A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

On Iran's Hormuz Threats: Remembering What Brinksmanship Can Lead To

I haven't commented on Iran's bluster, first threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz (which is so unlikely they backed off the threat a bit: it's a bit like threatening to choke yourself to death, anyway), and now threatening the US if the John C. Stennis battle group, which recently left the Gulf (after its aircraft flew the very last Naval Aviation missions over Iraq), I would hope I don't have to remind Iran of what can happen when brinksmanship on both sides tensions to a fever pitch: the tragic shooting down of the civilian Iran Air flight 655 in 1988 by the US  Aegis cruiser USS Vincennes. That was a horrible case of mistaken identity, but when everyone's fingers are on the trigger, anything can happen. Every carrier battle group has a guided missile cruiser with it; in the Stennis' case it's the USS Mobile Bay, a sister ship of the Vincennes. Flight 655 may have been 24 years ago, but it's a terrible lesson both sides should keep in mind.

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