Open Letter to the Commander, US Sixth Fleet

Plea for Armed Escort to Gaza

Vice Admiral Bruce W. Clingan, USN
PSC 817 Box 70
FPO AE 09622

Dear Sir:

Pardon my stepping a bit out of the chain of command. I’ve been outside the club for awhile now, so emboldened to bring my concern to your attention directly and publicly.

In patrolling the waters of the Mediterranean, the US Navy has a long and honored tradition of safeguarding the peace of littoral peoples. The tradition goes back to the eighteenth century when we ranged against barbary pirates, and, as the President recently noted, it included the signing of the Treaty of Tripoli, when Morocco was the first country to recognize the newly formed United States. It included my own naval service — also a long, long time ago — keeping the Fleet abreast of events in the area at the Fleet Intelligence Center, then based in that same North African country.

A mounting atrocity waged by the Israeli Navy is taking place at the eastern corner of your command. Unarmed vessels of the humanitarian “Hope Fleet” bringing relief supplies to the desperate citizens of blockaded Gaza have been intercepted, challenged, boarded, and even rammed at sea by Israeli naval units, their crews badly treated and imprisoned. Such criminal acts on the high seas must not be allowed to go unchecked by US Naval forces in the area. I am proposing that you detach armed escorts for planned successive sorties of the Hope Fleet to Gaza.

See as well as filmmaker/eyewitness Adam Shapiro’s 7/17/09 account in Huffington Report at

What’s happening is nothing very new. As you recall, forty two years ago last month, Israel attacked our own plainly identified, unarmed USS Liberty in international waters, killing 34 crewmen. Nothing much was done, aside from a few cash settlements by Israel to families of the deceased and wounded.

Of course a war was going on, perceived threat levels were high, tempers raging,chances for confusion running rampant. Nothing much new about that either. Israel continues to cover her belligerence with what can only be called old fashioned smoke-screening of aggressive self-interest.

Last month Secretary of State Clinton made a major address to the Council of Foreign Relations. In it she stressed that “…we will remain clear-eyed about our purpose. Not everybody in the world wishes us well or shares our values and interests. Some will seek to undermine our efforts … To these foes and would-be foes, let me say: ‘You should know that our focus on diplomacy and development is not an alternative to our national security arsenal. You should never see America’s willingness to talk as a sign of weakness to be exploited. We will not hesitate to defend our friends and ourselves vigorously when necessary with the world’s strongest military. This is not an option we seek. Nor is it a threat; it is a promise to the American people.'”

Perhaps she didn’t have in mind our mid-east ally -some even say ‘client state’ — of long standing. Perhaps she did, given the President’s very clear intent expressed recently to the visiting Israeli President about discontinuing settlements in the West Bank and improving the lot of Gaza’s people.

To be sure, Admiral, this action I’m proposing is not one you’ll be wanting to take alone. So I’m inviting the attention of a few decision makers up the line. I do thank you for giving this matter your ear.

Very Respectfully,

James J. Rucquoi
Lieutenant Commander, USNR (retired)


President Barack Obama
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
George Mitchell, Special US Presidential Envoy to The Middle East
Senator Carl Levin, Chair, Senate Armed Services Committee
Senator Ted Kennedy, Chair, Senate Sea Power Sub-committee
Senator John Kerry, Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Robert Plasey, Chair, Senate Sub-committee on Near Eastern and South/Central Asian Affairs
Congressman Howard Berman, Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Congressman Gary Ackerman, Chair, House Sub-Committee for Mid-East/So Asia
Congressman Ike Skelton, Chair, House Armed Services Committee
Congressman Gene Taylor, Chair, House Sub-Committee for Sea Power & Expeditionary Forces

Jim Rucquoi is born in Brussels, Belgium, served two tours of active duty in U.S. Naval Intelligence, after which he continued in the active reserves. He has worked as businessman, college prof, and independent video producer. He lives in Sanford, FL with his wife, the author & speaker Adele Azar-Rucquoi. Both use their creative talents to further local, national, and planetary causes; most of their recent projects are web-accessible via Google. Jim holds degrees from Georgetown (BS '59) and Columbia (MBA '68) universities. Read other articles by Jim, or visit Jim's website.

