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When being mauled by a lion, don't poke at an eagle

A few days ago, I said that the evacuation of American citizens from Lebanon would be led by the United States Navy (no great stretch there), and worried that Hezbollah might take the opportunity to swoop in and either kill or take hostage those Americans, for use as bargaining chips. They could threaten those people and demand that we pressure Israel to end their systemic dismantling of the terrorist organization that, as of September 10, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group.

And now, with the attack on an Israeli warship with a Chinese-designed cruise missile from Iran, we find that Hezbollah has a prior-unsuspected offensive capability. The notion of a terrorist group with cruise missiles (a second missile hit and sank an Egyptian merchant vessel) caught a lot of people off guard. (Ironically, novelist James Huston predicted an Islamist terrorist group acquiring and using anti-ship cruise missiles six years ago.)

One of the reasons the Israelis say their ship was hit was that it didn't have its anti-missile defensive systems online at the time of the attack. They say that they were wary of accidentally targeting Israeli aircraft or drones, and didn't suspect Hezbollah would have access to weaponry of the magnitude of a C-802 cruise missile.

Well, we do know, and our warships are doing what they are designed to do -- sailing into harm's way in the defense of Americans.

At this point, the United States is passively supporting Israel, fending off demands they "show restraint" and "limit themselves to a proportional response." We are not actively involved in the fighting with Hezbollah, nor are we engaging their puppet masters in Syria or Teheran. The smartest thing Hezbollah could do would be to allow the United States to go in and remove our people unmolested.

But Hezbollah has far too often eschewed the smart thing to the bold, taking action as opportunities present themselves, and "thinking with their balls and not their brains." I think they weill be sorely tempted to make a show of force, to strike against the United States somehow.

If they do, then I see the United States taking those warships currently seeking to rescue Americans being put to their designed purpose. These are not ferries, they are warships, and they were built to wage war.

And if they should happen to fire another Iranian missile off, this time at an American warship, it will most likely be stopped -- and the suppliers of that missile back in Teheran will find it returned a hundredfold or more.

If Hezbollah really wants to expand this war by bringing the United States in against them, they have the ready opportunity. But if they have a lick of sense, they'll let it slide.

Judging by their past performance, the Navy better keep its missiles and cannons ready at all times. But they hardly need me to tell them that. The memories of the USS Stark, the USS Princeton, and the USS Cole are still very fresh and foremost in their minds.


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Comments (27)

Should the Iranian anti-shi... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Should the Iranian anti-ship missiles be fired at the US Navy vessels running interference for the evacuation op, they'll most likely be shot down with Block I or Block II RIM 116 Rolling Airframe Missiles

Jay - the Cole is part of t... (Below threshold)

Jay - the Cole is part of the battle group sent to Lebanon.


Homeported in Norfolk, Va., the Iwo Jima Battle Group consists of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), amphibious transport dock USS Nashville (LPD 13), attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706), dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), and guided missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and USS Cole (DDG 67). The 24th MEU is composed of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 and the MEU Service Support Group 24.
At this point I don't belie... (Below threshold)

At this point I don't believe Hezbollah is that crazy or stupid. Especially since they know Marines have long memories. But I could be wrong.

CubanbobI think He... (Below threshold)
retired military:


I think Hezballah may try it just to try to get the US and Syria involved. Wont they be suprised when Iran just sits back and does nothing to help them.

USS Stark was the only one ... (Below threshold)

USS Stark was the only one of those that was attacked by a missle.

USS Samuel B. Roberts - mine
USS Princeton - mine
USS Inchon - mine
USS Stark - moving suicide mine

Close in brownwater ops with lots of friendly air, is a challenge for anti-missle operations, sure to be lots of tired Gunner's and OS types...

I hope they also remember t... (Below threshold)

I hope they also remember the USS Liberty....

Cubanbob, one of the major ... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Cubanbob, one of the major mistakes we've always made in dealing with groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah is that we think like white boys.

Because we think like white boys, we fail to comprehend that the motivations of these groups aren't within our understanding set, and that to them, negotiated settlements are merely delaying actions, and not something to be followed.

ergh... Strike Inchon, repl... (Below threshold)

ergh... Strike Inchon, replace with USS Tripoli I spent enough freeaking time staring at her fantail to remember her name...

good call on the <a href="h... (Below threshold)

good call on the Liberty, a mess up common with the early 1960s. Friendly Fire is always a problem close in, hopefully our comms have improved enough...

Ah, yes. The USS Liberty, ... (Below threshold)

Ah, yes. The USS Liberty, wondered how long that would take to come up. Tell me, are we now holding you to the tragic mistakes you made 40 years ago?

A <a href="http://www.ussli... (Below threshold)

A co-worker and good friend of my dad was on the Liberty. He gave me the book "Assault on the Liberty" written by one of the other survivors. It is an amazing story to read and I highly recommend it.

The Liberty was not a good ... (Below threshold)

The Liberty was not a good example of "friendly fire", frankly.

Mistakes happen, yes, mistakes shrouded in the fog of war. But there's a difference between firing on a ship you think is Egyptian, finding out it isn't and then stopping, and firing on a ship you think is Egyptian, getting IRCS of a neutral, disregarding it, and continuing to fire.

Israel is historically heavy-handed in the military applications of its foreign policy -- which is fine. But when they get heavy handed on neutrals or allies by mistake -- even continuous mistake -- an apology wouldn't hurt.

