HEAT RISING IN MIDEAST – AT 8:39 A.M. ET: The tension is rising in the Mideast and in west Asia. The number of serious stories from the region has increased dramatically in the last three days alone. From the L.A. Times:
WASHINGTON — The Navy is rushing tiny underwater drones to the Persian Gulf to help find and destroy sea mines as part of an American military buildup aimed at stopping Iran from closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the event of a crisis, U.S. officials said.
Only 88 pounds and 4 feet long, the unmanned, remotely guided submersibles carry a TV camera, homing sonar and an explosive charge for what amounts to a kamikaze mission: When it detects a mine, the undersea craft obliterates itself as well as the mine.
The Navy bought dozens of the little-known German-made devices, known as the SeaFox, in February after an urgent request by Marine Gen. James Mattis, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, for more minesweeping capabilities in the region, officials said.
The first drones began arriving in recent weeks as the latest round of negotiations with Iran over its disputed nuclear development program appears to have stalled. Renewed diplomatic talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany have failed to achieve a breakthrough or lessen tensions.
Some U.S. officials worry that Iran may respond to the West's tightening sanctions on its banking and energy sectors, including a European Union oil embargo, by launching or sponsoring attacks on vulnerable oil tankers or platforms in or near the crucial strait.
From The Wall Street Journal, via Fox:
The U.S. said it is considering blocking the renewal of a U.N. observer mission in Syria this month if the Security Council doesn't threaten economic sanctions against Damascus to stop its violent suppression of a growing insurgency, diplomats said Wednesday.
The U.N. mission of 300 observers—suspended for the past month—expires on July 20 and needs U.S. support for the council to extend it.
The West agrees with a Russian draft resolution that supports envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan and an agreement between the West and Russia in Geneva this month that calls for a political transition with elements of both the government and the opposition.
The Russian draft would also continue the mission largely as a civilian one, with the observers on standby in Damascus to be redeployed if the growing violence subsides.
But while Britain, Germany, France and the U.S. agree with the downsizing of the mission, they insist the resolution extending it should also threaten economic sanctions against Damascus to get it to agree to Mr. Annan's peace plans.
COMMENT: Both the above stories are about failure – ours. Western diplomacy, which means the U.S. as the guiding force, is failing in virtually every important area. The Iranians just stall, working every day to perfect their nuclear program. The Syrian government remains relentless against the insurgency. It is estimated that more than 14,000 have been killed. Notice the deep concern of "human rights" groups.
There are reports of a new American military buildup in the region. But what of these reports? Will we be judged to be serious in Tehran and Damascus? Or will they look at Barack Obama and just laugh privately? Being seen as weak has never led this country to peace.
July 12, 2012