The tanker damage in the Gulf was probably a “provocation” aimed at Iran.


"The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said.

The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

It is highly uncertain whether Mr. Trump, who has sought to disentangle the United States from Afghanistan and Syria, ultimately would send so many American forces back to the Middle East."  NY Times

"It is also unclear whether the president has been briefed on the number of troops or other details in the plans. On Monday, asked about if he was seeking regime change in Iran, Mr. Trump said: “We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.”

There are sharp divisions in the administration over how to respond to Iran at a time when tensions are rising about Iran’s nuclear policy and its intentions in the Middle East."  NY Times


IMO the armed forces (persons unknown therein) leaked the base information in this article to the NY Times to warn Trump of the wild eyed foolishness of the crew he has allowed to run US foreign policy.

In the information briefing (as opposed to a decision briefing) described in this article concerning military options, Trump was not even present. 

What has happened once again is that Bolton asked DoD for options for the president/CinC's contemplation.  As I have written in the last days, neither Bolton nor Pompeo has any command authority over the armed forces.  Neither does Haspel at CIA.  Only the president can command them.  Only he has the constitutional authority to do so.

IMO the neocon squeeze with regard to Iran is in high gear.  The aim is probably to pressure Iran until they lash out somewhere against US forces or interests. 

Trump would then be urged by the madmen in the White House to order the armed forces to attack.  pl

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36 Responses to The tanker damage in the Gulf was probably a “provocation” aimed at Iran.

  1. blue peacock says:

    For all intents & purposes isn’t the US at war with Iran? We’ve ordered that Iran can’t sell any of their products from oil to metals. The ziocons continue to ratchet up the pressure even further with new provocations including the possibility of false flags. If the Iranians react in any sort of military manner or a false flag of some military or terrorist attack then the response is ready to bomb them with air and missile attacks.
    What are the Iranians supposed to do if they can’t submit to Israeli hegemony? How can they respond to US belligerence at the behest of Bibi & his ziocon insiders at the apex of the Trump administration? What are the “game theory” calculations on all sides?

  2. Eugene Owens says:

    Shayetet 13 perhaps? They’ve done ship sabotage in the past. Not very effectively in the Six Day War, but they did a lot better in the Yom Kippur War.

  3. Fred says:

    That’s an interesting article and history lesson from 2007. ” The most recent National Defense Strategy — released before Mr. Bolton joined the Trump administration — concluded that while the Middle East remains important, and Iran is a threat to American allies,…”
    Just which countries have the US signed and the Senate ratified treaties of alliance with in the Middle East? I am sure world class reporters Eric Schmidtt and Jullian Barnes could let us know. Maybe they could ask the Secretary of State, just in case he knows.
    “While much of the new intelligence appears to have focused on Iran readying its proxy forces, officials said they believed the most likely cause of a conflict will follow a provocative act, or outright attack, by the Revolutionary Guards’ navy. ”
    I sure hope no one in the Middle East stages a false flag attack, like this one,
    or this one, to get America to fight the war against Iran they always wanted us too.
    “It would be difficult for the Trump administration to make a case that the United States was under imminent nuclear peril; Iran shipped 97 percent of its fuel out of the country in 2016, and currently does not have enough to make a bomb.” But, but our allies! Wouldn’t be in danger of nucear peril either?
    “American intelligence officials told Congress in January that Iranian hackers are now considered sophisticated operators who are increasingly capable of striking United States targets.” Wow, I bet they are better than the Russians, who defeated Obama in 2016. I wonder what Gina Haspel has to say about that, since she was at last Thursday’s meetings and worked for CIA director Clapper while he was spying on Trump. Uhm, better not bring that last thing up, or ask why Iran’s hackers, planetary experts in hacking, didn’t try to sway a US election given how easy it is to do.
    Did anyone at that Thursday meeting discuss the Southern US border? Everything AOK there, nothing to see? How’s the North Korean negotiations going now that expert National Security Advisor Bolton is on the job? Yeah, we really, really need a war with Iran. Will it be “right to protect” “remember 1979” or some other excuse this time out? BTW just what have the UAE naval forces been doing all this time? It’s not like they haven’t known about potential ‘attacks’ like this since the last saber rattling in 2012.

  4. Jack says:

    The question is would war be confined to Iran? I’m not sure that’s how it will work. Iran has the heads up. They must be planning many asymmetric strategies since they know they can’t compete with the US in sheer military hardware.
    Just like the invasion of Iraq, the real action took place only after the war with the insurgency. The neocons were wrong then. We can be certain that they’ll be blindsided once again with something they never expected and didn’t plan for. It could easily turn into a much wider conflict with the Chinese and Russians while not directly intervening militarily providing intelligence and other kinds of support. It would be in their interest to wound the US as much as possible.
    A US inflicted war will only strengthen the hands of the Ayatollahs internally in Iran. Why would any Iranian even those that don’t support the Islamists take the side of the American attacker that turns many of their cities into rubble? This would only ensure a deep seated enmity for generations not regime change as the neocons believe. Such a war of choice will not be cost free for the US. If it turns into another protracted intervention like Afghanistan or Iraq or worse a larger conflagration that impacts Europe & Asia the hatred of the US and the desire to end US military hegemony will be universally strong. I don’t believe Trump will be able to credibly run as a war president as the war will not be short and decisive with the Iranians surrendering. It’s more likely that the conflict spins in unpredictable ways and large segments of the American people move against it once the initial shock & awe high wanes.

