On The Slippery Slope. By Walrus.


The NYT is reporting that President Trump set what sounds like a “Surgical Strike” against Iranian military targets in motion but checked fire at the last minute.

This action was allegedly in response to Iran’s  downing of an American drone in international waters off Hormuz.

The veracity of the NYT is open to question however this report is in accordance with my own confirmation bias because it sounds like a replay of Kaiser Wilhelms last minute remorse after irreversibly setting in motion the 1914 mobilisation. In 2019, thanks to modern communications, President Trump was able to releash the dogs of war.

My concern is that President Trump does not take action that plunges us into an irrevocable war. The tanker attacks look to me like gifted amateurs armed with no more than tape, C4, timers and speaker magnets. I mean – Dastardly Iranian saboteurs in bright red life jackets?? This reminds me of the story of The Elephant and The Gnat.

The Iranian actions and our responses may prove pure fantasy. I would like to think that older and wiser heads are in charge and sober calculus is at work. The truth may be far funnier and sadder.

What says the Committee?


This entry was posted in Walrus. Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to On The Slippery Slope. By Walrus.

  1. ted richard says:

    iran and oman share the straits as they enter the indian ocean. these waters are THEIR territorial waters and have been agreed upon for decades by the world. 12 miles give or take for each side. there are NO international waters here.
    if oil ships stop transiting for any reason the western economic and banking system implodes as the notional value of all those trillions in derivatives (oil at least) become real once the price rises. not a shot need be fired to collapse the western world living standards and there is nothing the pentagon can do about even IF it could which it CAN’T.
    peace is the only sane option IF the west wants to remain upright and obstensibly solvent.
    ignore fools like bolton and pompeo.

  2. fredw says:

    The Trump administration has to come up with an explanation for this. Otherwise everyone will believe that that the red phone rang. “Mr. Putin on the line, sir.” Another ripe conspiracy theory waiting in the wings is that Iran turned on some unexpected radar and showed just what the planes were flying into. Some logical, plausible, and not too embarassing alternative story is needed. Fast.

  3. jon stanley says:

    Let us hope Trump’s alleged caution holds. For the moment, anyway. However, let us also hope wiser heads prevail in Iran. It seems clear to me (which I do not mistake for assuming I am automatically correct) that there has been a PATTERN of increased, violent actions coming from Iran. i.e. increased shelling of US positions, or, near them, anyway, in Iraq. Along with the tanker attacks and drone attacks, two, I might add. These seem calculated, at the moment, at avoiding US loss of life. So, they are playing around with us, testing us. This reflects, to me, ONE kind of thinking in Iran. However, there are other sides there, I believe.
    And in the meantime Trump is, essentially, bereft of support within DC. Unless it be in the military. One side of the elite community hates Trump, but for the moment, goes along with him. Trying to push and prod him forward to their ends. The NeoCons and Never Trumpers. The other side basically loathes Trump and opposes whatever position he is taking. Reflectively. Thoughtlessly. This leaves him essentially alone. IN DC. He should get out of the Capital more often. To his Base. Away from the talking heads. In the meantime Iran should give pause for thought. They may think the world will be on their side, if only to oppose Trump. But they won’t get much support other than soft and meaningless words, if they keep poking the Bear. And they just might get eaten…hard as a meal as that would be to digest.

  4. Barbara Ann says:

    “releash the dogs of war” says it all. Remember the The Bedford Incident?

  5. fotokemist says:

    My poorly informed speculation drawing upon my career as a chemist (i.e., no military training or experience, the navy rejected me when I tried to join the NROTC in 1963) I am inclined to disbelieve our claims that our drone was in international air space. One commentator on MoA claimed there is no international air space over the Gulf of Hormuz. The relevant treaties address only marine access.
    It would appear the Iranians tracked our drone essentially from time time of departure until its demise. The folks on the web would have us believe the Iranians used a $2,500 homemade missile to bring down a $120,000,000 drone. Let that soak in. Am I the only one wondering what else we are unaware?
    Regarding the aborted attack, my suspicion is that someone informed Trump of the possibility of an unsuspected Iranian asset bringing down an F-22, or horrors, an F-35. Not likely to help our export programs.
    Combined with the possibility that Iran can present convincing evidence that the drone penetrated their air space, Trump would be in a poor position to defend himself against war crime charges should he order an attack. Might not play well in the upcoming election cycle.
    As a businessman, he could have decided the rewards of an attack did not justify these risks.
    Other thoughts?

  6. fotokemist says:

    Make that Strait of Hormuz.

