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"You will explode after two minutes".
January 9, 2008 1:01 AM   Subscribe

"Video of Iran ‘attack’ on three US warships released by Pentagon"
posted by nthdegx (125 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oooh, we have to nuke 'em now! Good thing Chimpy is in Israel getting 'advice' on that just at this fortuitous and completely coincidental moment.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 1:14 AM on January 9, 2008


Yeah this is breaking on Iran'sTV news they say it is fake... stock footage.
posted by hortense at 1:14 AM on January 9, 2008


"Attack" appears in quotes in the headline and nowhere else? Who called it an "attack?"
posted by Western Infidels at 1:27 AM on January 9, 2008


After the Tonkin Gulf, WMD in Iraq and Saddam's connections to Al Queda who would doubt the word of the US in this incident?

After all, we have always been at war with Eurasia.
posted by sien at 1:33 AM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't know what to think of this. The footage of the boats out in the water isn't terribly provocative; the one boat they zoomed in on looked like a standard high-speed pleasure craft like you'd see on many lakes here. I couldn't see the others very well on the video.

The only way tiny boats like that would be a threat to a DD would be if they rammed it while heavily loaded with explosives. Those boats didn't look loaded, and their tactics were all wrong. I would expect them to zoom right in and explode before the sailors could fully react, rather than pace them and stay at range, giving the sailors time to come to full readiness. (it's not like it would take very long anyway, but even a second is an awfully long time in combat.) It looks like they're playing at 'rattle the sailors', rather than 'kill the sailors'.

Finally, I find it interesting that the 'threat' was on a blacked out screen and nearly unintelligible. Why wasn't it on the main video? Why is the screen black while that's playing? That doesn't make any sense, and my inner cynic observes that it's a lot easier to fake a voice than a video on short notice. I really wish I trusted the Bush administration more, but they're such documented pathological liars that I have trouble believing that things really happened exactly as presented. They'll lie even when it isn't of much benefit to them, so in a case like this where it would be, I don't trust them at all.

Assuming that the Bushies are telling the truth, the thought occurs that Iran might be trying to provoke us into doing something stupid. If we shoot first, I imagine it will be a huge propaganda win for them.
posted by Malor at 1:41 AM on January 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


rhymes with
posted by hortense at 1:52 AM on January 9, 2008


"What do you want, blood?"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:01 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


posted by Malor The only way tiny boats like that would be a threat to a DD would be if they rammed it while heavily loaded with explosives. Those boats didn't look loaded, and their tactics were all wrong. I would expect them to zoom right in and explode before the sailors could fully react, rather than pace them and stay at range, giving the sailors time to come to full readiness. (it's not like it would take very long anyway, but even a second is an awfully long time in combat.) It looks like they're playing at 'rattle the sailors', rather than 'kill the sailors'.

That's probably what the captain and sailors of the USS Cole thought, too.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:02 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The only way tiny boats like that would be a threat to a DD would be if they rammed it while heavily loaded with explosives.

I'd have to disagree with this opinion. There are a number of hand-held, rocket-propelled weapons that could have damaged the warships or killed those on board.
posted by gen at 2:04 AM on January 9, 2008


"Jennings, new disinformation! The OSI wasn't 'closed,'. We never even opened!"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:06 AM on January 9, 2008


Assuming that the Bushies are telling the truth

I think the fair assumption is that the Bushies are lying, but this is very scary. Napoleon observed that at certain, edgy times a small firefight could call forth a general engagement of opposing armies. The tense situation in the Persian Gulf presents just such a risk - or opportunity - for both sides.

With the U.S. navy concentrated as at Pearl Harbor, the fact of the matter is that Iran can sink any warship anytime they want simply by launching some of their Sunburst (and Sunburn) missiles. These Russian, Ukranian, (and even possibly Iranian) manufactured anti-ship missiles (with random lateral thrusters) are more or less impossible to shoot down. If the terrorist attack of September 2001 was a shock to the American psyche, what would be the reaction to seeing a carrier battle group sent to the bottom of the Persian Gulf along with 10,000 dead sailors.

Who knows? Iran is certainly threatened by Israel the U.S. and Israel. Maybe they are thinking that the U.S. policy of pre-emptive war suits their interests as well?
posted by three blind mice at 2:10 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


What Malor said.
posted by zardoz at 2:11 AM on January 9, 2008


If the terrorist attack of September 2001 was a shock to the American psyche, what would be the reaction to seeing a carrier battle group sent to the bottom of the Persian Gulf along with 10,000 dead sailors.

If the backend numbers are right, we could airlift in crews from CNN and FOX News overnight.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:17 AM on January 9, 2008


There are a number of hand-held, rocket-propelled weapons that could have damaged the warships or killed those on board.

Do not mistake Iran for Iraq or Hezbollah. Iran has the ability to inflict serious damage on opposing military and civilian targets. The U.S. and Israel are only perceived as a military superpowers because they have been attacking incredibly soft targets with no ability to defend themselves or counter-attack.

Unlike feckless Saddam Hussein and the powerless Palestinians, the Iranians actually have the ability to fight back. At the very least they can fight an economic war by shutting down all shipping in the Persian Gulf - where 20% of the world's oil passes through.

I'm not saying it would be a fair fight, but it would actually be a fight - which is why it must be avoided at all costs.
posted by three blind mice at 2:25 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: Do not mistake Iran for Iraq or Hezbollah ... the Iranians actually have the ability to fight back ... I'm not saying it would be a fair fight, but it would actually be a fight...
Wasn't Bush refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive first strike against Iran just, oh, a few months ago?
posted by Western Infidels at 2:34 AM on January 9, 2008


CATS: How are you gentlemen!!
CATS: You will explode after two minutes.
posted by chillmost at 2:39 AM on January 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's like 5 minutes of fairly grey nebulous video then someone who's not very good with Adobe premier thought, 'hmmm this needs sexing up' and added in their best monster-loony-islamofacist voice 'we will explode...'
posted by mattoxic at 2:49 AM on January 9, 2008


Glad I saw the link here first. I watched the stream from the link above, then about ten minutes later MSNBC had a "mashup" of it on TV. The difference was incredible. They had the horn blowing over the whole thing, they showed the sailor on the phone and made it all feel much more frantic than it did online. They also pulled out some audio that I couldn't hear.

