Reckless Endangerment on the High Seas

By Stephen Bryen
 
The head of the US military’s Central Command, Gen Kenneth McKenzie is supporting the “flawed” Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal with Iran because ““When you deal with a security issue or a malign actor or nation, you are always better when the response is a collective response from a group of nations that come together,” the four-star general said.
 
By any measure this is a strange statement.  As the world’s leading superpower you don’t agree to something bad because your weak and irresolute allies want to jack up trade with Iran and undermine regional security in so doing.
 
Of course our allies have been doing business with Iran under the table for some time and General McKenzie, who almost certainly gets intelligence on the equipment smuggled into Iran, must know that our allies are not our friends when it comes to Iran.  Consider as the simplest example the German and Finnish and other European equipment that powers up Iran’s centrifuges.
 
We have known about this at least since Israel and the CIA tried to destroy Iran’s centrifuges using a special malware called Stuxnet. That was 11 years ago.  Did the US sanction the Germans? or the Finns?  or anyone else?
 
Not at all.  These were our friends and allies helping the Iranians build atomic weapons.  No matter.
 
McKenzie seems to think a flawed agreement is better than no agreement. Why have any agreement if it doesn’t work?  To appease allies?  To abandon a policy to deprive Iran of the wherewithal to finance its military expansion, rocket program and its nuclear ambitions through financial and trade sanctions?  It seems McKenzie doesn’t consider any of this useful or worth his time.
 
But it gets worse.
 
Commenting on US Coast Guard and US Navy ships being harassed “unprofessionally” by Iranian missile boats and other Iranian ships, McKenzie says that ““The activities we usually see from the IRGC navy are not necessarily activities directed by the supreme leader from the Iranian state, rather irresponsible actions by local commanders on scene.”
 
This is pure nonsense.  McKenzie has no idea how the Iranians make decisions about harassing US ships at sea.  He also forgets that the Iranian government publishes videos and pictures of our ships being harassed by Iranian swarming missile boats and by overhead drones filming the Iranian actions.  Logic says this is a government activity, not a Revolutionary Guard or local commanders operating independently.  There just isn’t any evidence to support this McKenzie argument he is using to cover up the fact that over three hours American warships were pushed around by heavily armed Iranian attack boats –with no attempt by our ships to clear the Iranians out, other then sounding their alert horns. The Iranians can say, and are saying to their people and anyone else who will listen, that the Iranians Navy is in control of the Persian Gulf.
 

Iran drone video of American carrier appears ‘years old,’ according to US Navy _ Al Arabiya English

 
McKenzie says “We are very careful so as not to get into a provocative cycle as a result of that. Luckily our guys are very good … and they’re able to de-escalate.”  In other words, message to the Mullahs –it is OK to push around the American Navy.  
 
What McKenzie does not say is that by hitting the air horns and burning out ship’s engines we are recklessly endangering our sailors.  Iran will up the ante and push even closer and more dangerous encounters because of the new US policy of “de-escalating.”
 
The good news, if there is any, is that today Fox New reports our navy fired warning shots at another round of Iranian harassment of our ships.  Ooh-rah.  
 
I don’t doubt McKenzie is under pressure to back the Biden administration’s “flawed” policy regarding Iran.  But would McKenzie say the same thing when a Chinese warship challenges one of our AEGIS cruisers or even one of our aircraft carriers?  I hope not.