  7. CK says:

    I believe that Nixon did the same thing in 1969 when North Korea shot down an ec121. Threaten with a nuke and then stand down.

  8. Eric Newhill says:

    Contrary to many here, I think the Iranians did attach explosives to the tankers and did shoot down the drone, etc. I think they are religious fanatics and bad actors/terrorists who feel that, for whatever reason(s), at this time they can flex their muscles and make some substantial threats supported by violence.
    OTOH, I think Trump painted himself into a corner by being exceptionally bellicose about Iran from day 1 of his entrance into the realm of politics while simultaneously being against foreign adventures. Iran is calling his bluff.
    Yet, Trump has already offered up a pressure release valve; or in your words, a way to save face. He has stated that maybe the drone shoot down, etc was a mistake and/or the work of some rogue elements.
    IMO, the Iranians will not accept that opportunity to de-escalate. They will need to be smacked around hard, but in a way that doesn’t involve anything more than a few US special forces on the ground and otherwise air and naval assets. I’m sure the Trump admin is trying to figure out what that would be at this moment. Something quick, yet dramatic and sufficiently painful to Iran materially and/or psychologically.
    If Iran wanted peace, all they have ever had to do is to shut up about the public announcements of wanting to destroy Israel and stop with the terrorist support. They wouldn’t even have to recognize Israel’s right to exist, though that would be the civilized thing to do as well. Yet they can’t bring themselves to do that. They will be the ones to start war if war evolves from all of this.

  9. robt willmann says:

    Trump has come out through the usual direct communication channel, saying the reason he called off a strike was that casualties were certain to occur and thus would not be proportionate to an unmanned drone–

  10. Bill Wade says:

    “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!” Pres Trump tweet

  11. Eric Newhill says:

    Yes. Trump is more cool headed than a lot of people give him credit for being. IMO, If there is war, it will be Iran who starts it, for real; no false flags.

  12. HawkOfMay says:

    I’ve always felt that President Trump is impulsive and that impulsiveness is one of the things that makes him unfit to be President. My question is not ‘did he order airstrikes’. My question is ‘did an adult in the room step in’ or ‘did he actually change his mind’. I suspect the answer to that question will break down along the typical partisan lines.
    It does make clear that he has no overall plan or strategy in place. These actions demonstrate that our President is unpredictable. While unpredictability has its own value (perhaps especially in the political arena) I don’t want to see miscalculations creep in when we are talking about getting involved in a new war in the ME.

  13. turcopolier says:

    My understanding is that the action has been east of the Strait of Hormuz where THERE ARE international waters.

  14. Eugene Owens says:

    I thank Generals Dunford and Selva at the JCS for putting the brakes on Moron Bolton and SecState Pompous. Particularly General Selva who says protecting oil shipments thru the Strait is not our job; and who also pushed back hard against escalation in Venezuela in late April.

  15. Eugene Owens says:

    fotokemist & Ted Richard –
    The ships and aircraft of all nations, including warships, auxiliaries, and military aircraft, enjoy the right of unimpeded transit passage in the Strait and its approaches.
    That is true elsewhere also. The international legal regime of transit passage exists not only at the Strait of Hormuz but also in the Strait of Gibraltar, the Dover Strait, the Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Strait of Malacca.

  16. Fred says:

    Unlike the USA Iran has a perfect command and control system and no officer of the IRGC would ever screw up like the officers on USS Fitzgerald or USS John S. McCain. Nor would anyone there lie to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Rouhani. I’m sure thier intellegence services have not a single Strzock or Page amongst them either.
    “They will need to be smacked around hard….”
    How’s the Iranian economy doing right now? Not ‘smacked around hard’ enough?

  17. Fred says:

    Looks like impeachment for Russian collusion is off the table, Joe ‘foot in mouth’ Biden gets some cover and even Democrats in congress are talking about how the AUMF is outdated. Fixing the later, well that would take Pelosi allowing some legislation to come up for a vote.

  18. rho says:

    What terrorists does Iran support? Are you aware that Iranian troops are fighting Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria right now (which are supported by Turkey)?

  19. Elsi says:

    They will need to be smacked around hard….Something quick, yet dramatic and sufficiently painful to Iran materially and/or psychologically.

    It does not seem to you materially and psychologically painful enough the sanctions to which Iran has been submitted so far?
    That is like bombing the country to the hell, if you have not been still aware…You may need the oil barrel going $1000, as stimated by Goldman Sachs would be the outcome of a war in the Persian Gulf, to taste a bit of the pain they are experimenting since decades ago in your own skin to notice…

  20. prawnik says:

    And what makes you think that “Iran needs to smacked around hard”? And what makes you think that they will not retaliate?
    A better idea would be to treat Iran like any other country.

