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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Remember The Maine



"In spite of all its horror, we must regard the sinking of the Lusitania as an event most important and favourable to the Allies. The poor babies who perished in the ocean attack struck a blow at German power more deadly than could have been achieved by the sacrifice of 100,000 men."
-- Winston Churchill, commenting on the “unprovoked” attack on the luxury liner RMS Lusitania, torpedoed by German U-boat U-20 on May 7, 1915. 1,200 people died in the icy waters off the coast of Ireland. The attack caused international outcry and was one of the factors that led to US involvement in WWI and was used to stoke anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom.

It was later revealed Lusitania regularly engaged in the transport of thousands of tons munitions and war materiel using civilian passenger service as camouflage, a fact that had been deliberately kept from the British public and Lusitania’s passengers.

Trump on Twitter quoting US Secretary of State Pompeo, “It is the assessment of the U.S. government that Iran is responsible for today's attacks in the Gulf of Oman...."

The government.

It is the assessment of the US government.

Not the US intelligence community, the US government.

You want to pay attention to the weasel words.

[Edit: Moments ago, Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks, “citing evidence from US intelligence” instead of just saying “US government. He did not, however, present any of this alleged evidence.]

Two tankers were attacked this morning in the Gulf of Oman near the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz.

Japan's Trade Ministry said the two vessels were carrying "Japan-related” cargo.

Four tankers were attacked last month in the same region.

Two more today and it’s starting to look like a trend.

Naturally prices surged on international markets as investors panicked at this sudden threat to the oil supply.

US officials are – predictably – blaming Iran for the attacks.

The general consensus in the press and world opinion is that Iran must be behind these attacks.

Must be.

There’s no evidence yet, at least none that any nation is willing to make public. No one actually witnessed Iran carrying out these attacks. It’s the assessment of our government, but not of the professionals – at least, not yet.

Still, perhaps conveniently, there really isn’t another obvious candidate.


But, as a retired US Navy Intelligence officer who spent significant time in that part of the world, I've got to say this assumption doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense. Not to me anyway.


Right now, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Tehran.

Japan’s leader is meeting with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in an attempt to rekindle nuclear disarmament talks – something the Trump administration is adamantly opposed to. And Trump himself said so on Twitter again this morning.

And suddenly there are these attacks on tankers ...

...carrying Japanese cargo?

That's damned coincidental, if it is indeed a coincidence.

But if it's Iran, as our leaders say it must be, and it's not a coincidence, then what's the message?

Japan isn't threatened by Iran. 

Iran isn’t threatened by Japan.

Japan is currently in Iran attempting to negotiate a future equitable to Iran and Iran blows up cargo destined for Japan?

I repeat, what's the message here? Don’t try to negotiate with Iran? Is that the message? Because that message seems like it would be a lot more likely to come from somebody other than Iran.

Somebody who doesn’t want Japan and Iran talking.

Somebody who doesn’t want Iran talking to anybody.

Unless, you know, it is just a damned odd coincidence.

And maybe it is. How do you know?

How do you know?

Perhaps start with your intelligence assets, the professionals who spend their entire lives looking at this problem, instead of some political hack running the State Department who tells you only what you want to hear.

And the first thing you have to ask as an intelligence analysts is: Who benefits from these attacks?

Start there. Don’t start with the assumption Iran is behind the attacks and then reverse engineer the data and the politics to make it so. That’s how we ended up invading Iraq for 9-11. I know, because I was there.

Who benefits from these attacks?

And that's the question you don't see asked.

You see a lot of blame tossed around this morning. A lot of speculation. But the press doesn’t ask "who benefits?"

This morning, as we edge closer and closer to war, President Trump is furiously tweeting about impeachment and how somebody spied on his campaign and how he’s under no obligation to report when foreign intelligence agents hand him dirt on his opponents and something about the “Prince of Whales,” but you don’t see him asking: “who benefits?”

And you’re not seeing it from any of our other so-called leaders either.

We all just assume Iran benefits. But do they? And can you prove it?

Who benefits from attacking oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman?

Start here: The attackers didn't get the cargo.

And that’s significant.

