The Very Definition of Blowing Smoke, Tehran Edition

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Iran is warning the U.S. not to return an aircraft carrier to the Gulf:

TEHRAN Jan 3 (Reuters) - Iran will take action if a U.S. aircraft carrier which left the area because of Iranian naval exercises returns to the Gulf, the state news agency quoted army chief Ataollah Salehi as saying on Tuesday.

"Iran will not repeat its warning ... the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasise to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf," Salehi told IRNA.

"I advise, recommend and warn them (the Americans) over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Salehi as saying.

One of the reasons I lean against the use of force against Iran over its nuclear program is that I think the regime in Tehran is more interested in self-preservation than some people think. Therefore, it seems highly unlikely that the Iranians would make threatening gestures at a U.S. aircraft carrier group simply because it entered the Gulf. That would just be batshit-crazy. There is, of course, a theory out there that the Iranians, for domestic reasons, are trying to provoke an Israeli, or an American attack. But until proven otherwise, I'm going to believe that these bellicose statements represent empty threats.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/the-very-definition-of-blowing-smoke-tehran-edition/250781/