Monday, April 24, 2006

Would attacking Iran push them toward the West?

The Eighties Club: The USS Stark incident

The situation remained tense throughout the winter, but not until April 1988 did violence erupt once again in the Persian Gulf. Ten seamen were injured when the USN frigate Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iranian mine on April 14. Being careful to consult with Congress this time, President Reagan ordered a retaliatory strike against two Iranian oil platforms in the southern gulf -- platforms that served as bases for Iran's intelligence service. While one platform was shelled by the frigates Simpson and Bagley, Marines helicoptered to the second, seized it, planted explosive charges, and destroyed it. A few minutes later, the Simpson sank an Iranian patrol boat that had fired a missile at the USN guided-missile cruiser Wainwright. (The Wainwright defended itself by dispensing aluminum chaff in the air, which deflected the missile.) Meanwhile, near the Strait of Hormuz, two Iranian frigates and several gunboats were sunk by American warships and an F-14 Tomcat from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. During the day-long battle, a Cobra helicopter carrying two American crewmen was shot down by the Iranians.
This defeat at sea, coupled with grave setbacks in the land war with Iraq, persuaded Iranian leaders to seek improved relations with the West. The Ayatollah Khomeini agreed with Hashemi Rafsanjani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, on the need to pursue a new foreign policy that would defuse tensions in the Persian Gulf. As for the United States, its resolve in the gulf in 1987-88 improved its standing with allies, not only in the Middle East but also around the world.

Interesting. Of course, as the mutual funds all say, past returns do not guarantee future results. Japan emerged from WW II much more engaged with the West. We don't know where Iraq will ultimately land.

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