The world is holding its collective breath as the Steno Impero, a Chinese built, British Flagged, owned by a Swedish Company (Steno Bulk), licensed through a Create based LLC, operated by a Scotland based operations company and with a crew that does not include a single UK citizen tanker sits in an Iranian Port, having been seized by a paramilitary group in retaliation for the British seizure of the Panamanian tanker, Grace 1, which is sitting in Gibraltar.
Got all that?
Now the UK is sending naval assets to the Persian Gulf to “show the flag” to Iran, while the US is asking other naval powers to assist us in guarding the Straights of Hormuz from what is essentially piracy by using naval force, all while reminding Teheran that we could – at any moment – wipe them off the map, but probably not before they launch whatever nefarious weapons they may or may not have at Israel, which neither owns nor flags any of the tankers involved.
So how does all this weirdness happen? Why is it so confusing?
Like most things, it started here in the United States, for reasons that will make sense to you as soon as you hear them. It – the practice of convenience flagging of ships – continues today because despite what you might intuitively think, there are advantages to having it be as totally confusing as is possible.
On Friday, the President said that he called off a retaliatory strike against Iran with just “ten minutes to spare.” Ostensibly the strike (or strikes?) were in response to the Iranian shooting down of an American reconnaissance drone and the recent attack on two oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, which the Administration is convinced were conducted by Iranian naval forces.
In his Tweets* the President expressed concern that as many as one hundred and fifty people could die in the strike(s) and that this cost was not “in proportion” to the shooting down of an unmanned drone. Given that, he called off the attack with minutes to spare and announced that he would try diplomatic pressure to resolve the issue.
Depending on what Media you consume, this was either a foolish thing for the President to do, or it was outrageous or a growing corner of the interwebs feels that his statement is hyperbole. Some mock the “no people on board” comments without context; others praise his discretion and willingness to back away from the abyss.
So where does all of this leave us?
I spent the weekend waiting for one specific piece of information that I believe would confirm or disprove my thoughts on the matter. That specific piece of data never – or at least not yet – has not been made available. That missing point has me wondering about the whole adventure. Frankly, I believe that there was a strike laid on and it was called off at a very late – possibly the last possible – moment.
On Saturday, it was announced that with the Presidents personal approval (just let it rattle around your head for a second), the US was (or had) conducted significant cyberattacks on Iran, specifically targeting their C3 systems that control their anti-air missile defense systems.
That leaves me with more questions than answers and much wondering about what is going to happen next…
*A week ago I told you that the Press Secretary is no longer needed. The Presidents handling of the calling off of the Iran Strike(s) via Twitter supports my hypothesis.
Now that the President has junked US participation in the Iranian Nuclear Deal, maybe the Talking Heads that inform so many on both sides of what their opinion is will take a few moments and find out what exactly was in the agreement in the first place? At the end of the day, what will actually change? Will it be for the better or worse? Is it realistic that Iran could get the Bomb?
The LDS church has announced that it will disassociate itself from the Organization formerly known as the Boy Scouts of America. Look, I was never a Boy Scout (disclosure, I was a Cub Scout and a Webelo), nor am I a Mormon, so maybe I’m not the best person to comment on this. But I have enough experience with both to have an opinion. Two Organizations headed in opposite directions, although that wasn’t the initial intention.