HMS Daring, the first of the new ‘Daring’ class of Clydebuilt Type 45 destroyers and whose sea trials in Argyll waters we watched closely on AIS is off on her first active mission – to the Gulf.
Her deployment is far from unconnected to the recent threat from Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz to shipping if economic sanctions were put in place against the country.
The pressure for such sanctions, however, is increasing with President Obama signing a sanctions bill in Washington at the end of December 12011 and France, in the past week, exhorting EU member states to embargo oil exports and freeze the assets of Iranian banks. BY the end of January, Britain, as an EU member, will have to agree to or stand aside from this proposal.
The arrival in the Gulf of HMS Daring cannot be seen as other than an act of additional provocation and challenge.
But the US Fifth Fleet is gingering up the situation with overt threats to Iran over any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz and little Brit seems to be compelled to play bag-carrier in any American aggression. Rookie Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, issued a warning of his own on action from Britain if Iran followed through with its threat on the Strait.
The significance of the Strait of Hormuz is that something lke 40% of the world’s oil is shipped out through this key waterway.
President George W Bush, with his Blair echo, were talking up potential conflict with Iran towards the end of their respective periods of power.
They were doing this in spite of the already known cost of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan – in lives, in the growing strength of terrorist factions and in money.
Since then we have seen the UK and NATO meddle in the affairs of countries in the Middle East – with no real understanding of their very different cultures and no intention of being around to help clear up the resulting chaos and stabilise the countries concerned.
This dangerously light-minded and light-fingered interference in other peoples’ business is far from the wishes of the UK electorate who are never consulted on such matters but who have to bear a cost – as Scotland knows – in growing vulnerability to revenge attacks from increasingly numerous organisations bred out of resentment.
The constant ratcheting up of a conflictual situation with Iran, the monstering of President Ahmadinejad – who may talk belligerence but acts with greater – and unrecognised – reasonableness, could neither be more irresponsible nor more potentially disastrous.
This is a very real and present danger for world stability in 2012 and the major national news media are virtually ignoring it. There is almost no public information on what is going on, no real analysis and no public concern. There should be.
Just as it was impossible to believe that, in the conflict in Kosovo, we were again seeing skeletal human beings in concentration camps, with our media uncritically parroting the obscene euphemism of ‘ethnic cleaning’, it is impossible today to credit that the USA and the UK are limbering up to monkey around in Iran.
President Obama has just announced cuts of half a million troops from the American forces – on the ironic grounds that ‘America can no longer fight the world’s wars’. The UK has, following the recent defence cuts, a seriously depleted and strained defence force – with neither aircraft carrier capability nor aircraft – bar some helicopters – to be carrier launched anyway; reductions in land based aircraft and airbases; and cuts in infantry numbers going through.
Yet out of this entire context we are acting provocatively and undiplomatically – because Iran has developed a nuclear capability. This is well beyond reason since the fact that Israel – the nation arguably most likely actually to use nuclear weapons if pushed, has long had such capability without such alarmism from the west.
It is a matter of real despair that, in 2012, we are so unevolved in adult relations between states and leaders that we can play such brutishly stupid games. But. hey – this is the year President Obama will fight to retain what has been a disappointingly unimpressive presidency – and one thing the USA and the UK have in common is an easily inflamed distrust of ‘Johnny Foreigner’.
With the powerful American Jewish lobby to be won over in a tricky election campaign, Obama’s bullish actions on Iran could be said to be gestures of reassurance to that influential internal body.
At what cost to the rest of us?