In fact, at this point, we're not even sure how the ships were attacked. Mine? Missile? Torpedo? Nobody knows, again at least not that they’re saying. But whoever it was and however they did it, they weren’t interested in the cargo. I have some very direct experience in this area, in this gulf, on ships like this, with piracy and oil and you don’t blow holes in a tanker or light it on fire if you’re after the oil.

The attackers didn't get the cargo and made no attempt to do so.

So piracy isn't the motivation.

Or is it?

See, there's more than one form of piracy and this is where I remind you of that surge in oil prices this morning.

What am I saying? Wall Street is behind the attacks? Exxon stock holders? Investors? OPEC? Some sort of James Bondesque plot from the Pierce Brosnan era?

Well … you know, stranger things have happened. Wars have been started for profit more often than we’d like to admit. It is a hell of a lot of money. One hell of a lot of power.


To hell with Spain! Remember the Maine!
-- Rallying cry of Americans who wanted war with Spain following that nation’s attack on USS Maine in Havana harbor, February 15, 1898.

Many years later, following the Spanish American War, it was revealed USS Maine had been destroyed by a coal bunker explosion. An accident.


But I'd rate the probability of that scenario as, well, probably unlikely – but not entirely impossible.

It would be easier to raise oil prices via a variety of safer means, depending on your definition of "safe." Particularly when these attacks are likely to spark a military response.

Very likely, a military response from the US -- despite the fact that these are not our ships, nor our cargo, nor our people, nor our sovereign territory.

And that’s the thing, right there. Isn’t it?

Who wants war between the US and Iran?

Besides us, I mean?

Who wants that war? Who benefits from war between the US and Iran?

Well, a lot of people actually. A lot of nations. A lot of entrenched political and monied power structures.

Now, we're certainly veering dangerously towards conspiracy theory territory here, but the thing is that whoever is behind this, well, they must want war.

They must.

Whoever is behind these attacks, be it a nation or some other agency, they must want war.

Or they are the single most naïve terrorists ever born.

Because war is what you're going to get when you threaten the oil supply.

And the United States is going to be leading the charge. That’s a given, for many reasons beyond just oil.

So, if it is Iran, is that what they’re trying to provoke? War. With America?

Why?

Does Iran really want war with the US?

Of course, the kneejerk jingoistic American answer is: YES!

But, do they? Really?

How does Iran benefit from that war?

The odds are that the US will win – depending on how you define the terms. Maybe not quickly, maybe not easily, maybe at great cost – perhaps even fatal cost -- but eventually the US along with the rest of the world will destroy Iran if pushed into war, because the world can’t afford to have the Straits of Hormuz closed for very long. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, the UAE, those nations cannot allow Iran to close the Straits for long. The nations who depend on the oil which flows via tanker through those straits, they can’t allow those straits to be closed at all.

And that’s what will happen when the US goes to war with Iran.

I’ve been there. I’ve been on the bridge of US cruisers, the point ship of a fleet transiting that narrow strait. I’ve looked at the war plans, hell, I helped write them. It doesn’t have to be complete. It doesn’t have to be total. Such a blockade might not keep warships from fighting their way through – unless somebody gets lucky and sinks an American nuclear aircraft carrier in the channel. But you can’t sail oil tankers through a war zone. Not through that channel under fire.

It doesn’t matter if anybody else can get through, if you can’t sail tankers through the Straits of Hormuz, then you’re screwed.

And there isn’t much anybody could do to stop that once war is joined, short of utter destruction of Iran – perhaps even nuclear destruction. 

Iran knows this.

Their leaders are religious fanatics, but they are not stupid. And they understand war and power just fine. So why would they provoke the US into attacking?

What do they stand to gain?

Now, of course, this is where things get difficult, because we are talking about religious fanatics. Maybe they do want the US to attack. Maybe they think their God will give them victory. Or maybe they’re gambling that the attack will be limited.  Maybe they think they they can parley such a strike into sympathy, drive a wedge between the US and its allies, especially if they can play up America’s penchant for unprovoked war ala Iraq.

That would be a hell of a risky plan.

Then again, stranger, riskier, and far more ridiculous plans by fanatics have pushed nations into war.

