Iran's Gulf Aggression Can Be Stopped Without War

(Bloomberg) Adm. (ret.) James Stavridis - The worry on which the world should focus is not a deliberate and overt Iranian attack, but a miscalculation that spirals into war. Things could escalate quite easily. I commanded the Carrier Strike Group Enterprise in the Gulf in the summer of 2003. Every day I watched Navy warships under my command operate with restraint as small Iranian Navy and Revolutionary Guard boats circled us, made high speed runs in our direction, and broadcast dire warnings. In 2016, two small U.S. riverine patrol boats and their crews were seized by Iran. That kind of incident in today's hair-trigger environment could easily cause the administration to launch strikes against Iranian ships. Iran could retaliate with mines against commercial shipping, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which flows 30% of the world's oil. This would very likely lead to the U.S. and its allies to forcibly reopen the strait, an operation that would almost certainly require cruise missile and air strikes against the entire Iranian naval force, which would necessitate pre-strike operations against the Iranian air force. The best approach for the U.S. now is to return to a greater focus on allies, partners and friends. This means continuing to build an anti-Iran coalition that includes not only Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, but also the European and NATO partners. The role for the Europeans is to help force Iran back to the negotiating table through economic sanctions. It's unfortunate that some of them don't seem to be taking the increased Iranian threat seriously. The writer, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, is dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

2019-05-17 00:00:00

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