Are we inching towards war with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz

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Are we inching towards war with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz

It started about a month ago with actions over the strait of Hormuz, and involved only drones:

As the video made clear, President Trump's initial response was pretty measured:

But rather than further inflame tensions between the two countries, the president on Thursday appeared to give Iran a pass when it came to the regime’s latest provocation: the downing of a U.S. drone over international waters, according to the Pentagon. Rather than pointing his finger at the regime, Trump instead fingered a rogue actor inside Iran for the aggression.

“I imagine someone made a mistake,” he told reporters, speaking from the Oval Office. “We didn't have a man or woman in the drone. It would have made a big, big difference.”

Even as the president’s friends and advisers in the administration and on Capitol Hill ratcheted up the rhetoric — Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) were both pushing Trump toward a military response, with Graham arguing on Twitter that “The only thing Iran and every other thuggish regime understands is Strength and Pain” — Trump has thus far remained immune to their pleas.

Flash forward a month, and now the US has shot down a Iranian drone....or did they?

One has to sort of chuckle at the Iranian logic: "No, the US didn't shoot down our drone as there wasn't one in the area, also, look at the great video we got from a drone not in the area..."

Unarmed drones flying in international waters are one thing, but what's very troubling is the attack on shipping mentioned in each video.  It started actually at the mouth of the Mediteranean back at the beginning of the month:

A former senior commander with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has warned it would be Tehran's "duty" to seize a British oil tanker if the Iranian tanker being held in Gibraltar is not released.

The vessel was stormed by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar port and law enforcement agencies in the early hours of Thursday morning as it was believed to have been carrying oil to Syria, in possible violation of European Union sanctions.

Mohsen Rezaee, who is currently Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council -- an advisory body to Iran's Supreme Leader -- tweeted that "if the UK does not release the Iranian oil tanker, our officials are duty-bound to reciprocate and seize a British oil tanker."...

And now the Iranians have indeed mounted an audacious takeover of a British tanker:

CNN actually played the audio traffic between the Iranians and the British warship that was in the vicinity at the time:

Another CNN opinion article suggests two things we can learn from this: 1) that Iran will lose it's more moderate friends over this, and 2) that moderates within the country have lost all power.

Steadily increasing its bets in an international game of bluff, Iran has gone almost all inwith a gamble that its hard liners must believe is worth the punt -- but which will certainly end their credit lines even among friends.

In seizing a foreign tanker which it accuses of "violating international regulations," Tehran has resorted to a form of piracy in international waters.
At a time when Iran might have begun to win friends and influence people in the world's corridors of power, it's showing that it really could be the force of dangerous instability that its most ardent enemies have claimed...
This is obviously ramping up the problems.
But now a British tanker is in the clutches of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps after it was seized in international waters.
With no legitimate basis for such a seizure, Iran is committing an act of aggression against a sovereign vessel that, in theory, could be met with an aggressive response.
But perhaps that's what the hardliners in Iran, who have always complained that President Hassan Rouhani gave away far too much in the nuclear deal, would want.
Recovery of the seized vessels could be accomplished by force. But it would return the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf to the insecurity that cursed the region in the "tanker wars" of the 1980s during the bloody Iran-Iraq war.
To avoid a blood clot in one of the world's most important arteries of oil supply, Britain and others may be prepared to negotiate. After all negotiations are best held when both sides have decent cards to play.
Let's hope cooler heads prevail in Tehran.
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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.