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
- The destruction of cherished
- Laws and customs