Monday, July 30, 2007

Spoiling For A Fight

This is utter lunacy. I'm reminded of the apocryphal story recounted in "Citizen Kane" about the start of the Spanish-American War: "You provide the pictures, I'll provide the war.":
NEAR SHATT AL-ARAB (Reuters) - Mandated to secure Iraqi waters, the commander of a U.S. gunboat orders his crew to watch an Iranian look-out post for activity as his ship sails through waters with no clear divide between Iraq and Iran.

It was in this murky stretch that 15 British military personnel were captured by Iran earlier this year and accused of straying into its waters. A long-running dispute over the nearby Shatt al-Arab border river has helped spark war in the past.

Now, the U.S. military and its allies patrol as close as possible to where they believe Iraq's territorial waters end, but as tension rises between the Islamic Republic and the West, so does the potential for accidental escalation.

"We set a line where we think it's reasonable, and by customary use, going up and down that line, we try and set the tone," said John Chandler of the Australian HMAS Anzac warship, part of the coalition patrolling Iraqi waters.

"The Iranians have slightly different view as to where the line is."
Uh, yea, not like you don't have binoculars or anything, and can stand off a few hundred yards...but the clearest sign of provocation comes from the idiots on patrol there:
"We're going to drive down the line on the Iraqi side, and we're going to drive down slow. For Americans, we see this as driving down the strip on a Friday night, waving to all our friends," [USS Typhoon Commander Joel Lang] said on the way to the disputed area.
Now, I don't know where Commander Lang grew up, but I'm fairly sure the neighbors weren't polishing their guns and pointing them in your general direction. Perhaps a slightly more serious attitude is in order, rather than this reckless and insane lightheartedness?

I mean, I know you work for a man who thinks nothing of popping wheelies in a golf cart with the British Prime Minister at his first summit, but a little decorum is in order, and this isn't a dick-swinging contest to see if you can outjerk the President.(video at link)

All this comes on the heels of a warning from Iran over the weekend:
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has told a German magazine that the United States has too many problems in Iraq to become involved in armed conflict with Iran. The United States "is not in a position to get into a new military conflict," Mottaki was quoted as saying in an excerpt of an interview to be published in Focus magazine.
Who'd have ever thought Iran would be the bastion of reason in this conflict?

That's not to say that Iran is innocent. No sir, and in fact, insurgents in Iraq have already issued warnings to Iran that they face an all-out border skirmish if they don't stop meddling in Iraq, but the simple fact is, 170,000 soldiers are tired of fighting. Americans are tired of fighting and probably won't support another war in a region we have no business meddling in at all. They might, correctly, it turns out, view an Iran-US showdown as a provocation on our part, as opposed to some imaginary slight.

Particularly given this administration's track record with honesty and forthrightness. You know, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, errrrr...won't get fooled again" (which may be the first time The Who have made it into international diplomacy.)