A few days ago, I said that the evacuation of American citizens from Lebanon would be led by the United States Navy (no great stretch there), and worried that Hezbollah might take the opportunity to swoop in and either kill or take hostage those Americans, for use as bargaining chips. They could threaten those people and demand that we pressure Israel to end their systemic dismantling of the terrorist organization that, as of September 10, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group.
And now, with the attack on an Israeli warship with a Chinese-designed cruise missile from Iran, we find that Hezbollah has a prior-unsuspected offensive capability. The notion of a terrorist group with cruise missiles (a second missile hit and sank an Egyptian merchant vessel) caught a lot of people off guard. (Ironically, novelist James Huston predicted an Islamist terrorist group acquiring and using anti-ship cruise missiles six years ago.)
One of the reasons the Israelis say their ship was hit was that it didn’t have its anti-missile defensive systems online at the time of the attack. They say that they were wary of accidentally targeting Israeli aircraft or drones, and didn’t suspect Hezbollah would have access to weaponry of the magnitude of a C-802 cruise missile.
Well, we do know, and our warships are doing what they are designed to do — sailing into harm’s way in the defense of Americans.
At this point, the United States is passively supporting Israel, fending off demands they “show restraint” and “limit themselves to a proportional response.” We are not actively involved in the fighting with Hezbollah, nor are we engaging their puppet masters in Syria or Teheran. The smartest thing Hezbollah could do would be to allow the United States to go in and remove our people unmolested.
But Hezbollah has far too often eschewed the smart thing to the bold, taking action as opportunities present themselves, and “thinking with their balls and not their brains.” I think they weill be sorely tempted to make a show of force, to strike against the United States somehow.
If they do, then I see the United States taking those warships currently seeking to rescue Americans being put to their designed purpose. These are not ferries, they are warships, and they were built to wage war.
And if they should happen to fire another Iranian missile off, this time at an American warship, it will most likely be stopped — and the suppliers of that missile back in Teheran will find it returned a hundredfold or more.
If Hezbollah really wants to expand this war by bringing the United States in against them, they have the ready opportunity. But if they have a lick of sense, they’ll let it slide.
Judging by their past performance, the Navy better keep its missiles and cannons ready at all times. But they hardly need me to tell them that. The memories of the USS Stark, the USS Princeton, and the USS Cole are still very fresh and foremost in their minds.