Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Abusive Partner

Iranian Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) armed vessels hijacked a merchant ship flagged by the Marshall Islands:

Iranian forces boarded a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Gulf on Tuesday after patrol boats fired warning shots across its bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters, the Pentagon said.

U.S. planes and a destroyer were monitoring the situation after the vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, made a distress call in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most important oil shipping channels.

The Marshall Islands is a group of small islands in the Pacific whose defense we are responsible for

Naturally, Iran assumes they can humiliate us and demonstrate that we won't defend those who rely on us:

The U.S. Defense Department’s lawyers have determined, however, that for the purposes of the Tigris‘ capture by the IRGCN, the U.S. has no obligation to respond or come to the defense of the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel.

I'm sure this is exactly what the Marshall Islands had in mind when we said we'd take responsibility for their defense.

I know I've never had a firm grasp of that nuance thing, but is this what we can expect from our new partner Iran, post-nuclear weapons capability?

If this does escalate to trading blows, I'm glad our carrier is out of the Persian Gulf. We moved our carrier out in response to a recent Iranian convoy that had been on the way to support their allies in Yemen. While I didn't think we needed a carrier to stop those Iranian ships, I did think it was a good idea to get our high value ships out of the Gulf before shooting started.

UPDATE: And like any enabling partner, Kerry kisses the butt of our tormenter:

“In the negotiations Kerry told [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif that he [Kerry] wished U.S. had a leader like Iran’s supreme leader,” according to Alam al-Hoda, who is a senior member of the Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts.

Of course, that is what our partner, Iran, says. A "senior [Obama] administration official" denied Kerry said any such thing. So we disagree on the terms of the proto-deal and Kerry's ability to suck up.

Either Kerry is a suck-up or our partner Iran just wants to humiliate us.

And it is no good to say that maybe some horrible Iranian folks are trying to undermine the so-called moderates in Iran who want a nuclear deal.

Pray tell, what if those same folks undermine the actual nuclear deal despite the existence of mythical moderates who want to keep Iran's nuclear arsenal one year from construction for another decade?

UPDATE: Unrelated, but nonetheless a lesson in that nuance stuff that I clearly fail to grok.

UPDATE: You must admit, it isn't hard to imagine Spongespine Spandexpants bowing and scraping to the Iranians.

UPDATE: The Iranians must believe our president has supreme leader-like powers since their foreign minister denies Congress has any ability to interfere with the president's decisions on an Iran deal:

If Iran strikes a deal with the West, all sanctions will be lifted very quickly and there’s nothing the U.S. Congress can do to stop it, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a New York audience Wednesday.

It's interesting that he says that talk of sanctions being lifted after certain conditions are met won't be a problem for Iran to achieve quickly.

One wonders if the Obama administration condition for lifting sanctions on Iran is solely the time it takes for the signatures on the agreement to dry.

UPDATE: Back to shipping:

U.S. Navy ships will begin accompanying U.S. commercial ships during their transit through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to ensure they encounter no interference from Iran, U.S. defense officials said Thursday.

Apparently, "accompanying" ships is different from "escorting" them. I guess we'll be nearby in contact with ships but not a classic convoy system.

It looks like a guided missile destroyer plus 3 of our 8 (I think) patrol craft have that mission:

The destroyer Farragut, which entered the Straits at "best speed" Tuesday following the takeover of the Maersk Tigris, was joined by the Cyclone-class patrol craft Typhoon, Firebolt and Thunderbolt, said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren.

I commend the president for taking action to protect our ships and hopefully deter the Iranians in general.

And on Yemen, it looks like hope and change had no effect on Iran from the very beginning of that outstretched hand from our president:

Iran has been shipping weapons to Yemen's Huthi rebels since at least 2009, according to a confidential UN report, indicating that Tehran's support dates back to the early years of the Shiite militia's insurgency.

Our partner.