Thursday, June 13, 2019

What's Arabic for "C. Turner Joy"?

Here's the problem.
It may very well be possible that Iranian assets are striking oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

It is definitely likely that the Trump Administration would lie about whether that is possible or probable, or both, or neither.

That's the drawback of letting your system foist an incorrigible liar and a coterie of New Gilded Age grifters into the highest executive offices; you then don't know whether you can trust them not to lie you into a shooting war.

If the administrations of Kennedy and Johnson - that were staffed with genuinely intelligent and experienced foreign policy players - lied us into Vietnam, and the Lesser Bush administration - that was crock-full of wingnuts, imperial fantasists, outright kooks, as well as the Stupidest Man on the Face of the Earth - lied us into Iraq, I sure as hell don't trust THESE gomers not to lie us into some sort of idiotic whack-a-Persian blood hunt based on some sort of moron idea that it'd take normal humans smoking a full ounce of prime weed then drinking two cans of sterno and a half-rack of Old English 800 to come up with.

I sure as hell hope the rest of my countrymen aren't stupid enough to let the Trumpkins play this game.

And goddamn if it's not time to repeal that #@!%$!#! AUMF.

Update 6/14: The lies have already begun:
"The Japanese owner of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, said Friday that sailors on board saw "flying objects" just before it was hit, suggesting the vessel wasn't damaged by mines. That account contradicts what the U.S. military said as it released a video Friday it said shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the two ships that were hit. Company president Yutaka Katada said Friday he believes the flying objects seen by the sailors could have been bullets. He denied any possibility of mines or torpedoes because the damage was above the ship's waterline. He called reports of a mine attack "false."
As Sven points out in the comments, The U.S. hasn't been an honest player in the field of foreign policy for a long time, and this administration is a more prolific and consistent liar than most of the previous ones.

IMO this is a patently crude attempt between the Trumpkins and their Saudi pals to gin up a casus belli. If the US public and Congress falls for it, well, as a well-known foreign policy expert once said: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...won't get fooled again!"

And Jim Wright, as he often does, is asking the question that EVERY news agency should be asking: "Cui bono?".

Who would benefit from a US-Iran dustup? Especially one that would, as it inevitably would, raise the price of petroleum?


Update 6/26:

"Strategy? I don't need no steenkin' strategy? I have guns! I take YOUR strategy!"

What a fucking maroon.


  1. I'm amazed at the minimum damage both this time and on the previous attacks in Maynear the Omani port of Fujairah. It is almost like the perp is holding back - not wanting to sink any tankers, but just send a message.

    Could these messages be directly from Supreme Leader Khamenei? If so, why?.

    Or could they be from rogue elements of the Quds Force? Then why not sink one of the targets instead of pussyfooting around? Incompetence, or subtlety?

    Or are they false flag attacks as Khamenei claims?

    1. If the Iranian government is doing this directly, they are utter fools. I doubt they are fools, or, at least, they are fools with a healthy respect for the damage a rage-drunk Trump Administration can do them.

      This could be some IRGC element trying to provoke Trump. It could be the Saudis. It could be some takfiri jihadi group. Who the hell knows? The disaster that the armed fuckery of the Israelis and the US between them has inflicted on the Middle East make this like a locked room mystery where an entire battalion of commandos is locked in the room with the victim; it's damn near impossible to cut down the field of suspects to a manageable size.

    2. Fujairah is an Emirati port, NOT Omani. My bad!

  2. The U.S. hasn't been trustworthy on such issues for about sixty years. We have evidence that clear lying by the U.S. Navy began at the very latest in the 1980's, in matters relating to Iran.

    I have attempted to ID the boat (compared to Iranian and Saudi types), but found no match.
    A website
    has a candidate, but it's no real match, either.

    I cannot see why the Iranians would do such half-assed attacks at all. Prince Bonesaw is a much more plausible origin of such attacks. The location is a bit far out for small boats of this size (in the video) operating from Saudi-Arabia, though. They would need a mothership.