But you have to ask yourself, why then attack tankers? Why attack these tankers? Why not attack warships? If war is what you want. Iran attacking these tankers just doesn’t make much sense even if they did want war. And the truth of the matter is that no matter who “wins,” war with the US will be very, very bad for Iran. And it’s damned unlikely they would risk any such open conflict, especially since these very same Iranian leaders have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to sit down at a negotiating table and talk, even sign agreements with the United States and her allies.

Agreements the US walked out on, not Iran.


Of all the nations that might want war between the US and Iran, Iran is the least likely candidate.


And so, we come back ‘round to it.

Back around to the questions we should be asking.

To the questions that the press should be asking.

To the questions our our leaders should be loudly asking right now.

To the questions our intelligence community should be working to answer in detail.

Who benefits?

Who benefits from attacks on these particular targets?

Who has the capability to carry out these attacks. Who has the ability to carry out an attack on oil tankers, underway at sea, in one of the most heavily trafficked sea lanes and thus one of the most heavily surveilled areas in the world, on ships that are specifically on the lookout for such an attack.

Who can carry out that attack and do so in such a manner that the methodology and origin are not immediately apparent?

Who has that capability?

Not only has that capability, but also believes they will directly benefit from a war between Iran and the rest of the world.

Has the capability, is willing to use it, wants a war, and will benefit from the results even if later reveled  -- starting with a massive increase in the price of oil.

Now, you tell me: who is that?

My fellow Americans, as President and Commander in Chief, it is my duty to the American people to report that renewed hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action in reply…
-- President Lyndon Johnson, August 4, 1964, addressing the nation following two attacks by North Vietnamese gunboats on the American warship USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Whereas these attackers are part of a deliberate and systematic campaign of aggression that the Communist regime in North Vietnam has been waging against its neighbors and the nations joined with them in the collective defense of their freedom…
-- Tonkin Gulf Resolution, August 7, 1964, the US resolution which, as a result of the North Vietnamese attacks on USS Maddox, led directly to the Vietnam War.

In 2005, records from the Maddox Incident were declassified, revealing that in the first “attack” on USS Maddox, the US warship was in fact the aggressor and fired on North Vietnamese vessels first.

The second “attack” never actually happened at all.

89 comments:

  1. Where is Erik Prince these days? What are his current connections with Saudi Arabia, who would benefit handsomely?

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  2. I know this one! It's the Saudis.

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    1. Why? They need to sell oil.

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    2. Ding Ding Ding! Let's not forget Iran and Saudi Arabia are locked in a grueling proxy war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has never been militarily adventurous overseas until Mohammed bin Salman started purging its government. Trump is enthralled by rich and powerful men, and Kushner seems to have a close working relationship with MBS. I can imagine MBS plotting these attacks and giving Kushner and Trump a heads-up to be loudly blaming Iran for it. If he can provoke the US into fighting his war against a much more populous Iran, he can end their growing influence in the Muslim world.

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  3. Excellent analysis underpinned by stone-cold logic and solid historical understanding. United States Incorporated in action, again.

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  4. "The attack caused international outcry and was one of the factors that led to WWI."

    Um, no. The First World War started on 28 July 1914. America joined in April 1917

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    1. Read it again: "The attack caused international outcry and was one of the factors that >> led to US involvement << in WWI..."

      The U.S. stayed out of the shooting until 1917, after the sinking.

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    2. ". . .one of the factors that led to US involvement in WWI . . ."

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    3. You didn't use the full quote: "The attack caused international outcry and was one of the factors that led to US involvement in WWI and was used to stoke anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom."

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    4. That's not what the article says. It states quite clearly "....was one of the factors that led to US involvement in WWI" Completely different scenario.

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    5. Guys, I edited the post to make what I meant more clear. @Bagerap was commenting on the original version. // Jim

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    6. Who benefits? Saudi Arabia, Israel, any oil producing countries in that region, even Russia. And of course, Trump would benefit if it helped his re-election campaign like it did G.W. Bush. But not Japan and not Iran.

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    7. Also could be non state actors like ISIS and MEK. Al Quaeda was very successful in blowing the hell out of the USS Cole.

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  5. the answer is in your cited incidents...who is involved in every one of them? China? no, China has not been involved in actual battle conflict with anyone since the Korean War...it's always the US, so who benefits? who has always been the beneficiary when the US is involved? follow the money, it's not hard to figure out (if you are looking to quote Presidents, try Ike's final speech)

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    1. You're forgetting about the China-Vietnam war in 1979.

