General Question

mammal's avatar

Apparently the US has dispatched three warships to the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt. Is this true? and is there a justifiable reason?

Asked by mammal (9431points) February 7th, 2011

i’ve heard rumours to this effect, can anyone elaborate and what are the motivations?

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32 Answers

flutherother's avatar

I haven’t heard this very widely reported and would doubt if it is true. It would look as if the US were trying to interfere in Egyptian affairs at a critical time (surely not). If it is true it may be to ensure that US citizens can leave the country in safety.

thorninmud's avatar

A Google news search does turn up two stories to that effect (it should be noted that the first story is from a Canadian anti-globalization interest group that doesn’t say where it got the story, and the second story is from an agency run by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting). I’d wait for confirmation from some more credentialed sources.

Cruiser's avatar

A lot of what most likely will be for initially is humanitarian aid….aid that will need protection.

tedd's avatar

Not unusual for us to put a presence in an area such as that. We have a lot of US citizens in the country, the Egypitian military has a TON of weaponry, terrorists/militants are trying to take advantage of the situation….. it doesn’t surprise me at all.

In fact if anything its a show of force. I would wager our carrier groups in the gulf near Iraq could already sufficiently “lay down the law” if we so needed to.

YoBob's avatar

Don’t know if it is true or not. However, having a strong presence in an area where there is both unrest and a significant amount of American interest would not only be justified, it would be foolish for the US not to do so.

bkcunningham's avatar

As of Feb. 4, 2011, the latest statement I have found, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said, “Beyond just the equipment and those sorts of things, what that has also done is establish a relationship with the Egyptian military, between our militaries, which is one of great strength,” Mullen said. “There are intangibles associated with that tied to how [Egyptian service members] handle themselves and how they focus and what they understand about who they should be, which are very positive.”

During the interview, the admiral said the United States has “plenty of military presence throughout the region” and that the Defense Department is in a higher state of awareness but has not increased alert levels or readiness levels there.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Or, you know, they’ll use the marines to threaten and expell legitimate humanitarian workers, like they did in Haiti last year.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

It seems, from your tags on this question, that you’ve already decided what the reason is. Why ask?

incendiary_dan's avatar

@quarkquarkquark Perhaps to spark a conversation on an important topic, particularly one not talked about enough?

WasCy's avatar

For starters, perhaps defending and/or evacuating the American Embassy and staff if things really spiral out of control. Other than that, if you have assets in position then you have options to do a lot of things, such as evacuate any non-Egyptian that needs to get out in a hurry.

Humanitarian assistance is another perfectly logical and sensible explanation.

If you have the assets in place then you have options. If you keep the assets at Diego Garcia then you don’t have options. It’s really as simple as that.

incendiary_dan's avatar

The military states as one of its goals “maintaining American military hegemony”. It’s really as simple as that.

josie's avatar

The Suez Canal for starters.

mammal's avatar

@quarkquarkquark well, we can discus imperialist posturing if you like, because that is surely what it is, but i’m curious as to how this story seems so low key, or whether it is a bad as it looks, if the US is that worried, lay on a few planes and then let the US citizens make up their own mind, what are we saying, if things go south the US can legitimately invade, that is beyond belief, if they want to protect their citizens pull the plug and flush the Despot down the toilet. A heavy military presence in the area is complicating a sensitive issue. unless it is of course to ensure Mubarak a speedy departure and a quick transition to full democracy. And i can assure you from personal experience Egypt is very very keen to protect foreigners from harm, we are crucial to Egyptian prosperity as tourists and hopefully responsible Businessmen.

WasCy's avatar

The point is, @mammal, the opinion expressed in your concluding sentence is by no means universal in Egypt. There have been several incidents involving mass killings of tourists at Egyptian travel destinations. If things go south from here, as seems increasingly likely, then a prudent military planner needs to have his options open. And “three warships” is hardly an invasion force.

Aside from protecting the Suez Canal, as @josie pointed out (and I stupidly forgot in my earlier assessment), and the things that I did mention, if Mubarak is going to capitulate it will be because he has some assurance of basic protection for himself and family and close staff. It’s looking more and more likely that the United States will be there to offer the safe passage, whether or not we also offer the safe haven afterward. Politically, no one wants to abandon the Embassy too soon, as it “sends the wrong message” to those already in power (“we’re abandoning you”) and to those trying to overthrow him (“we’re afraid of you”). So no one wants to make that call too early.

tedd's avatar

@mammal Three warships is not a heavy military presence.

mammal's avatar

@WasCy the deplorable slaughter in the Vally of the Kings in Luxor was an aberration, and motivated by hostility toward a notoriously oppressive Western sponsored regime, by the kind of extremists that operate in any country. This is a mass protest dominated by moderates and secularists, not fundamentalists. The Suez canal is state owned, they nationalised it remember? and payed the shareholders. It is theirs not i repeat not the Americans, or anyone else’s, if they decide to do something silly, they should probably expect severe sanctions, not the second invasion of Suez, that is quite outrageous.

@tedd it is pretty conspicuous, conspicuous enough to look a lot like gun boat diplomacy.

tedd's avatar

@mammal A typical Aircraft carrier battle group consists of over a dozen ships, including destroyers, nuclear submarines, and often battleships.

