From the first days of his administration, Barack Obama has sought to promote an alliance of sorts between the U.S. and Iran’s mullahs, and to build Iran up as a regional power. It is not hard to imagine what the Iranians thought of Obama’s repeated overtures. You might think the mullahs would show some gratitude for the $100 billion (or whatever the amount has turned out to be) that the administration gratuitously released as part of the nuclear deal. But no: they are as hostile as ever.
This week, there have been at least three incidents in which Iranian boats have harassed U.S. ships in international waters. The first was on Tuesday, when four Iranian patrol boats approached the USS Nitze, a destroyer, at high speed, coming dangerously close even though the Nitze “fired 10 warning flares, sounded its ship whistles and tried unsuccessfully to communicate with the Iranian boats a dozen times.”
This short video, released by the Navy, shows the patrol boats buzzing the destroyer:
The following day, there reportedly were two more encounters between American ships in international waters and Iranian vessels. The more serious involved two American ships, the USS Squall and the USS Tempest:
The USS Squall and the USS Tempest, two American coastal patrol ships, were transiting the Persian Gulf on Wednesday, when the U.S. said an Iranian vessel harassed the ships. According to a U.S. defense official, the Iranian craft was at one point going head-to-head with the USS Tempest and coming within 200 yards of the American patrol craft. The Iranian ship didn’t respond to radio calls.
The aggressive behavior of the Iranian vessel prompted the USS Squall to fire three warning shots with its .50-caliber gun and the USS Tempest to fire three warning flares, according to the official, who said the Iranian vessel then turned away.
The same Iranian vessel also approached the USS Stout, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, in the region on Wednesday, crossing the American destroyer’s bow on three separate occasions in what the U.S. Navy deemed an unsafe intercept, the U.S. defense official said. The USS Stout changed its course to avoid a collision, the official said.
I don’t know how to interpret these multiple incidents except as deliberate and brazen expressions of contempt for the United States. $100 billion will pay for a lot of patrol boats, so presumably we can expect more such encounters. One would think that at some point we will need to go beyond changing course and firing warning shots, but perhaps that day will never come. In any event, these incidents are more evidence, if more were needed, that President Obama’s attempted rapprochement with Iran has been one of the most total foreign policy failures of modern times.