  5. Jack says:

    Tulsi is likely to coalesce all those voters on both sides of the aisle who don’t want another war of choice on false pretenses. Only the cultists will back another Middle East war completely ignoring how Iraq, Libya and Syria turned out and the propaganda to sell each one by demonizing the leader of the recipient of regime change.

  6. Eugene Owens says:

    Fred – “just what have the UAE naval forces been doing all this time?”
    I thought the UAE only had a naval presence in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Both are on the wrong side of the Musandam to protect the port of Fujayrah. The rest of their naval assets are at their naval base in Assab Eritrea, or dorking around the coast of Yemen. And next month they are scheduled to open a new naval base in the breakaway northern provinces of Somaliland at the port of Berbera.

  7. E Publius says:

    Dear Colonel,
    There is another way to interpret the NYT article: Bolton himself leaked it in order to intimidate Iranians and force them to miscalculate. Indication: I remember Bolton in one press briefing in Feb. on Venezuela holding his notebook with “5000 troops” or something like that written on it and he was being so obvious and it looked so “staged” that it ultimately turned out to be a nothingburger. Also, this recent session, if I read the news correctly, was held in the absence of Pompeo who was heading to the EU to crash their session on Iran and to somehow convince them to join U.S. efforts against Iran, which is in line with Bolton’s absolute disdain for diplomacy.
    As you mentioned, it is possibile the common sense people at the higher military circles leaked it to the NYT to show how frenzied Bolton has become and let people know he is out of control, and possibly paving the way for his departure. Indication: Yleem Poblete a high-ranking Bolton protege at State Dep Arms Control desk and a close aide was dismissed yesterday. I know I’m probably reading too much into her departure, but could it be an early sign that Bolton’s days are numbered as NSA, especially given his failures in Venezuela and N.Korea?
    IMO it sounds more like #1, although #2 scenario is also quite possible, but given how Bolton is such an introvert and works in a thick cloud of secrecy and mistrust and his tight grip on the flow of information, especially leaking it is likely #1.

  8. Houthi rebels recently hit a couple of Saudi oil pumping stations. Could the attack on the oil tankers have also been carried out by the Houthis. It looks more like a combat swimmer demolition attack than anything else.

  9. walrus says:

    I call BS on the whole “Tanker Damage” story and allegations. I can only find one image on Google of alleged damage – to the 50,000 tonne Andrea Victory, a tiddler in the world of tankers. That damage looks to me exactly like a $5#$ up the transom by the bulbous bow of another ship. That could easily be a docking incident. There is no obvious blast damage whatsoever……and I’ve been around ships longer than I care to remember.

  10. JJackson says:

    This was interesting, as it not the usual BBC fare.
    Entitled “Why the WhatsApp spies may have eyes on Iran” and bylined “By Paul Danahar BBC Washington Bureau Chief” it paints a picture very similar to one I might find here and is a lot closer to the truth than I am used to.

  11. turcopolier says:

    jjackson – link?

  12. JJackson says:

    pl & jv sorry and thank you respectively.

  13. JamesT says:

    “… all states are allowed to participate in the supply of major conventional arms as defined by the UN Register of Conventional Weapons and related components and services to Iran [on 18 october 2020]. The embargo on the export from Iran of all arms and related materials will remain in place until [18 october 2020].”
    Iran will be able to import all sorts of weapons from Russia and China as of 18 October 2020. I think it behooves them to hold off on a shooting war until then.

  14. jdledell says:

    I spent some time today reading the comment sections of articles on the Iran situation in Fox News, Beitbart, Washington Times etc. Frankly I was stunned at how much support there is in Trump’s base to at a minimum give Iran a bloody nose and at a maximum, nuke the entire country to get rid of 50 million “towel heads” and show them “who is boss”. I don’t know how many were just showing off in their comments and who was really serious but the reading gave me one giant stomach ache. I hope Trump is not thinking that his base would respond positively to a war with Iran because I really don’t think it is true and that a war would be a bad miscalculation.

  15. Fred says:

    My, my they don’t protect a major port and oil bunkering facility? There are at least a battalion of marines according to wiki. They don’t need a brigade or a fleet to do basic coastal defense work.

  16. Fred says:

    One of the maritime websites has been reporting on owners scrapping tankers due to environmental compliance costs making the ships uneconomical to operate. One has to wonder if this is a convenient target or just an insurance scam needing to be investigated.

  17. JJackson, The WhatsApp hack by NSO fit with an Israeli tech tradition of providing surveillance technology to many customers, including repressive regimes. I’m sure it’s being used to collect intelligence on Iranian targets as well as many other targets.
    Along this line, we have to remember Iran was instrumental in penetrating the internet based covcom used by the CIA to communicate with a majority of its foreign resident agents. This breach aqnd the CIA’s criminally incompetent reaction to it caused the roll up of the entire spy network in Iran and China. I’m sure that left the CIA as butthurt as the takeover of the Teheran embassy so many years ago.

