Friday, September 15, 2006

Save the battlewagons!

This is the title of Oliver North's latest column:

During the 1981-1988 Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollahs running Tehran decided the best way to influence the outcome of the conflict was to attack Western oil tankers transiting the Persian Gulf -- through which passes 20 percent of the world's oil. The United States responded by beefing up the 5th Fleet -- and deploying the USS Iowa. The battleship's captain, Larry Sequist, described the effectiveness of the 45,000-ton armored behemoth: "When we would sail the Iowa down the Strait of Hormuz, all southern Iran would go quiet. Iran's Revolutionary Guards were steaming around in boats with rockets, shooting at ships. When we arrived, all of that stuff stopped."

These awesome vessels are very old, and very expensive to maintain, in an era where the Navy is struggling with falling ship numbers. Plus, there is the added danger of Irans stock of cruise missiles, probably supplied from China and Russia. That said, I do believe some form of naval show of force is required to make Iran see we mean business in the Persian gulf, as Reagan proved numerous times in his administration.