18 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. LanceThruster said on August 5th, 2009 at 11:14am #

    This is an eminently reasonable request and if the US operated in a manner that respected justice and the rule of law they would provide escort vessels to protect those delivering humanitarian aid.

  2. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on August 5th, 2009 at 11:31am #

    since more people t han ever are pleading with pal’ns to cease with retaliation or military resistance to the occupation, it wld not be any longer necessary for israel to resort to piracy.

    i’ve been saying for at least a decade that afore-said military resistance only worsens the situation for pal’ns.
    and, in any case, without US/european goodwill towards pal’ns, it will always be a win for the israelis-loss for pal’ns regardless whatever they do-don’t do or say-don’t say. tnx

  3. Bill Webb said on August 5th, 2009 at 1:46pm #

    I completely agree with Lieutenant Commander Rucquoi. If Egypt or Syria were to blockade aid to Israel we’d be right there in a minute.

  4. Dave Silver said on August 5th, 2009 at 6:34pm #

    Dear Jim
    Your comments about the vicious conduct of the Israeli Navy is
    well taken,
    But where and when did the US navy have a “long trasdition of protecting peace of people’s adjacent to trhe Meditteranen??
    the peace
    Dave Silver


  5. Dave Silver said on August 5th, 2009 at 6:34pm #

    Dear Jim
    Your comments about the vicious conduct of the Israeli Navy is
    well taken,
    But where and when did the US navy have a “long trasdition of protecting peace of people’s adjacent to trhe Meditteranen??
    the peace
    Dave Silver


  6. Annie Ladysmith said on August 5th, 2009 at 7:50pm #

    Dear Dave, it is the US militaries job to police the whole entire world, both land and sea. That’s why the military is so huge that if you started its fire power and a decision was not made to stop it, it would in a matter of a few years overtake the Big Bang in a race to the edge of the universe.
    Who cannot be persuaded by this universal mandate to subject the whole entire earth into a state of quivering flesh cowering or running from the coming impact of a phorphorus or fuel-cell bomb.

  7. Moshe Cohen said on August 5th, 2009 at 8:25pm #

    Spying is a dangerous business. What’s the old saying. “You spy, you die.”

  8. mary said on August 5th, 2009 at 9:58pm #

    We probably have nobody in the remnants of the ‘Queen’s Navee’ with comparable backbone and moral fibre to Lt. Commander Rucquoi. He is an admirable man and should be applauded for his attempt to obtain protection for the Free Gaza boats and crews.

    HM FCO have taken a month to reply to our pleas for British government assistance to free two British aid workers who were prevented from leaving Gaza at the Rafah gate by the USUKIs stooges, the Egyptians.

    #Natalie, from Lebanon (but with a British passport) entered Gaza via one of the Free Gaza boats and has been working as part of the International Solidarity movement within Gaza since November 2008. Since the end of May Jenny has been trying to leave and return home via the border crossing at Rafah into Egypt. She keeps getting turned away, most recently under pretty extreme circumstances, as outlined below. Natalie also needs to leave Gaza in order to take up her place at a British University. The Egyptian Border Guards told both women that they were being refused exit because of their work with the Free Gaza boats. They were told that they would ‘never be let out’. Natalie has written an account of their treatment, and their inhuman treatment of so many Palestinians at the Rafah crossing, in ‘The Gates of Hell’. #

    The FCO reply dated 5th August 2009, names of sender and recipient omitted.

    Thank you for your email of 8 July to the Foreign Secretary concerning British nationals in Gaza and the Rafah border crossing. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.

    You also raise the cases of Jenny Linnell and Natalie Abou Chakra. As you may be aware, both are now out of Gaza. However, I would like to make clear that the UK does not control access to Gaza over the Rafah crossing – Egypt does. Nor does the UK control access to Gaza via the crossings on the Israeli border – Israel does. With regard to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the UK has been unequivocal in its calls for Israel to lessen restrictions at the Gaza crossings and to allow the legitimate flow of humanitarian aid, trade and reconstruction goods and the movement of people. This is essential not only for the people of Gaza, but also for the wider stability of the region. The Foreign Secretary emphasised this in his speech to the UN Security Council on 11 May and both the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have raised it directly with Israel. We shall continue to do so.

    It should also be noted that our travel advice advises against all travel to Gaza, including its offshore waters, stating that it would be irresponsible to visit at this time. There are well-established mechanisms for getting aid into Gaza; aid should be co-ordinated well in advance.