    Now there are additional issues:
    - Shaped charges create a typical star-like scratch pattern on the outside. Nothing like this was visible to me on the damaged tanker pics.
    - report of incoming missile does not reconcile with limpet mine use
    - limpet mine that can be recovered like that would need to have electromagnets, which makes little sense. Why not simply set the electromagnets on a timer? That would eliminate the need to recover the dud evidence.
    - limpet mines were invented for below waterline use (else it's a petard)

    BTW, it's no "false flag" op without a "flag". ;-)

  3. I'm not ready to say that it wasn't Iran that did the attacks. Jury is still out IMHO. Curious that the Kokuka Courageous was shipping Saudi crude, and the Front Altair was shipping Emirati crude.

    In any case, it is not in the interests of either Iran or the US to restart the Tanker War that was fought in 1987/1988. 450 ships were attacked there in the worlds most important oil artery - about 20.5M barrels/day, one third of total seaborne tanker traffic. That war only stopped when Iran and Iraq finally accepted a peace deal. I am sure that 5th Fleet, and CentCOM also, have been gaming various strategies for keeping the oil flowing despite IRGCN hybrid tactics, swarm boats, and mobile shorebased anti-ship missiles, etc; but another fracas is still going to send prices sky-high.

  4. Sven -

    I was also wondering why anyone would place limpet mine above the water line. Time restraints? Incompetence? Intent to get headlines but not to sink? I like #3.

    I'm not sure what to make of Kokuka crew sighting of "flying object". Any more news on that?

  5. Regarding the typical scratch marks of HEAT; here are examples that are especially obvious (because the armour was relatively soft aluminium alloy):

    A shaped charge limpet mine would leave marks behind that could be found and documented in port. A small missile that penetrated, then exploded would cause a very different damage especially on the inside (much wider damage zone) and no such scratch marks at all.

    Dedicated modern anti-ship missiles use multi-EFP warheads, which shoot recoverable EFP slugs in dozens of directions inside - with flying paths that could be documented.

    An investigation of the damage is so extremely promising that everyone should wait with judgment until it's completed.

  6. Regardless of who the perpetrator is I have to agree with longtime naval blogger 'Commander Salamander' on this issue:

    "No American citizens were harmed. No American ships were involved. Neither American territory nor American waters were involved. No cargo was headed to America."

    Ergo, this is not an American problem.

    1. Yeah, what I didn't mention was how much I am annoyed that German media report that a German ship was attacked. They lied.

      A German ship is a ship that flies the German flag. I don't give a shit about who owns the ship. Bayer owns Monsanto, that doesn't make Monsanto a German company.
      The crews of such ships are Filippino et cetera, at most the officers are Europeans.

      They shall call the navies of Panama and the Marshall islands for help, those tax- and regulations-dodging shipping companies!

  7. Sven -

    Pretty shady. The Panamanian flagged "Front Adair" had a crew of one Georgian, 11 Filippinos, and 11 Russians. Owner, Frontline Ltd, was reported as Norwegian, but they operate out of Bermuda with a British CEO and German CFO. Largest stockholder is Hemen Holding Ltd in Limassol Cyprus. Hemen is probably a front for the founder who was born in Norway, but abandoned his Norwegian citizenship to become a Cypriot.

    So maybe Frontline Ltd should also call on the Bermudan and Cypriot navies to protect their shipping. They have 62 tankers.

    1. Kokuka Courageous (Panamese flag) is supposedly owned by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), but at least one website claims Kokuka Sangyo is the owner.

      Seriously, I hate this privatise the profits, socialise the risks thing.

      They fly a foreign flag to dodge German taxation/fees and German regulations - so they should not expect anything from us. Moreover, our stupid media should refrain from playing the emotional angle in their infotainment by claiming that it's one of our ships when it clearly isn't.