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    2. Vietnam would beg to differ. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Vietnamese_War

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    3. Pretty sure the Tibetans and Uyghurs would beg to differ too - although I guess it depends what you call battles / wars and what you just call genocidal invasions and occupations.

      Think I also recall the PRC clashing with India over the border with them although that may just be confusing with Pakistan?

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  6. In the wake of Watergate, I went into journalism, with the primary thought that government lies to us. All of the time. Forty four years later, my view hasn't changed - if anything, the events Jim describes, plus many others, have hardened that view. One can only hope that one day, this will change.

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    1. I'd like to suggest that the bar has almost never been lower than with this administration. The only certain thing is that when this administration lies (or tells the truth, rarely), it will either lead to the aggrandizement or enrichment of the Cheeto in Chief.

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  7. My grandfather lost shipmates on the Maine, buried at Key West. I was a small boy.

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    1. Wait... what? If you were *born* on the day the Maine was sunk, you'd be a minimum of 121 years old. I need an explanation here. Or someone from the Guinness Book of World Records.

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    2. You must have been really small. The Maine incident happened 121 years ago.

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    3. I'd guess that the missing words are "he was" as in: He was buried at Key West...

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    4. Perhaps he meant to say his "grandfather lost former shipmates on the Maine, and he visited their graves with his grandfather when he was a small boy". Read that way it's possible. (for reference, my great grandfather fought in the Civil War. Some of us breed late in my family).

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    5. The antecedent isn't clear: "buried at Key West" may apply to the shipmates who died on the Maine or to the grandfather who survived. If the grandfather was in his 20s when the Maine sank, he could have been buried in the 1940s or 1950s, making Warner someone in his 70s or 80s.

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  8. Interesting. But, I don’t agree that this, on its own, will result in a war, or is likely to result in a war. I can think of multiple scenarios where Iran, or a faction within Iran, could be behind this for various reasons short of outright war with the U.S. Also, when you rhetorically asked “who could carry out the attack?” and who would benefit from a war between US and Iran, Israel and Netanyahu jumps to mind.

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    1. Netanyahu also leaped immediately to my mind. He needs a war to "change the subject" in Israel every bit as much as Trump needs to change the narrative in the U.S.

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  9. As any good magician will tell you, the art is not in the trick so much as it is in the misdirect. Get the audience looking somewhere else, and the trick becomes much easier to perform.

    The list of who benefits, as you say Chief, can be long. For myself, I see it down to 4 probables. Us, Israel, Saudi and Russia. If the U.S. goes to war with Iran, all of those nations stand to gain, and gain considerably, but in varying ways. Israel will no longer have a hated enemy state causing them issues. Saudi will have removed a religious enemy and could possibly take over the region. Russia could see this as a way to attack us on other fronts, and considering the "relationship" (drastically one sided) between Putin and Trump, this would make a great excuse to do just that. The U.S. would attempt to regain some idea of being a "super power", and if we were to be successful would have control of that region as we "rebuild it", thus giving us control of the Straight and all of Iran's oil.

    Who is actually doing it? At this point, as you say, not enough intel to be sure. Flip a coin for any of those four, or some other actor, but those are the four I see at this moment as having the most to benefit.

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    1. I think that the Saudi's probably don't want that level of trouble so close to their doorstep even if it does push up the price of oil. A unilateral action by Israel doesn't make any sense. A coordinated action with the US makes a little more sense but I can see a lot of US allies not being at all keen on that and they would find out. Russia is a fairly major oil producer and causing disruption in the west is generally considered well worth the effort. That is where I would bet if I was going for any option. A solo US operation would not exactly be a first as Jim has pointed out but I can't see the 5 eyes going along with it and the US must know that you spy on your friends as much as you spy on your enemies. I agree that it makes no sense at all for it to be Iran. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose and they have been willing to negotiate in the past. The immediate accusation against Iran has a bad smell to it.