Listboy the problem is that... (Below threshold)

Listboy the problem is that we don't treat them like white boys. Like WT Sherman treated Georgia or the 8th Air Force treated Germany.

Retired Military thanks to Jimmy Carter we are still suffering from this mess. Can anyone make a serious argument that we, the world and above all Iran would have been better off today under the Shah than with the current nutjob killers?

We have a debt of honor in Lebanon: Col Higgins (lynched) and the Marine Corp barracks not to mention Syria and Iran. At the minimum we ought to let Israel kill them off. Arabs and Muslims act crazy because it works for them. Because we allow it. It's time to stop and smash them good and hard until they like the prior enemies they come to the simple conclusion it is better to quit and live than continue and die. No ceasefires or truces. Unconditional surrender. No one looks forward to massive death and destruction. But there is no real choice, pay now or later with even heavier loss of life.

Cubanbob, you said you didn... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Cubanbob, you said you didn't think they were crazy or stupid...

Islamofascists of their ilk are both, and don't care about reality.

Oh come on, you know if Hez... (Below threshold)

Oh come on, you know if Hezbollah shot down one of the rescue choppers going in and out of Beirut, the loons on the left would say Bush ordered that to happen, just to justify the authorizing of using force against Hezbollah...

Listkeeper I did not say th... (Below threshold)

Listkeeper I did not say that they were not crazy or stupid but rather at this time with the pounding they are taking that they would not be so stupid and crazy to get USMC and the US Navy to join in the fun. But the again I might be wrong and you might be right that they are indeed that bat shit stupid and crazy. Iran and Syria gain nothing by having their proxies smashed. It makes them look weak and impotent. But then again it's hard for a sane person to reason like a lunatic.

Hezbollah will not kidnap ... (Below threshold)

Hezbollah will not kidnap US citizens who are trying to leave Lebanon because they know that half of them are Hezbollah supporters who funnel money to the terrorist organization.

In the Detroit area we are expecting a large influx of "citizens" who have not set foot in the country in several years and may have ties to several nasty groups.

Iran and Syria should be in... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Iran and Syria should be informed through diplomatic circles that an attack by hezbolla on the United States would be views as an attack by Iran and Syria requiring a full nuclear response. It is time we get to the end game. An Ohio class submarine stationed within short range of those two nations should have a calming effect on those idiots. If not, oh well!

Zelsdorf,Despite t... (Below threshold)


Despite the unacceptable civilian loss of a nuclear reaction, where do you think the fallout would land? Depending on the wind and altitude of the blast, alot of places.

'Nuclear' and 'response' are two words that don't belong in any conversation regarding the middle east, unless of course us or our allies are victims to it first.

Regarding my last post, "Nu... (Below threshold)

Regarding my last post, "Nuclear reaction" should be Nuclear response.

Two very different things.

Let's bring back the USS Ne... (Below threshold)

Let's bring back the USS New Jersey. The islamo-nuts should remember her. Well, maybe not the Syrian general who had a 1600 lb shell land on him, but the rest, maybe.


CubabbobDid you se... (Below threshold)
retired military:


Did you see me say that Israel should stop?

I hope they continue to beat Hezballah and Hamas like a red headed step child and dont stop.

I hope Syria is stupid enough to get into the act. That way Israel can mop them up and we can have some stability in that area at least until Iran decides to get stupid.

I seriously doubt Iran is that stupid but if they egg Syria on with promises of joining in Syria is much more likely.

Hezballah can talk about attacking US interests but if they do then there wont be much left to have talks about a cease fire with. And you can count on dems not gaining any seats if we do get attacked.

Listkeeper, that why you re... (Below threshold)

Listkeeper, that why you read Sun Tsu.

Well Jon, Hizbolla has no navy so hopefully the Israelis don't do another "Liberty" or I'll vote for the Lebs...

The U.S.S. Liberty was no m... (Below threshold)
Drew E.:

The U.S.S. Liberty was no mistake.During 69-70 I was at the Naval Intel School at Pensacola Fla...we had briefings on the Liberty's mission and what went down..33 were kiiled and over 150 wounded..the torpedo went directly into the crypto center where most who were killed were CTO's like I became...We were listening in their waters. They didn't trust or like it..

And LBJ gave the order in s... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

And LBJ gave the order in spite of what the Israelis had said about having our intel ships in the area.

It's a tragic, embarrassing... (Below threshold)

It's a tragic, embarrassing and dangerous testament to the lack of courage on the part of elected republicans that it will take a deadly attack on an American ship before we can even discuss combat with a rogue nation sworn to our destruction. Hezballah had to foolishly provide Israel with an incontrovertible excuse for action, even though it had been bombing and sending rockets after Israeli civilians all along. And we too will have to suffer an appropriately despicable assault in order to justify retaliation to a world pre-disposed to favor bad things happening to us. Leaders and patriots do not look for approbation or consensus. They do what is right for their country. Bush has shown flashes of such behavior. Will we see any more before our ships transporting civilians from Lebanon are destroyed?

Speaking of mines and Gulf ... (Below threshold)

Speaking of mines and Gulf ops, I invite you to check out my new book: "No Higher Honor: Saving the USS Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf. (Naval Institute Press). Photos, video, and excerpts are posted at Nohigherhonor.com.






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