    2. Does Bernhard Schulte even have a fleet? From what I can find they provide services for shipowners but are not owners themselves. And like Frontline LTD they are based all over the world - UK, Cyprus, Singapore, China, India. Plus crew service & training centers in 14 countries.

      Per Maritime Insurance News the Kokuka Courageous is owned by Coral Island Maritime SA and under the care of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement of Singapore. Kokuka Sangyo and Coral Island Maritime appear to be the same company.

  8. This discussion highlights one of the little-mentioned aspects of whatever-you-want-to-call offshoring or globalization; the utter collapse of Western merchant fleets. I can hardly think of a business that has so completely vanished from Europe or North America. Outside of the handful of contract vessels retained to transport U.S. Army cargoes, is there even a U.S.-flagged container ship or tanker anywhere on the world's oceans? British? German?

    We were talking about convoying the other day. In a hypothetical naval war of 2025 the crews of the future PQ-17 would be Bangadeshi, Indonesian, and Sri Lankan. Dunno how enthusiastic they would be to buy war bonds...

    1. I looked it up. From about 17% of the global merchant fleet in 1960 U.S.-flagged vessels have steadily declined; the percentage dropped below 1% in 2003, and has hovered steadily around about 0.5% since 2013.

    2. The British still have about 3% of global tonnage. Germany about 2%. But British-owned vessels flying Panamanian or Liberian flags add about another 3%.

      The big player? No shock - Panama with nearly a quarter, then the EU with about 20% and Liberia with about 10%...

    3. The merchant marines of WWII enjoyed kind of free government insurance when convoying for the war effort. Today's merchant marines could be reflagged in a few weeks.

      The issue is rather that no navy of the world pays more than (sometimes boastful and outright lying) lip service to securing maritime trade lanes.
      It was recently made public that the USN doesn't even have the assets to escort the U.S.'s own strategic sealift fleet.
      That's in part an issue rooted in the retardation of warship cruise speeds; cargo ships cruise at 23...27 kts, warships hardly ever faster than 20 kts. Few if any escorts could cross the Atlantic at 23 kts in a straight line and towed sonars don't cope well with such speeds anyway.
      (I kind of wrote about that a couple times.)

      So the flags are but an accounting issue. The naval escort shortfall isn't, and the decline of American shipbuilding (Croatia and Poland are bigger shipbuilding countries than the U.S.) isn't one either. Shipbuilding happens almost exclusively in PRC, South Korea and Japan.
      (I wrote about that repeatedly.)

    4. You could reflag the ships. Good luck getting the crews to sign on to sailing into a US/UK-versus-Iran (or whoever) naval engagement. Not something that as a patriotic Bengali I'd be all up for.

      So it's not just shipbuilding, it's sailors. There really IS no significant "merchant marine" in the US anymore. Even if the US had the technical capability to put shipyards back online, there'd be no American crews to sail them...

    5. The crews are mostly poor Filipinos and similar 3rd world nationals. You bribe them into working. There are hundreds of thousands of them - you only need to convince a couple ten thousand.

      Those unsinkable rescue boats that drop bow ahead into the water offer an excellent chance of survival even in the event of a torpedo hit (except maybe for those who work on the forward deck or in engine room).

    6. The historical examples of trying to use poorly motivated wage-slaves in war are fairly unpromising.

      Which doesn't mean that the Western navies wouldn't try them...

    7. "wage-slaves" doesn't quite fit.
      AFAIK Filippino seamen are middle class by Filippino standards, and would turn upper class if they accept such wartime work. "Non-combat mercenaries" would fit.

  9. Seems the Brits are worried about the Royal Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. The Brits have at least six ships there nominally based in Bahrein: five in the 9th Mine Countermeasures Squadron plus the frigate HMS Montrose. Apparently they plan to send 100 Royal Marines of 42 Commando to the gulf as a rapid reaction force to protect those ships. The claim though is that this was planned log ago as a training mission and is not in response to the Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair incident.

