FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Persian Gulf Incident

by DAVE LINDORFF

Things are getting out of hand in the Persian Gulf.

The murderous cannon firing by nervous and trigger-happy Navy personnel on the supply ship USS Rappahannock off the coast of Dubai earlier this week, which killed an Indian fisherman and wounded three of his companions as they motored past the US vessel shows how easily a deadly and hard to stop new war in the Gulf region — this time between the US and Iran — could start.

This time it was a fishing boat carrying Indians from Tamil Nadu state. Next time, however, it could as easily be an Iranian patrol boat, or even just an Iranian fishing boat that gets shot up or sunk by nervous US sailors.  If that happens, then what?

Would Iran and its military sit tight and accept such an act, as the country did when the US shot down a civilian Iranian airliner in 1988?

Maybe, and maybe not.

I suppose if the US were to shoot up an Iranian civilian vessel, and then apologized adequately, there might be no consequences, but then, the record suggests that the US doesn’t have an easy time apologizing for such atrocities. Look what it took to get a US apology for the murderous actions (in broad daylight on a crowded street) of CIA contract worker Raymond Davis in Pakistan. He
slaughtered two young Pakistanis with gunshots to the back and execution shots to the head, and his later arrest by Pakistani police led to the running down and killing of another innocent Pakistani man by other CIA officers racing to rescue Davis in their SUV. Only months later, when he was facing trial on murder charges, did the US stop demanding his release and finally finally apologize and pay a death compensation payment to the families of those killed, as well as to the family of a young wife of one of the slain men, who subsequently committed suicide by ingesting poison.

It also took months for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the head of the US military operation in Afghanistan to apologize to Pakistan for the slaughter, by helicopter gunships, of 28 soldiers manning a Pakistani mountaintop outpost, in an incident that has never really been adequately explained.

The way things are moving in the Gulf region though, there might not be time to wait several months for an apology in such a situation.

If the US Navy were to attack or sink an Iranian Navy vessel, or shoot down an Iranian military plane, whether deliberately or because of the nervous overreaction of some low-ranking sailors or soldiers manning a gun or rocket-launcher, even a quick apology might not prevent an Iranian response.

I used to think that a US attack on Iran was unlikely. The US military is, after all, very thinly stretched these days, confronted as it is with a far more assertive Chinese Navy in the Pacific and the South China Sea, with a quagmire in its war in Afghanistan, a civil war in Syria, fighting and instability in Yemen and Somalia, continuing unrest in Iraq, and of course a newly reassertive Russia. It also faces enormous budget pressure at home. Add to that a weakening US and global economy that could be thrown into severe crisis by the oil price shock that would surely accompany any active war between the US and Iran.

And yet, the decision by the US to send more attack aircraft, troops and ships to the regions around Iran and to step up covert actions against Iran, including sending in drone aircraft like the one captured a few months ago by Iranian forces, massively increases the chance of something going terribly wrong and setting off just such a conflict.

Some analysts have been arguing that the US genuinely doesn’t want a war with Iran, and is only stepping up its military presence around Iran as a way of deterring Israel from attacking. That could well be the case, but it’s a dangerous strategy, because all those US weapons systems, manned by young men and women in uniform who have their hands on the triggers, can easily be fired if those people feel personally threatened by what they perceive to be Iranian attackers. Aboard those Navy vessels, the USS Cole is on everyone’s mind. That destroyer was nearly sunk by a big hole blasted in its side by a small suicide boat that motored up to its side while it was sitting in a harbor in Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000.

What is needed now is restraint.  Clearly the US should cool its rhetoric and pull all offensive weaponry out of the Persian Gulf and  away from the vicinity of Iran. Iran, for its part, would do well not to have its military vessels behave aggressively or provocatively in the vicinity of US warships.

During the worst days of the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union established a hotline that allowed the leaders of the two countries to talk directly in the event of a crisis. There were plenty of crises, too, like the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and many tense incidents involving submarines bumping into each other or being bumped by ships of the other side. Yet in all those decades, there was never a hot war between the two adversaries.

It might be a good idea for Tehran and Washington to set up a dedicated red phone line to prevent a war neither side could possibly want.

Dave Lindorff is a  founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He lives in Philadelphia.

Five Nights in Istanbul
in a Gorgeous Flat,
Donated by Longtime CounterPunchers
Available Only at the CounterPunch Online Auction
Click Here to See the View and Place Your Bid 

 

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail