The political and media establishment thinks the US owns the world

Yesterday two small US navy ships entered Iranian territorial waters. They were promptly intercepted by Iranian patrol boats and the soldiers detained pending an investigation by the Iranians as to whether it was a hostile attack or an accidental transgression. The Iranians assured the US that the sailors would be kept safe and the issue would be dealt with promptly. And sure enough, the sailors and boats were released following the Iranian determination that this was accidental. US Secretary of State John Kerry thanked the Iranians for the quick release and said that this kind of peaceful resolution was due to the diplomatic channels that had now been established because of the nuclear arms deal.

A minor event in the grand scheme of things, handled just the way such international incidents should be. But not if you are one of the Republican candidates and the media chattering classes who immediately went into hysteria mode warning that this was blatant aggression by the Iranians, possibly to embarrass president Obama just before he delivered his State of the Union address, and that the US had to respond strongly to show them that you could not push the US around.

Glenn Greenwald reviews more of the almost comical (if it were not serious) responses by these keyboard warriors and concludes:

Just imagine what would happen if the situation had been reversed: if two Iranian naval ships had entered U.S. waters off the East Coast of the country without permission or notice. Wolf Blitzer would have declared war within minutes; Aaron David Miller would have sprained one his fingers madly tweeting about Iranian aggression and the need to show resolve; and Joe Scarborough would have videotaped himself throwing one of his Starbucks cups at a picture of the mullahs to show them that they cannot push America around and there “will be hell to pay.” And, needless to say, the U.S. government would have – quite rightly – detained the Iranian ships and the sailors aboard them to determine why they had entered U.S. waters (and had they released the Iranians less than 24 hours later, the U.S. media would have compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain).

But somehow, the U.S. media instantly converted the invasion by U.S. ships into Iranian waters into an act of aggression by Iran. That’s, in part, because the U.S. political and media establishment believes the world is owned by the United States (recall how the U.S., with a straight face, regularly condemned Iran for “interference” in Iraq even while the U.S. was occupying Iraq with 100,000 troops). Thus, the U.S. military has the absolute right to go anywhere it wants – even into Iranian waters – and it’s inherently an act of “aggression” for anyone else to resist. That was the clear premise of the bulk of the U.S. commentary last night.

Of course, none of these people will exhibit any shame for their absurd over-reaction. Being a warmonger means never having to say you are sorry.


  1. says

    The lawful arrest of Americans in Iranian waters is no different than the lawful shooting down of Gary Powers and his airplane in 1960. The US knowingly and illegally invaded another country’s territory. Anyone who didn’t expect consequences is delusional.

    “These colours don’t run”? Explain Vietnam and Beirut. Those colours don’t run the world.

  2. says

    Yeah it was a good thing the Iranians weren’t as aggro as US puppet Turkey.

    It’s not like the USN hasn’t nearly started nuclear wars several times. Those idiots should have their toys taken away, seriously.

  3. Who Cares says

    Oh this is news? The US has been behaving like that since the collapse of the USSR.

    I remember the outburst of the US (not it’s pundits, the state department) a dozen or so years back.
    Bit of background. Once the USSR dissolved Russia recognized all the states resulting from that dissolution. The US only recognized the bigger ones or the ones that looked like they’d go anti-Russia.
    So about a dozen years back Russia concludes a treaty with one of the smaller, if not smallest, of those states (not recognized by the US too small and pro-Russia).
    One of the things in it was defensive aid seeing that the big pro-US neighbor was making claims that it was part of their territory (strange how the US defends Taiwan from similar claims from China though).
    The state department absolutely freaked out. Paraphrased; How did the Russians dare make that treaty! Since the US did not recognized their partner they were not allowed to make that treaty unless they’d get permission from the US.

    Worryingly enough the US gets what it wants often enough (mainly from Europe) that it validates the idea that it owns the world.

  4. Who Cares says

    I might want to add that this idea of owning the world, the one indispensable nation, etc., etc., has resulted in the US going thug on the world demanding that it gets what it want instead of negotiating with it. Which in my opinion has done more damage to its standing in the world since even the traditional allies/vassals have not been able to ignore that behavior (as they’ve managed to do with a host of other things the US also did since the collapse of the USSR).

    That is why I find it stunning that they even managed to send diplomats to negotiate with Iran. It means that first someone had to admit that the US did not own everything and that it actually had to ask. That is why the republicans, their supporters & enablers are (among other reasons) flipping out about that deal because it also does not fit their world view of the US being the hegemon of the world.

  5. lorn says

    “The lawful arrest of Americans in Iranian waters is no different than the lawful shooting down of Gary Powers and his airplane in 1960. The US knowingly and illegally invaded another country’s territory. Anyone who didn’t expect consequences is delusional.”

    Oh, please. The right-wing idiots go one way and you go the opposite. Enough of the knee-jerk reactions.

    The simple fact is that this is in no way an invasion. A pair of boats was traveling and one had engine trouble. The second quite wisely stuck around to help. With the engines off they strayed into Iranian waters. The Iranians were well within their rights to find out who was there and what their intentions were. It is what navies do.

    Transit is allowed under UN laws of the sea by other navies as long as it it clear their intentions are deemed “innocent”. There is also the long standing custom of rendering assistance to ships in distress regardless of the flag nation and type of ships. The small boats were at significant risk. Without propulsion small boats don’t fare well if the wind and seas rise.

    Most navies would have questioned them and let them go quickly. It is clear that two small boats and ten sailors doesn’t constitute a serious invasion threat and there was simply not enough high-power surveillance equipment to classify it as spying. The Iranian navy, possibly with Republican Guard control, was unable to make the decision under local authority and so they detained them long enough for higher authorities to weigh in. This is a bit unusual as most western nations allow more local control, the officer in charge, possibly in consultation with superiors, would make the call, but any reasonable delay is allowed.

    This is not a case of uppity Iranians who should rightly be cowering in fear of US power brutalizing innocent US sailors because Obama failed to instill proper levels of dread. Nor is it a case of arrogant US forces, drunk on hegemonic power, casually invading Iranian national waters because it is assumed the US can go anywhere and do anything.

    This is just one of those things that happen when people are at sea. Engines break down. Sailors aren’t always aware of exactly where they are. Local marine routinely authorities check vessels out and determine their intentions. Business as usual. Another day on the water.

  6. StevoR says

    @ ^ Lorn : Well said and seconded. Nice balanced appraisal of the reality here.

    But somehow, the U.S. media instantly converted the invasion by U.S. ships into Iranian waters into an act of aggression by Iran.

    (Italics original.)

    Invasion? By two small boats with a handful of people with one of those craft not even working properly? Oh for pity’s sake. No, just, no. Totally excessive and hyperbolic choice of words there.

    Good that the whole situation ended well and diplomatically though. Glad to see that. Nicely done by both Iran and Obama’and diplomats here.

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