    42 Commando will also protect any of the 500 hulls of the Merchant Fleet registered in the UK that are in that area. Or possibly any of the 1500 ships either directly UK-owned, parent-owned or managed by a British company that are foreign registered.

    1. 42 Commando is a weird choice. The Royal Marines or SBS would be a better fit.

    2. 42 Commando are bootnecks.

  10. @SO: Oh, I think you got confused by the nomenclature. Royal Marines are commando trained Royal Navy soldiers and 42 Commando is one of the 3 regular commando units of the Royal Marines. They rotate through 3 levels of alertness every 6 months for Special Operation missions and form the 3 COmmando Brigade with other units of the Royal Marines, the British army and Korps Mariniers.

    1. I seem to have misunderstood 42 Commando for one of the Para regiments. British regiment names are confusing.

  11. Sven -

    I would bet that an SBS detachment is already in the Gulf. Perhaps previously snooping around Jask, Bandar Abbas, or the various IRGCN-controlled islands near the Strait.

  12. The Trumpkins are really ramping up the noise machine for war. Not sure what they hope to do or how they think it will work, but they sure seem to want to do it.

  13. Tankers are still underway through the Strait. The Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair incidents have not slowed down the shipping of oil out of the Persian Gulf. Tanker Insurance premiums are now over $200,000 for each transit into or out of the Gulf. But it seems it has not stopped any shipping companies.

    I took a screenshot of the Strait from the 'Marine Traffic Global Ship Tracking Site'. I filtered out all shipping traffic except for tankers. It showed 76 tankers transiting into or out of the Strait, or headed to or from UAE ports just east of the Strait. For clarity I filtered out those tankers anchored or in port as they cluttered the map so badly to make it damn near unreadable. Also it only showed the Strait and the immediate area around it. There are hundreds more tankers further up in the Persian Gulf and just outside the Strait in the Gulf of Oman. Snapshot was taken at 9PM PST on 16 June (4AM GMT on 17 June) three days after the incident. You can check it out yourself at:

  14. As we've seen repeatedly, actual "facts" are meaningless to this Administration. They, like the Bushies, "make their own reality". So the facts that 1) there is no general effect on traffic through the Strait, 2) there is no genuine U.S. interest at stake, and 3) there is no conclusive evidence WHO is actually responsible will make absolutely no difference to the Trumpkins. If they want to deal death, they will. Tom Fucking Cotton is all in already, and I foresee a bunch more GOP reptiles crawling out from underneath this rock in the next several days.

    You'd think our "news" media, at least, would have learned from Iraq. But what I'm seeing is largely stenography from Trumpkin talking points.

    If was avoid another pointless Middle Eastern bloodletting from this it will probably be due to pure dumb luck.

  15. Hard to know what happened or who is responsible. I don't really have much to add, but it all seems very strange and all of the theories have some pretty big problems.

    1. Agreed!

      The problem for President Bone-Spurs is that he has spent the past two years bad-mouthing the US intel community. So now when his NeoCons are salivating over their potential bone of war with Iran, there are not many people either here or abroad that believe the tape.

      SecState Pom-Pom says "We don’t want war". Two minutes later he says the "US will guarantee passage through the Strait of Hormuz", and "All options are on the table".

      I think we are already at war with Iran. Their economy is in a shambles since the 'Great-Dealmaker' blew up JCPOA: inflation is over 50%, food prices have doubled, and they've lost a million jobs. Plus our proxies are in a war with their proxies throughout the region.

    2. The bottom line is that it really doesn't matter who is shooting at tankers to draw a bright line this side of "is this a problem that needs to be solved by USAF and USN aircraft bombing the shit out of Iran?"

      At this point it's very clearly not, even if the IRGC is behind the dirty doin's. As mike points out; these aren't US ships owned by US companies crewed by US nationals doing US business.

