What if an Iranian military drone laden with listening devices and powerful cameras flew near the US coast during a war crisis and the Americans shot it down?
What if Americans did so after Iran had in 1953 helped overthrow their President in favor of a dictator, and then in 1980 encouraged Mexico to invade the United States. Then escorted Brazilian and Canadian ships exporting Mexican goods during the war, and blew up half of American navy in 1988 as well as a civilian airliner. Let’s say Iran then also propped up America’s domestic and exiled terrorists, while falsely blaming a series of al-Qaeda attacks on the US, and falsely accused the US of diverting nuclear material to a weapons program, and on the account of that waged a devastating economic war on the US, all the while Iran actually already had a potentially world-ending nuclear arsenal, and was the only country to have used such weapons, and the only one which refused to rule out first use including against a non-nuclear state.
Let’s say the Americans then blew up an Iranian drone 13 nautical miles off of Florida Keys? Would this be scandalous aggression or justified self-defense to thwart enemy intelligence gathering?
For me personally, if Iran, while waging economic war and threatening a shooting one (“all options are on the table”), had travelled half a world to fly a massive $120 million intelligence-gathering platform off of America’s coast, and the Americans shot it down I would be 100 percent with the Americans. If the drone had crossed into the 12-mile territorial waters belt it would make the shootdown one hundred percent legal, but even had it merely come very close it would be a perfectly reasonable and justifiable act to destroy it.
In fact at least one American expert has pointed out the Iranians possibly had the legal right to destroy the drone even if it really was in international airspace:
“Assuming that for once Washington is telling the truth” about how far the U.S. drone was from Iran when it was downed, “it is still undeniable that Iran has the right to demand identification from any aircraft flying this near its territory,” H. Bruce Franklin, former Air Force navigator and intelligence officer, wrote on Facebook. U.S. Air Defense Identification Zones extend 200 miles from the U.S. border. “Any unidentified drone” which flew that close to the U.S. “would most likely be shot down,” Franklin added.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, wrote to the Security Council that the drone did not respond to several radio warnings before it was shot down.