Dire Straits 207


Vessels have the right of freedom of navigation through straits, on “innocent passage” under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. As it sounds, that amounts to a right to pass straight through on normal business. Territorial waters do not affect innocent passage. The coastal state has the right to establish sea lanes for maritime safety purposes.

So whether the Marshall Islands flagged Maersk Tigris was in Iranian territorial waters is not relevant to its right to pass through. If, as Iranian sources have indicated, it really was impounded for commercial debt, then that would have to be in territorial waters. But for that the crew could not be detained, and the debt would have to be immediately stated and the ship released if paid. Iran is not acting as though this really is for debt.

The Maersk Tigris is however a good example of why the shipping industry is an absolute disgrace. It is flagged in a country with which neither the vessel nor its owners have any connection. It is owned by Maersk, leased to a renting company in Berlin, and then rented back by Maersk. The purpose of the flagging arrangements is to avoid proper safety, crew qualification, wage and trade union regulations which go with a genuine state flag. The leasing is an international tax fiddle. For reasons nothing to do with Iran or the US, I have no sympathy with the owners or insurers.

I rather expect the Iranians are lying about the commercial debt. Iran and the US are playing a pointless, massively expensive hawkish game in the Gulf. At least the Iranians have the excuse that they live there.

Just as Iran should not have stopped the passage of the Maersk Tigris, so the US Navy had no right at all recently to threaten Iranian cargo ships which may or may not have been on the way to Yemen. Even if those ships had entered Yemeni waters, the US would only have had the right to intervene if asked to do so by the government of Yemen. While that government is a Saudi and US puppet, they are not keen for all their people to know that. Giving permission for invisible blasts from the sky is much more deniable than for huge warships.

I was sorry for the two American hostages who were killdied in a drone strike, but sickened that given all the hundreds of innocent women and children he has murdered in drone strikes, Obama finally got all sackcloth and ashes over two American men.


207 thoughts on “Dire Straits

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  • Tom Welsh

    “It is flagged in a country with which neither the vessel nor its owners have any connection”.

    Namely the Marshall Islands which surprisingly still exists and is habitable, having had 67 nuclear and thermonuclear bombs detonated within its borders by the USA between 1946 and 1958.

    “The Marshallese caught by fallout got 175 roentgens of radiation. These are fishing people, savages by our standards, so a cross-section was brought to Chicago for testing. The first was John, the mayor of Rongelap Atoll…. John, as we said, is a savage, but a happy, amenable savage”.

    Those nice sentiments were uttered by an American newsreel announcer quoted in the film “Nuclear Savage” which documents the nuclear tests and their consequences. See http://www.empireslayer.org/2015/04/us-vaporized-marshall-islands-performed.html

  • Tom Welsh

    It’s quite touching and appropriate that the USA says it retains responsibility for the security of the Marshall Islands. To modify Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn Rule” slightly, “you set off 67 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons in a country, you own it!” Simple arithmetic would suggest that the USA must be 33.5 times more responsible for the Marshall Islands’ security than it is for Japan’s.

  • glenn

    Typo: “I was sorry for the two American hostages who were killdied in a drone strike…

    It’s not the first time O’Bomber has droned an American citizen, though. Anwar al-Awlaki was a US citizen, was targeted for death and then killed in an extra-judicial execution in 2011. They also killed Samir Khan, Awlaki’s 16 year old son, who was also a US citizen.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    USA has killed over 300 hundred, unidentified women and chidden, and another 300 or so of unknown origin, so how can anyone know about the number of American dead?

    And the neo-cons, especially George Tenet, so-called President Cheney, and other assorted scum gambled with the lives of many thousands of Americans on 9/11, and lost big time.

    And then there are all the Americans they killed in their unwarranted wars.

  • Republicofscotland

    I suppose the USA’s excuse for being in the Straits of Hormuz,will be one of making sure the oil supply remains constant,and that the choke point is kept open.

    And if you believe that you’ll believe anything.

  • harry law

    “Vessels have the right of freedom of navigation through straits, on “innocent passage” under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”. Correct, but unfortunately only a mere detail in our increasingly lawless world. A mere detail also in respect to the unlawful aggression committed by the “Exceptional” and “indispensable” shining city on a hill which is the USA and its vassal western partners in Europe. It would appear that in the middle east force of arms is the only currency of any value. The US, in a bid to keep any influence there, are now backing the most regressive state in the world [Saudi Arabia]in its aggression against first Syria then Lybia now Yemen, all contrary to first principles of the UN charter, while trying to get Al Qeada to change its name, so that the US can call them “moderate” opposition to Assad. You could not make it up. Blow back is inevitable.

  • Gravitas

    This is an extremely prescient post by CM, the war will start with a dolphin sinking a US vessel – the USS Liberty comes to mind, attacked 3 TIMES RESPECTIVELY by jets,gunboats and helicopters but whitewashed due to collusion. The sailors on any US vessel may do well to keep bottles on standby for the truth to be known WHEN they wash ashore, this time there will be no survivors.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Glenn

    “It’s not the first time O’Bomber has droned an American citizen, though. Anwar al-Awlaki was a US citizen, was targeted for death and then killed in an extra-judicial execution in 2011. They also killed Samir Khan, Awlaki’s 16 year old son, who was also a US citizen.”
    __________________

    Talk me through something, Glenn, if you can spare the time.

