My favorite part of the story is that the Iranians are claiming that they had to come close because they were having trouble identifying the naval vessels.
I’m well aware that it can be sometimes difficult to identify ships at sea, and to distinguish between different classes of ships. However, the profile of a warship is quite distinctive (though it could be tough to pick out the difference between, say, a frigate and a destroyer from a distance).
Whatever one’s ship recognition ability, there is absolutely nothing else out there that looks like an aircraft carrier. And when an aircraft carrier battle group is passing by, I defy anyone not to figure out that the U.S. Navy is sailing.
That explanation by the Iranians is particularly obvious bullshit.
I noticed that, and I was shocked. I’ll be charitable - I am pretty sure that the crew of the Vicennes would not have knowingly shot down a civilian airliner. There were communications cock-ups and so on that led to problems. But fuck, because of a tragic accident a whole load of people were killed. Should that really have been celebrated?
On the whole, I would respectfully ask the Iranians to please stop taking the piss. It’s all we can do to stop the neocons from levelling their country, and they aren’t making it easier for us.
But here’s Steve Bell in the UK Guardian newspaper:
We’re operating naval warships off of their shore, and we get upset when they buzz around? How about if the situation were reversed, and a foreign navy with a history for aggression was operating in international waters off our cost? Would we be complacent. Or would we put our own ships right there, daring the foreign navy to do something?
We act like a bully, and cry foul anytime someone tries to kick our shin. We’re hypocrites.
What this ought to remind us is that situations such as we are in with Iran are inherently dangerous, and both parties should go to extra lengths to avoid misunderstandings. Not talking about sharing feelings, but putting extra precautions in place. Not only are there Iranian nuts who would love to start a war with America, there are American nuts who would love to start a war with Iran.
I mean, this whole thing about a threatening radio message sets my red flags flying. If you’re going to attack by surprise, you don’t tip the other guy off. Hell, if you intend to attack, even if you have no hope for surprise, what military advantage is offered by telling the other guy you are about to attack?
I’m glad you brought up the incident aboard the USS Vincennes and how the sailors fired upon a civilian passenger jet. Perhaps the Captain and crew of the Vincennes might have been a little “trigger-happy” considering what happened a little over a year before that incident. Read about the USS Stark May 17, 1987: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Stark
Thirty-seven sailors killed.
Maybe sometimes it’s good to err on the side of caution?
That’s funny…I thought we were operating in international waters. Do you have a cite that we were operating in Iranian waters?
Does the US Navy regularly toss boxes of unknown type into the path of foreign flagged warships operating in international waters and then ignore radio requests while saying something along the lines of ‘you are going to sink real soon now bub’? AFAIK, we don’t…but I’m sure you have a comparable cite to back up your analogy, yes?
I don’t know…what does the record say? How does the US Navy react to foreign flagged warships in international waters usually? Do we toss boxes at them and make threatening radio transmissions in an obvious attempt to provoke an incident?
Conversely you could be someone talking out his or her ass who actually doesn’t know what you are talking about. I’m thinking the answer is…
Wow! And here I thought all this time that the confrontation between the Brits and the US in 1812 had to do with the RN stopping US flagged ships at gun point and then kidnapping US citizens to serve indefinitely in the RN! I never knew it was simply because the RN was operating in our waters! Thanks for fighting my ignorance. Or perhaps in showing your own and attempting to stretch an analogy that doesn’t work to the straining point.
During the Cold War, Soviet fishing trawlers would stand off just outside US terrritorial waters, performing surveilance as well as fishing the shit out of the rapidly dwindling supply of cod.
During that same era, under the plan adopted by Soviet Admiral Sergey Gorshkov to make their navy equal to the US, Soviet ships in the Mediterranean would routinely cut across the bows of us ships and otherwise manuver with the intention of dangerous intimidation.
And I’d ask a clarification of the US Navy having a “history of aggression.”
The US was on the brink of war with Chile, a war that neither nation wanted and was sure it could win, when Robley Evans pulled into Valpariso where his ships were harrassed by Chilean torpedo boats making “practice runs.” Instead of bombarding the city as a navy with a “history of aggression” would do, Evans brought the Chileans to terms by threatening to grant his crew shore leave.
(OK - that story isn’t as accurate as it is enjoyable, but the fact remains that we didn’t have a war with either the Soviet Union or Chile)
But I will agree about the hypocritical nature of our policy: when we come up against proxy navies, such as the North Vietnamese at the Gulf of Tonkin, or the North Koreans during the Pueblo incident, we do act stupidly.