Iran to US: “Please to sink our navy!”

Posted by: Phineas on December 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Time for more blustering from the millenarian loons who run Iran. This time, it’s yet another threat to close the Straits of Hormuz if the world imposes more sanctions on Iran. It’s not a threat to laugh off; more than 15,000,000 barrels of oil per day from Gulf nations (not just Iran) pass through them on their way to the West and other destinations. As The Telegraph reminds us, that’s about one-third of all the oil shipped every day. Cutting it off would be disastrous for industrial economies, and this map shows that closing the Straits wouldn’t be that difficult:

(Click for a larger version.)

Anyway, Iran is upset that Western nations, lead by the Great Satan (that’s us), are considering sanctions aimed at their oil exports. In reply, they’ve threatened that, to paraphrase, “if our oil doesn’t get out, no one’s does:”

Iran’s navy chief said Wednesday that it would be “very easy” for his country’s forces to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passage at the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which about 15 million barrels of oil pass daily. It was the second such warning by Iran in two days, reflecting Tehran’s concern that the West is about to impose new sanctions that could hit the country’s biggest source of revenue, oil.

“Iran has comprehensive control over the strategic waterway,” Adm. Habibollah Sayyari told state-run Press TV, as the country was in the midst of a 10-day military drill near the strategic waterway.

To which the offices of our Fifth Fleet, based in the Gulf, said “oh, really?

“The free flow of goods and services through the Strait of Hormuz is vital to regional and global prosperity,” said a spokeswoman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. “Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated.”

That, Dear Readers, is polite Navy-talk for “bring it.”

Now, I’m not minimizing the potential for danger in such a situation; the Navy itself war-gamed such a situation in 2002 and the results were scary. But that was ten years ago, and I’ve no doubt Navy planners have been working on ways to counter Iran’s expected swarming attacks. We’re not as incompetent as we sometimes like to think, and neither is the (latest) enemy as tough as he likes to pretend. (In fact, the mullahs have a history of backing down when confronted by force.)

Freedom of the seas is one of the oldest and most enduring principles of American foreign policy, and, as a commercial republic dependent on foreign trade and free passage for our ships, we’ve several times shown ourselves willing to go to war to prevent a hostile power from threatening that freedom. Indeed, we’ve faced and taken down nations a lot tougher than Iran. Ask Japan about it, sometime.

So, I have a message for the medieval lunatics rulers of Iran:

Go ahead, try to block the Straits. Send out your swarms of suicide boats and loft your planes with their missiles. You’ll certainly disrupt traffic and you may close the Straits for a few days. You may even sink a couple of our ships. Go ahead, high five each other and shout “Allahu akbar” to your hearts’ content. Enjoy it while you can.

Because, I guarantee you this: within a week, the USN will have cleared the Straits and sunk every single ship you have, including Admiral Sayyari’s dinghy. Not only that, but your planes will be shot down, your missile launchers destroyed, and your own naval bases reduced to rubble. The oil will flow again, and you will have nothing to show for it but ruin and humiliation.

As they used to say on an old TV show, No brag, just fact.

via Jammie-Wearing Fools

PS: This situation also points out why the next president, assuming he’s a Republican and a sensible adult, in both cases unlike our current fourth-greatest president ever, should as one of his first acts unclog the exploration and drilling permitting process the Obama administration has so gummed up. We are sitting on vast resources.

PPS: Yeah, I know. Obama does not exactly have a sterling record of defending American interests abroad. But, in this case, I argue he would have to act or see his reelection chances destroyed.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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14 Responses to “Iran to US: “Please to sink our navy!””


  1. Michael Wiley says:

    I enjoyed reading a direct quote in response to the Iranian threat coming form a female Naval officer.

  2. jussayin' says:

    If Iran goes that route, I’m guessing Obummer will have the second hardest decision of his pResidency, the first still being his delay of his Hawaii vacation this year.

    This is something that many countries would join in with. Though I wonder if Obummer would “lead from behind” as he did in the attacks against Gadaffi.

    Then again, if Ron Paul were to get the nomination, he wouldn’t go in either.

  3. Yes, we will sink their navy and shoot down anything they put in the skies as well. but in the meantime insurance rates for tankers will skyrocket and the price at the pump will skyrocket as well. And since just about all production of everything depends in some part on a petroleum product, the economy as a whole will take a big hit.

    And the Iranian Navy (both of them; the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy) can hit us with a lot more than just speedboats. Those waters around the Strait of Hormuz is awfully narrow, and they’ve been very busy installing those shore-based Silkworms.

    Sure, we will most likely win, but it’ll be a lot more messy than Operation Praying mantis in 1988.

    This is not to say we should not be afraid of a war with Iran. Quite the contrary, we will likely have to preemptively strike them to derail their nuclear program. Rather just that we should go into it wide-eyed.

  4. Dana says:

    And you are expecting President Obama to display more backbone and resolve in the face of an Iranian threat than, say, President Carter did?

