Meanwhile, in the Persian Gulf …


… the Iranians are getting restless. During the final years of the Obama Administration, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps repeatedly engaged in harassment of U.S. Naval vessels in the Persian Gulf. After the change in policy under the Trump Administration, contact by the Iranians dropped precipitously. Until recently.

The pallets of cash provided by Obama Administration have run out. The oil market is cratering. The IRGC’s top commander has been killed, and the IRGC’s retaliatory strikes fizzled. Iran is among the nations hardest hit by the Wuhan virus. The level of frustration must be reaching the boiling point. So last week, a group of IRGC boats harassed American ships, buzzing them with weapons unsecured.

I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.

—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020

Stay tuned.

Gnats and Elephants


The United States fired one missile. It hit its target, and there was trivial collateral damage.

Iran launched 15 missiles. Four (over 25 %) failed in flight. The remain eleven all missed their targets, causing collateral damage to a third party (Iraq) and wounding Iraqis.

Donald Trump set his red line a the death of an American, and he has not responded with further military action. Iran’s feeble response to our hit on Soleimani didn’t tempt him to ratchet up the fight. Rather, Trump’s restraint demonstrates the huge difference in power between the U.S. and Iran and the difference in our abilities to take a punch.

Elephants have thick skins, but if small insects become bothersome, elephants have the wherewithal to deal with them.

Cultural Sites and War Crimes


John Hinderacker has a post over at PowerLine about war crime hysteria on the Left.

The Democrats hyperventilate endlessly over hypothetical offenses that President Trump hasn’t committed and, I venture to say, won’t commit. Meanwhile, there is no reason to assure the mullahs that anything if off limits if they continue to kill Americans, something about which no prominent Democrat, to my knowledge, is expressing any concern.

There are two important points there. The first is that President Trump hasn’t ordered any further actions yet, and I doubt he will unless the Iranians are foolish enough to invite such an attack.

The second is the warning to the Iranians that we won’t be deterred from attacking one of their military assets if it has been placed at a cultural site. IANAL, but my training in the laws of war that I received as an Army officer was that it a war crime to place a military asset at such a cultural site—or a school, hospital, or place of worship—but that it was legal to attack such a target. If the Iranians have illegally hidden assets where they shouldn’t be, they have now been given fair warning to move them or risk the consequences. (I suspect that Trump is not so subtilely reminding the Iranians of how good our targeting intelligence has been and that we have reasonably good knowledge of where many of their assets are hidden.)

Hinderacker concludes—

Wouldn’t it be great if the Democrats were pro-America, rather than pro-Iran and pro-terrorist? That is a world that we once knew, but is now hard even to imagine. I don’t expect we will see it again in our lifetimes, unless the Democrats are dealt electoral defeats so crushing as to dictate a total realignment of their party.

Just so. Read the whole thing.

 

BREAKING: WaPo Discovers the Government Lies


WaPo has published a long piece on one of the Lessons Learned reports of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (aka SIGAR). The article is based on documents received after a three-year long legal battle over a Freedom of Information Act request that is still ongoing.

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

The government initially refused to release the unclassified report, claiming the the persons interviewed were whistleblowers. That was patently false because those interviewed did not come forward voluntarily but were approached by SIGAR. Also, some agencies, including the State Department, the DoD, and DEA, have classified parts of the report after the fact.

Read the whole thing and check out the linked documents.

Meanwhile, over at Instapundit, Mark Tapscott suggest that

Trump will say it proves him right about getting out of Afghanistan, and, more importantly, about why the Washington Establishment cannot be trusted. That this gift comes to Trump from the Post is the icing on the political cake.

Perhaps. Stay tuned.

Brandishing the Big Stick


Teddy Roosevelt once described his approach to foreign affairs as speaking softly while carrying a big stick. Over the past few days, Donald Trump apparently came close to using that stick, but he wound up speaking softly. It seems to me that he made a wise choice.

Iran is being crippled financially by our sanctions. Its proxy fighters in places like Yemen and Syria have been taking beatings from our allies. Iran’s power and influence are not on the rise.

So why would Iran attack shipping and shoot down a U.S. drone? Desperation?

I don’t think so. The Iranians may be testing the limits to see what they can get away with. Or they may be in such a cash bind that they’ll try anything to raise the price of oil. But oil shipments through the Persian Gulf are no longer a direct concern to Trump because his policies have resulted in America becoming a net oil exporter. These days, it’s China, Vietnam, and Japan who are reliant on oil from the Gulf.

A pinprick attack in retaliation for shooting down a reconnaissance drone wouldn’t have caused enough damage to the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guards to curb their ambitions, so speaking softly (but firmly) probably was wise.

This time.

One of these days, the Iranians will do something too costly to be disregarded. Then it will be time for the stick.