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  10. I think you make some very valid points. Especially in asking who benefits from this.
    I realize that this administration wants to see Iran as responsible and has already declared it so. I have other ideas on this. Looking at who in the region hates Iran and you come up with Saudi Arabia and isreal...add Russia to the mix, a country/leader who wants to create an unstable region so they can take advantage of it. I can’t see Iran's government attacking Japanese shipping with the Japanese PM visiting at the same time. but i can see someone else doing it to drive a wedge between Iran and any other country trying to seek diplomatic solutions.

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  11. I am so tired of this shit, but mostly, I'm mad as hell.

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  12. If this happens, then Pyrrhic victory will become 'Trumpian victory'.
    Too many countries will come into this.

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  13. I appreciate you analyses of various military issues around the world, Mr. Wright.

    All my grandparents were enlisted in various branches of the military (or women's auxiliaries). One grandfather was killed in WW2.

    My mother and father were both in the US Navy (and my father killed in Vietnam). My step-father was also in-country in Vietnam with the Air Force.

    My sister and I were enlisted in the military (she in the Army and me in the Navy).

    All I can say about my son is I am glad he did not enlist in the military. Military service can be an honorable way to serve your nation and others around the world, but never when dishonorable people are in charge of the government.

    It isn't the military which starts or ends wars. It's politicians and diplomats. They are the ones who can dishonor military service, by using the military in a dishonorable way.

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  14. I have worked with many companies and clients in the Middle East since the late 80's. I've made 14 trips to Abu Dhabi alone since 2015. My money in on, in order: Russia, private interests in the US and the Saudis (with assistance). One has to wonder how much less volatile this part of the world would be if the Western developed world simply moved away from fossil fuels? That would spark a war of another kind but that's the subject of many other rants so I'll be quiet.

    My bottom line: If I happened to be at the table when the decisions are made to unravel this crap fest and determine the consequences, I would want the Chief to also be at that table!

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  15. My moderately uninformed opinion is Russia. They have the capability, and the motives are an increase in oil prices is to their advantage, and chaos is their friend.

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  16. Thanks for your insightful essay. Israel is who comes to mind for me. Netanyahu needs a war to trump up support.

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  17. Um, read what was written. The sinking of the Lusitania led to the US entering WW1.

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  18. Israel or Saudi Arabia strike me as having the most to gain.

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  19. "will benefit from the results even if latter reveled "

    Should be 'later revealed'?

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  20. Environmentalists...... Trying to end the oil trade and save the planet?? Chances are we will never really know who is behind it because they're way smarter than us!

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  21. *sigh* As I strive to discover the depths of my ignorance, you, once again, have aided me in my endeavor. Now begins the absorption process, which reduces me to a glutenous mass.

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  22. if i can offer an edit:

    i think you meant "later revealed" rather than "latter reveled"

    thanks, again, for the thoughtful post!

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  23. Cogent as always. Most of us are eager for simple answers, no matter how complex the situation, particularly when we feel aggrieved.

    I don't know how we become better, but I am certain that this administration has no interest in trying.

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  24. A question I was asking myself just this morning, which was : why am I having trouble believing this? Once again, Sir, you have addressed the root of our concerns. Thank You!

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  25. As far as false flags go, this one is pretty bad.

    Listing countries like the US, Russia, Israel, and Saudi Arabia as potential beneficiaries brushes over the fact that none of them are single actors. So for example, Russian government might want it, Russian crime funds it and profits from it, mercenaries pull it off, and the US administration grabs the casus belli.

    It would be interesting to see who actually is doing this, but i doubt that would ever come out in my lifetime.

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  26. My money is on China here, which doesn't want to see two of it's not-allies conclude any agreement but, as you say, it could be the USA. I suppose also, it might be something completely out of left field, Chechens or Brazilians.

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    1. China needs low oil prices so they're clearly out of list.
      But Russia definitely wants high oil prices and destabilization in the region. For that goal they are in Syria as well.

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  27. Other than 'our our leaders', I didn't notice any typos.

    I've been wondering about another 'attack' incident, and when/where it would happen, and who it would benefit. Is this one 'it'? Good God, I hope not.

    But as an atheist, it isn't like I expect God to have anything to do with it either way, anyway.

    Renee.

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  28. So, as far as the attacks being carried out in open sea, we don't know that yet. The explosions occurred offshore, but timed limpet mines could have been placed when last in port, by basically anyone with a rebreather and a motive. One of the tankers was carrying naphtha. Nasty, volatile stuff, like carrying butane. Really doesn't take much to detonate that.