Amazing.
posted by cdmwebs at 2:53 AM on January 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


That's probably what the captain and sailors of the USS Cole thought, too.

The Cole was docked when it was attacked. And, like I said, the only way a small boat like those can be any real danger to a destroyer is if they're heavily laden with explosives, which is exactly what happened with the Cole.

Handheld RPGs? Sure, they could do some damage and kill some sailors, but an actual sinking or even significantly impairing threat? To a destroyer? Seems pretty unlikely. Those things are heavily armored and designed to take hits from other ships' guns. I rather doubt an RPG is going to be as damaging as even DD-class guns would be.

Now, if those little boats were armed with torpedoes, that could be quite dangerous, but they look far too small to mount those.
posted by Malor at 2:55 AM on January 9, 2008


Could a destroyer outrun a small speedboat?

I think it probably could
posted by mattoxic at 3:03 AM on January 9, 2008


Destroyers do 32-36 knots, I think.... a small speedboat can easily double that.
posted by Malor at 3:07 AM on January 9, 2008


Sure, they could do some damage and kill some sailors, but an actual sinking or even significantly impairing threat?

'Some American sailors being killed' is surely an outcome well worth avoiding, never mind if the ship is damaged or not.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 3:09 AM on January 9, 2008


posted by Malor The Cole was docked when it was attacked. And, like I said, the only way a small boat like those can be any real danger to a destroyer is if they're heavily laden with explosives, which is exactly what happened with the Cole.

Yes, and that's exactly why the captains of the USS Hopper, the USS Port Royal, and the USS Ingraham weren't about to take any chances.

posted by Malor Handheld RPGs? Sure, they could do some damage and kill some sailors, but an actual sinking or even significantly impairing threat? To a destroyer? Seems pretty unlikely. Those things are heavily armored and designed to take hits from other ships' guns. I rather doubt an RPG is going to be as damaging as even DD-class guns would be.

I rather doubt the captains of the American vessels wanted to find out the hard way if the Iranian boats had artillery or ordnance on board.

posted by Malor Now, if those little boats were armed with torpedoes, that could be quite dangerous, but they look far too small to mount those.

The vessel used in the attack on the Cole was slightly smaller than the speedboats, so once again, the captains of the American vessels were not wrong in preparing to shoot first and ask questions later. You seem to be suggesting (with the benefit of hindsight) that the Iranian boats didn't pose a threat to our vessels, but since neither you nor the captains of those ships have any way of knowing for certain, under the circumstances of the moment those captains can only assume the speedboats were preparing an attack, and they acted accordingly.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:21 AM on January 9, 2008


Depends on the speedboat. Are we talking about those racing "cigarette" boats, or just a Chris-craft with a 50 hp Evinrude outboard? There are damned few surface vessels that can do "twice" 32-36 knots -- that's over 80 mph.

US and other navies' warships aren't "heavily armored" anymore. Since the advent of antiship missiles in the 1950s, it's been easier to improve weapons' ability to defeat armor than to armor ships sufficiently to counter the threat. There aren't Iowa-class battleships anymore for tactical reasons as well as economic ones.
posted by pax digita at 3:25 AM on January 9, 2008


fandango_matt, I'm not sure who you're arguing with. You're putting my name in your posts, but you're attacking things I didn't say.

By all means, continue dueling with an imaginary opponent if you wish, but I think it would be more useful if you argued with things that people are actually saying.
posted by Malor at 3:35 AM on January 9, 2008


Huh, trivia I didn't know - Phalanx systems are mounted on EVERY surface combat ship in the US Navy. At 3000 rounds per second I'm thinking "some American sailors having ringing ears" is the worst injury the navy might suffer in this style of attack.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:36 AM on January 9, 2008


Malor, I'm quoting the comments you made here.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:38 AM on January 9, 2008


What I don't get is, where were the boxes? All the news stories yesterday said the motorboats were dropping boxed in front of the ships. I didn't see that on the video nor did I hear anyone talking about it.
posted by Xurando at 3:51 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Iran is certainly threatened by Israel the U.S. and Israel. Maybe they are thinking that the U.S. policy of pre-emptive war suits their interests as well?

How? Honest question. How would assuring your inevitable destruction possible suit your interests?

After all, we have always been at war with Eurasia Eastasia.

Fixed that for you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:56 AM on January 9, 2008


I rather doubt the captains of the American vessels wanted to find out the hard way if the Iranian boats had artillery or ordnance on board.

Looking at the images I'm pretty much thinking that it is a safe bet that the Iranian boats don't have artillery in pretty much the same way that, if you see a guy with an Altoids tin, you can pretty much assume he doesn't have a sniper rifle in there.

If those boats had suddenly turned on the ships they were near they each could have been reduced to sawdust 20 or 30 times prior to reaching their targets.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:59 AM on January 9, 2008


Phalanx systems? 3000 round per minute? HAH, maybe for pussies, but real navies are arming themselves with METAL STORM
posted by mattoxic at 4:04 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


posted by Kid Charlemagne Looking at the images I'm pretty much thinking that it is a safe bet that the Iranian boats don't have artillery in pretty much the same way that, if you see a guy with an Altoids tin, you can pretty much assume he doesn't have a sniper rifle in there.

I agree. But at the time, those captains didn't have the luxury of making assumptions.

posted by Kid Charlemagne If those boats had suddenly turned on the ships they were near they each could have been reduced to sawdust 20 or 30 times prior to reaching their targets.