  18. Eureka Springs says:

    Thanks Walrus. How Bolton isn’t laughed off any stage or heckled on any street is beyond me.

  19. Johnb says:

    There is a line of scuff marks to the left of the impact site, the impact centre and tear folded inwards to the right gave me a memory of using an old fashioned tin opener. An observation that doesn’t evidence intent as it must be seen in the unevidenced context of additional tanker damage and the immediately preceding Al M. inspired reports of fires and explosions elsewhere. We may see context better once hindsight kicks in.

  20. Johnb says:

    The author of the piece is not some junior correspondent but a seasoned BBC journalist who has held two of the highest postings in the BBC, Middle East Bureaux chief and now Washington Bureaux editor. For what my opinion is worth it is meant to be taken seriously as a once removed official view. I am mindful of the House of Commons vote that let Obama off the hook when one of his red lines in Syria was crossed.
    “30 Aug 2013 · MPs vote against possible military action against Syria, ruling out involvement in US-led attacks”
    The number of conservative MP’s voting against their own PM had to be informed by the Security Services that the incident was a set up and it wasn’t in the UK interest to ‘bite’. This has a similar feel to it.

  21. Eugene Owens says:

    I’m wrong. The UAE did start building a naval base at Fujayrah several years ago. Although it seems to be a logistics depot so far.

  22. Rodney says:

    I’m no expert but from the ONE picture I could find on one ship it looks like it backed into something. I saw no fire/explosive residue. Compare it with the USS Cole hit.

  23. Cee says:

    False flags, Cyberwar from TruNews

  24. Seamus Padraig says:

    I hope you are right. If you are right, and this helps bolster Tulsi’s campaign, then at least some good will have come of all this ridiculous war-mongering against Iran.

  25. JJackson says:

    I was also thinking about the picture painted of the US/Israeli Stuxnet cooperation as painted in the film ‘Zero days’ which was discussed here previously. US development and Israeli deployment.
    I added the byline details because, as you point out, its source is significant. If I find a BBC post that has wandered off piste it is usually by some academic or think-tank type who have been asked to write something. Core BBC staff tend to show more discipline to the line.

  26. Fred says:

    How many comments were there jdledell? How many actually stated “nuke the entire country” or even used the phrase you put quoatation marks around “towel heads”? How many commenters were making hasbaraesque comments to discredit Trump supporters or does that type of thing only happen on the left?

  27. aleksandar says:

    Agree, these tankers were not torpedoed.
    Damages would be larger than that.
    Anyway it’s Andrea Victory stern that has been hit, nobody will torpedo a vessel stern !
    How did Houthis managed to hit a pumping station that is 760 km far from Yemen border with a drone with a 200 km flying range ?
    Nonsense everywhere.
    That stinks

  28. aleksandar says:

    Maybe your panel was not typical.
    Hope so

  29. Unhinged Citizen says:

    Pompeo in Russia currently, speaking of some sort of “solution” wrt Syria… Thoughts?

  30. rjj says:

    Fred – thanks. that’s my canceled post almost word for word.

  31. jdledell says:

    Fred – I admitted it is impossible to determine just from the comments who is making legitimate comments and who is just blowing smoke. Comments were made about turning the entire country into a sea of glass and the term Towel Heads was used. While Brietbart comments were bad so was Fox News. I did not see similar comments on Daily Kos, about as left wing as any media outlet.
    I live in a VERY Republican town and I have heard similar comments in person. The essence of my comment is my hope that Trump does not think his base will cheer on a war with Iran, because, irrespective of the comments, I don’t think his base really will support a war – at least I hope not. I am not judging the Conservative movement based on these realtively few comments but I thought it was a interesting additional perspective on the issue.
    Currently Trump is thinking about and positioning himself and policies to enhance his re-election in 2020. My hope is he does not miscalculate that a war will improve his odds.

  32. different clue says:

    I can think of a way to decide “what the chances are” that any one ” nuke the ragheads” comment is real as against a false-flag “look-bad” comment. And that would be to spend the hundreds or maybe thousands of hours reading all the comments on these sites going back to the Trump Inauguration at least. That way one could tell which commenters were medium-term and which were long-term. If any of the medium-termers or long-termers offered “nuke the ragheads” comments the chances are good that these would be true-flag sincerely meant comments.
    ( If clouds of silent lurkers are watching so as to swoop in and place a false-flag comment under a true-flag commenter’s name, that would require some deeper level of computer-of-origin address-finding, which would need at least a semi-expert to be able to do).

  33. Fred says:

    ” I admitted it is impossible to determine just from the comments who is making legitimate comments and who is just blowing smoke.”
    Then you have no basis for making claims about Trump supporters. The “essence of your comment” was a slander. “towel heads”? Really? You are a better analyst than that.

  34. Fred says:

    You didn’t catch on that he provided no link or other reference to the actual article and when called out to provide some evidence he deflects to an anecdote about hearing comments personally in his home town?

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