Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On a Collision Course With Iran?

Also at DKos.

The Associated Press reports that on Tuesday, the U.S. Navy commenced the largest demonstration of force it has conducted in the Persian Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The exercise involves 15 warships, including two aircraft carriers, and more than 100 combat aircraft.
At U.S. 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl said the U.S. maneuvers were not organized in response to the capture of the British sailors--nor were they meant to threaten the Islamic Republic [Iran], whose navy operates in the same waters.

Oh, no. The last thing we'd be conducting a major naval operation in the Gulf right now would be for the purpose of shouting "boo" at Iran.

Aandahl also said that, "What it should be seen as by Iran or anyone else is that it's for regional stability and security… These ships are just another demonstration of that. If there's a destabilizing effect, it's Iran's behavior."

I'm not sure whom Andahal thinks he's kidding. There's only one "threat" to maritime "stability and security" in the Gulf, and that's Iran. Aandahl is talking public affairs office poppycock.

Dubya and Dubya-er

The showdown between the U.S. and Iran boils down to a manhood measuring contest between young Mr. Bush and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. To date, neither president has measured up in the foreign policy game.

Bush has been a puppet of Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives from the beginning, and only those in the non-cognitive hardcore right still support the administration's foreign follies. Iran has been crawling along a razor's edge in an attempt to emerge as a regional superpower, and has taken a lot of risks, especially in its nuclear program and its naval power demonstrations. They may have finally slit themselves open with their grab of 15 British sailors and marines in the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

For the life of me, I can't figure out how that happened. It was a colossal screw up, either at higher levels of command or by the on scene commanders.

CNN reported Wednesday that the one woman among the British sailors and marines will be released soon. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told members of Parliament that Britain will impose "a freeze on all other official bilateral business with Iran until this situation is resolved."

The Iranian Embassy in London released a statement on Wednesday stating the detainees are in good condition. "We understand the anxiety of their families, but they must be assured that they are in safe hands and have a better life than the risky mission in the Persian Gulf waters," the statement said.

According to CNN, Iranian hard-liners have pressed their government to charge the British personnel with espionage and put them on trial.

British Vice Admiral Charles Style says that global positioning system information shows the HMS Cornwall, the British frigate involved was 1.7 nautical miles inside of Iraqi waters. Iran says the Cornwall had gone 0.3 miles into Iranian territorial waters.

Britain is coordinating diplomatic efforts with the rest of the European Union and Turkey, but has asked the U.S. to keep a low profile. "They have asked us to keep the rhetoric down and not do anything that would jeopardize their efforts to get the sailors and marines released," one senior official told CNN.

That's a good sign. You know the Brits haven't gone mad when show the common sense to tell Condi Rice's State Department to stay the heck out of a ticklish diplomatic situation.


Mr. Bush still doesn't show any signs of turning cognizant. The House has passed emergency appropriation bills to support our Middle East wars that include withdrawal timelines, and the Senate appears likely to pass similar legislation soon. Bush continues to threaten to veto any bill with timelines that comes across his desk, and says he will hold Democrats responsible if they delay military funding. The Democrats, to their credit, appear to be holding fast.

Our 60 year-old boy emperor has isolated himself so completely that the only friends he has left--at home and abroad--are the neoconservative cabalists who put him into power and got him into the mess he's in, and still, the neocons are the only people he listens to.

So is Bush crazy enough to go for broke and pull the trigger on Iran over the British incident (and over British objections)?

As frightening as it is to say, we can't dismiss the possibility.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. EdNSted1:35 PM

    Jeff said:

    It was a colossal screw up, either at higher levels of command or by the on scene commanders.

