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Two weeks before it happened April 9, a retired Navy friend told me the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise was going to the Persian Gulf. The former submariner told me the giant antique was nothing but a barely moving target, destined if not purposefully set in place to be a tinder box for war on Iran. “A couple of gun boats with big explosives would stagger that thing, and then you’ve got the Alamo, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, and the Gulf of Tonkin all over again,” he said.
At 51, Enterprise isn’t just the oldest carrier in the fleet; it’s the oldest ship in the Navy. In 1962, its first conflict was to help enforce a blockade of Cuba during the Missile Crisis that nearly went to nuclear Armageddon. In 2001, the monstrosity fired 800,000 pounds (400 tons) of munitions into Afghanistan, helping start a string of accidental massacres that still has no end in sight.
Enterprise Strike Group 12 joins the strike group of the 100,000-ton carrier USS Lincoln, with its crew of 3,200, already in the Gulf.
According to the Navy’s official web site, the (first ever) nuclear-powered carrier Enterprise storms into the conflict zone with a lot of killing power. Its “battle group” now called “strike group 12” consists of: Carrier Air Wing 1, guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg, and Destroyer Squadron 2, comprised of guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze, USS Porter and USS James E. Williams. If you think it’s big you’d be right. It’s 1,123 feet long, weighs 94,000 tons and has eight nuclear propulsion reactors, four 35-ton rudders, two gymnasiums, a television station (and studio) and a daily paper. Nothing but independent investigative reporting, news and information for the Navy at sea!
Already scheduled for retirement and set for decommissioning this Fall — the Enterprise’s use in the Gulf is its final deployment ever, its swan song. But Enterprise has absolutely no purpose whatsoever as a war machine when 11 newer and more sophisticated carrier groups are available. In a year, as one blogger has pointed out, Enterprise will be an extremely expensive liability, essentially a very hazardous pile of crap. Its old and fiercely radioactive nuclear reactors and waste fuel will be in need of dangerous and costly removal and very long-term isolation from the ecosphere.
The government knows its loss at sea would be cheaper than retirement, and if munitions makers and weapons merchants can force the U.S. into yet another endless conflict, they continue swimming in billions of tax dollars in defense of freedom and peace. In January, when Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta first said that he’d order Enterprise into the Gulf “to send a direct message to Iran,” the price of gas shot up and stayed up. You’d almost think the oil giants like war.
Of course, to get the U.S. public, Russia and China behind such an effort, the puppeteers need to make it appear as if Iran started hostilities. Deployment of the Enterprise is flatly provocative and even hair-raising in view of previous “false flag” actions by the U.S. and Israel. Israel actually conducted a jet bomber and torpedo boat attack on the intelligence ship USS Liberty June 8, 1967. It initially blamed Egypt to trick Washington into attacking, but later claimed it mistakenly attacked what it thought was an Egyptian ship.(Ward Boston, the U.S. Navy Senior Counsel for the Court in Inquiry, has written in an affidavit that “Both [Rear] Admiral [Isaac] Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.”)
Russian Television “TV-Novosti” reported April 10 that in March, “Washington sent a second amphibious assault group to the Persian Gulf in another “regularly scheduled deployment.” The group included a nuclear submarine, a marine helicopter squadron and over 2,000 Marines, many of whom are reported to be veterans of ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
With its crew of 3,100 sacrificial sailors, you could say the Enterprise is in the Persian Gulf acting like the greasiest sitting duck in history. No one should believe that Iran is dumb enough to take the bait.
-- John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and anti-war group in Wisconsin.