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January 11, 2008

Brit Hume: A Total Dick

I'm just kidding. I love Brit Hume.

But.

He did seem to pursue a line of questioning for far too long to no good effect. He badgered all the candidates about whether or not they were content with the naval commanders' decision not to open fire on the harassing Iranian speedboats.

He didn't just ask the question. He badgered. It was a dumb question. No candidate on the stage has any idea what the navy's rules of engagement are. No one knows the exact protocols those commanders are under as regarding opening fire. Few know -- some know, but certainly not anyone except naval officers or naval buffs -- what the minimum safe distance is for any of these ships, that is, the point at which they'd more or less be obliged to open fire or else lose the possibility of bringing their defensive guns on to the target.

Most of this stuff is fairly classified, for reasons I think should be obvious. Even if a candidate knew all the variables that enter into this decision, prudence would dictate he not respond concretely. Let's say someone knew the commanders had actually allowed the speedboats past what the navy considers the minimum safe distance for engagement -- should a candidate announce that fact to the world?

I really did not see what possible information Hume sought to elicit here.

It's also a bit of a loaded question, in that harassing and provocative behavior like this is relatively common, and our officers are trained to allow a certain amount of it -- a certain safe amount of it -- before blowing foreign military craft to hell.

Was Brit Hume really suggesting that a candidate announce tonight that the Navy's new protocol should be "Shoot on Sight"? I don't think he had such a preposterous notion in mind. So what differences was he seeking to elicit from the candidates?

Note all of them answered the same, predictable, correct way: "Dude, what the hell do I know? I'm not in the frigging Navy, I'm not a trained Naval commander, and I wasn't freakin' there. What do you want me to say? Based on my very limited, incomplete second-hand knowledge of the situation, I think these commanders should be reprimanded and retrained for not opening fire?"

That's sort of a large judgment to make based upon such sketchy information. I'm sure the higher-ups in the Navy are reviewing the situation and the decision with all of the available information, but they're experts at this, and have real, complete information to make such judgments upon.

What does Mitt Romney know about it? Even John McCain doesn't know jack about it -- he flew a plane in the sixties. He could render an expert opinion on the rules of engagement regarding a sixties-era fighter harassing his squadron, but what the hell does he know about 2000's era destroyers and frigates?

The whole line of questioning was five wasted minutes that drew no distinctions and elicited no useful information.

Except, of course, by pure happenstance: Ron Paul was revealed to be a doddering old buffoon who can't even be bothered to listen to his rivals' answers. He only could have topped his embarrassing answer by suggesting the entire situation could have been avoided by adopting the Austrian gold standard.

Which I'm pretty sure he would have actually said, had Brit Hume not interrupted the demented old dickbag.

Trap Question? The only interesting answer that could have arisen was some knucklehead trying to pander to the crowd by saying, "Hell yeah! Kill 'em all! Those commanders were derelict of duty! String 'em up! Sometimes you have to hang a few admirals to encourage the others!"

Thus exposing himself as a jackass.

But how likely was this? Apparently not very likely at all. Even the pandering Huckabee managed to grok that he really wasn't qualified to render much of judgment on this at all.

"I'd listen to what my advisers tell me" or "I'd heed the counsel of my generals" are never very interesting answers, and sometimes they're transparent dodges.

But here? Regarding second-by-second decision-making in a, um, fluid situation in which the rules of engagement are top secret? There can be no good answer except "I trust, provisionally, that the commanders acted properly and unless I'm informed otherwise I'm satisfied with their conduct."

Speaking of Incomplete Information... That radio threat made against the ships might not have been made against the ships at all. Or even have originated from the speedboats or Iran.



Gulf Threat May Not Have Come from Iranians, Pentagon Says

By Robin Wright

(c) 2008, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Thursday that the radio threat to bomb U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf last weekend may not have come from the five Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats that approached them — and may not even have been intended against U.S. targets.

The communication Sunday was made on radio channel 16, a common marine frequency used by ships and others in the region. "It could have been a threat aimed at some other nation or a myriad of other things," said Rear Adm. Frank Thorp IV, a spokesman for the Navy.

In the radio message recorded by the Navy, a heavily accented voice said, "I am coming to you. You will explode after a few minutes." But Farsi speakers and Iranians told The Washington Post that the accent did not sound Iranian.

In part because of the threatening language, the United States has elevated the encounter into an international incident. Twice this week, President Bush criticized Iran's behavior as provocative and warned of "serious consequences" if it happens again. He is due to head Friday to the Gulf, where containing Iran is expected to be a major theme of his talks in five oil-rich sheikdoms.

Maybe, maybe not. This report could be wrong, of course, put out by the Iran apologists in our government.

Or it could be accurate.

Ron Paul mentioned this. It's, you know, another Gulf of Tonkin.

Thanks to Rocket's Brain Trust.

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posted by Ace at 01:53 AM

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