    Facilitating peace in the Middle East remains a high priority for the UK. We are clear that the two-state solution should be based on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as a capital for both Israel and the Palestinian state and a fair settlement for refugees. Israelis and Palestinians need to live as neighbours in safety and security.

    I hope this helps to answer you concerns.

    Near East Group
    Foreign and Commonwealth Office

    No thanks to the ‘unequivocal’ and hands off FCO that the women finally returned home.

  9. jose said on August 6th, 2009 at 7:24am #

    The world continues to line up against Israel just as prophesied in the Bible. When surrounded by enemies who have vowed to destroy and push Israel into the sea, it seems a no brainer to me that Israel take whatever action deemed necessary to survive. The world put Israel on the map in 1947 and now wants to take it off? Makes no sense to me!

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 7th, 2009 at 1:34am #

    I believe Moshe Cohen is actually the nomme de folie of arch-Zionist Schlimo Ben-Dover. Since when, Ben-Dover, has it been ‘spying’ to deliver humanitarian aid to a brutalised, imprisoned population? Oh yes, I remember-since the ‘Chosen People’ who are the self-appointed Supreme Beings of the Universe, said so. Pillock!

  11. Phil said on August 7th, 2009 at 1:05pm #

    it is the US militaries job to police the whole entire world, both land and sea.
    That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve read all week. It’s the US military’s job to defend the US and its people. That’s it. That’s all.

  12. Annie Ladysmith said on August 7th, 2009 at 7:13pm #

    Dear Phil, perhaps you suffer from Asperger’s syndrome…
    Do you know what sarcasm means?? Well, i was using SARCASM to make my point, if you read the whole paragraph it would become clear.
    If ya still don’t get it, never mind. Cheers.

  13. Doug holland said on August 8th, 2009 at 1:14am #



  14. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 9th, 2009 at 1:54am #

    Memo from ‘The Free World’. The International Community (of countries controlled by Judaic money power) says that Somali pirates are evil, Israeli pirates are ‘morally pure’. So sayeth the voice of Human Rights and Democracy.

  15. jon s said on August 9th, 2009 at 5:44am #

    See above , for anyone who may have thought I was wrong to call Mulga an Anti-Semite.
    Thanks, Mulga, for proving my point.

  16. Don Hawkins said on August 9th, 2009 at 7:49am #

    Oh jon and so it goes. What is it good and evil or right and wrong. How about knowledge and stupidity. Do you really think some believe all the stuff they tell people. I don’t think that’s the way it work’s.

    Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
    Carl Sagan

    Yes the old thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines. It seems that if enough people on the third planet from the Sun believe in a certain thing it can happen. Is there a God well a better word is creator. So far we don’t have the first clue but reason tell’s us all this came from somewhere. So far about 200 billion Galaxies in the known Universe that’s a lot. Where did the mass energy come from to form all those Galaxies not a clue so far. Any life other than ourselves in the Universe well again reason tell’s us yes. Unless we human’s can use reason the knowledge not illusion of knowledge but what we know guess what? We human’s are destroying the planet and why well so we can eat pizza work’s for me. Is it written in stone that we must do this, no. Here’s where ideologies, and economic doctrines come into play with us human’s. Have we tried to understand ideologies, and economic doctrines not really a few have just used those two things to have something called power past and present. Well we are now at the point where the past and the present get to see each other again. Just how the heck did this happen well believing in confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines could be one reason and all done on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Well what else do we believe in? Ahww that’s the question. One thing for sure unless we stop burning fossil fuels and eating pizza and moving forward with the old religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines we will never answer that question. I wonder what the commander of the sixth fleet would think about that question?

  17. Håkan Larsson said on August 11th, 2009 at 3:23pm #

    There is a vast difference between being an anti-semite and an anti-zionist.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 12th, 2009 at 5:04pm #

    jon, I think you have a point. My parodying of ‘Moshe Cohen’, which I took to be a nomme de folie, like my own, was indeed puerile. My only defence is that I let his arrogant presumption get the better of me. It is difficult dealing with Judeofascists not to lose one’s equanimity when confronted by vicious racism and arrogant indifference to the suffering of the Palestinians, but we must strive to do so.