      If the Panamanian Navy or the Liberian 1st Fleet wants to get involved, good cess to them. The U.S. has done quite enough idiotic destruction in the Middle East, thanks...

  16. My suspicion is that they did it and will continue to threaten. Plus there is their public announcement that they will break their uranium stockpile limit in next 10 days in contravention of JCPOA.

    Perhaps they are trying to pull a Kim Jong-un con game to get Bone-Spurs to side with them instead of the CIA? Like he did with North Korea:

  17. From the NYT:

    "In a classified briefing that Mr. Pompeo gave on May 21 with Pentagon officials to the full House, “he discussed the relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda,” said Representative Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan. She said Mr. Pompeo’s talk of that relationship in both public and private settings and his refusal to answer questions on a potential use of the 2001 authorization “raises the specter that to him, the relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda gives the administration that authority.”

    Oh, for fuck's sake. I know Pom-pom is an inflatable Teabag love doll for his orange master, but just because Trump is to goddamn stupid to understand the difference between Twelver Shiites and rabid takifiri Sunnis is no excuse for the notional SecState to be equally fatheaded. You're supposed to at least pretend to know things about, y'know, furriners, when you're the diplomacy-er-in-chief, numbnuts.

    The only other explanation for that sort of conflation would be a simpleminded lie intended to justify military action to people equally dim enough to not know the difference, either. Y'think..?

    Nah. We learned our lessons getting fooled into Iraq by the blatantly simpleminded lies of the Bushies. Fool me twice...won't get fooled again, amirite?


    1. My take is that Pom-Pom is being the bad cop for Commander Bone-Spurs, who does not want to appear as a warmonger. This is typical Trump. He recently said that he was open to talks with the Ayatollahs, but then whined when they ignored him. So now he has one of his minions create a crisis for him. Sooner or later he will pull back from the brink, claiming to have prevented the very same crisis that he created.

      The problem is that in situations like this, threats can easily turn into blood spilled and all out war. Is anyone in his administration thinking about the ptential risk to our troops in Iraq?

    2. Short answer; no.

      I've worked with and for guys like these. They don't give a rat's ass about anyone but themselves. Most pols have that to some degree, but Il Douche has an extreme case of narcissistic me-first-ism and his bobos are mostly bloody-handed loons like Bolton and Eliot Abrams, people who see GIs as bullets, to be expended in whatever way gets them the result they want.

      What gets me about this is the Big Stupid. It would be one thing if we didn't have Dubya's bloody rags right in front of us. But we do. These people are trying to sell the idea of doing the same exact moronic goddamn thing that Dubya & Co. did...while ignoring the pile of pointless corpses that was all that Dick & Dubya's Most Excellent Middle Eastern Adventure produced.

      They're complete fucksticks, so I don't expect anything better. But I'd sure like to see more intelligence from the press and the public.

  18. what makes you think the public ia agreeing with pom-pom or with donaldo regarding iran? seems to me joe sixpack is against it. have not seen polls, but not sure i would trust them anyway. the big pollster outfits are going to be irrelevnt unless they change their methodologies. imho anyway.

    and who in the press is cheering for it other than faux news and the washington times? i agree they should be pushing back more early on. but even the most gifted reporters are dumbasses when it comes to foreign policy.

    1. The public is an ass, and will pretty much believe what it's told. And the press isn't really questioning the line of guff the Administration is handing out. It's not so much cheering (although fucking Judith Miller should really never be allowed anywhere near a screen or wordprocessor ever again...) but what they have done with Trump ever since he turned up with his birther nonsense; parroting the statements without correction or context.

      Which means that Joe and Mary Lunchpail are hearing "Iran! Bad! Scary! Danger!" and being set up to nod obediently when the Trumpkins let slip the dogs of whatever the hell they're gonna do to punish the uppity wogs.

  19. The largest international shipping association, BIMCO, says that of the "2,000 companies that operate ships in the Persian Gulf, only two companies have halted bookings outright." Otherwise, “business has continued more or less undisrupted.”

