Monday, February 10, 2014

Iran Navy Patrol

Iran is claiming that it has sent a small flotilla on a patrol close to the US Atlantic border. 

No need for alarm.

1) The Iranians lack the naval power to threaten the United States in any significant way. While Iranian forces in the Gulf could cause problems in the event of a localized conflagration, the ships in question here do not represent a serious challenge. In fact, the Iranians may be lying about the entire deployment.

2) The flotilla will be monitored by the US Navy. There's no doubt that the US will keep a close eye on what the Iranians do. It's in this sense that US Navy forces will protect American interests and gather intelligence on Iranian naval tactics, strategic doctrine and capabilities.

3) There's an obvious domestic political component to this action. Iran's Navy wants to exert prestige and regime hardliners want to show the US that they retain significant influence. Moreover, the imagery and narrative of Iranian vessels off the US coast is a powerful one. At least in propaganda terms. Correspondingly, Iranian state media are using these claims as an opportunity to assert Iran's presentation on the international scene. Power politics rely upon successful presentation.

4) The main point - states have the right to patrol in international waters. Indeed, the USS Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group is currently on operations proximate to Iran. What's important is that naval powers behave responsibly. And not like China's Navy.

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