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  29. Let's see... Trump wants a distraction from his legal issues. Bolton wants his sexual release from finally getting into it with Iran. Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia want Iran eliminated or completely marginalized. So many suspects it needs a Miss Marple to unravel.

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  30. I'm not placing any bets until more information comes to light. But it'll ultimately boil down to the money; it always does. Even the wackadoodle religious zealots are looking at the money. They'll lie to your face about it, but they are.

    Wondering, Chief, what you might have to say about David Brin's reaction to this essay.

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  31. Who benefits? My guess would be Trump.

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  32. In regard to "who benefits" and "who has the means to pull this off", Gareth Porter's investigation seems to be be pointing to Israel, presumably with the aid and/or approval of Bolton/Pompeo.

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  33. Exactly! With Bolton spoiling for a fight with Iran, and Trump no doubt desperate to shift attention (not pretending either is powerful or smart enough to dream this up, but they'd be convenient pawns), to hear that Iran "was behind" the attacks seems awfully convenient. My first thought, as well, was why? That doesn't seem like Iran's calling card at all. My question is, will people in the intelligence community speak out? I mean, if it's clear it's not actually coming from them?

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    1. They probably going back to the '80s and the Reagan era with the mining and zodiac attacks...

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  34. Motive is important, but a better way to proceed with an analysis should involve "means, motive, and opportunity".

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  35. My money is on the US, the Saudi's or the Israeli's. Alone, all of the above, or any combination of the three.

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    1. Saudi Arabia wouldn't risk stopping oil sales for long time. They need to use the Straits. "But you can’t sail oil tankers through a war zone. Not through that channel under fire."
      See who wants high oil prices. Putin needs this badly and he has the capability.

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  36. I doubt Saudi Arabia is behind it. Not that they wouldn't gain from the defeat of Iran, but they are in harms way. I think Israel or Russia are the obvious candidates.

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    1. Does Israel need high oil prices? Currently they're busy enough fighting rocket attacks from Syria and Gaza border trespassers.

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  37. The other thing I find odd about these attacks is how half-hearted they seem to be. If you are going to do something - why not do it properly. It is as though it is a purely symbolic gesture - a warning of some sort. But if it is a warning, where is the ransom note?

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  38. "Now, you tell me: who is that?" -
    - Putin.

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  39. "Now, you tell me: who is that?" -
    - Putin.

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  40. Thank you.

    It's critical thinking like this that we need.

    When I first heard reports of these attacks yesterday, my first thoughts were to Iran - until I remembered that Shinzo Abe either was still in Iran or had just left. At that point I was suck with your question.

    The Romans had a phrase for it; 'Qui bono?' - Who benefits?

    As you say, not Iran. Then who?

    Russia would like the bump in oil prices. Somebody sneezes in the Gulf and oil prices respond - se've seen that movie before.

    The Saudis? They'd rather enjoy seeing Iran slagged.

    Israel? Hmmm... Bibi Netanyahu needs a boost, but if it ever came out that Israel provoked an attack like this Israel would rather be in deep kimchee. That sort of asshattery could cost them US backing.

    I don't think our administration is smart enough to think that deep (to set up a multi-layered plan to 'hide' the administration's involvement).

    Yes. Cui bono certe.

    Thanks again.

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    1. Actually "cui bono", dative of attribution, or something like that= (literally) "to whom the good"

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  41. A classic case of wagging the dog. Too bad so many people have forgotten how that works...

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  42. While the US and Saudi Arabia are the prime outside suspects and Israel and RUssia follow close behind for all the reason stated, I think more weight needs to be given to the hard line faction within Iran itself. THey play a dangerous game, but if they can keep it short of all out war with the US then it provides them the following:
    1. Decreased the chance for rapprochement between the US and Iran
    2. Discourages oil players who use those shipping lanes from trying to broker agreements
    3. Results in Iran resuming building their nuclear capability which is a main hardliner goal
    4. Sows more chaos in the region which is to the benefit of that faction particularly

    They have the capacity to do this sort of operation and their motive is power more than money

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  43. Good post Stonekettle. Good questions.

    Motive, means and opportunity.

