Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | May 5, 2015

The Maersk Tigris game change: Iran’s big little maneuver in the Strait of Hormuz

Superbad.  An Iranian speedboat and Kayvan patrol boat, the new law in the SOH. (Image: Fars via Uskowi on Iran)

Superbad. An Iranian speedboat and Kayvan patrol boat, the new law in the SOH. (Image: Fars via Uskowi on Iran)

The game of international power dynamics has just shifted in a major way.  It will take a little time for the consequences to be visible to the public eye.  But I don’t think it will take that much time.  We’re talking months, at most, if not weeks.  Iran is getting no pushback from the “international community,” and is moving quickly now.

Two points to take this forward on.  First, the Maersk Tigris, the Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship detained by Iran on Tuesday, is still being held by Iran.  The situation remains unresolved.

Second, the U.S. Navy will begin accompanying U.S.-flagged commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz (SOH).  This is not the robust use of force it may seem to be, nor is it a repeat of the tanker-escort operation (Earnest Will)* in 1987-88, during the Iran-Iraq war.  It’s a tacit surrender, in fact.

The decision to accompany U.S.-flagged shipping in the SOH is a finger in a dike, and what it actually means is that the international convention that has governed safe transit of the Strait of Hormuz for decades has already collapsed.  Appointing a U.S. Navy escort in the conditions of 2015 is an acknowledgment that there’s nothing we can do about the chaos that is now cracking the pillars of international order.  We can try to protect our own shipping, but there will be no enforcement of a principle of safe passage through international straits, as a basic building block of order among the nations.

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  1. Do you find that mainstream media is reporting this story? If so, is it accurately characterized? Thanks, David Sweatt, South Carolina

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