use of force against them. ...

Furthermore, as the New York Times noted Thursday, the recording carries no ambient noise, such as the sounds of a motor, the sea or wind, which should have been audible if the broadcast had been made from one of the five small Iranian boats. ...
.

Posted by: Poilu on January 11, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

"As members of the US armed forces know, it is a lot more fun, and much safer, to kill civilians."

You are out of your fucking mind - and shit like this idiocy is why you should not be taken seriously. Why don't you go into The Whistlestop off the D-M Craycroft gate and say that real loud - preferable on the evening of the first of the fifteenth.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 11, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Most people are unable to hear my text, hotrod.

Posted by: Brojo on January 11, 2008 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

I have no doubts that if the people at the D-M Craycroft gate are military, they will have no inhibitions preventing them from attacking an unarmed civilian. And enjoying it. And then having a round of drinks afterward. It would be like being in Haditha heaven.

Posted by: Brojo on January 11, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Talking is for sissies. Real men kill everything in sight, then make TV moves years later about how great their sacrifice was.

Posted by: Kenji on January 11, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Still waiting for Mr. Drum's source on how the Iranian tape is a complete fabrication."

Me too. But I've yet to see Kevin Drum ever responsibly comply with a forensic call for substantiation.

The timeframe for such is historically ad infintium, accompanied only by the "sound of crickets chirping".
.

Posted by: Poilu on January 11, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm so glad that you know the motivations of people like my husband, myself, Hotrod, and so many others better than we know ourselves. We are every one just totally bereft of a moral compass and are to a man - or woman - just bloodthirsty murderous thugs, aching to wreak mayhem.

Give me a fucking break.

I want to like you - I really do. I admire your passion and dedication, but you sure make that a Herculean task at times. However - that amendment to the Constitution that guarantees you the right to say such odious and despicable things about us is the same document that I devoted my life to and would die defending, whether you appreciate that or not.

By the way - the Airmen I know would laugh at you and mock you, but they wouldn't bother to kick your ass. They likely wouldn't consider you worth an Article 35.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 11, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Given that the Strait of Hormuz is designated as an international strait in the Law of the Sea Convention, which allows all ships the right of "innocent passage" through it, regardless of territorial jurisdiction, the Iranian actions were highly provocative. They--and we--are fortunate that the US warships exercised restraint in dealing with them.

Note that "innocent passage" does apply to US warships transiting the Strait, if that was all they were doing.

Posted by: Tom S on January 11, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Seems that what Walter Russel Mead should have said is that bogus naval "incidents" are usually the way the US starts a war. Let's remember that the Spanish government had already granted the Cubans their independence before the Maine blew up, and the real reason for our hasty attack was to keep the Cubans from setting up an independent government.

We might also remember that the US cruiser Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner back when Bush Sr and his buddies were helping Saddam attack the Iranians, and furnishing Saddam with the raw materials for his poison gases.

Kinda makes you proud to be an American, right?

Posted by: serial catowner on January 11, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

landofid --

I think the game you are thinking of is Harpoon. I think there was a scenario with three small speedboats and a warship off the coast of Israel.

Posted by: Brad Hudson on January 11, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ball's in your court, Mister Drum:

Welcome to the Persian Gulf
By Daniel M Pourkesali

Iran's release of the video taken on the morning of Sunday January 6th in the Straight of Hormuz, clearly debunks Pentagon's hype of depicting a routine patrolling operation by the Iranian Navy as an act of unfathomable aggression against the United States. ...

The amateurish video audio hodgepodge released by DoD to bolster U.S. claims has instead raised more questions and exposed the U.S.'s hostile intent rather than portraying it as victim of the Iranian mischief. According to a report published in the New York Times, unnamed Pentagon officials are saying that the threatening voice heard in the audio clip which was recorded separately from the video images and merged together later by the Navy, "is not traceable to the Iranian military".

That voice spoken in an unfamiliar accent was the dead giveaway for many Iranians including this writer that the video was a hoax. To the contrary, the Iranian version appears realistic with audio and video perfectly synchronized in what appears to have been shot with an ordinary camcorder most of us are familiar with. The Navy men speak in a very familiar accent while going about their business of patrolling and identifying ships sailing in or near Iranian territorial waters. ...