Again, I agree. I'm not familiar with the current rules of engagement but I'd been given to understand that we can't fire until fired upon or until the commanding officer gives the order.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:08 AM on January 9, 2008


I'd been given to understand that we can't fire until fired upon or until the commanding officer, or unless you are commanding the USS Vincennes and are in the vicinity of an unarmed Aribus
posted by mattoxic at 4:12 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll see your Phalanx CIWS and raise you a RIM-116 RAM. I'm hazy on specifics, but it's more useful for engaging inbound ASMs sooner, further out away from the ship. (Even if you "splash" an inbound ASM close aboard, you're still going to have a lot of fragments and maybe some burning propellant coming your way, so further out is better.) On the other hand, for CIWS to be really useful against small boats, the fire-control people would have to override the auto engagement and track targets manually, which might not be a bad idea sometimes.
posted by pax digita at 4:48 AM on January 9, 2008


That's one hell of a link to the RIM-116 RAM pax. Quite hush hush then?
posted by mattoxic at 4:52 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


How would assuring your inevitable destruction possible suit your interests?

You have an Rumsfeldian view of American and Israeli power.

Look at what Israel failed to do in Lebanon, what America and NATO have failed to do in Afghanistan, and what the "coalition of the willing" has failed to do in Iraq. (Consider also the Soviet failure in one of the above-named countries and America's failure in Vietnam.)

The illusion of military "superpower" is just that: an illusion. Hubris is not a foreign policy.
posted by three blind mice at 4:52 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Remember the Maine!
posted by birdherder at 5:06 AM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


The secret nightmares of our Admirals are filled with those little speedboats, dozens of them, too small to see with our AEGIS radar system, too small to hit with our own anti ship missiles, fast and numerous enough to slip by the destroyers with their guns. They keep coming closer and closer, each carrying one, maybe two anti ship missiles. They get close, and suddenly our two nuclear carriers are artificial reefs at the bottom of the Arabian Gulf.
posted by OldReliable at 5:14 AM on January 9, 2008


The Pentagon released dramatic footage last night showing how American warships were seconds away from opening fire on Iranian gunboats that swarmed around a US Navy squadron as it entered the crowded Strait of Hormuz on Sunday.

two speedboats = swarm?
posted by geos at 5:19 AM on January 9, 2008


I dunno about boats too small to see...AEGIS can see inbound ASMs; the trick is to pick the speedboats out off the surface "clutter" that radar tends to return off the sea. And the Strait of Hormuz is a fairly busy, crowded seaway, too. Sometimes visibility sucks -- nighttime with no moon, dust storms making the haze worse, that kind of thing. But speedboats that can carry an ASM that can sink a CV generally aren't yer eighteen-foot Chris-Craft or a Zodiac -- they're more like 80 to 150 feet long.

If I were the skipper of a DDG, I'd worry a lot more about running over a dhow when the OOD wasn't paying attention and winding up losing my command after an international incident brought to you on CNN. That kind of routine "threat" means the USN is pretty careful about keeping tabs on everything around them.

What I really want to know is...what the heck were those stupid little white boxes the Iranian speedboats were dropping in the water? Chinese takeout? Luminaries? Simulated mines? What gives?
posted by pax digita at 5:26 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The secret nightmares of our Admirals are filled with those little speedboats, dozens of them, too small to see with our AEGIS radar system, too small to hit with our own anti ship missiles, fast and numerous enough to slip by the destroyers with their guns

Where do you get the idea that greatest offensive capability of the Iran is speedboats packed with explosives?

The real and not at all secret nightmare of every captain who commands a ship hostile to Iran in the Persian Gulf are Iran's SS-N-22 aka Sunburn anti-ship missiles:

Many years ago, Soviet planners gave up trying to match the US Navy ship for ship, gun for gun, and dollar for dollar. The Soviets simply could not compete with the high levels of US spending required to build up and maintain a huge naval armada. They shrewdly adopted an alternative approach based on strategic defense. They searched for weaknesses, and sought relatively inexpensive ways to exploit those weaknesses. The Soviets succeeded: by developing several supersonic anti-ship missiles, one of which, the SS-N-22 Sunburn, has been called "the most lethal missile in the world today."

The Sunburn uses lateral thrusters which make the missile follow a herky-jerky path towards its target. By the time Aegis radar detects radar where it is and where it's moving, it isn't there any more. The Sunburn moves laterally in a pre-programmed, but apparently random way. One missile has enough conventional explosive to make a very big hole in anything it hits.
posted by three blind mice at 5:34 AM on January 9, 2008


i think the iranians had two purposes here -

1) to test the reaction of the u s navy when confronted with incoming speedboats - would they begin shooting quickly enough to stop the speedboats from launching offensive action, if they had been planning on doing so?

2) to provoke the u s into shooting first for propaganda purposes

the iranians succeeded on 1 and failed on 2, but i don't think 2 was as important - the iranians learned something from this and that knowledge will be dangerous for us
posted by pyramid termite at 5:45 AM on January 9, 2008


I'm getting the same "we're cattle" sensation that I had right before the Iraq war...starting to hate this crap.
posted by samsara at 5:46 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


clearly a fake, esp.the voices over the "radio" at te end of the footage and suspiciously not included in the footage.
posted by Substrata at 6:04 AM on January 9, 2008


This Iran stuff will probably GiveWell.
posted by localhuman at 6:15 AM on January 9, 2008


Typical. When the Americans feel that they're being threatened, we should all be concerned. But when the rest of the world's going down the toilet, they're least bothered.

(a history of US-Iranian relations)
posted by hadjiboy at 6:25 AM on January 9, 2008


"Quotations" candidate?
posted by wallstreet1929 at 6:29 AM on January 9, 2008


OMG the Iranian have speedboats now?!? Time to bust out the bunker busters.
posted by digaman at 6:47 AM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Iran has the ability to inflict serious damage on opposing military and civilian targets. The U.S. and Israel are only perceived as a military superpowers because they have been attacking incredibly soft targets with no ability to defend themselves or counter-attack.
posted by three blind mice at 5:25 AM on January 9


This works in the reverse as well. The U.S. military is very effective against hard military targets. If a war with Iran broke out, Iran's military apparatus down to tanks and larger would be gone in a matter of weeks. In fact, the only reason the U.S. is perceived as being ineffective in Iraq is because we are fighting a guerrilla war.


