Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Iran's Gambit in the Strait of Hormuz: "Don't Do It" Again

Those Iranian speedboats that Iran says didn't do anything unusual in the Strait of Hormuz weren't blown out of the water. As it turns out, the American Navy's commanders' decision not to open fire was the right one.

Next time, the outcome could be different.

America's President Bush said that "all options are on the table" when protecting U.S. ships. About the boats: They "were very provocative and it was a dangerous gesture on their part. ... And they know our position, and that is: There will be serious consequences if they attack our ships, pure and simple. And my advice to them is don't do it."

President Bush's "don't do it" is quite blunt, direct, even monosyllabic. Particularly with a presidential election going on, I'd say it won't be long before someone says "cowboy diplomacy."

Wikipedia's definition of cowboy diplomacy, "a term used by critics to describe the resolution of international conflicts through brash risk-taking, intimidation, military deployment, or a combination of such tactics," is a pretty good fit with President Bush's statement. Apart from the "brash" part, in my opinion.

Diplomacy, in the form of interminable speeches, discussions of what shape a conference table should be, and exquisitely-worded letters, is a valuable tool for resolving differences.

But, that sort of diplomacy has its limitations. It seems to work best, when all parties in a dispute share a commitment to compromise and the peaceful resolution of disagreements.

With "death to Israel! Death to America!" Iran in the mix, I don't place much confidence in the gentile end of diplomacy. There's too great a chance that what gets dropped overboard the next time will be explosive, and not Sunday's harmless boxes.

I'd say that, right now, the Strait of Hormuz is a place better suited to the diplomacy that uses phrases like, "step away from the gun!"
Despite my views on the use of force as a diplomatic tool, I have a great deal of respect for pacifists. It takes a rare sort of courage to reject physical confrontation, and accept
  • Defeat
  • Death
  • The destruction of cherished
    • Objects
    • People
    • Institutions
    • Laws and customs
I feel that pacifism is a philosophy which will thrive: as long as there are non-pacifists to defend its followers.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.