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Go Ahead, Mullahs. Make My Day.
We may have just witnessed a Blazing Saddles Moment on the part of the Iranian mullahs' regime in Teheran.
You remember: actor Cleavon Little, standing before the angry citizenry of a Western town - holding them all hostage by the simple expedient of holding a pistol to his own head. Shouts Little: "Don't shoot! He's desperate!"
I wonder if that movie's available in Teheran. Earlier today, msnbc.com's World News was quoting Iranian Army commander Ataollah Salehi (no relation, we hope, to that couple who crashed a White House state dinner a while back ) as daring the United States to send a supercarrier into the Straits of Hormuz again. Really.
Apparently channeling the spirit of "Baghdad Bob," another famous Middle Eastern military spokesman, General Salehi beat on his chest and issued a powerful statement.
"Iran," he told the IRNA, "will not repeat its warning...[T]he enemy's carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf."
You gotta love that.
That's that, then. Time to go.
Actually, guys: go ahead - shoot. Richard Terrell's fine graphic in AT on Monday captured it all:
Truth is, Terrell didn't tell the half of it. There isn't just one U.S. supercarrier potentially bearing down on the Iranians. There are three.
Currently on station in the Arabian Sea is the USS John C. Stennis and her Carrier Strike Group. That's the "enemy carrier" to which General Salehi was, um, giving the bird. But now in the Western Pacific, wending their way towards the Indian Ocean and, if necessary, thence to within striking distance of Teheran, are two more CSG's.
The USS Carl Vinson sailed from San Diego on November 30. She and her CSG left Hong Kong on December 30. The USS Abraham Lincoln and her CSG left San Diego on December 10, on a round-the-world cruise. The Hero of the 2004 Asian Tsunami is ultimately bound for her new homeport in Norfolk.
(Aside: it will be interesting -especially to the Government of the Peoples Republic of China -- to see whether either CSG makes port calls in Indonesia, India, Australia or East Africa.).
If sanity prevails, the Iranians will STFU. If not, well, the Can of Whup Ass is on its way.
As Charles Krauthammer was explaining on Bill O'Reilly's show last night, the only option left if an oil embargo fails to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program is military force. Besides the impending convergence of three U.S. Carrier Strike Groups, some of the U.S. ground troops and U.S. Air Force assets which were recently in Iraq are now available to target another objective. The Israel and British Air Forces are reportedly ready to go too.
Pity the Royal Navy doesn't have any aircraft carriers any more. Second time in the last year they could have used one, too.
So, to quote President Ronald Reagan, who (of course) was quoting that great American actor Clint Eastwood: "Go ahead. Make my day."
Then again, maybe I've got the wrong movie. Maybe, just maybe, the current Leader of the Free World is about to wag the dog.
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