Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Navy's suicidal restraint

Three US warships, operating in international waters, passed through the Strait of Hormuz Sunday morning and encountered five Iranian navy speedboats that threatened to attack. The Iranians dumped boxed in the water (mines? -- that was the implicit hint) and verbally claimed they would seek to blow up the US ships. The Naval vessels never fired on the Iranians, even though they came within a miniscule (as naval conditions measure) 200 meters of the USN vessels. The USN reports that the ships had prepared to fire, but the Iranians turned away and sped off.

At the first sign of such aggression, or at worst at the first verbal threat, the Navy should have blown the Iranians to Hades. This is the same hesitation that ended up killing sailors off the coast of Yemen in 2000 and it only emboldens the enemy. Ralph Peters is right:

We should've sunk every one of them.

Not because we're warmongers. But because the Iranians had made threats, verbal and physical, that amounted to acts of war. When will we learn that resolute action taken early saves vast amounts of blood and treasure later?

Oh, from Washington's perspective we did the right thing by "exercising restraint." But Washington's perspective doesn't amount to a gum wrapper in a gutter. What matters is what the Iranians think.

Poor decision by the commanders.

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