Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Claims Versus Control

Iran has geography to strengthen their claims to have the ability to open and close the Persian Gulf at will. But "control" will need to be established in the face of American and allied military power that does not accept that asserted control.

Big talk from the religious nutballs:

Iran has full control of the Gulf and the U.S. Navy does not belong there, the head of the navy of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Alireza Tangsiri, was quoted by Tasnim news agency as saying on Monday.

Tehran has suggested it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries' oil exports in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf that protects oil shipping routes.

Iran could block the Strait of Hormuz. Iran could not keep the strait closed for long despite its geography.

Here's more information on the region and issue.

Which is similar to my views on China and the South China Sea. I do not believe China has gained control of the South China Sea.

Were we supposed to destroy the islands that China built and militarized? Short of that, what besides real freedom of navigation operations denying Chinese control that were begun in the current administration (we had fake FONOPs in the previous administration that were nothing but innocent passage that did not challenge assertion of control) should America do?

Yes, China has created the geography to assert control, but until China asserts control and defeats American and allied power to maintain that control, China has no control.

I'm not sure I'd rotate American detachments to allied islands in the South China Sea. But I have long argued that every state that has islands in the South China Sea should fortify them while they can before China takes them.

Once allied or friendly states have fortified their islands, then we can discuss American military tripwire presence. But we can't defend those positions for those friends and allies who don't do it for themselves.

UPDATE: In the Pacific, America continues to carry out aerial versions of FONOPs:

Several US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bombers have flown through the contested East and South China Seas multiple times [in August], sending an unmistakable message to potential challengers.

China can claim. Control will be contested if China does more than claim.