  21. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Eric Newhill,
    IMO,it is the izzies who are pushing for the destruction of Iran, with their BS about Amalek, their god-given title to Palestine, and their attempts to re-mold the ME in their image. The presence of Nasrallah&Co. and their rocket forces-mostly supplied by Iran-is the primary issue. Most of the current ills of the ME can be traced to the izzies. Think Syria.
    While there is no doubt that US can pound Iran into the stone age without really working a sweat, she probably would not have gotten off w/o a few bruises for her pains. In addition, more importantly in my view, the izzies might have also gotten a few surprises.
    My friends were glad to end last night with no emergencies on their watch. We were all very, very worried.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  22. prawnik says:

    If Iran wanted a war (why would they?) they have had ample opportunities to start one.

  23. joanna says:

    yes, still playing guitar?
    And what would you personally consider as more urgent, the inner US bolshevik threat the ones that made the deal or the outer Iranian one?

  24. BabelFish says:

    Or Sean Connery saying ‘release’?

  25. jon stanley says:

    heavens to betsy TR, someone should get you some vapers!

  26. jon stanley says:

    Please define “everyone”, I am in need of some humor.

  27. fredw says:

    Plausible and logical. What I would want a president to do, in fact. But not likely to be believed by power players. Those who believe it may fit it into the create-a-crisis-and then-take-credit-for-not-letting-it-blow-up story line. Those who think that way will not see it as evidence of strength.
    The danger is that this incident may well feed the when-push-comes-to-shove-he-will-always-back-down story line. People who think that may see this as license for reckless actions. We are not out of the woods yet. I hope he can follow this up in a way the gets us out.

  28. Flavius says:

    Prudent move by the President. It is encouraging that he put in play the concept of proportionality. Although the scale of challenge represented by Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the Pueblo in 68 exceeded this event, Trump’s reasoning in this situation demonstrated a level of akin sobriety that has all too frequently been lacking in the course of the last three presidencies. The lunatic fringes will no doubt find some way to undercut him, the left for their usual obscene political reasons and the neo-cons because they are neo-cons in service to their ‘higher calling’ but Trump by now has become accustomed to the craven antics of former; and hopefully this unfolding will so contrast his reasoning with the reasoning of his card carrying neo-con advisors that he will realize he needs to clean house for the next time.

  29. eakens says:

    Flying a plane into their territory, getting shot down, and then not attacking and calling it an opportunity to deescalate. That’s rich. The only thing these whole farcical attempt at diplomacy has proven from the day the deal was denounced as being a bad deal is that those at the top know little of Iran and Iranians. Nor do we want to know, since virtually every time I watch TV and they bring on an “expert” to talk about Iran, they are not only not Iranian but half the time Jewish.

  30. Regarding the aborted attack, my suspicion is that someone informed Trump of the possibility of an unsuspected Iranian asset bringing down an F-22, or horrors, an F-35. Not likely to help our export programs.
    Certainly one of major considerations. Unlike Iraq’s “integrated” (a propaganda cliche–antiquated should have been the term), Iran’s Air Defense Force has some really quirky own designed and manufactured, mostly Chinese and Russian knock-offs) air defense complexes with serious sensors. It also has Russian S-300PMU2. In general, Iran is nothing like Iraq, Libya or Syria before Russia intervened. I would put Iran’s medium range (up to 100 kilometers range and up to 20 kilometers altitude) AD capabilities as robustly good. And then, of course, tactical-operational ballistic missiles with an easy reach anywhere in ME (Qatar rings the bell, among many other) and, finally, who knows how many (very-very many) and what capability anti-shipping missiles. Rumor has it–Iran has a number of Yakhonts. Those are very bad news for anything on the surface in Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

  31. fotokemist says:

    Col, thanks for your response. I have no direct knowledge, just what I read in the funny papers, so I stand corrected. My primary reason for commenting in the first place was to provide the committee a peek into how an interested novice is seeing this mess.
    I do find it curious that our drone was operating in international waters. Assuming the drone was not actually in the water, at least initially, the question then becomes if international air space boundaries are congruent with international waters in this specific location. I’m sure many here know the answer. I’m just not one of them and know not where to start to find the answer.
    Thank you and the other committee members for sharing your insights.

  32. Robert C says:

    They have to poke the bear. They have no choice. The unethical draconian US sanctions- essentially an act of war- will starve the country, literally. They watched 100000 Iraqi children die in the 1990s as the result of sanctions. They won’t go down that path.

