From a statement on June 4 by Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.) in introducing a bill to prevent the Reagan administration from "reflagging" Kuwaiti tankers:
I believe the administration has not thought through the possible consequences of its proposal. Ideally, of course, flying the American flag on Kuwaiti tankers will serve as an effective deterrent to an Iranian attack. If so, the United States will have made a small contribution to Kuwaiti commerce and a modest, but useful, assertion of American power and prestige in the region.
. . . An Iranian attack on United States escort vessels will clearly lead to United States retaliation. But what next? Suppose Iran responds to a United States retaliatory attack by an assault on one of the poorly defended and sparsely populated Gulf states? Are we prepared to commit young American lives to the defense of Persian Gulf Arab nations?
American military force can be a powerful tool to defend American interests. It should be used, however, where the interests are clear, where the consequences are understood and where the benefits justify the costs. The provision of a naval escort to reflagged Kuwaiti ships serves no clear interests, could have consequences we are not prepared to face and yields minimal gain as opposed to potential costs. Quite simply, it should not be done.
Finally, I would note that the administration ignored the Kuwaiti request for reflagging until Kuwait approached the Soviet Union. . . .
It is highly unlikely that the Soviet Union can gain any real foothold among the conservative Gulf monarchies. . . . The fact that the Soviets may do something is no excuse for undertaking an action which is manifestly not in our interest.