1) to test the reaction of the u s navy when confronted with incoming speedboats - would they begin shooting quickly enough to stop the speedboats from launching offensive action, if they had been planning on doing so?


Whatever lesson they learn from this they would get to deploy only once. Again, this isn't the case with roadside bombs or IEDs, where the military in Baghdad has to permit cars on city streets and has to allow people to walk around and carry things. The moment a single speedboat launches an offensive action especially if it is successful, the navy will simply clear the waters of all traffic but their own.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:07 AM on January 9, 2008


What's sad is that America's good will with many of its own citizens and more than likely all foreigners is that their versions of the events are even doubted. Seriously pathetic state to be in.
posted by dobbs at 7:11 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oops, "is so poor that their version..."
posted by dobbs at 7:11 AM on January 9, 2008


Whatever lesson they learn from this they would get to deploy only once.

they might only need to deploy it once, though - if they did deploy, it wouldn't be 1 speedboat, or 5 - it would be everything they have against every target they can acquire

it's all out or nothing for the iranians - halfway wouldn't make any sense for them
posted by pyramid termite at 7:18 AM on January 9, 2008


Whatever lesson they learn from this they would get to deploy only once.

They only have to be successful once (One doesn't build Destroyers on an assembly line. The replacement cost, compared to a Hummer or even an Abrams tank is astronomical, both in time and resources).

In the calculus of war losing 50+ small attack boats is a negligible price to pay for sinking or crippling a destroyer or two, especially if that attack has the positive (for the Iranians) effect of essentially shutting down traffic in the Hormuz Strait.

But all this is essentially moot. Any naval conflict fought with Iran will center around the previously-mentioned Sunburn missiles, kilo-class submarines, and mines.
posted by Chrischris at 7:25 AM on January 9, 2008


In the 2002 Millennium Challenge wargame:
The seemingly harmless pleasure craft and propeller planes suddenly turned deadly, ramming into Blue boats and airfields along the Gulf in scores of al-Qaida-style suicide attacks. Meanwhile, Chinese Silkworm-type cruise missiles fired from some of the small boats sank the US fleet's only aircraft carrier and two marine helicopter carriers. The tactics were reminiscent of the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole in Yemen two years ago, but the Blue fleet did not seem prepared. Sixteen ships were sunk altogether, along with thousands of marines.
(Previous posts)
posted by kirkaracha at 7:37 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Interesting. I don't buy the conspiracy argument - you'd think that if the CIA/Trilateral Commission/Mossad/Lyndon LaRouche types wanted to agitate for war, they'd do it with a video that doesn't look so patched together.

There is precedent for Iran acting in this way. Throughout the 90s and into the 2000s Iran and Israel have been jockeying for regional dominance, with the United States alternately being the country they need to threaten or cajole to get this to happen. Iran has been worried for the past fifteen years or so that if Israel can successfully resolve its conflict with the Palestinians, it'll in turn lead to peace with Syria and Lebanon, both countries that Iran has critical alliances with. Especially with the US sponsoring the peace process, it's possible (in the Iranian strategic estimation) that the door could open to an increased Israeli leadership role in the region, which would consequently push Iran to the periphery.

Iran's response, in this reasoning, is to demonstrate to the United States that it has significant forces in the region who can make life very difficult, hence the buzzing of American warships in the Gulf.
posted by awenner at 7:44 AM on January 9, 2008


I'm Tonkin it's all a big misunderstanding...
posted by stenseng at 7:44 AM on January 9, 2008


Moo. Baa. They make the grass outta chickens! Moo. Baa.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:02 AM on January 9, 2008


Narrator: In A.D. 2008, war was beginning.
Captain: What happen ?
Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
Operator: We get signal.
Captain: What!
Operator: Main screen turn on.
Captain: It's you!!
CATS: How are you gentlemen!!
CATS: All your base are belong to us.
CATS: You are on the way to destruction.
Captain: What you say!!
CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.
CATS: Ha Ha Ha Ha ....
Operator: Captain!! *
Captain: Take off every 'ZIG'!!
Captain: You know what you doing.
Captain: Move 'ZIG'.
Captain: For great justice.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:14 AM on January 9, 2008


Those things are heavily armored and designed to take hits from other ships' guns

DDs? Not so much, tho they do have 70 tons of kevlar protecting critical places. Plus after the Falklands nobody really gives a shit about guns anymore.

anyhoo, the Iranians are just fucking with us. At least Vietnam taught us that bullshit pissing match doesn't scale to armed intervention all that well.
posted by panamax at 8:15 AM on January 9, 2008


Funniest fake headline I saw on sci.mililitary.naval concerning this incident was "Quick-Thinking US Naval Officers Prevent Iranian Sailors from Facing Allah's Judgement."
posted by pax digita at 8:16 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hilarious. Oh no, how are we going to defend ourselves against ski Nautiques.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:23 AM on January 9, 2008


They only have to be successful once (One doesn't build Destroyers on an assembly line. The replacement cost, compared to a Hummer or even an Abrams tank is astronomical, both in time and resources).

Actually, they do, in a way. Granted, it's an assembly line that takes 18-24 months to run through one unit, but you should read The Yard. It's fascinating. Your point's well taken though...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 8:48 AM on January 9, 2008


Imagine that, the Iranian military engaging in maneuvers in the vicinity of... Iran. And making sure their presence is known to a large Navy ship from a country that's spent the better part of last year saber-rattling towards Iran... Clearly there's no logic at all behind this!
posted by clevershark at 8:52 AM on January 9, 2008


but you should read The Yard.

and the video is even better.
posted by panamax at 9:02 AM on January 9, 2008


malor and others here aren't the only ones calling the veracity of the video into question. me, i trust literally nothing out of this government anymore. it's lost all credibility in my eyes, and i know i'm not the only one.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:20 AM on January 9, 2008


Israel to brief George Bush on options for Iran strike
posted by homunculus at 9:25 AM on January 9, 2008


well, to answer Malor's:

Why wasn't it on the main video? Why is the screen black while that's playing?

to dub the separate transmission from the boat jockeys over the video would be . . . deceptive.

