Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cheney Never Gives Up

Today a detailed briefing on the encounter in the Strait of Hormuz between US warships and Iranian speedboats was given by Navy Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, who also commands U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
He said the USS Port Royal, USS Hopper, USS Ingraham were inbound to the Persian Gulf via the Strait of Hormuz yesterday morning. The ships were in the midst of a routine transit in the early daylight hours, the admiral said. Five Iranian Revolutionary Guard high-speed craft came from the north and approached the U.S. ships.

"The five boats approached the U.S. formation on its starboard bow in international waters slightly inside the Gulf from the apex of the strait," Cosgriff said.

The Iranian boats broke into two groups and went on both sides of the U.S. formation. "The groups maneuvered aggressively in the direction of the U.S. ships," Cosgriff said.

U.S. captains called on the radio and sounded the ships' horns to warn the Iranians off, he said. "The (U.S.) ships received a radio call that was threatening to our ships to the effect that they were closing our ships and that the U.S. ships would explode," Cosgriff said.

Subsequently, U.S. sailors observed two of the Iranian boats dropping objects in the water generally in the path of the USS Ingraham. "These objects were white box-like objects that floated," the admiral said. "Obviously the Ingraham passed by safely."

The boats maneuvered close astern, and after 30 minutes they returned in the direction from which they came, back toward Iranian territorial waters. The Iranian boats approached within 500 yards of the U.S. ships, the admiral said.

"It was transit passage in international waters incidental to a routing inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz," Cosgriff said. "The U.S. ships were clearly marked. It was daylight, (with) decent visibility.

"The behavior of the Iranian ships was unnecessary," he continued, "without due regard to safety of navigation and unduly provocative in the aggregate of their maneuvers, the radio call and the dropping of objects in the water."

The admiral praised the U.S. ships' crews, saying they stepped through procedures carefully, with good discipline and with due regard for all the factors. "I was very proud of their performance and the training they received," Cosgriff said.
That sure does make it sound like the Iranians were trying to provoke a reaction from the US in the Strait of Hormuz.

On the other hand, last month here's what the Admiral had to say about the Iranians and the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. Naval Central Command, headquartered in Bahrain, has pledged to keep the international waterway open at all costs, regularly moving aircraft carrier strike groups in and out of the Gulf and drilling on Iran's doorstep.

In December, Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, head of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, called Iran's gesturing on the strait irresponsible and intimidating.

"I wake up thinking about Iran, I go to bed thinking about Iran," he said
Now that sounds provocative, as well. Particularly since most people don't take Iran's braggadocio about closing the Strait very seriously.
...[A]nalysts say the probability of Iran attempting to block the strait is low -- even the U.S. military says there is a slim chance of it happening.

"Iran is by far the most dependent for exports of its hydrocarbons through the strait. So there is a striking illogic in this," said Richard Schofield, an expert in international boundaries at King's College in London.
In case you are missing the point, let me spell it out for you: The US responds to a low probability event with belacose rhetoric and aggressive action, which, in and of itself, has a high probability of triggering a confrontation which could provide the causi belli which the Cheneyites are looking for to attack Iran. That sounds like a plan to me.

Fortunately, Sunday's event didn't cross the line which would have triggered an armed response, but it has been put to use as fodder for agitprop by the Bush administration. The next time we may not be so luck and Cheney may get the war he's looking for.

By the way, here's a picture of the Admiral sitting next to Dick Cheney during briefing last May in the Persian Gulf aboard the USS John C. Stennis.

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