[Full links in original.]

Posted by: Poilu on January 11, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Regrets and apologies. Sorry. Broken record.

Sense and sensibilities. I sense the horror and express it insensibly, accidentally insulting individuals I admire and have little quarrel with.

Posted by: Brojo on January 11, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

re: "innocent passage"
It applies to all boats and ships from all places, whether they be US nor Iranian. Admiral Cosgriff (now) says that his ships were in no danger from those little blue plastic boats which means that threats to these boats are uncalled for.

Probably somewhere between "provocative" and "no threat" the Vice Admiral earned himself some strong words from Admiral "Fox" Fallon, who has previously put a damper on US bellicosity towards Iran. Like: "Put a sock in it, Kevin." Cosgriff, that is.

Posted by: Don Bacon on January 11, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Regrets and apologies. Sorry. Broken record...Sense and sensibilities. I sense the horror and express it insensibly, accidentally insulting individuals I admire and have little quarrel with.

Okay - we're cool. I can be a bit strident at times myself.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 11, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

re: forced a reluctant President William McKinley to launch the Spanish-American War in 1898

That would make McKinley an usual president, if it were true. Actually McKinley was as reluctant to start a war as GW Bush was. These presidents want to appear innocent so they make it look like they were forced into doing something that they really didn't want to do, when all the time they are sorry manipulators wanting to extend the US empire by force of arms.

For details on McKinley see "The Politics of War" by Walter Karp.

Posted by: Don Bacon on January 11, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

the real issue still is iraq the new efforts and focus on surge and money will not work . sunni or latter

Posted by: rawdawgbuffalo on January 11, 2008 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, you wonder how much of a provocation two carrier task forces ploughing the seas just off your coastline while their commander in chief issues belligerent threats is.

Posted by: bob h on January 12, 2008 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

Leaves out the attack on the US Navy by the Japanese that started WWII.

Navy ships are the most exposed positions.

Posted by: bakho on January 12, 2008 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Don Bacon hit the nail on the head re: McKinley. Bush is the reincarnation of McKinley who crassly manipulated the U.S. into that War, mainly to acquire the Philipines and further an Imperialist dream of invading China. Karp's book "The Politics of War" is a must read because Bush did virtually the same thing as both McKinley and Woodrow Wilson. Karp really comes down on Wilson.

Posted by: R.T.Thaddeus on January 12, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

individuals I admire

I meant that. I think your efforts to create a community utilizes the potency of the internet.

Posted by: Brojo on January 12, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

More Bush ignorance, going to stop troop cut backs and reinstating Saddams party after hanging him, now just how stupid can one person be even though he is from Texas, Flush all Republicans like him and McCain.

Posted by: Al on January 12, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Thanks for a good laugh and a topic that will make you folks look more foolish than usual."

ROFL..... Oh, the irony. I wonder if dear little Mikey knows just how silly he sounds? And how amusing his little fantasies are?

Dear heart, any time you wish to rejoin us here in the real world, we'll be right here. Until then, we'll be laughing our asses off at your paranoid delusions.

Posted by: PaulB on January 12, 2008 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to be a paranoid, tin-foil hat wearing goof, but I was wondering what was in this for Iran. It's obvious what's in it for "us", i.e. Cheney and his wacky gang. But what about Iran? They're trumping it up, too.

The U.S. is bogged down in a two-front war (and losing; a fact that's obvious to anyone outside the Beltway). Perhaps Iran sees a U.S. invasion as a good excuse to a) become the put-upon Arab country that leads the others to war, and/or b) maybe they see this as a chance to *finally* take Iraq. After all, if the U.S. comes in and loses some more, and then pulls out, they might see Iraq as free for the taking (relatively).

Like I say: tin-foil hat territory. We've been living with Bush too long.

Posted by: dougom on January 12, 2008 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

iv98D4

Posted by: Lhrszrkt on July 13, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Vlfgqckl on July 13, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Very interesting site. Hope it will always be alive!

Posted by: karsi soma on July 22, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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