While I'd give up a year of my life for Jan 20, 2009 to come tomorrow, I see nothing suspicious about this particular video. Just the USN showing the flag in the strategic waterway and the Iranians fucking with us in kind.
posted by panamax at 9:31 AM on January 9, 2008


Well look on the bright side. If this is all a scam, at least the US government will come clean with us. In a few decades.
posted by mullingitover at 9:33 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


mullingitover: got any more credible source for that story you linked? (i mean, not to question the reliability of a news source that "...takes revolutionary steps as the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English on a round-the-clock basis.")
posted by saulgoodman at 9:44 AM on January 9, 2008


“I am coming to you. You will explode after two minutes.”

My wife says this all the time. And it's usually at least four minutes.
posted by tkchrist at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm amazed that we are being led into yet another conflict. We really, really need to put a stop to this before this administration or it's adherents start beating the war drum harder.
posted by quin at 9:55 AM on January 9, 2008


The event is no big deal. This shit happens all the time in the contentious waters of the Straights where there are warships and heavy traffic.

The only thing that matters is allowing the Bush Administration to make hay over it.
posted by tkchrist at 10:00 AM on January 9, 2008


"You will explode after two minutes"

Someone has been reading their Sci-Fi:

"I'm a thirty-second bomb! I'm a thirty-second bomb! Twenty-nine!... Twenty-eight!... Twenty-seven!-"

It was supposed to frazzle their nerves, Maybe it did; it certainly frazzled mine. Kinder to shoot a man. I didn't wait for the countdown; I jumped, while I wondered whether they would find enough doors and windows to swarm out in time.


-- Robert Heinlein - Starship Troopers
posted by quin at 10:03 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman writes "got any more credible source for that story you linked?"

Does AFP meet your criteria? That's what the Iranians were citing anyway.
posted by mullingitover at 10:22 AM on January 9, 2008


The US and Iranian navies have fought before. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Iran attacked tankers belonging to Gulf states supporting Iraq, and the US got involved. Tanker War, 1984-1988. Described in Micharl Palmer, Guardians of the Gulf.
posted by russilwvong at 10:27 AM on January 9, 2008


Re: the declassified NSA account of the Gulf of Tonkin (non-)Incident:

Here's a link straight to the Federation of American Scientists.
posted by jedicus at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The seemingly harmless pleasure craft and propeller planes suddenly turned deadly, ramming into Blue boats and airfields along the Gulf in scores of al-Qaida-style suicide attacks. Meanwhile, Chinese Silkworm-type cruise missiles fired from some of the small boats sank the US fleet's only aircraft carrier and two marine helicopter carriers. The tactics were reminiscent of the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole in Yemen two years ago, but the Blue fleet did not seem prepared. Sixteen ships were sunk altogether, along with thousands of marines.

I was at MC02, and I'm a software engineer on one of the main LVC simulation suites that ran it (and many others). I can't tell you how misleading and incorrect that article is. Firstly, software is inherently less complex than the real world, as a side effect of that you can do things in the software that wouldn't work out in the real world. They don't run these games like two people playing warcraft, where one sides just fights the other side and there is eventually a victor. They are highly scripted, meticulously planned exercises with requirements of what does and what doesn't need to work within the software in time for that event. They are run more from a systems integration and troop training perspective than a knock-down drag out fight. Ripper, from what I understand, was a proponent of the "old" way of doing things, and had it out (from a funding perspective) for LVC simulation events. He never wanted to play by the rules of the event, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that he didn't. If you want to find out your enemy's position in the real world, it isn't as easy a walking over to the next room as sneaking a peek a red-cell's display. It that's easy in the sim world.

Just take everything Ripper says with a gigantic grain of salt...
posted by SweetJesus at 10:59 AM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


This shit happens all the time in the contentious waters of the Straights

....must...not...make...obvious...joke....

The Strait of Hormuz is trouble waiting to happen, for sure: 21 mi across and 20% of the world's oil sails through it, a technothriller author's dream. The Guardians of the Gulf link reminded me of Operation Praying Mantis, which is sort of apropos, as it featured the first missile/missile engagement in USN history, complete with Iranian speedboats, the USS Samuel B. Roberts hitting a mine and nearly sinking, and a cast of thousands.
posted by pax digita at 11:06 AM on January 9, 2008


Remember this? and previously, this?

there's nothing our intelligence agencies won't do or lie about to achieve the policy goals the current leaders set. they think that's their job.

from the second link: the Top Secret memorandum describes U.S. plans to covertly engineer various pretexts that would justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba. These proposals - part of a secret anti-Castro program known as Operation Mongoose - included staging the assassinations of Cubans living in the United States, developing a fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,” including “sink[ing] a boatload of Cuban refugees (real or simulated),” faking a Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner, and concocting a “Remember the Maine” incident by blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters and then blaming the incident on Cuban sabotage.