3 ships, without any major inland military capabilities is not a heavy military presence.

mammal's avatar

@tedd Borderline. So, nothing to do with the Suez Canal then.

tedd's avatar

@mammal With the military force we have in and near Iraq…. ground troops, special forces, multiple aircraft carrier groups, helicopter carriers, battleships with HUGE firing ranges, and air force bases en-masse set up in Iraq…... Three warships are entirely unnecessary.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Several platoons of high ranking marines isn’t much of a ground presence? The claim is that they’re to assist in evacuating U.S. citizens, but why would “high ranking marines” be necessary for that?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@incendiary_dan Whenever any group deploys for any assignment, it’s made up of high ranking individuals and lower ranking individuals. The article you posted just mentions that the “high ranking marines” get an alert, not that it would only be high ranking marines that are going to be going to help with the evacuation.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

I’m no jingoist, but I would strongly suggest that those of you in this thread who believe that America is “imperialist”—and I would not be inclined to fully disagree on this front—refrain from using every American action as justifying or justified by this point. There are simpler—and more valid—explanations than “imperialist posturing.”

tedd's avatar

@incendiary_dan Several Platoons isn’t going to invade a wal mart, let alone Egypt.

I would imagine they’re there in case we have to emergency evaq people in a crisis/civil war situation.

janbb's avatar

I’m with @quarkquarkquark on this and I’m petty leftwing. It doesn’t seem like an unreasonable action for the US to take considering its interests in the region. I highly doubt they are contemplating an invasive military action.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@janbb That assumes the legitimacy of the U.S.‘s “interests”. But of course, I’m one who questions the legitimacy of the U.S. itself.

janbb's avatar

That’s certainly a position one can take.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

@incendiary_dan—those are both completely reasonable and fact-founded questions. I’m right there with you, though perhaps a bit less strongly. I would go so far as to say that we shouldn’t even worry about the U.S.‘s interests and their validity. What matters in this case—and similar ones with every civilized country in the world—is whether U.S. interests and the U.S.‘s intended course of action conflicts with what’s best for the world. I don’t see any evidence that points to that as the case.

mammal's avatar

@quarkquarkquark At least the British had the decency to admit it was Imperialist, so at least they didn’t add disingenuity to their Litany of sins. This may come as a shock to you, but you come across as an Imperial Apologist, or worse and Imperialist denier. You may, if you like, argue in favour of the mighty US empire, that is perfectly acceptable. You may argue that the military presence on the Sinai coast is innocuous by the standards of previous US adventures into the middle East. Otherwise the debate will fizzle out quickly or get bogged down in the Semantics of Imperialist definitions, which would demand a whole new thread.

As i have said before all US citizens are free to go and should be advised to do so, those that stay, take a personal risk like every other foreigner, what are we saying? that if the mood turns ugly America will launch a bungled assault on Egyptian territory and wipe out half of Cairo, Alexandra and Suez in a rapidly escalating chain of events that would spark horror and revulsion throughout the middle East.

Btw i notice the US have a little Aircraft Carrier lurking in the Mediterranean too, just passing through apparently ;)

These strategically placed ships smack of brinkmanship to me, however i’ll hope for the best, but i’ll plan for the worst if it’s all the same with you :)

tedd's avatar

@mammal The United States Navy has 11 active carrier fleet groups, there is ALWAYS at least one in the Mediterranean. There are I believe three currently in the Gulf on by Iraq (the real number is probably classified) that have many planes well within reach of Egypt. Not to mention as mentioned before, the Air Force bases in Iraq are also well within reach of Egypt.

The US embassy has told all non-essential US citizens in Egypt that they should leave, unfortunately it can’t order them to leave and as a result many THOUSANDS will and have stayed. If the situation worsens, and Egypt heaven forbid collapses into a civil war… the warships this thread was started to talk about would likely supply the emergency evacuation helicopters/troops to remove as many of our thousands of civilians as possible NOT to begin military operations in Cairo, AlexandrIA, the Suez, or anywhere else. A few platoons of marines, I’m sorry to say, isn’t going to wipe out anything, or hold anything, or attack anything. Its not as if the Egyptian military is a joke…. they have a lot of the same technology we do (hell, they bought a lot of it FROM us).

Failure to have those failsafes in place would be stupid…. Iran wasn’t that long ago… Those Americans were held hostage for over a year.

quarkquarkquark's avatar


I would appreciate, as I’m sure you would agree with a clearer head, that labeling and name-calling are pointless. If you’ll read my posts more closely, you’ll notice that I’m not an imperial apologist. I have my own opinions as to whether the U.S. and its actions constitute empire or imperialism, but I haven’t contended that. Rather, I’ve suggested that simply because a power is seen as an empire does not require that every action be filtered through that lens. It is dangerous to believe of any party that said party is always possessed of devious motives. Such a position is inherently contradictory, when a nation’s actions are taken as a whole. I think you’re right to plan for the worst, and I assume your reading of history has led you to this very reasonable position.

@tedd has provided you with a very cogent explanation for these circumstances, and I would like to hear your response.

Bt-dubs, “Imperialist denier” is a phrase I’ve never heard before. It smacks, I’m sure unintentionally, of “holocaust denier”, and implies strongly that the U.S.‘s status as an empire is an accepted fact that only the dumb or evil attempt to refute. Don’t pose your opinion as fact. Have a conversation.

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