  33. Eric Newhill says:

    I think they are being treated like any other country – any other country that threatens to obliterate another sovereign nation (Israel) and that is aggressively attempting to expand to expand throughout a region.
    Yes, they are fighting ISIS, but that is not because they are good guys. It’s an old intra-Islamic feud and a fight for religious dominance in the region.

  34. Eric Newhill says:

    Sure. What you say is possible. If it is what occurred, then it is time for Iran to make a statement to that effect. Even if it did come from the top, they could still back down by making such a statement. Trump has given them opening and it’s an excellent way to de-escalate the situation.
    But that’s not what Iran is doing. They seem to be saying that the decision was indeed from the top and that they are not sorry. They said they could have done worse, which appears to be a threat to me.
    Iran really needs to get over the idea that they can make Israel go away. Ain’t gonna happen. Ever. The US will go to Armageddon over an existential threat to Israel. That’s just the way it is regardless of all of the gnashing of teeth from factions around the world (and here) that would be ok with Israel’s destruction (and perhaps the end of Jews/Judaism in the long run). So Iran is going to have to learn to live within that basic reality or be ruined. That they can’t accept that fact shows that they are a very dysfunctional government.

  35. Eric Newhill says:

    How do you know where the drone was when it was shot down? How do you know where the plane was?

  36. blue peacock says:

    Jack posted an interesting tweet on another thread. It seems there may also be an alternate explanation on why Trump called off the attacks.
    Apparently Iran was informed of the imminent attacks. They responded through Oman & Switzerland that they wouldn’t play ball and any attack would escalate.
    It is high time for Trump to eject the neocons from his administration.

  37. Yes. Trump is more cool headed than a lot of people give him credit for being.
    His actions have nothing to do with him being cool headed. He is very confused man as of today. But in this particular case we all may be thankful for none other than Tucker Carlson who, if to believe number of American sources, does advise Trump and that, in itself, is a really good news for everyone on the planet. In fact, if Trump wants second term, among many things he ought to do is to remove Bolton and appoint Tucker his NSA. Carlson surely is way more qualified for this job than Bolton. Come to think about it, Tucker could make a decent Secretary of the State too.

  38. Mark Logan says:

    There was a palpable lack of enthusiasm for a new war on FOX’s programs last night.
    IMO unless Trump comes to believe his re-election chances would be enhanced by a new war or the IRG conducts ops too violent to be ignored he is likely to keep it holstered.

  39. Lloyd D. Herod, Jr. says:

    One hundred and fifty souls? Maybe the toll for the first round. Be nice to have George Marshall back as Sec. Def., since currently we have none.

  40. ted richard says:

    what are vapers? i am somewhat prehistoric!

  41. jon stanley says:

    They always have a choice. They are not innocent. I may think it is revolutionary religious nonsense. They don’t. They think to dominate is their destiny. Sure, I’d stay the hell out of it if it were my call. I don’t care what happens in the Middle East. Especially not since the Permian Basin, et al, started kicking in. But they, the Revolutionary Guard, are on the march. They have to, to maintain their hold over the masses in Iran. So they have a choice.

  42. jon stanley says:

    What “challenge” in Hungry? Ike made it clear, in 1944, never mind 1956, where our sphere of interest was. There was never any doubt in Ike’s mind, anyway. And who had enough gravitas and knowledge to try and talk him out of his views? Czechoslovakia in 1968? Come on…we were a bit, cough, cough, distracted in 1968. That was never in question either. Pueblo? Come on..

  43. It seems the main threat Iran poses is to dollar hegemony. The rest is camouflage.

  44. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Re COl. Lanag’s comment above re international waters east of the strait, that correlates with an annotated map released by Iran that I saw early today on another site. The map showed the point of impact as just within Iran’s purview adjacent IW.

  45. Eric Newhill says:

    And – putting Israel aside – what about Shia Iran’s push to become the dominant power in the region and of Islam?
    You don’t think the Sunnis have any good reason to not want that?
    This isn’t just about Israel, as you know.

  46. eakens says:

    I don’t, but:
    A. Do they normally turn off their transponder when they are flying in international airspace?
    B. Iran provided GPS coordinates, plus recovered debris. US also provided coordinates, but only after Iran did.
    C. The video released, if true, would anecdotally indicate the land-based launch didn’t venture that far from the launch site before striking its target.
    D. Iran is not the country that pulled out of the JCPOA.
    E. John Bolton and Pompeo are war mongers.

