President Theodore Roosevelt described his foreign policy with the statement, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” He increased the United States’ naval power to enforce that policy. Later, with the advent of the aircraft carrier and, specifically, the Nimitz-class carrier, we’ve become THE naval power. To wake up in the morning to find a state of the art carrier offshore gives our enemies some cause for thought. After a disaster, a carrier can provide electricity, fresh water and airlift capabilities for aid and relief. For people with evil intentions, it means deterrence. For many US Presidents, it has been a strong show of force, a projection of power.

Currently, this administration has ordered  nine US Navy vessels, centered around the Nimitz-class carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), to trail an 8-ship convoy of the Iranian Navy, five warships and three freighters, headed toward Yemen. The Iranian convoy is thought to be en route to Yemen to reinforce the Houthi rebels with weapons and supplies. It’s not clear what orders the US Navy carrier group has. They have the authority to board ships for inspection to combat piracy in the area, although they’ve never boarded Iranian ships before.

The State Department spokesperson said yesterday that the TR battle groups’ mission is not to intercept Iranian weapons. Then, why are they there? Is the thought that the mere presence of the battle group would be enough to deter the Iranians? Where will the administration draw its red line?

Barack Obama’s history with drawing red lines hasn’t exactly been the best. In Syria, he drew red lines time after time after time They were crossed each time, with no consequence. I’m sure Iran was watching. With this and the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, where we gave in at every turn, fresh in their minds, would Iran have any qualms about crossing a red line. And remember, just a month ago, the Iranian Navy held an exercise in which it launched attacks on a “carrier”. Of course, it looked more like the USS Langley, a cruiser hull with a flight deck on top that was our first aircraft carrier. It would be a much different thing to attack the Teddy Roosevelt.

When two opposing forces interact in such close proximity at cross purposes, people get hurt. This incident has the potential to get a lot of people killed, possibly even lighting the match that sets the entire region ablaze. More so that it already is.