Jun. 17, 2019
- On April 14, 1988, the USS Samuel B. Roberts, a frigate, hit an Iranian naval mine while sailing in the Persian Gulf. The explosion injured 10 of her crew and nearly sank the ship. Four days later, the U.S. Navy destroyed half the Iranian fleet in a matter of hours. Iran did not molest the Navy or international shipping for many years thereafter. Now Iran’s piratical regime is back yet again.
- While Iran categorically denied responsibility for Thursday’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the evidence against Iran is compelling. The U.S. Central Command noted that “a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan-class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft…in the vicinity of the M/T Altair,” one of the damaged tankers.
- Staging deniable attacks that fall just below the threshold of open warfare on the U.S. is an Iranian specialty. But it would require a large dose of self-deception to pretend that Iran isn’t the likely culprit, or that its actions don’t represent a major escalation. Firing on unarmed ships in international waters is a direct assault on the international order. To allow it to go unpunished isn’t an option.
- The U.S. should declare new rules of engagement to allow the Navy to engage and destroy Iranian ships or fast boats that harass or threaten any ship, military or commercial, operating in international waters. The world cannot tolerate freelance Somali pirates. Much less should it tolerate a pirate state seeking to hold the global economy hostage through multiplying acts of economic terrorism.
- Nobody wants a war with Iran. But not wanting a war does not mean remaining supine in the face of its outrages. We sank Iran’s navy before. Tehran should be put on notice that we are prepared and able to do it again.