Yesterday, clearly as a bit of extemporaneous theater to celebrate Obama's State of the Union self-idolatry, Iran seized two US Navy vessels and ten US sailors. The sailors and vessels have since been returned and there is no word yet indicating whether classified communications gear was aboard and, if it was, its status.
While the delivery of the two vessels, as far as we know, was serendipitous, the treatment of the sailors was calculated. If we really have turned over a new page with Iran, and, really, allying with them in Syria, giving them a nuke, removing UN sanctions, and letting them make Iraq a vassal state, should have done that if turning a new page was possible, then Iran would have concluded that the two boats were sailors in distress and they would have, in accordance the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, rendered assistance. That didn't happen. They were arrested. They were photographed with the intent to humiliate them, a violation of the Geneva Conventions. They were accused of spying. The ships had the Stars and Stripes hauled down and the Iranian flag hoisted, then they were taken into an Iranian port as though they were prizes of war. And finally they were released.
More troubling is that one sees a return to the laissez-faire, lackadaisical attitude that permeated the US military under Bill Clinton and led to the disaster of the USS Cole being bombed in Yemen. The Persian Gulf is a relatively small body of water. Much of it is contested. Just this weekend, Iran fired rockets near US Navy ships in the Gulf. Iran has a history of snarfing up small vessels and holding their crews to make a point. In 2004 and 2007, the Royal Navy, such as it is these days, suffered this indignity. Yet these two ships were sent into the area, unarmed, (you can see the empty weapons mounts in the image, this is what they should look like)
and with no communications to higher headquarters. Apparently, we found out where our boats where by asking the Iranians. The Iranians have released video of the US Navy commander (I'm using this as a position, I don't know his rank) apologizing:
— Abas Aslani (@abasinfo) January 13, 2016
And we apologized to the Iranians to get them back.
The administration is saying they didn't apologize, naturally. One has to ask, though, in all the dealings where what the Obama administration has said has been in conflict with the Iranians, how often was the Obama administration found to be telling the truth? Zero. None. Plus, even if, by some miracle, the administration is being truthful (okay, far fetched, but stay with me here) what the people in the region heard was the Iranian side. Just like they saw video our media would not show.
This is what happens when an administration is viewed as a joke by our adversaries. Our enemies humiliate us and our military takes on the behavior of its political master. Our allies see it and they move to make accommodations with Iran because they are the ascendant power.