    Assume that the US is “at war” with Al Quaida (whether justifiably or not us irrelevant). And assume that some American citizens are “fighting” on the side of Al Quaida in this “war” (whether those American citizens are in fact dual nationals is also irrelevant). Are US forces therefore justified in killing those American citizens, the fact that they are “enemy” combattants being more important than thr fact that they are also American (dual) citizens?

    Assume also, for the purpose of answering my question, that the mode of killing – ie by drone strikes – is also irrelevant.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Republicofscotland

    “I suppose the USA’s excuse for being in the Straits of Hormuz,will be one of making sure the oil supply remains constant,and that the choke point is kept open.

    And if you believe that you’ll believe anything.”

    ___________________

    While not opining on whether or not keeping open the Straits of Hormuz is merely an excuse for an American naval presence there, is it important – in your opinion – that the Straits of Hormuz do in fact remain open in all circumstances?

  • fedup

    Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally “the database”, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden’s organisation would turn its attention to the west.

    But what would Robin Cook know? He was a Muslim loving, no body, conspiracy theorist, whom wore his tinfoil hat to bed!

    Sickening to see after all the facts coming out and on tap, time and time again the agents of reaction are still pushing the “alkaidy/Quaida (note the pronunciation/spelling)/crock of shit”!

  • Mary

    I noticed that the story left the headlines as quickly as it became news.

    Maersk have a long history as the transporter of military cargon for the US.

    http://www.maersklinelimited.com/services/us-flag-transportation-services/

    When I was in hospital last year there was a nice young English woman opposite to me in the ward. She was a First Officer on one of Maersk’s new supersize cargo ships. Her husband was in the Army. We had interesting conversations.

  • Mary

    Saudi Arabia is still bombing Yemen to smithereens. Under US orders no doubt and Israel is probably very pleased.

    Aid flights to Yemen blocked after Saudi Arabian jets bomb airport runway
    Bombing by aircraft that had ignored warning to turn back intended to prevent Iranian plane landing in Sana’a airport
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/28/aid-flights-to-yemen-blocked-after-saudi-arabia-bombs-airport-runway

    Little or no aid is getting in. All Yemen’s water is imported.

  • Republicofscotland

    “While not opining on whether or not keeping open the Straits of Hormuz is merely an excuse for an American naval presence there, is it important – in your opinion – that the Straits of Hormuz do in fact remain open in all circumstances?”
    ———————

    Indeed it is important that they’re kept open,but I will opine, (like an ugly step child kept under the stairs,you’re only let out to voice a narrow minded opinion) that the US agenda I think goes well beyond keeping the gate open.

    You haven’t denied the possibilty, thoughts please on the USA’s other objectives in the straits.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    My Great Great Grandfather used to be in the Shipping Industry..and his Dad before that..originally in North Western France…then in..well..we kind of landed in around 1600 (well the earliest Gravestone I have seen there was I think 1601..so maybe that same year..how long does it take the first French Man to arrive in North East Yorkshire – Staithes

    And My Dad..

    So I am an Immigrant too….

    Not that you are the slightest bit interested…

    Nice to see the SNP – clean up Scotland..and yet you still don’t believe me..that the Referendum was “Bent” (No Exit Polls -was The Clearest Hint) but wtf…

    None of you “Politicians” will Confront The Truth Starting with 9/11..so you are all living in a Virtual Bubble..until you can come through that and realise…They Really are That Evil…

    So watch this instead (how come only 9 people (including me) have commented on Russell Brand’s website when “The Interview” is Headline News in The Major Mainstream Media Rags..are you lot Shy or what?

    “Milibrand: The Interview – OFFICIAL VIDEO The Trews (E309)”

    http://www.russellbrand.com/videos/milibrand-the-interview-official-video-the-trews-e309/

    Go on ..Slag Me Off as Usual..

    I’m Dead Sensitive

    Quack Quack and lots of Water…Good To Prevent a Hangover…before you go to Bed.

    And My Back is Fine Thanks..

    Tony

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Republicofscotland

    ““While not opining on whether or not keeping open the Straits of Hormuz is merely an excuse for an American naval presence there, is it important – in your opinion – that the Straits of Hormuz do in fact remain open in all circumstances?”
    ———————

    Indeed it is important that they’re kept open”

    ____________________

    Thank you for that confirmation, Ros. I am happy to see that you too wish to see the oil keep flowing.

    And now let’s go one step further: if, for any reason, one of the littoral states – let’s say Iran – attempted to block the Straits, would you view favorably an intention/attempt by another state – eg, the USA – to re-open them?

  • glenn

    Habbabkuk: Thank you for inviting a discussion.

    Assume that the US is “at war” with Al Quaida (whether justifiably or not us irrelevant). And assume that some American citizens are “fighting” on the side of Al Quaida in this “war” (whether those American citizens are in fact dual nationals is also irrelevant). Are US forces therefore justified in killing those American citizens, the fact that they are “enemy” combattants being more important than thr fact that they are also American (dual) citizens?

