Caught With Our Pants Down in the Gulf

The official story of those captured US sailors makes no sense

Your bullshit-ometer should be making an awful racket in response to the shifting explanations given for the twenty-four-hour Iranian hostage scare involving two US Navy boats intercepted in the Gulf.

First they told us “at least one of the boats” had experienced a “mechanical failure.” Then they said the boats had run out of fuel, although it wasn’t clear if they meant both boats. Then they said “there was no mechanical problem.” Then they claimed that the two crews had somehow not communicated with the military command, although “they could not explain how the military had lost contact with not one but both of the boats.” As the New York Times reported:

“Even as Mr. Kerry was describing the release on Wednesday morning, American military officials were offering new explanations about how the two 49-foot patrol boats, formally called riverine command boats, had ended up in Iranian territorial waters while cruising from Kuwait to Bahrain.”

And they still haven’t explained it – or any of the other distinctly odd circumstances surrounding this incident.

The best they could do was have an anonymous Navy officer aver “When you’re navigating in those waters, the space around it gets pretty tight.” However, as the Times put it:

“But that is hardly a new problem, and the boats’ crews would almost surely have mapped out their course in advance, paying close attention to the Iranian boundary waters. And each boat has radio equipment on board, so it was unclear how the crews suddenly lost communication with their base unless they were surrounded by Iranian vessels before they could alert their superiors.”

We are told they were on a “training mission” – but what kind of mission? TheWashington Post adds a helpful detail by telling us that “The vessels, known as riverine command boats, are agile and often carry Special Operations forces into smaller bodies of water.”

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

Amid all the faux outrage coming from the neocons and their enablers in the media over the alleged “humiliation” of the US – Iran “paraded” the sailors in their media! They made one of the sailors apologize! The Geneva Conventions were violated! – hardly anyone in this country is asking the hard questions, first and foremost: what in heck were those two boats doing in Iranian waters?

And if you believe they somehow “drifted” within a few miles of Farsi Island, where a highly sensitive Iranian military base is located, then you probably think there’s a lot of money just waiting for you in a Nigerian bank account.

Anyone who thinks the adversarial relationship between Washington and Tehran has turned into “détente” due to the nuclear deal is living in Never-Never Land. Our close ally, Saudi Arabia, has all but declared war on the Iranians and that means we are being dragged into the rapidly escalating conflict. In this context, two US military boats coming a mile and a half away from a major Iranian base in the Gulf isn’t an accident. This ‘training mission” was a military incursion, and although we have no way of knowing what mission the US hoped to accomplish, suffice to say that it wasn’t meant to be a kumbaya moment.

Rachel Maddow is also raising questions about this: after a load of nonsense about how showing the sailors on Iranian media violated the Geneva Conventions – they didn’t: we aren’t at war with Iran yet – she pointed out the suspicious nature of the Pentagon’s shifting story during her January 13 broadcast.

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