Gunboat Diplomacy Means We Aren't Bombing Iran

| Fri Dec. 22, 2006 1:42 PM EST

A few days ago, I remarked on an astonishing report coming out of the Pentagon indicating that the military is considering a buildup of Navy forces in the Persian Gulf as a show of strength against Iran. In a cheeky aside, I said, "Thanks for suggesting diplomacy with these folks, Iraq Study Group. Now get out of town."

I should have been more cautious. As Laura Rozen explains in the American Prospect's online edition today, sending naval forces to Iran's backyard is a form of diplomacy: "Gunboat Diplomacy."

Rozen quotes an unnamed official:

"The idea is definitely to keep the Iranians aware that there is a price to pay for their policies and the U.S. is not rolling over... The Iranians are being unhelpful in funding and supporting people blowing coalition forces up in Iraq… [The announced US actions] are to say, 'We have teeth, we have force. You shouldn't think we're some paper tiger.'"

First of all, how funny is the use of the word "unhelpful"? Iran is funding Shiite death squads and "blowing coalition forces up in Iraq." Unhelpful, indeed. An Iranian close to the administration tells Rozen that the buildup of troops would largely be "intimidation" and that America "needs all the demonstration of strength she could muster, should she decide to start talks with Iran." The take-home message is that it is possible sending warships to the gulf is not the first sign of a regional conflagration, but instead the inevitable posturing that comes before negotiation. We can only hope.

For Mother Jones content on the possibility of war with Iran, see the list of stories at this link.