I’ve had occasion before to mention the maxim of my late teacher of international affairs, Harold Rood, that “nothing happens for no good reason.” (By the way, there’s a brand new book out about Rood’s idiosyncratic method of understanding international affairs: You Run the Show or the Show Runs You: Capturing Harold W. Rood’s Strategic Thought for a New Generation, by J.D. Crouch II and Patrick J. Garrity. More about this later on perhaps.)
This maxim comes to mind in thinking about the Iranian seizure yesterday of the Marshall Islands-flagged MV Maersk Tigris freighter in the Persian Gulf. (A good and detailed non-MSM account of what actually went down can be found here.) The typical superficial media reports suggest that a “faction” of Iranian “hard-liners” is behind the move as a way of derailing the putative U.S.-Iran nuclear pact, or is a calculated reaction to the U.S. interdicting Iranian arms shipments to Yemen.
Neither of these scenarios is plausible. The idea that there is a “faction” inside Iran with the latitude to engage in an operation like this unauthorized by the highest levels of the Iranian government is ludicrous. More likely is the possibility that in fact Iran’s leaders authorized the seizure because they really don’t want a nuclear agreement, which may help explain the underwhelming reaction of our State Department. Better still is the simple possibility that they want to test the U.S. and its allies in the region to see whether we’ll do anything serious about it.
When Iran harassed shipping and placed mines in the Persian Gulf back in the late 1980s, Ronaldus Magnus responded in force, reflagging foreign tankers under the U.S. flag and sending in a heavy navy presence. Anyone think President OBambi is up for this?
UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Finnish navy is tracking, and firing “warning shot” depth charges, at an unidentified submarine in its waters. Gee—I wonder where it could possibly have come from? Kind of seems like all the world’s bad actors are reconstituting SPECTRE on account of western (that is, American) weakness. As Churchill said of Attlee, “When the mouse is away, the cats will play.”