Before I get to the long part of this:
1. DEBKA is hit and miss- it has inherent weaknesses. Its sources are primarily Israeli military, therefore they are easier to lie to than
publications with a more diverse range of sources, when it serves the interest of the Israeli military to lie. These sources provide an Israeli view
of things- when a fact depends on perspective you will get it from the perspective of DEBKA's sources, which are Israeli patriots. Also, no military
or intelligence organization knows everything. That means sometimes DEBKA's info will be best guesses, not facts, and sometimes people in that
business dont know something, which makes their best guess WAY wrong.
It has nothing to do with race- it has to do with sources. We expect major news outlets to get the facts from both sides. Analogy: if there's a
questionable call in the Superbowl, you talk to the ball carrier, you talk to the tackler, you talk to the ref, you talk to an analyst who watched it
from 10 different angles. You don't just ask the ball carrier. But DEBKA is only in a position to talk to the ball carrier.
2. WestPoint23: Marines do in fact carry out boarding missions. Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Teams are responsible for "visit, board, search and
seizure" on the rare occasions that it is called for. Here is a news story about them training
to do it.
It comes in handy since we can't keep a seal team on every ship in the fleet. I've heard a few stories on the subject because my
Senior Drill Instructor was on FAST.
Now for the long part, if it's true, what are the implications:
Originally posted by johnlear
Originally posted by princeofpeace
Okay then which is worse? A Muslim with a nuke or an Arab with a nuke? What if its an Arab-Muslim?
Princeofpeace I find your post in extremely poor taste.
I would hope, although I have no way of knowing, that Prince of Peace merely failed to articulate his meaning fully.
There are in fact distinctions to be made with respect to Muslims living between Egypt and Iran (which is often erroneously simplified to "Arab
The West screws around in their neighborhood more than it does in the neighborhoods of Indonesian Muslims or Somali Muslims.
There are still groups there going back to the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence (the Arab counterpart to the later Balfour Declaration) such as the
Ba'ath Party which seek a union of Arab states, and these are distinct from those who seek a union of Muslim states; each of these represents a
threat to stability through both its hostility to the other and to any outside interests standing in the way.
They are closer to Israel and so a mutual threat is introduced on top of ideological disagreement.
The rift between Shia and Sunni was created at the Battle of Karbala (which is in Iraq) and the only Shia-majority Islamic state is in their
There are many attributes of the middle east which add to the danger of nuclear weapons proliferating throughout the area, and in that sense a bomb in
the Middle-East proper, and perhaps particularly in the hands of a threatened Arab group with an Arab-Nationalist history (Syria, Iraqi Sunnis) would
raise the stakes in a way that a Pakistani bomb did not.
An Iranian bomb presents a unique set of threats. It gives them the means to control the gulf if they wish. Capser Weinberger wrote in "The Next
War" that this would likely result in an Iranian invasion of the United Arab Emirates, and start an air war between them and Saudi-Arabia, UAE, and
Qatar in which the US would be unable to intervene without going nuclear.
That essentially translates into the flash that could spark an all out Sunni vs Shia, Arab vs Persian war in the Middle East.
In today's geopolitical landscape, the whole of Iraq would be in play as well, not just the Shaat al-Arab as it would have been in the early 90s when
"The Next War" was written. That makes Kurds and Turks players and places Kuwait in the cross fire as well. Turkey's smart move would be to act
only against the Kurds and play switzerland- a "neutral" that only helps Iran- which might, although not necessarily, increase tensions with Syria
enough to start a war if Syria didn't find it tennable to side with Iran.
Israel would almost have to get involved because if Iran gets the US by the short and curlies, Israel is doomed to economic destruction. That strips
Jordan and Syria of the ability to stay neutral, which is a nightmare for them because both sides would be nuclear, and neither side would represent
their interests- on the one hand defending the Saudis and Iraqis means siding with Israel and defying Syria's ally, Iran. Siding with Iran puts them
at war with nations immediately bordering them though.
The Egyptian government will have to be tough to prevent a rebellion, because they probably will attempt to stay neutral.
In short, the worst case scenario is a gigantic mess of unprecedented proportion. When Pakistan got the bomb their tensions with India were so high
and their historical ambitions so limited that there was never much danger to Iran and Afghanistan.
It would take a pan-islamic revolution in Pakistan to make them even remotely comparable, and even still they wouldn't be likely to do much more than
mutually invade Afghanistan with Iran, then get into a power struggle with the Iranian leadership when they started talking about unification (same
sort of thing that lead to Saddam's coup against Bakr, or the dissolution of the United Arab Republic) which would lead to Iran trouncing Pakistan in
conventional battle after initial Pakistani successes, then Pakistan going nuclear on Iran and the international community backing Pakistan down
(because they don't have the missile range to blackmail the West).
So yes, to make a long story short, this would be unprecedented if true.
But is it true? I rather doubt it. Even if the ship was near the Iranian coast, boarding would have been perfectly viable, given the stakes. A small
possibility of having one of our destroyers attacked with cruise missiles on a mission that could produce evidence that would allow us to act before
we face a nuclear standoff is the textbook definition of acceptable risk, especially since we've already seen that the standard Iranian response is
to board, not to attack with missiles, and that we could have anticipated that and used the submarine to cover the operation, sinking any threat to
the boarding operation, but not the freighter.
Given the nature of DEBKA, and the conflicting reports, i'd say that this story is born not of fact but of suspicion. I believe that the original
sources aren't, or at least initially weren't, certain of what happened, and started playing connect the dots to make sense of why they had
reason to suspect
that our navy may
have attacked the ship.