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By Micah Halpern

Monday January 21, 2008


Was the glass half empty or was the glass half full? Was the United States displaying strength through restraint or did the United States reveal weakness through inaction? It all depends on your particular perspective.

The incident occurred two weeks ago. It happened in the Straits of Hormuz, the Gulf waters through which about 35% of the world's oil passes. It involved three United States war ships, a cruiser, a frigate and a destroyer and five blue, ultra light, ultra fast Iranian speedboats.

What were the United States ships doing in the Straits of Hormuz? They were patrolling the international waterway, protecting the waters, following the mandate placed upon the broad shoulders of the United States by the international community. And what were the Iranian boats doing there? They could have been doing anything, after all, the Straits of Hormuz hugs the long Iranian coastline. So what's the big deal?

The big deal is that the Iranian boats were aggressively invading the space of the American ships. The big deal is that the Iranian shipmen were teasing and taunting the American sailors. Goading them. Daring them.

And then the Iranian speedboats released little white boxes and propelled them in the direction of the US vessels and announced over loud speakers that they were coming to destroy them.

Were the little boxes bombs or were they simply little white boxes? Were the Iranians really about to blow the ships to kingdom come or where they just blowing hot air? The United States chose not to react. The United States simply announced over their own loud speakers that their mission was peaceful and that they were in international waters. The Iranians turned around as quickly as they arrived and left. The boxes bobbed in the water.

I ask again, was the glass half full or was it half empty?

The Iranians have specially designed their blue boats and specially trained the crews of the blue boats to create havoc in the Straits of Hormuz, an area they wish to have sole control over. The boat teams swarm and bomb. They are trained to attack oil tankers. Their intention is to destroy the status quo and rock the peaceful waters of the Straits, the water so crucial to the flow of so much of the world's oil supply.

This time the Iranians were sending a greeting to the American president as he was about to embark on his Middle East trip. A week earlier the Iranians sent a similar greeting, that time the response of the United States was to shoot over the bow of the blue boats.

All of these blue boats are manned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a group the United States has determined to be a terrorist organization.

Two weeks ago the United States sighed in relief. Thankfully, their vessels did not take the bait. Thankfully, they did not fall into the well-placed Iranian trap.

The Gulf nations gasped in disbelief. The United States, the great defender, the country responsible for keeping the Straits of Hormuz open to all and free for all, chose not to respond to a direct challenge from the enemy Iran. Once again, just as they had done with the release of the National Intelligence Estimate the United States showed weakness in the face of Iranian aggression. Their interpretation of events: The United States was powerless to act.

I ask again, half empty or half full? Did the United States respond with courage or with cowardice. It all depends on your perspective.

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4 June 2017 12:14 PM in Columns

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