U.S. sailor incident: What Carter couldn’t put on record to Congress – plus Iran’s new taunt

U.S. sailor incident: What Carter couldn’t put on record to Congress – plus Iran’s new taunt

In case you were wondering, the leaders of Iran’s military despise America.  If they hadn’t made that clear before, they have now.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is planning to build a statue of the US sailors who were captured in Iranian waters earlier this year, a senior officer said.

The provocative proposal is likely to cause outrage in the US and be seized on by Republicans opposed to President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.

Commander Ali Fadavi, the head of the Guard’s naval forces, said the monument of the surrendering Americans would be a “tourist attraction”.

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“There are very many photographs of the major incident of arresting US Marines in the Persian Gulf in the media and we intend to build a symbol out of them inside one of our naval monuments,” he told Iran’s Defense Press news agency.

The knife-twisting is getting a little silly at this point – seriously, they don’t have something better to do? – but it’s probably going to continue.

That’s in large part because Obama is still afraid to have it said that Iran did anything wrong in the incident.  The Tower pointed out something interesting this week in that regard.

In testimony given to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter offered vigorous criticism of Iran’s behavior during the incident (transcript from The Tower; emphasis added):

I want to say some words about Iran’s treatment of our sailors on Farsi Island back in January. As I made clear then Iran’s actions were outrageous, unprofessional and inconsistent with international law and nothing we’ve learned about the circumstances of this incident since then changes that fact. It’s because of Iran’s recklessness and destabilizing behavior in that part of the world that DOD remains full speed ahead in our investments, our planning, and our posture to ensure that we deter Iran’s aggression, deter its malign influence and uphold our ironclad commitments to our regional friends and allies, especially Israel, to whom we maintain an unwavering, and unbreakable commitment.

Iran’s actions did clearly violate the Law of the Sea conventions for dealing with foreign naval vessels in Iran’s territorial waters, and indeed for dealing with any properly flagged vessel that was committing no crime in their waters.  As I have pointed out in comments to readers, the lawful, peaceful response for Iran was to notify the U.S. boats they were in Iranian waters, tell them to leave, escort them out, and offer assistance if they were in distress.  Under no circumstances pertaining to this incident did Iran have a right to seize the boats and detain the sailors.  Certainly the Iranians were in the wrong to put the sailors on public display, and allude to their capture afterward in a demeaning, mocking way.

Iran mocks the U.S. Navy sailors in a national day parade. (Image via Twitter, Abas Aslani)
Iran mocks the U.S. Navy sailors in a national day parade. (Image via Twitter, Abas Aslani)

The Tower notes that Senator [score]John McCain[/score] made similar points immediately after the incident, in January.  But the Obama administration has declined to acknowledge this point.  And here’s what The Tower noticed about Carter’s testimony on 16 March:

Carter’s criticism of the Iranian capture and treatment of the American sailors did not appear in the prepared text (.pdf) of his testimony, which was published on the committee’s website.

Carter had to interrupt his prepared testimony and go off-script to make his point about Iran’s misbehavior.

Now, this is me speaking, and not The Tower.  I assume Carter couldn’t put his criticism of Iran into the official text of his committee testimony because the Obama White House wouldn’t let him.

Nevertheless, he felt strongly enough about it to break with his script and say it to Congress anyway.  (His remarks as recorded in committee will appear in the Congressional Record, if things are still going as they’re supposed to in that regard.)

An email correspondent reminded me after Carter’s testimony that Army Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, one-time head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was forced out of his job when he refused to cook the intelligence on the Taliban (and other groups), to support the Obama narrative that such groups’ operations and profiles were significantly diminished.  (Flynn has since done a great public service by speaking truths in retirement that he couldn’t utter while on active duty.)

Ashton Carter is no firebrand, and he probably feels like he does more good for the Defense Department he has served for so long by staying in his job, rather than getting removed from it.  But he couldn’t let this egregious incident go by.

Obama can.  Which is why with each passing day, around the world, the law of the jungle encroaches a little further on the flickering campfires of civilization.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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