These things are facts, matters of historical record. Not conspiracy theories.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:17 AM on January 9, 2008


Fred Thompson reacts. I personally think it was a rogue band of champion waterskiers looking to defect.
posted by Oddly at 11:41 AM on January 9, 2008


Iranians don't take a dump, son, without a plan.
posted by OldReliable at 12:13 PM on January 9, 2008


SweetJesus writes "If you want to find out your enemy's position in the real world, it isn't as easy a walking over to the next room as sneaking a peek a red-cell's display. It that's easy in the sim world. "

It is in the Strait of Hormuz. All you'd need is a few guys with binoculars and radios.
posted by Mitheral at 1:12 PM on January 9, 2008


To all the people claiming the video must be fake because the radio recording is seperate, I have to wonder what kind of camcorders you people see, that have military radios built into them. Of course the two streams of data are seperate, they came from seperate recording devices. Overlaying the audio on top of the video would seem to be the more fake way to portray two distinct recordings.
posted by nomisxid at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2008


all the people claiming the video must be fake because the radio recording is seperate [sic]

nomisxid: i don't think anyone's saying they must be fake exclusively for that reason--just that it does seem awfully convenient. i actually think if officials were smart either way they would have just released the audio. releasing the video, when it leaves so much wiggle room for skepticism, just seems like a cheap stunt meant to exploit the fact that many people put more stock in "seeing it with their own eyes." i'm sure a lot of people who read the news that a video of the incident's been released won't bother investigating further to find that the actual threatening remarks in question curiously weren't captured in the video. and if the audio and video of the incident were captured separately and later merged, then why announce specifically having a video of the incident when that requires editing the two feeds together in a way bound to arouse suspicion?
posted by saulgoodman at 2:30 PM on January 9, 2008


The Iranians on the radio reminded me of Maz Jobrani's "Drunk Dialing" bit.
posted by kuperman at 2:48 PM on January 9, 2008


“That's probably what the captain and sailors of the USS Cole thought, too.”

No, their thoughts were probably “Jesus these rules of engagement are really shi-BOOOM”

TBM is correct. They have the tools to engage and damage our ships. I doubt they’d be able to sink a carrier battle group (perhaps the most fortified position on the planet, but defense aside, their retaliatory capablities alone make attacking a carrier group nearly suicidal)
(But then, they don’t really have to. TBM is correct in saying they can put up a fight.
How much of a fight they can put up is critical.
(as pax digita sed - the Strait of Hormuz is all kindsa trouble)
Enough of a fight to clog up the area for long enough could be enough to make us back off (”lose”) or force escalation - potentially a ground war or nuclear exchange (BIG LOSE).
And ‘long enough’ is relative - we don’t know all the particulars - stopping oil flow is one thing - where/how other countries will line up is the big magilla)

Adm. Jim Lyons had a beef with the rules of engagement, but the law of armed conflict requires that, to use force, "combatants" must distinguish individuals presenting a threat from innocent civilians. The current ROE unambiguously allow troops to fire immediately in self-defense. The ROE remain commanders’ (not lawyers) rules for the use of force.
So if the speedboats had posed a threat - if the sensors had detected a missle launch, if the boats started driving right at one of the ships or done -whatever- that was indicative of a potential or imminent attack they would made the right judgement call in a dynamic situation and those boats would have been fired upon and rightfully so (whatever the post hoc political spin).
The Cole was a whole other story - and a very political one at that.

But this? They’re just counting coup.

Native Americans did it all the time. Serves to show off as well as guage your opponents limits and where their boundries are. (As pyramid termite sed).

Not that some shitkicking all hat no cattle daddys boy who’s never been in the field would know that even if they weren’t trying to scare folks with it. Oooh, speedboats, oooh.

Fake? We’re in their friggin’ back yard to begin with.
If it was some Iraqi ships floating outside of Norfolk (the NIT or just generally Hampton Roads), that might be attack-like.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:55 PM on January 9, 2008


that "we're cattle" sensation: ignore it...we are really sheep
posted by dougiedd at 3:56 PM on January 9, 2008


It's probably worth keeping in mind that Ahmadinejad has been under increasing domestic pressure lately, mainly due to Iran's spiraling inflation and his failure to meet his election promises on the economy, a failure for which he's been trying to blame on his predecessors, with little success:

Inflation Fuels Anger Toward Ahmadinejad
Dec 27, 2007

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A sharp rise in inflation has provoked fierce criticism of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — not only from his reformist opponents, but also from senior conservatives who helped bring him to power but now say he is mismanaging the economy. Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 on a populist agenda promising to bring oil revenues to every family, eradicate poverty, improve living standards and tackle unemployment. Now he is being challenged for his failure to meet those promises.

Reformists and even some fellow conservatives say Ahmadinejad has concentrated too much on fiery, anti-U.S. speeches and not enough on the economy — and they have become more aggressive in calling him to account.

In a rare gesture, Ahmadinejad admitted last week that inflation existed but blamed it on his predecessors, the conservative-dominated parliament, state-run media and bank managers who misused their power and printed too many bank notes. "Inflation has its roots in the past," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech.

His comments were denounced from all sides, with economists and some fellow conservatives saying it is his policies that have led to higher prices. A prominent economist, Mohammad Sattarifar, said Ahmadinejad is to blame for flooding the market with too many newly printed bank notes, relying too much on imported goods — including basic commodities — and using oil revenues to pay for the government's day-to-day expenses instead of distributing it to the people as he promised to do in his election campaign.

Sattarifar said the government increased liquidity, or the amount of money in circulation, from $72.3 billion in 2004 to $148.9 billion this year. Economist Morteza Allahdad said this amount was a "huge, unusual increase in liquidity that has led to high inflation. Ahmadinejad can't escape responsibility for this."

Even one prominent Ahmadinejad ally, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, reversed his usual strong support for the government and acknowledged that the president has made mistakes. Bahonar, a top behind-the-scenes hard-liner, is believed to have been a key engineer of the election campaign that brought Ahmadinejad to power. "Inflation is a reality. If a fundamental solution is not found, we are going to see harder days in the next two or three months," Bahonar, who is the deputy parliamentary speaker, was quoted in several newspapers as saying. "Increase in liquidity was among the government's mistakes. This has happened in the past two years."

...Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the conservative mayor of Tehran, blamed the economic woes on Ahmadinejad's "mismanagement" of the country...Mohsen Rezaei, the conservative former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, said the injection of huge amounts of liquidity was the main cause of increase in prices...Allahdad agreed, saying the unusual increase in liquidity led to a rise in prices and economic hardship for many. "The intention was to improve the economy but it backfired because the government ignored expert views," he said.


U.S. politicians aren't the only ones who understand that a little military action is a nice distraction from domestic woes.

OldReliable: Iranians don't take a dump, son, without a plan.

