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January 7, 2008

How Close Were We To War?

According to The Telegraph, we came within moments of open warfare with Iran. Iranian patrol boats harassed the US Navy in international waters in the Straits of Hormuz over the weekend. They dropped unknown objects in the water and sent a threat of attack over the radio, only dispersing as the commander of the American fleet gave orders to open fire:

A Pentagon spokesman revealed that five Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy boats harrassed and provoked three US ships in the narrow waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf at the weekend.

The Iranian craft came within 200 yards of the US vessels, which were sailing in international waters.

The Iranian provocations included disregarding warnings to pull back, dropping mysterious objects in the path of the US ships and a hostile radio transmission.

The Pentagon said a radio message warned: "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes."

Ten months ago, the Iranians tested British resolve in the Gulf, and came away with an important propaganda victory after capturing 15 Royal Navy sailors and marines. The UK did not engage in a military response, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave the Brits a "gift" by returning the captives.

Undoubtedly, Iran wanted to test American resolve, but could not isolate a small enough vessel to pursue a similar mission. Instead, they basically did a probe to see how far they could go before provoking an armed response. This information could prove useful for Iran's terrorist partners in Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad in the Gulf and elsewhere. It looks suspiciously like a dry run for a repeat of the USS Cole bombing in Aden seven years ago.

This cannot be allowed to happen again. The next time patrol boats approach American vessels and threaten attack, one of them has to head to the bottom of the gulf. If the Iranians want a test, we can provide them with one for emergency evac.


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