Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

August 19, 2005

Attackers Fire Missiles at U.S. Navy Ship

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:07 pm

Attackers Fire Missiles at U.S. Navy Ship

Aug 19, 9:11 AM (ET)


AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Attackers fired at least three rockets from Jordan early Friday, with one narrowly missing a docked U.S. Navy ship and killing a Jordanian soldier. It was the most serious militant attack on the Navy since the USS Cole was bombed in 2000.

Another rocket fell close to a nearby airport in neighboring Israel, officials said. Jordanian and Israeli authorities said militants fired three Katyusha rockets from a warehouse in the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba.

Once upon a time, firing missiles at another country’s Navy ship was considered an act of war. As was firing a missile into a neighboring country. And the country from which the missiles were fired was responsible.

Now, I wonder what they will call it.

3 Responses to “Attackers Fire Missiles at U.S. Navy Ship”

  1. Dave Schuler Says:

    Either Westphalian principles are in place or they are not. If Westphalian principles are in place, the Saudis are responsible for Osama Bin Laden’s actions (saying “I divorce you” three times isn’t enough), the Syrians are responsible for the arms being shipped into Iraq across their borders, and so on. If Westphalian principles are not in place, we should feel no restraint whatsoever in carrying war across those borders as seems expedient. Or in waging war on civilians.

  2. ollie Says:

    Ok, an American who hates Israel fires a stinger missle at an Et Al airliner and kills hundreds. Does Israel attack America?

    Do we attack the Saudis since the 9-11 attackers were Saudis? We live in a different world now-a-days. Then again, remember the days of the pirates? Was it common practice to attack the countries from which the pirates came? (I honestly don’t know the answer to that one)

  3. Different River Says:

    Ollie: To answer your hypothetical question, if an American who hates Israel fires a stinger missle at an El Al airliner and kills hundreds, then most likely Israel would demand that the U.S. capture and hand over that person for trial, or reach some other mutually agreed-upon solution. If the U.S. refused to do so, Israel would be justified under international law in going to war.

    As to you second question: Yes, “we live in a different world now-a-days” — a world in which it is considered acceptable for totalitarian and dictatorial governments to attack democracies and civilians through proxy warriors, and then disclaim all responsibility on the grounds that they have no control whatsoever over those who launch military attacks from their own soil. They have no problem locking up and torturing dissidents who tell jokes about the dictators at private birthday parties, but we are supposed to believe that they have no idea who imports large missiles and fires them at ships in port. In nearly every way, the “different world now-a-days” is better than the past, but I think this is one of the exceptions. It is not a good thing that government are not held responsible for military attacks launched from their own soil.

    As for pirates: The very first war the United States fought (after the Revolutionary War) was precisely this type of war. Pirates were attacking U.S. civilian trading ships in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic Ocean, and President Thomas Jefferson went to war against the principalities along the north African (Barbary) coast from which the pirates came. This is known as The War of the Barbary Pirates. Then, as now, the pirates were state-sponsored but outside the regular military; then as now, the governments disclaimed any ability to control the pirates, but were perfectly able to prevent them from attacking ships of European countries that bribes the princes; then as now the attackers were Muslims who justified their attacks on “infidel” sailors using the words of the Koran.

    For more details, see Joshua London’s excellent new book (just released this month), Victory in Tripoli : How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation

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