Monday, January 07, 2008

I'll See You the Strait of Hormuz and Raise You the Gulf of Tonkin.

Bush is headed to the Middle East tomorrow and Iran will be a high priority for him.
President Bush intends to use his first extended tour of the Middle East to rally support for international pressure against Iran, even as a recent U.S. intelligence report playing down Tehran's nuclear ambitions has left Israeli and Arab leaders rethinking their own approach toward Iran and questioning Washington's resolve, according to senior U.S. officials, diplomats and regional experts.
Coincidentally, Iran, in the prelude to this trip,decided to provoke a confrontation with the US.
Five Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route off the Iranian coast, during the weekend, Pentagon officials said on Monday.
Boy, those Iranians are really helpful to the Bush. Just when the NIE made it difficult for Bush to make the case against Iran, they step up to the plate for him with a belligerent act.

Or is there less to this story than meets the eyes?
The officials said it was not unusual for Iranian boats to get close to U.S. ships in the strait...
So this sort of thing happens all of the time, but now it's news. The reason it's now new, at least according to unnamed Pentagon officials, is that.
The official said the five Iranian speedboats "pretty much swarmed" the three U.S. vessels in international waters with the Iranians threatening that one of the U.S. ships would blow up in minutes

U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, were confirming a report first aired by CNN.


The incident took place about 11:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, or late Saturday night in Washington, the officials said.
According to the officials, the radio transmission from one of the Iranian ships said: "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes."


...the radio transmission was unusual.

The officials said the Iranian vessels also dropped small white boxes into the water. It was not clear what the boxes contained.
We don't really know what happened here, but, given the Bush/Cheney administration's track record, I am more than a bit skeptical that this was really a confrontation initiated by Iran. I am more inclined to see it as Bush/Cheney agitprop designed to grease the wheels as Bush makes his case against Iran during his Middle East trip.

In fact, it is just as likely that the US intentionally wonder into Iranian waters or was intentionally headed toward Iranian water in order to provoke such a confrontation and the radio transmission from the Iranians might have been a warning about the presence of mines rather than a threat and the boxes may have been meant to mark the mines.

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