Totally Worth It!

January 19, 2012

Hey, here’s an awesome idea: spend $500,000 per day to rescue fishermen from another country because they shouldn’t have to bear the consequences of their choices.

The US Navy announced it led a rescue operation to assist the crew of an Iranian fishing vessel in distress in the Gulf of Oman, the third in 10 days in an area marked by tension between Washington and Tehran.

A Seahawk helicopter from the guided missile destroyer USS Dewey spotted an Iranian fishing boat sinking early Wednesday while two other vessels tried to tow it to safety, according to a Navy press release.

I fail to see why this can be considered good in any sense.

Why are Americans paying half a million dollars per day to maintain a warship in the Strait of Hormuz?  There is no reason for the Pentagon to be ordering anything to be done in a place where Iran specifically warned to NOT go.  Given the tensions rising, there seems no good diplomatic reason to send a large warship anywhere near Iran, unless they plan on escalating to a war.  Maybe Iran doesn’t take to kindly to other nations deliberately trying to sabotage its economy.

And why is it considered a good thing that Americans are saving the lives of these fishermen?  I’m guessing that the Americans had to save their lives because Iranian ships don’t plan on getting too close to the American warships.  In other words, it would be possible for other people from other nations to save the fishermen if the Americans weren’t around.  Thus what is a “news story” would be a non-story if the U.S. navy happened to be farther away (maybe porting in San Diego?).  Crafting a story where the U.S. military is portrayed as the “good guys” isn’t gonna fly with people who think about the situation.

People are responsible for their own actions and the risks they decide to take.  Sailors can die at sea in storms; that’s a risk sailors take.  Sometimes, through negligence or whatever, sailors have boats that screw up; that’s all part of the risks that sailors understand going into it.  Maybe they thought, or were even promised, to receive help from the Iranian coast guard if they ever were in distress.  But they still need to calculate the risk when the chances of receiving help are diminished because of actions taken by the U.S. navy which are perceived as hostile by the Iranian government.  The Iranian coast guard is significantly less likely to make a trip close to American warships because fishermen are experiencing issues.  That’s something to think about before going on a boat trip.

It is not the job of the U.S. government to white knight across the world.  You may find, too, that the good done is far surpassed by the bad.  But as long as nobody thinks about the bad, stories like this skew our understanding of the world.

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