    However BIMCO also said those shipping companies are stepping up security measures. i.e. "going at high speed through the Strait of Hormuz" BTW although the Strait is 39 km wide, the narrow corridor of international waters within the Strait is only three km wide, or less than two miles.

    And those shipping companies says BIMCO are "avoiding the strait at night to keep better watch on security around the vessel."

    Yes costs are increasing, but they compensate by raising their freight rates. We'll pay at the gas pump. I'm sure the Koch bros are happy with how the situation is elevating their bottom line.

    No telling what the MQ-9 shootdown over Hormuzagan, or the rocket strike on ExxonMobil in Basra will do to prices. Glad my primary ride is a hybrid. The other one is a gas-guzzling pickup that only goes to the boat launch ramp and back, may have to get rid of it.

  20. My Little Droney: Friendship is Magic edition:

    Frankly, if the damn thing WAS in international waters this was a stupid move by whichever organization the missile battery belonged to. There's a strong convention that - as annoying as it may be - protects the people spying on your from the global commons. If you're good and you're sneaky you can whack them on the downlow and get away with it; that's the whole "spy vs spy" game that polities have played probably since Sumer.

    If it WASN'T out in the open Strait...then it's a troublesome sign the someones in the U.S. intelligence and/or military communities are playing chicken with the Iranian military. The reverse of the espionage convention is pretty straightforward - you send your spies, human or inanimate - into your target's physical space? If they get caught, their lives are forfeit. You play the Game of Spies, to lose is to die. The USN operators and their commanders know that, and if they sent this thing into Iranian territorial waters - which, I emphasize, we don't and never will know - then they were playing a dangerous escalation card.

  21. FDChief - I believe that MQ-9 shot down was USAF asset, not USN.

    In any case even though Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair had nothing to do with us we now have some skin in the game. Exxon Mobil is a US entity and the MQ-9 was ours. Ditto for the US troops at Taji and at Mosul that were attacked by Katyushha rockets.

    So what happens next?

    1. The drone is troubling, because, as I said above, it matters where the thing was when it got Richtofened. If I climb over my neighbor's fence and he puts a load of rock salt in my ass it's my own fault. If, OTOH, he blasts me standing on the sidewalk? We've got trouble.

      Problem being that we have no idea and won't ever know where it really was. Drone tracks can be faked, and the Trumpkins have a vital interest in faking the location if, indeed, it WAS in Iranian waters. So what happens next is deeply compromised by the interest and, indeed, the need for both sides to lie.

      The rockets? Iraq is a sovereign state, and the American troopers there are not covered by a SOFA with that state, so they are, in effect, "guests" of the Iraqi government in the same way an American civilian national would be. That was our choice, we knew that when we agreed to send people back in to chase after the IS takifiris and it's both hypocritical and a trifle late to bitch about that now.

      The USG can offer, and the Iraqi government may accept, whatever aid the US may provide to assist the Iraqis in whatever they choose to do about the attack...which may be nothing, and if the USG is unhappy with that they can - if they are acting in accordance with the law - either sit tight under the rockets or move their soldiers somewhere else.

      Without the agreement of the Iraqi government any military action by the US against anyone in Iraq without the consent of the Iraqi government would be an unlawful act.

      IMO we shoved our own damn head into this idiotic meatgrinder back in 2003 and now we're paying for it.

      That will not be the opinion of the bulk of the people in Washington, so it's very likely that this will just be more fuel for the war fire.

  22. Here's a thought that I don't like:

    Prince Bonesaw and the stupid one-trick walrus conspire to create a crisis.
    They and Pompous fail to convince the lying moron to go to war becuase the lying moron's attention span is too short and he drifts away before they're done with the "welcome" slide of their warmongering presentation.

    Fast forward to 2019. It's general election campaign time and the lying moron boasts that the country would be at war with Iran if Democrats would have been in power.