    President Carter could have gotten our people out in 72 hours if he had just told the Ayatollah Khoumeini, “If our citizens are not on their way out of Iran, safe an unharmed, within three days, they will be regarded as the unfortunate American casualties in the strikes which turned Tehran and Qom into radioactive black holes in the ground, and meant it. He would have won re-election easily.

    President Obama, to counter the Iranian threat, should use the concept of asymmetry himself: since such a closure would be an attack on all of Western industry, it would be regarded as an act of war, and the United States would respond in kind, destroying Iran’s infrastructure and government, and not simply restrict its defense efforts to the straits themselves.

  5. H Hazell says:

    I’ve no doubt the 5th Fleet can easily herd the Iranian Navy to a suitable place for sinking it such that no hazard to navigation will occur.

  6. Tex says:

    The U.S. may not be the most successful at rebuilding a broken country, but the U.S. military is second to none for destroying a country, its government, and its military, in a matter of a few weeks.

    Ahmadinejad has far, far more to lose by actually going ahead with his insane threat than he has to gain.

    He might succeed in slowing or stopping the flow of oil for a few days or weeks and drive the price of oil up temporarily. But in the long run, the devastation that the U.S. military would reek on Iranian naval, air force, and army assets would be unrecoverable for the Iranians for decades to come.

    And not to mention, the sudden loss of Iranian military assets might allow the Iranian population to finally overcome a precipitous weakening of Iranian government infrastructure.

    I guess we’ll see if Ahmadinejad really is a stupid as he looks and sounds in the next few months.

  7. H Hazell says:

    Dana, Obama’s concept of asymetric warfare is left hand in pocket, raise right hand and softly say, “present.”

  8. H Hazell says:

    If our intelligence determines that Iran has no suitable stockpile of gasoline, we can probably consider this a bluff.

  9. Carlos says:

    In this discussion everyone (except HHazell) is assuming Obhammud has a choice in whether to retaliate with Iran. That is simply not the case.

    If, as has been pointed out, the oil supply is disrupted, the costs of everything would skyrocket and the entire world (including China and India) would be plunged into a full-bore depression, and Duh-1’s chances of re-election would be near nil.

    Knowing that his re-election is multiple times more important than any other factor, especially national security, what makes anyone anywhere think he would do that and jeopardize any chance of re-election? He’s got to keep his priorities straight here, ya know, and since when has national security, jobs, the economy or anything else been more important than keeping his constant campaigning/vacation job?

  10. Tex and H Hazell need to reread the post, especially the link to the NYT article. What we don’t need is mindless overconfidence.

    Carlos has an insightful comment and I think he nails it precisely.

  11. Great White Rat says:

    I’m also of the same mind here as Carlos. If this had occured 12 months ago, the Mullahs might have had more success with this threat. They’d posture and make demands, and Obama would immediately start bowing to them and grant most, if not all, the concessions they want.

    But 2012 is an election year. Obama has no positive domestic accomplishments to run on, so he’d like nothing more than to pretend he’s George Patton and order a quick strike on the Iranian navy. That would help his re-election chances, and really, isn’t that the only thing that’s important to him?

  12. Great White Rat says:

    Actually, it occurs to me that Obama wouldn’t order the strike against the Iranian navy. He’d have Leon Panetta do it. That way, if it succeeded, Obama could scurry back from the golf course and take credit (like he did with the bin Laden assault) and if it failed he’d have a scapegoat to take the blame.

  13. Tango says:

    Forget the idea of a fleet confrontation (ours vs theirs) – that is most unlikely.

    The Strait is a choke point, and plays to the notion of a suicide boat. The Iranian admiral-in-chief (whose name I can’t recall) let this slip. Blast one or two VLCC’s in a suicide operation and they’ll burn for who knows how long. Their keels would then presume to rest on the bottom of the shallow Strait, and effectively block traffic. It would take an unprecedented salvage effort (not to mention a very long time) to clear the area and thus enable traffic again.

    Meanwhile, the oil markets soar. Actually “go crazy” is more like it. $200/bbl would seem like a bargain. And the longer the Strait remained blocked, the worse it would be. $400/bbl? $500/bbl? There’s no telling.

  14. Carlos says:

    $200, $400, $500/barrel? Now THAT’S talking the Prez’s language! He’ll go for that sure as shootin’!

    Problem is, he won’t go for it until AFTER the election, and by that time all our Kumbaya singers that voted for him will rationalize that our “peace” prez just couldn’t help but go to war, but he surely tried to avoid it. Until the election was over, anyway. They’ll rationalize this just like they rationalize his associating with a known accessory to murder, with a “preacher” who calls for the downfall of what just happens to be the country Duh-1 is CEO of (at least right now), and who is prodding his AG to have criminals shoot up at least the entire southwest (with guns HE supplied), not to mention all of Mexico, so he can get rid of the only thing holding the government off the backs of the citizens, the Second Amendment.

    Sounds like a great path to a solid dictatorship to me.