As attempts to resurrect limits on Iranian abilities to enrich uranium, Trump sought to ratchet up pressure–even if he held back from staging an outright military attack–by raising the tensions around the incursions in airspace, and the raising the question of who was in control of this unfortunate situation, or testing who was, and threatening a basis for military action. Pompeo’s statements that America “doesn’t war” and that “we are there to promote aggression” was paired with the assertion that America would retaliate if necessary, as if seeking to maintain control over the traffic of oil in the Gulf that might so dangerously affect energy prices, and indeed create the specter of xOil tanker attacks raise fear of a surge-in-global-energy-prices as Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz as a shipping channel, prompting the plans for American military escorts to accompany all tankers in a region through which 18 million barrels of oil passed last year, making the notion of a lack of access capable of provoking a rise in energy prices that would bring global recession.
The Saudi and other tankers struck by mines were clearly in international waters, but Americans provided only the grainiest of videos to prove their point. The American drones were ostensibly patrolling for any similar sort of attacks seem to have entered Iranian airspace, and perhaps hence without identifying colors. They seem to have done so confident in their ability to fly far above Iranian airspace in “Global Hawk” drones able to navigate at 65,000 feet, the Tesla of drones costing over $100 mill apiece–and remember we just lost one–without popping up on Iranian radar. What they were looking for seems less the point than that their remotely located pilots seem to have been given incorrect assurances that the drones would be out of Iranian reach, as if they maintained the upper hand with such costly and high-level aeronautic skills as a way of taunting Irani or asserting their superior ability to provide intelligence of any future attempted attacks on tankers that might prevent further fuels from being destroyed.
Or so they thought. The problems of patrolling other tankers in the Gulf of Oman probably led the remote pilots to be looking primarily at the shore, which they no doubt hugged to get a clearer picture of what was going on ashore, that they may have very well taken their eyes of the airspace violation that the Iranian’s seem to have seen. The positions of tankers that were targeted by Iranian-supported rebels that interfered with transporting fuels from the Persian Gulf has heightened tensions, at the same time as shipping petrochemicals across the Persian Gulf or Gulf of Oman was not a forgone affair. The problem of not evaluating these attacks in a critical way, or reporting news that will favor military engagement, is increasingly apparent, however, as the American government releases alleged intelligence that incriminate Iran.
American intelligence sources give potentially less than a year for Iran’s government, of course, and with the nuclear treaty scrapped, we seem to be facing the threat of Iran’s production of sufficient explosive fuel for a nuclear device in coming years. The lack of any obstacles imposed by a nuclear accord in “break-out time” that the accord Trump deemed a “disaster” provided, and lack of clarity of what sort of constraints or ultimatum “deterrence” would include, seems to be a huge danger to hasty over-interpretation of the maps suggesting the targeting of American drones that would label the Revolutionary Front irresponsible. There is an apparent sense of a lack of a fall-back plan, as David Sanger has suggested, save ratcheting tensions and heightening Iranian panic amidst threats of military action.
The notion that such rhetorical strong-arming would provoke changes or alternation in their nuclear policy which Trump had scrapped seems to have little logic, save to reveal his determination to show that he, the American President, had saved the world from Armageddon: his own abilities to create a new deal by bringing American commercial ties to Iran that would enrich the nation don’t seem to be working, and a language of intimidation not the best means to arrive at renegotiation, if it is a preferred one for this U.S. President. Without any sense of how to reach a deal, or what it might be, Trump only offers more threats and unbiased charges, and fails to grasp that threats of conflict won’t provoke interest on renegotiating nuclear proliferation, but only leave Iran even more protective of its ability to guard its shores, and fearful of American tenaciousness to try to assert its prerogatives over the Persian Gulf.
One response to “Gulfs of Meaning”
I love all this. There are map people and non-map people, and I’ve definitely become one of the former!