Breaking Defense | ‘I Go Where I Please’; Unshackle Navy To Reply To Iran

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persian-gulf-iran-map-200x200‘I Go Where I Please’; Unshackle Navy To Reply To Iran

Kirkland Donald and John Bird | November 15, 2016

One of America’s first naval heroes, Commodore Stephen Decatur, was challenged by an Algerian admiral in 1815. Decatur’s reply is now enshrined in international law for ships sailing the seven seas: “I go where I please.” This ethos came to define the mission of the U.S. Navy – ensuring the high seas are free and safe for all legitimate shipping.

But just as the Barbary pirates of yore impeded safe passage, U.S. vessels today are challenged by new aggressors, Iran foremost. Iranian forces or their proxies have forcibly tried to prevent the U.S. Navy from sailing freely in international waters in the Persian Gulf and, more recently, in the Red Sea.

The U.S. response to this disturbing pattern of sea-borne belligerence, until recently, has been muted. This only invites ever more dangerous behavior from Iran. It is time for the United States to revive Decatur’s intent and allow the Navy to assert our right to go “where we please” within the boundaries of international laws and norms of behavior.

The trouble started shortly after the negotiation, in July 2015, of an agreement meant to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On the day after Christmas last year, an Iranian ship fired multiple unguided rockets in the vicinity of the aircraft carrier USS Truman. Shortly thereafter, Iran seized two U.S. Navy riverine craft, holding their 10 sailors hostage at gunpoint. Since then, Iranian vessels have “swarmed,” fired at, or come dangerously close to colliding with U.S. ships some 30 times. (Read More)


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