Tankers Attacked in Gulf of Oman


Two tankers have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman, the body of water just outside the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. One is Norwegian-owned, the other is Japanese-owned, but both are sailing under second country flags. The U. S. Navy says that it received distress calls from the vessels at 6:12 am and 7:00 am local time this morning. The Navy says it is helping to evacuate tankers, and the shipping companies says the crews of both ships are safe.

There have been reports that the Norwegian-owned ship was torpedoed. The Iranian Student’s News Agency has tweeted pictures of one of the ships which show it burning at the water line which is consistent with either a torpedo strike or hitting a floating mine. A missile strike would probably have a higher point of impact.

If torpedoes were used, that would imply a state or state-sponsored attacker. Thus far, no one has claimed responsibility, and the Iranians have denied any connection, pointing out that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe currently visiting in Tehran.

The price of oil is up today. The cost of these attacks is yet to be determined.

UPDATE—These tanker attacks occurred a week after a mysterious fire in the Iranian port of Shahid Rajaee destroyed four Iranian merchant ships and damaged two others. The Shahid Rajaee fire occurred one day after the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Norway—whose ships were attacked near Fujairah, UAE, on 12 May, 2019—submitted a report to the U. N. Security Council about the attacks on their vessels.

The Bladensburg Cross


Earlier this week, the American Legion and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission had what should be their final day in court over the Bladensburg Cross, a war memorial to the town’s World War I dead. The American Humanist Association has sued to have the 91-foot tall concrete cross removed because … well, it’s a cross, and that’s too Christian. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Humanists. The American Legion and Planning Commission appealed.

Part of the defense of the monument is the notion that it is a memorial to dead soldiers that takes the same form as their grave markers. Matthew Vadum reporting at The Epoch Times on the Supreme Court hearing notes that Neal Katyal, the Park Commission’s lawyer, told the court—

In the context of World War I, crosses have a secular meaning in that they honor those who perished in the conflict, Katyal said.

The “dominant image of the time, everything from that poem to art, to the war bond advertisements that the United States Government put, to the 1924 congressional resolution, all did use this cross.”

“That poem” refers to words written by Lt.-Col. John McCrae of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1915 after he buried a friend who was killed in combat in Belgium. It begins, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row …”

The Humanists claim that the monument dishonors the non-Christian war dead. The American Legion respond that such a claim is nonsense, noting in one of its briefs that it had many non-Christian members at the time the memorial was built. In fact, J. Moses Edlavitch, a Jewish veteran who was one of the local chapter’s leaders, signed the deed for the land upon which the monument was eventually built.

This leads to a question about the facts of the matter. The monument honors the town’s war dead. It’s in a shape reminiscent of a grave marker. Do any of the dead being honored actually have non-cruciform headstones?

Meanwhile, we can wait for the Supreme Court to rule.

The Vietnam Service Medal


I received one for my service in Vietnam in 1971-72.

I’m 71 years old and one of the youngest recipients. There are only a few stragglers left who served in that war who aren’t drawing Social Security yet. Other than for service during the two days of Operation Frequent Wind in April, 1975, the last qualifying action for the Vietnam Service Medal took place on 28 January, 1973. It is highly unlikely that anyone who joined the military during or after 1972 would have been legitimately awarded the medal.

And in Other News …


President Trump spent a good part of this week focusing on foreign policy. He spent a couple of days at the UN, speaking to the General Assembly and chairing a meeting of the Security Council.

We were told at the start of the Trump administration that we were headed for a massive foreign policy disaster. I haven’t seen it yet. Neither has Savatore Babones who has a post up over at The National Interest titled Trump’s Foreign Policy Successes Show Principled Realism in Action. He notes that Trump has defied the resistance of Our Betters in the expert class and delivered significant results.

Yet Trump has overcome internal resistance and external pressure to deliver an as yet uninterrupted string of foreign-policy successes : North Korea’s “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un hasn’t launched a rocket in ten months; America’s NATO allies are finally starting to deliver on pledges to increase defense spending toward the 2 percent of GDP target agreed in 2006 ; Mexico has seemingly come to terms on long-overdue NAFTA reforms; the United States has stayed out of the Arab world’s interminable wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen; and the U.S. embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem in May without sparking the Third Intifada predicted by Trump’s opponents.

Perhaps just as important (from a U.S. perspective), America’s long-term enemies are nearly all on the run. The Russian economy is crumbling. The Venezuelan economy has crumbled. The Iranian economy, which boomed after the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, has come back down to earth since Trump took office, and stagnated since he pulled the United States out of the deal in May.

Trump’s success comes from his understanding of the true nature of America’s power. Yes, it’s true that we have have the strongest military force in the world, but the real power behind it comes from the infrastructure and the people and society supporting it. There’s much more to American power than armed force.

The secret to the Trump team’s success is its embrace of principled realism: in its simplest terms, the faith that America’s goals are just and American power should be exercised to support those goals. Since taking office a year and a half ago, Trump has forcefully applied American power—while avoiding his predecessors’ equation of power with military force. As a result, America is getting its way on the world stage, generally without putting American lives at risk to get it. That’s about as win-win as things come in international relations.

Read the whole thing.

Our Betters were wrong. Trump may not be doing everything right, but his track record in foreign policy is the best we’ve seen in decades.