Oh please. "Iranians" aren't one thing. Conflating them all into one mass just plays into the warmongers' hands on both sides. Which may be what you're trying to do, I don't know, but it's still nonsense either way.
posted by mediareport at 7:21 PM on January 9, 2008


Found a good link on Iranian navy tactics by an ex-Iranian navy person. Sounds credible to me (not that I would have a clue).

In the Gulf, geography is hugely on Iran's side. The gulf would be closed for the period of the hostilities, oil would cost how much? $200 a barrel? and the US would lose capital ships.

Someone upthread said that Iran would have every weapon system from a tank upwards destroyed. What, like what happened in Kosovo? I don't think so.
posted by wilful at 7:27 PM on January 9, 2008


Oh please. "Iranians" aren't one thing.

Be that as it may, I always try to have a plan when I take a dump. It's "flush".
posted by 235w103 at 7:39 PM on January 9, 2008


@mediareport: You may find this elucidating.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:06 PM on January 9, 2008


I believe absolutely nothing this administration says.
posted by chance at 9:55 PM on January 9, 2008


breaking: The US is dumping about 40,000 pounds of bombs South Baghdad. and press tv airs video from the speedboat.
posted by hortense at 1:20 AM on January 10, 2008


Typical. Crappy video, just like the Osama videos. You'd think with optical technology so good the military can practically see your the pores on your skin from orbiting satellites, that they could have recorded and released more convincing footage. Why would the Iranians provoke U.S. knowing the consequences? Why would we want to attack Iran knowing Putin has made it clear that an attack on Iran is an attack on Russia? Is everyone here aware that the reactors and other facilities related to Iran's nuclear power program are owned and staffed by Russian citizens? Name the country that benefits from an all-out war in which Russia and the U.S. destroy each other?
posted by augustweed at 3:05 AM on January 10, 2008


Another thing. Why was the audio not intercepted by all of the other vessels in the area? If other vessels did intercept the transmissions, why do we only get the ONE version?
posted by augustweed at 3:13 AM on January 10, 2008


well, i guess you can chalk up another one for the tin-foil hat brigade, because apparently now even some within the Pentagon are acknowledging that the authenticity of the video is dubious at best.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:11 AM on January 10, 2008


breaking: The US is dumping about 40,000 pounds of bombs South Baghdad. and press tv airs video from the speedboat.

That's the point of air power: you don't have to actually see any of the people killed in the strikes, and the media can concentrate on important things like evildoers in speedboats or the latest pop star meltdown.
posted by homunculus at 10:35 AM on January 10, 2008


Report reveals Vietnam War hoaxes, faked attacks
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on January 10, 2008


wilful - nice link. Dead on. It’s how I’d fight it from the Iran POV. We’re at a real disadvantage as the aggressors. I don’t think tho’ their speed and surprise would be enough (given the vast superiority of U.S. command and control systems and ability to coordinate) to carry the momentum to a theater victory. But they don’t have to win tactically.
They just have to sink their teeth into the U.S.’ leg and screw up all the shipping long enough to make the whole operation cost prohibitive from a political POV. (And boy is removing mines a lousy job).
Hell, even the threat of it might be enough. Everyone’s insurance company would be giving them all kinds of feces.

We could ease the pressure on us being aggressors by standing off and letting air power do most of the work. Stay out of the gulf, use our reach. But that really changes the tempo. Bushco seems to favor the Zap Brannigan strategic style.
Still, it’s a winnable war (tactically) given we can make them waste time trying to do us damage in the field (we can stand to lose a LOT of equipment, our budget is pretty much geared for it anyway) while we slip in on the ground and air. Occupation is a whole other thing. But it’s doable.

That is not to say I think actually doing it is in any way a reasonable proposition.
But y’know, similarly - if someone asked me is there a way to make a belt-fed sawed off autoshotgun I’d have to say ‘yes’ even though I think it’s a completely stupid idea (’cause it’d probably really ‘splode after two minutes).
posted by Smedleyman at 11:48 AM on January 10, 2008


The US and Iran after the NIE
posted by homunculus at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2008


...apparently now even some within the Pentagon are acknowledging that the authenticity of the video is dubious at best.

And there's more reporting:

ABC News: Voices on Recording May Not Have Been From Iranian Speedboats.
posted by ericb at 12:38 PM on January 10, 2008


“...a reader posted a comment [to the New York Times article to which saulgoodman links above] claiming to be a former Navy officer with experience in the Strait of Hormuz and offering an explanation for how easily a mistake could have been made by Navy personnel trying to sift through radio transmissions filled with chatter:
All ships at sea use a common UHF frequency, Channel 16, also known as ‘bridge-to bridge’ radio. Over here, near the U.S., and throughout the Mediterranean, Ch. 16 is used pretty professionally, i.e., chatter is limited to shiphandling issues, identifying yourself, telling other ships what your intentions are to avoid mishaps, etc.

But over in the Gulf, Ch. 16 is like a bad CB radio. Everybody and their brother is on it; chattering away; hurling racial slurs, usually involving Filipinos (lots of Filipinos work in the area); curses involving your mother; 1970’s music broadcast in the wee hours (nothing odder than hearing The Carpenters 50 miles off the coast of Iran at 4 a.m.)

On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf, slurs/threats/chatter/etc. is commonplace. So my first thought was that the ‘explode’ comment might not have even come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility.
The commenter, who signed his posting ‘SWO officer,’ went on to say, ‘I hope everybody exercises great caution here and doesn’t jump to conclusions.’

President Bush was criticized today for doing the opposite. According to The Washington Post, ‘some diplomatic and military officials in Washington’ said that Mr. Bush’s statements on arriving in Israel Wednesday ‘inflated the significance of the brief incident’ in the strait.

In his remarks, Mr. Bush warned Iran that ‘all options are on the table to protect our assets.’

