Speaking in Brussels the other day, Defense Secretary James Mattis sounded either determined or frustrated when he commented on Iranian activities in the Middle East: “[E]very time there's a problem in the Middle East, whether it be in Lebanon, South Lebanon, and Lebanese Hezbollah, it's in Syria, where Iran has propped up Assad; it's in Yemen where they're using it for a launching platform, the civil war, for missiles into Saudi Arabia; whether it's in Bahrain, where the Bahrain police have captured explosive material provided, I cannot explain why Iran insists on many of the things it does.”
Meantime, at the Munich Security Conference, Army Lt. Gen. Herbert McMaster, the national security advisor, also said hard things about Iran, such as, “So the time is now, we think, to act against Iran.”
But are they closing the barn door?
I think so. On the subject of Iranian moves in the region: I was having lunch on Friday with some friends on Friday, most of them national security professionals, and we discussed whether Iran already has won the regional war in the Middle East, with effective control stretching from Beirut to Herat—that is, from the Mediterranean to the western edge of the Hindu Kush. That would be a formidable achievement, coming in the two decades after the United States chose to intervene on the ground in the Middle East.
The consensus was that yes, Iran indeed holds the upper hand in the region — but that it has not yet nailed down its victory to become the neighborhood hegemon.
The discussion then turned to whether it will be able to secure those gains. Some at the table thought it would, while others argued that Iran’s very victories are stimulating a strong new anti-Iran response from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt. Even in Iraq, there are signs that Iran has overplayed its hand and brought about anti-Tehran feelings among some Shias.
An interesting question in all this is Turkey. It is still a member of NATO but has been holding hands under the table with Russia and Iran. So where will it land? (My own guess is that it will come to its senses—Russia is not a natural ally of Turkey unless Turkey is subjugated to client state status.)
NEWPORT — The explosion and sinking of the ship in 1943 claimed at least 1,138 lives, and while the sea swallowed the bones there were people, too, who also worked to shroud the bodies.
The sinking of the H.M.T. Rohna was the greatest loss of life at sea by enemy action in the history of U.S. war, but the British Admiralty demanded silence from the survivors and the tragedy was immediately classified by the U.S. War Department.
Michael Walsh of Newport is working to bring the story of the Rohna to the surface with a documentary film, which includes interviews with some of the survivors of the attack. Walsh has interviewed about 45 men who were aboard the ship when it was hit.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2018
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."