The Summer Doldrums
It’s officially almost August and while we have a lot of summer left, we can see the end. When I lived in Southern California, the summer extended year round, but up in the Arizona Highlands, there are four definite seasons. And August reminds me that I need to get things going in preparation for winter. Lots more wood needs to be cut, split and put on the racks to dry. Sometimes work gets in the way. And the stork should be delivering my new grandson sometime this month. Maybe that means that we’ll just burn more propane than wood?
I have cedar and oak in addition to Ponderosa and Douglas fir here on the property and enough of that has been felled to see me though this coming winter. I may have to go farther afield in 2020, or just buy cut and split wood.
Age brings wisdom (?) and it teaches me that things I felt were urgent, are not necessarily so urgent. I have also learned that poor planning on the part of others does not constitute an emergency for me. Those lessons were hard learned.
Old NFO inspires me to begin another book. So I’m chipping away on it.
I just finished Stephen Hunter’s new novel, Game of Snipers. It was good, but not his very best. I also finished Peter Hamilton’s sci-fi novel, Salvation. Hamilton and Hunter are both gifted writers, and I recommend their work to you.
Piracy is not the oldest profession but it’s right up there. A maritime security coalition is forming slowly. The US has formally asked Germany to join France and Britain in a mission to secure the Strait of Hormuz and to combat Iranian aggression.
This week, the UK announced the arrival of the destroyer HMS Duncan (D37) in the Persian Gulf. HMS Duncan joins the frigate HMS Montrose (F236). The UK government said HMS Montrose has escorted 34 UK ships in the past week.
South Korea announced it is shifting its anti-piracy destroyer to the Gulf to escort South Korean shipping in cooperation with US Navy assets.
TASS reported on the 29th that Russia circulated at the UN a concept paper on collective security in the Gulf. Iran said that Russia and Iran have agreed to conduct joint naval drills in the northern Indian Ocean but did not specify a date.
The Iranian actions to harass and disrupt shipping in the Strait of Hormuz risk becoming a strategic blunder. Eventually, the maritime and naval powers always react strongly to shipping threats, usually for economic reasons. For example, the insurance rates for shipping in the Gulf have increased ten-fold since Iranian harassment began.
Iran has no standing in admiralty law or the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to declare that maritime security is Iran’s responsibility. Russia’s is playing the role of spoiler and has no naval assets that it can commit to a maritime security coalition.
The major naval powers do not yet agree on the need for an anti-Iranian piracy task force or a Strait of Hormuz maritime security task force. China, other European states and India have been major actors in the Somali anti-piracy task force. Thus far, they consider the incidents a US, UK and European problem, though the Indian Navy usually stations one frigate in the Persian Gulf.
One more serious ship attack or seizure in the Strait involving Iran will likely cause the components of a coordinated security effort to coalesce. The maritime powers will not allow Iran to control shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.