    Let me first acknowledge my ignorance of military protocols in such a situation but wouldn't the Iranian "on scene commanders" have very specific rules of engagement for such incidents given their close proximity to Iraqi territorial waters? Specifically, wouldn't these rules of engagement likely require a higher chain of command authorization before executing any kind of extended detainment of the British personnel? (i.e. anything more than a brief 5-10 minute detainment to access the situation?) These things lead me to believe the orders to detain the British came from fairly high up. If the lower level commanders had simply 'screwed up', wouldn't the British soldiers been released fairly quickly once higher level officers became aware of the mistake (and the incident then dismissed fairly quickly by the Iranians and downplayed as a simple 'misunderstanding') ?

  2. Anonymous2:13 PM

    That CIA plant-cum-'Pentagon'-reporter Jim Miklashevski (sp?) was on MSNBC just now characterizing the five Iranians the Pentagon absconded with a couple of months ago in N. Iraq as Revolutionary Guards who were caught planting IEDs in Iraq. [Even our State Dept called them phony Iranian diplomats, since they worked in an office building in Kurdistan.] He maintained this is why the Iranians nabbed the Brits. For a share-me across the bridge.

    Keep your eye, and ear, on Jimmy Mik. He routinely runs his mouth with the neocon DoD nonsense he's charged with getting into our somnambulant populace just before a rout. Not having a charmed life and suffering from an extraordinary bout of procrastination one day, I rounded up all of Jimmy Mik's utterances from October 2002 thru April 2006.

    Every piece of drivel that came out of his mouth matched a new military direction or load of crap we were asked to accept for one more neocon military blunder.

    Since the neocons are creaming for this fight with Iran, watch Jimmy run at us in the next few weeks with his Pentagon roster of phony facts and figures and warn everyone you know. Discredit him. Make him a laughing stock.

    We just CANT have war with Iran. It would be catastrophic. Truly apocalyptic.

  3. Where the hell is Jimmy Carter?

  4. Anonymous8:54 AM

    a) "British Vice Admiral Charles Style says that global positioning system information shows the HMS Cornwall, the British frigate involved was 1.7 nautical miles inside of Iraqi waters. Iran says the Cornwall had gone 0.3 miles into Iranian territorial waters. "

    The Cornwall's 2 launches were 1.7 nm inside Iraqi waters when they boarded the Indian-registered vessel. They were 1 nm inside when they were boarded. Cornwall was nowhere near the area - see here.

    b) It's yet another case of the multi-factional Iranian armed forces being interpreted as one entity. Why doesn't anyone get this? The Iranian Islamic Republican Guard Navy isn't even part of the Iranian Navy - they're a state within a state, much like ISI in Pakistan.

  5. Anonymous4:26 PM

    USS Nimitz Scheduled To Depart For Persian Gulf
    Ship To Join Another Local Aircraft Carrier

    POSTED: 12:05 pm PDT March 28, 2007
    UPDATED: 12:22 pm PDT March 28, 2007

    SAN DIEGO -- The USS Nimitz and its support ships will depart San Diego on Monday for the Persian Gulf to join another local aircraft carrier strike group already in the region, military officials said.

    The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will join the San Diego-based John C. Stennis Strike Group and relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Naval Air Forces Public Affairs.

    Military officials said in a statement that the two-carrier presence in the Persian Gulf area is intended to demonstrate the country's "resolve to build regional security and bring long-term stability to the region."
    Click here to find out more!

    The Nimitz's departure comes amid heightened tensions in the region following the detention of 15 British sailors and marines by Iran last week. Iran maintains the detainees were operating in its territorial waters, a charge the British government strongly denies.

    While deployed, the crew of the Nimitz will support the war on terrorism, patrol the Horn of Africa and conduct marine security operations as part of the larger effort to "deter and dissuade others from acting counter to U.S. national interests," according to a Navy statement.

    The Nimitz Strike Group is comprised of the guided-missile cruiser Princeton, guided-missile destroyers Higgins, Chafee, John Paul Jones and Pinckney, two helicopter squadrons and an explosive ordnance disposal unit.

    The Stennis, and its strike group, left Naval Base Coronado on Jan. 20. The aircraft carrier entered the Persian Gulf Wednesday, according to authorities. It is the largest carrier presence in the area since the start of the war in Iraq.

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