    The US cannot be assumed to be “at war” with AQ – no such war has been declared. I’m sure you know a lot of powers and law takes effect upon a declaration of war (which itself, may only be made under specific circumstances under International Law). Besides, wars are declared against countries, not amorphous groups that exist within a range of countries.

    Even then, the US Constitution demands that deadly force outside a conflict zone cannot be used, unless some grave, specific threat is at hand. Even then, every possible measure must be taken to ensure that civilian bystanders are not harmed. The executive branch of the US government is taking no such measures, and the US does not face imminent threat from the people it has executed by drone.

    When it comes to these two US citizens, the Constitution is explicit. A citizen has the right to a fair and speedy trial, unless he was about to kill or harm others and immediate action was necessary (such as when a cop shoots dead a gun-nut threatening civilians).

    But as far as we know, al-Awlaki was simply exercising his protected 1st Amendment rights to free speech.

    His lawyers might have contested any evidence, and challenged the constitutional basis of the punishment, but they never got the chance.

    So to answer your question, no – the executive branch could not have been justified in these killings, according to International Law and without violating the Constitutional rights of these two citizens.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Tom Welsh,

    I found your comment – the first one here worryingly interesting – because I didn’t think the Deception could Really Be That Deep…

    Your Post Raises some very interesting questions..which I have come across before…

    Yes, I have Experienced a Geiger Counter..about 45 years ago ..I guess…and as strange as it may seem.. I nearly bought one a few weeks ago…the bloke flogging it on ebay ..had just come back from Chernobyl

    And Yes I did do Physics….but I don’t know about exactly how destructive Nuclear Radiation is to human and animal life….I know the bombs are…you know the stuff..Us British and The Yanks and The Israelis do to innocent people…And I want them to stop doing it.

    Don’t worry…No Gory War Pictures Tonight.

    And Yes, it Was Brilliant This Morning..Just To Satisfy Your Habbukie Guy who seems to have so much interest…

    Tony

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Question to the experts on the HoC and troughers:

    Mr George Galloway MP may not have been asked to repay any expenses unduly claimed. On the other hand, his earnings from activities undertaken outside the HoC amount to some three hundred thousand pounds a year.

    In the light of the above, is Mr George Galloway a trougher?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    And while on troughers (or non-troughers), I note that Mary has still not given us the benefit of her advice on how to vote if the sitting MP standing for re-election has been shown to be a trougher.

    In other words, what is more important: the candidates’ political affiliations or whether they are (or are likely to become) troughers?

    Mary, the floor is yours!

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “Tom Welsh…..Your Post Raises some very interesting questions..which I have come across before…”

    ______________________

    And the only not very interesting question your own posts raise, Tony, is “why do you bother?”.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “There is talk of Obama lining up a teaching job in New York.

    Syllabus – Extrajudicial killing and warmongering?

    Is Barack Obama planning a move to New York to teach at Columbia?”

    ________________________

    May I ask you – yet again – to give us the benefit of your advice, Mary?

    What would you suggest a not-too-old former US President should do by way of work after leaving office?

    If you have any good ideas I feel you should not only tell us but even share them with the President himself. He is reachable by email, I’m told.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Glenn

    Would you like me to reply (I ask because I want you to share the responsibility of vexing the Original Trolls and Useful Idiots by having a little discussion which might contrast favorably with the inanities they usually bestow)?

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Probably true, Mary, as I just got a personal request from one of his staff about my finally giving a contribution to Columbia.

    Wonder if he will teach a class which no one is eligible to take, like those he apparently never took to obtain his degrees there.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Habbabkuk (La Vita È Bella),

    Yeh, but I was the one…who stood up in the midst of a very large number of People..and Asked a Very Serious Question.

    I was the only one to do it.

    It was actually a bit of a “Green” Question…but I was a bit naive at the time…

    Yet I think I got the Decision.

    One Man Can make a Difference.

    Life isn’t a Group Think Thing..Unless You Get Brainwashed

    After Escaping The Mind Control of The Catholic Religion…I Managed To Remain Largely Independent…but we are all Influenced By Those We Respect For Their Total Brilliance.

    (like my older brother..he says yeh – but do Pure Physics and Maths First …then you will get the job you want to do)

    Tony

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Actually, I misstated what happened.

    Got a request from one of Obama’s staff about giving money to deserving Democrats for the 2016 elections, which he will not be contesting, and several requests from Columbia directly about giving finally money to it which I reacted to by giving $100.

    Guess that makes Obama another member of the deserving poor!

  • Republicofscotland

    “And now let’s go one step further: if, for any reason, one of the littoral states – let’s say Iran – attempted to block the Straits, would you view favorably an intention/attempt by another state – eg, the USA – to re-open them?”
    ——————————-

    I see where you’re going with this one,and on this occasion I agree.

    Incidently why are you typing favourably (favorably) are you becoming “Americanised”

    I only asked what about US motives,I didnt expect you to type like them as well.

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