    1. Again - the dummkopf creates a crisis and then claims it was him alone that was able to contain the crisis. It has been his MO for years.

  23. I never suggested we should fire on PMF forces. Screw the legal considerations. That would be idiocy. There are currently about 150,000 Shiite militiamen in PMF units, and they are heavily armed with arty and armor. And if push came to shove those 150,000 could swell to two five million volunteers as they did a few years ago. They would outnumber the Iraqi Army by a huge factor.

    The other consideration is that you would never know for sure if the rocket attack was by Iranian-inspired PMF or by IS sleeper cells instigating disunion.

    However, it may not come to pass. The Iraqi press, via David Witty, appears to be saying the Iraqi Army is taking up positions to protect US bases from Katyusha rockets. But there may be one or two or three fanatic haters of Westerners and/or the US in the Iraqi Army also. Count on it I say if the mousetache gets his way.

    We are in a box. Let's hope PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi can keep the peace until we get out of Dodge.

  24. Not an Air Force drone. "U.S. Central Command spokesperson Captain Bill Urban said, “U.S. Central Command can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (or BAMS-D) ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system."

    Gomen nasai, my bad!

    1. It was an RQ-4C Triton reportedly, the Nnaval version of the USAF Global Hawk.

      The drone shot at and missed by an SA-7(?) on 13 June was an MQ-9 Reaper normally operated by the USAF. Ditto for the MQ-9 shot down on 6 June by Iran's Houthi proxies over Yemen. That's two out of three succesful drone shootdowns within a two week timeframe.

      And back eight years ago the CIA lost a drone to Iran when an Artesh EW unit hacked its command & control system.

      These surveillance drones appear to be easy meat for even a second rate military like Iran.

    2. I doubt the SA-7 story. SA-7 is very likely unable to lock onto a MQ-9 that's flying at a normal altitude.
      Moreover, it would be excessively difficult to tell which kind of ManPADS was launched, so "SA-7" appears to be overspecific. Iran uses Misagh-1, Misagh-2 and Misagh-3 ManPADS. Actual SA-7s would be so ridiculously past their shelf life that their use is extremely doubtful even by Iranian standards.

    3. I would only observe that we are gullible to refer to the Yemeni Houthi as "proxies" rather than "allies". The Saudi meme that the Houthi are a claw on the evil Persian paw has played a big part in this goatscrew.

    4. I would dislike the "allies" tag even more.
      Americans have a habit of using that word EXTREMELY inflationarily and incorrectly.

      I remember a confusion on American TV where some TV personality was aghast that the U.S. didn't support its "ally" Israel when it was in a bit of a diplomatic dispute with Turkey.
      The airhead did not pay attention to the actual alliance with the NATO partner, but thought of Israel as an ally presumably because there was so much loose and inflationary talk about Israel being an "ally" before.

      Get the vocabulary right; the Houthi get some assistance by Iran, but they are no allies of Iran. Iran and Saudi-Arabia would be at war now (and that would be legal under the Charter of the United Nations) if the Houthi were allies of Iran.


    5. I mean...clearly Iran is the only outfit willing to help the Houthi, and it appears that they do, to some extent. Saudi Arabia is their mutual enemy, and while it doesn't make them "allies" it does bring them together in some degree.

      So "allies" is a poor term. "Siderunners", maybe? "Enemies of the same enemy"?

    6. I suppose beneficiaries of Iranian (para-)military assistance may be clumsy, but also accurate.

      BTW, it's tragic-funny how some people posit the Iranian support for the Houthis as evidence for them being the bad guys, as if the U.S. wasn't doing quite the same (and more) all over the world.

    7. It's tragic-tragic that after at token show of resistance Congress rolled over on Donnie's arms sales to the murderous Saudis, who really ARE, generally, "bad guys", what between funding vicious Sunni takifiri fanatics and sawing up journos and decapitating Shiites.