    Motive = $$$$ or National Security visa vis Iran.

    $$$$ = a Petro-State, BUT NOT just any Petro State. A Petro-State that doesn't need the Gulf of Oman open to traffic.

    I think that leaves us with Venezuela, or Russia.

    Venezuela is too busy with it's own internal lunacy at the moment.

    So, we're left with the Russians, who are reputed for supporting terror worldwide and are VERY GOOD at getting proxies, sometimes perhaps even unsuspecting proxies to do their dirty work. The Houthis come to mind. They could be paid in arms and keep their mouths shut if they wanted to.

    As to Saudis? I doubt it. They need the gulf.
    Israel? This isn't their style and it would appear that any strikes would be against Iranian maritime forces or assets and leave the real problems of Teheran's nuclear program and the Ayatollah's continuing "revolution" unaddressed.

    Finally we have a question.

    Would people like Trump and Bolton agree to attack Iran if Russia did the provocation, and the deal would be that when oil becomes "scarce" as well as expensive as all hell, that sanctions are lifted and Russia gets to finally explore the trillions of $$$ worth that they are forbidden from extracting from the arctic?

    There was a reason that Russia wanted the former head of Exxon/Mobile to be Trump's Secretary of State.

    I think we've returned to that square on the chessboard.

    Finally, this is the middle east. So... nearly everything is possible. ;-)

    ~Alexi

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  44. Aren't there reports, from the ship's captain no less, that the ship was hit by a missile? And if I'm reading other reports correctly, the ship was hit on the starboard side, while southbound; whereas an Iranian missile would impact the port side.

    I think even less CT is that the responsible party/-ies are Saudi Arabia and/or UAE. They and Israel have been lusting for us to hit Iran (Israel in so many words) for a while now. Trump himself is such a coward and imbecile that he has neither the brains nor the balls to come up with this himself.

    A good test of this explanation: If Trump blusters and does nothing in the end, it ain't us behind it.

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  45. Saudi Arabia. At the behest of the US, spearheaded by Erik Prince. That's my 2 cents worth.

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  46. I realize that I'm in conspiracy territory, but my money is on john bolton and like minded neocons

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    Replies
    1. This administration has already demonstrated its willingness to conspire and lie. So, yes. I agree.

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  47. Very well stated. I don't believe we will ever know who was behind the recent tanker attacks. The key word is "we." The individuals in the know have already started to craft the official narrative that will place Iran in the middle of the blame game. I find it very difficult to believe our current state of surveillance technology would fail to see who the perpetrators were/are.

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  48. Nice post. My new goal in life is to buy you a drink.

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  49. Beyond all of the debate about who would benefit, I want to step back and ask why the US cares so much. It is assumed that the US would take the lead in an attack on Iran, because we are the most powerful of Iran's enemies. But why is it so important to us anymore. The underlying fight is between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both are run by human rights abusing autocrats. Saudi Arabia would love for the US to neutralize Iran, but the historical reasons for our alliance with the Saudis have faded. We should not be their hired guns. I'll be ready to attack Iran after Iranians fly planes into the Empire State Building.

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  50. following up on your statement, who stands to gain?...the russians are in a win/win here...close the straight, stop the flow of oil there, and the pipeline that the russians own, will become the only oil flowing in that region...I think this may be Putin and his Oligarchy trying to figure out how to get around the sanctions...and we all know that Putin has no qualms about killing and war...

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    Replies
    1. The Russians are also able to sell Iranian oil under their name.

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  51. The Japanese ship was supposedly hit by a "mine" that an "Iranian" warship then removed. But the stealth footage provided by the United States shows the "mine" (or whatever that unexploded object is) is about 10 feet above the surface of the water. What did the mine do — jump out of the water, fasten itself to the ship, and then decide not to explode?

    Curioser and Curioser...

    Yours Crankily,
    The New York Crank

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  52. Why is the US responsible to go after Iran for these attacks?
    They were not our ships.
    I do not hear Japan calling for intervention nor do they believe that Iran was involved.
    So why is it up to us?

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  53. Who benefits? All signs point to a country whose name begins with the letter I (and I don't mean Iraq, nor do I mean Iran) but if you dare to mention it, you're shouted down or ostracized or ridiculed. Who could it be? Hmm! I wonder!

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