Carrying out President Trump’s recent order to destroy Iranian gunboats could lead to far serious consequences, experts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace believe. In an April 30 release, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank stopped short of saying such actions by the Navy would lead to all-out war. Nevertheless, Iran could escalate the confrontations by introducing far more deadly weapons into such incidents, such as Chinese-made C-701 anti-ship cruise missiles.
“Moreover, Iran could decide to attack in swarms of several such boats, which would make it much harder for U.S. naval forces to defend themselves,” Richard A. Bitzinger, a visiting senior fellow, wrote.
Presently, Bitzinger wrote, the Iranian actions could be characterized as “mainly a nuisance, like gnats at a picnic.”
The Navy easily could handle Iranian actions if given clear rules of engagement, Mara Karlin, another non-resident fellow working with the institute, stated. It would be unwise for Iran to follow such a course, Karlin added, because the current tactic of buzzing Navy ships is working well.
“It would be shortsighted for the Iranian navy to do so since both Iran’s military and its clients have operated most effectively and have mastermindedly flummoxed U.S. responses when they operate in a gray zone instead, thereby impeding and confusing meaningful U.S. action,” Karlin wrote.