      We the People have laid down with some pretty scurvy dogs. But the Saudis are a special breed of vile, and, yes, somehow the Iranian attempts to help the Yemenis stop Saudi butchery makes them "eeeeevil".

  25. I find it appalling that these damn fools were going to kill people over a goddamn drone. But, then, they're the damn fools quibbling over being called out for throwing little kids in concentration camps, so there's that.

    1. The lying moron is a lying moron.

      We shouldn't believe that an attack was imminent, period. Nothing they say or write has any credibility, nothing. Not even the parts that reinforce our belief in their stupidity and evilness.

  26. Here's part of the Official White House Tweet about why there aren't dead Iranians this morning:

    "President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran - Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH! Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON. Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled Death to America. I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!....On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not....proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!"

    Well, that certainly convinced me.

    If I was an Iranian I'd want nukes. And bugs. And gas. And any damn thing I could lay my hands on to keep this loon and his Death Walrus and his little Pom-pom as far away from me as possible...

    1. The largely uncoordinated security policy of Europeans looks damn wise by comparison these days.

  27. General Selva, Vice Chair of the JCS, was the adult in the room who backed down Trump & the angry mousetache guy. Selva also fought back hard against escalation in Venezuela in late April. Never thought I would admire a zoomie general, but then Selva AKA 'Flattop' was not one of those white scarf fighter jocks. It has been said of him by DefenseOne website that he leads with 'brains' and NOT with 'bravado'. Couple of interesting links here:

    1. Or maybe it was a call to Donnie from Corporate ( reminding him that he should stick to Always Be Grifting and leave the bombing to people who are smarter than he is?

      As Sven points out, the problem here is that there are SO many liars involved it's hard to tell which liars are lying. Or, more likely, which liars are FURTHER from the truth than the others.


  28. Houthis were targets of al-Qaida, the AQAP branch. And they were fighting back.

    In my book they should be our informal allies or siderunners or beneficiaries-of-US-support.

    And if Mohammad bin Salman, the mister-bone-saw guy, does not like Houthis that is even more reason for us to be on their side.

    1. And, once again the Congressional GOP is providing Hair Furor enough cover to sell the loathsome Saudis the wherewithal to kill the Houthis.

  29. People who seem to be in the know about the inner workings of this "administration" are suggesting that one of the factors in Trump's "decision" to nix an airstrike was his listening to Tucker Carlson.

    Tucker Carlson.

    Think about that for a moment. Our governance is, to some unknown extent, being manipulated by a loudmouthed, racist, fatheaded television "news" shouter.


  30. Lots of stories floating around from CNN, NYT, Yahoo and others that US CyberCom carried out online attacks against an Iranian intel group after the 13 June UAV shootdown. Reportedly the cyber attack was planned several weeks prior to that, after tankers were attacked.

    CNN says "The US official added the online strike targeted an Iranian spy group's computer software that was used to track the tankers that were targeted in the Gulf of Oman on June 13."

    Now I am no cyber guru and know squat about software outside of some dabbling in Fortran that I messed around with many decades ago. But I am at a loss to understand how we could have shutdown Iranian attempts to track oil tankers. Any AIS transceiver can track tankers. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million of those transceivers and there are plenty of those in Iran and every other country with a maritime border.

    Could CyberCom have blacked out AIS data within Iran? That would be dangerous to shipping in the gulf. Ditto if they used spoofing. But perhaps they had tracked each individual AIS transceiver in Iran and blocked or spoofed those specifically???

    But I don't believe that would work either as any 16-year-old can log on the web and get ship tracking data. AIS information is sent to upstream providers such as, or others, where anyone can check shipping and get vessel positions and additional information such as ship type, capacity, and current status. And for a subcription and nominal fee you can get more detailed info such as ownership, flag, destination, course, speed, last port of call, etc.

    I'm missing something here. Anyone here have insight?

    1. Keep in mind it's a conflict between zero credibility actors and both sides assume a stupid, partisan audience.