Meanwhile, the video images that were released by the Pentagon came in for some more contradiction from Iran, which has contended that the United States was exaggerating a workaday encounter between two naval powers in the Persian Gulf: A competing video purporting to show Sunday’s incident from the Iranian side was broadcast today on Iranian television.

Here is how the semiofficial Fars News Agency described it:
The four-minute video showed an Iranian commander in a speedboat contacting an American sailor via radio, asking him to identify the U.S. vessels and state their purpose.
‘Coalition warship number 73 this is an Iranian patrol,’ the Iranian commander is heard to say in good English.

‘This is coalition warship number 73. I am operating in international waters,’ comes the reply.
That would seem to be a much less aggressive interaction between the American and Iranian forces, of course. But the timing of the recording could not be confirmed, and as Iran itself has said, these types of exchanges happen all the time.

Agence France-Presse noted one way that Iran’s video seemed to match up with the United States account of the encounter: all three U.S. vessels involved in the incident are seen in the video.’

But The Associated Press was skeptical, saying that “the short clip likely did not show Sunday’s entire encounter.”*
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2008


"At a Pentagon news conference [two hours ago], a reporter asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates: 'You said yesterday that other similar incidents have occurred. Can you say what about this incident on Sunday was particularly different that created such a stir?'

Gates argued there were more Iranian boats this time, and they were 'more aggressive.'"

Watch it here.
posted by ericb at 1:06 PM on January 10, 2008


i think someone was likely being paid to sit offshore with a radio and make incendiary comments whenever the iranians got close.

1. the republican guard is way too professional to make comments that provocative while probing US ships.

2. US strategy hasnt changed since the gulf of tonkin. the US is likely public opinion / gullibility about iran's motivation toward an aggressive act.

3. iran and the irgc in particular has much better ways of attacking a us ship than ramming it with a slow ass speedboat.

4. although it is interesting to pay some attention to the whole speedboats ramming ships thing and how it relates to the idea that these newfangled strategies/technologies everyone thinks are invincible.
posted by mano at 2:16 PM on January 10, 2008


I blame the Saddam lookalikes.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:31 PM on January 10, 2008


From the NY Times today:
However, the recording carries no ambient noise — the sounds of a motor, the sea or wind — that would be expected if the broadcast had been made from one of the five small boats that sped around the three-ship American convoy.</blockquote?
posted by jaronson at 4:41 PM on January 10, 2008


I forgot to mention I got that link from Glenn Greenwald's article today.
posted by jaronson at 4:45 PM on January 10, 2008


Broken:40,000 Lbs 10 minute blitz...
posted by hortense at 1:02 AM on January 11, 2008


That BBC article^ was all over the place as it touched on about 6 different topics in such a short article. That said, I am skeptical about (mostly everything) dropping huge bombs as an offensive tactic in a guerilla war. Not that I'm an expert on military tactics and such.
posted by jaronson at 6:50 AM on January 11, 2008


‘Filipino Monkey’ may be behind radio threats, ship drivers say
posted by homunculus at 3:54 PM on January 11, 2008


Latest video from the Pentagon.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:02 PM on January 11, 2008


Paul Warns Against Rush To War With Iran, All Other GOP Candidates ‘Ready To Attack’
posted by homunculus at 5:43 PM on January 11, 2008


U.S.: Shots were fired at Iran boat.
posted by ericb at 7:23 PM on January 11, 2008


Threatening voice from Iran incident may be famous heckler.
“The recent controversy over an incident in the Strait of Hormuz involving five Iranian speedboats was punctuated by an allegation that an Iranian voice warned a U.S. ship, ‘I am coming to you. You will explode in a few minutes.’ But the voice ‘may have come from a locally famous heckler well known to Navy crews.’ The Navy Times reports:
In recent years, American ships operating in the Middle East have had to contend with a mysterious but profane voice widely known as the ‘Filipino Monkey,’ likely more than one person, who listens in on ship-to-ship radio traffic and then jumps on the net shouting insults and epithets.

Rick Hoffman, a retired captain who commanded the cruiser Hue City and spent many of his 17 years at sea in the Gulf was subject to the renegade radio talker repeatedly, often without pause during the so-called ‘Tanker Wars’ of the late 1980s.

‘For 25 years there’s been this mythical guy out there who, hour after hour, shouts obscenities and threats,’ he said. ‘He could be tied up pierside somewhere or he could be on the bridge of a merchant ship.’ […]

‘He used to go all night long. The guy is crazy,’ he said. ‘But who knows how many Filipino Monkeys there are? Could it have been a spurious transmission? Absolutely.’”
posted by ericb at 10:51 AM on January 12, 2008


Bush Disowns U.S. Intel, Tells Israelis Iran NIE ‘Doesn’t Reflect My Own Views’
posted by homunculus at 9:20 AM on January 13, 2008


The Cheneyites nearly started WWIII over "Filipino Monkey" radio signal...
posted by homunculus at 11:32 AM on January 13, 2008


In other news: George Bush to push $20bn Saudi arms deal
posted by homunculus at 7:59 PM on January 13, 2008


Thanks homunculus that Telegraph photo of fearless leader says it all............................... watch this drive !
posted by hortense at 10:35 PM on January 13, 2008


"George Bush to push $20bn Saudi arms deal"

Moo. Baa.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:38 AM on January 17, 2008


watch this drive !

Watch this dance!
posted by homunculus at 9:11 AM on January 17, 2008


President Bush's cavalier dismissal of the NIE undermines our credibility, again.
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2008


How the Pentagon planted a false story
posted by homunculus at 2:25 PM on January 18, 2008


Following Podhoretz’s Lead, Right Wing Continues Push For ‘Bombing Campaign’ Against Iran ‘Now’
posted by homunculus at 8:54 PM on January 20, 2008


How Mainstream Media Echoed a Fabricated Story
posted by homunculus at 11:32 AM on January 26, 2008


The U.S. Energy Department is subsidizing two Russian nuclear institutes that are building key parts of a reactor in Iran that the United States spent years trying to stop, according to a House committee.
posted by homunculus at 9:55 AM on February 7, 2008


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