  47. jdledell says:

    What Isreal hopes that as a minimum Iran and The U.S. fight a low level skirmish, a kind of tit for tat war that leaves Iran focused on defending themsleves against the U.S. The hopes are that this will leave Hezballah essentially alone without resupply in any fight against Israel. It has long been an Israel wet dream to take over southern Lebanon and have permanent possession of the waters of the Litani river for use in Israel. The thinking is Trump will give Israel possession of that part of Lebanon just as he gave them possession of the Golan Heights. I would not be surprised if years from now we find that it was Israeli frogmen who planted the mines on the oil tankers.

  48. Robert C says:

    Spoken like a man with safe borders, who won’t like to see his country asphyxiated.

  49. Robert C says:

    What? Sobriety? Trump brought ALL of this on himself with his jingoistic bluster against Iran ( to please Adelson) and then pulled out of the nuclear agreement. You’ve got a martyr complex. Trump ain’t the victim. He owns this mess.

  50. Mark Logan says:

    I suspect the Iranians did it and wanted everybody to know they did.
    Why? People backed into a corner will do most anything. The current stance of the US, given that the US has shown it will abandon agreements on a whim without apology, is the corner of total capitulation or war. In their shoes I would be looking for a way to flip this table and Iran is too proud to capitulate. It would not shock me to discover Iran has deliberately sent message they WILL fight and needs the US to believe it.
    They understand such a message can only be imparted to the US by actions.

  51. Eric Newhill says:

    Yep. And they’re trying to start one now. Trump is frustrating them by not reacting. However, Iran will up the ante. They will commit more attacks and try to close down shipping. They think they have to do this to get leverage over the sanction situation. It’s or do or die time for the Islamic revolutionary govt of Iran. Of course they could negotiate nuclear issues with the US, recognize Israel, etc, but they can’t because that’s not good for their brand as would be leaders of the Islamic world, which is what they seek. So they must defy the Great Satan. They apparently think they have an edge at this time – and they do. They realize Trump’s reticence to get into a hot war. But sooner or later Trump will have to order US forces to attack Iranian assets.
    I do not see this current trouble as the work of Israel or US neocons. It is what it appears to be on its surface, IMO. You probably blame the US because the US imposed the sanctions. You’re ok with Iran taking over the MENA and becoming a nuclear power. You might want to believe they are an innocent peaceful victim of imperialism. I don’t. They have been belligerent since day 1 in 1979. They have made their intentions clear and they are as I say they are.
    That’s all my uniformed opinion, of course. Time will tell.

  52. Eric Newhill says:

    Mark Logan,
    I agree. This is what it appears to be. Iran is too proud to negotiate and to desperate from the sanctions to not fight.

  53. turcopolier says:

    They do not wish to think themselves less than the men they thought they were?

  54. blue peacock says:

    Reminds me of all the Evil Saddam rhetoric and arguments by the same group in 2003. In retrospect the world would have been safer without radical Islamic jihadists if Saddam had not only taken Kuwait but also Saudi Arabia which would have been next on his target. We wouldn’t have had 9/11 or wahabbi terrorists roaming around as Saddam would have eliminated all the radical Islamists who were a threat to his leadership.
    Unlike all the more recent Arab sheikdoms, Iran has a millennia old culture. They have not invaded anyone in at least a century. They sure have a beef with the US as we toppled their duly elected government & installed the Shah who turned out to be our “tyrant” that created the seeds for the mullahs to take over. The propaganda of demonization is also age-old. Resisting US & Israeli hegemony is not evidence that they seek to dominate. The neocons in their foolishness gave them Iraq on a platter. Their support of Hezbollah & Assad against Israeli domination & western regime change is rational.
    One thing I’ve learned since coming to SST is that we have very little national interest in meddling in the Middle East. And all we’ve done is make a thorough mess from Iraq, to Libya & Syria. Our meddling in recent decades has been purely as Israel’s strong-arm. As Trump said during his campaign we spent trillions and got nothing.
    If we can build normal relations with Vietnam after losing 50,000 in the jungles there, we can also get over the hostages and have normal relations with Iran too. They are not the boogeymen that the neocons & the zionists claim they are, IMO.

  55. Eric Newhill says:

    Yes, sir. That’s how I’m seeing it.
    Been there myself in a few of my personal fights. Didn’t work out so well when I went ahead even knowing it was I was David, but a man’s gotta do….

  56. LG says:

    I read al akhbar, the Lebanese paper, which is quite close to Hezbollah. In all their recent articles, they claim it was the Iranians who carried out the tanker attacks.

  57. jon stanley says:

    are my borders really safe? thanks for assuring me. Here i was laboring under the misapprehension that our borders, in the South, anyway, were porous.

Comments are closed.