March 31, 2007

Telegraph: We're Screwed

The London Telegraph analyzes all of the options open to Britain in the current crisis over the capture of 15 Navy personnel in the Persian Gulf, and comes up with one consistent conclusion -- none of them will work, at least not without the 800-pound American gorilla on their side. Whether sanctions, blockades, or military attacks get reviewed, the Telegraph reports that the UK no longer has the juice to pull them off:

The Government has few options if it wants to pressure Iran into releasing the captured Britons.

Military action is unfeasible without American support and so is a military blockade of the Gulf. Unless the United Nations shows more rigour, sanctions are unlikely to hurt Iran in the short term.

There is a feeling that the 15 could be in for a long stay in Iran and face the nightmare prospect for Britain of a show trial.

Washington has remained largely subdued on the crisis but some commentators have made clear that the situation would have been very different if it had been 15 American sailors.

Yes, it would have been much different. We would never have allowed the Iranians to threaten our forces without an immediate military response on the spot, for one thing. Had Iran actually succeeded in taking our forces hostage, we would have given them hours to return them, followed by strategic bombing of selected military sites, especially suspected nuclear-developmentr sites, until Iran handed them back. Bushehr would have been reduced to rubble. If the mullahs still refused to release them, we would have commenced targeting their political leadership.

The Iranians know we would have done this -- which is why they didn't capture Americans. They captured British sailors because they knew the British would have done none of this. That's not because the British have any less courage, but because the British are militarily incapable of such a response, and Iran knows it.

Instead, Britain tried to go to the UN, where Russia and China both passed on condemning their client state and source of their energy. They tried cutting off all other diplomatic initiatives except this crisis, but the Iranians still haven't demonstrated that they care at all about it. The Brits could demand tougher sanctions from the EU, and they might get them -- but good luck in enforcing them. It might only be weeks before France and Germany start back-dooring the Brits like they did with Saddam Hussein.

Even America has no particular rush to provide support for the UK. The Bush administration would probably love nothing better than to start taking out Iran's suspected nuclear facilities, but they have a big problem in Congress. The Democrats want to blame a century-old genocide on a country that didn't even exist at the time, but they're willing to flirt with a government that supports terrorism now while refusing to condemn Iran's actions. With such a schizophrenic sense of foreign policy, the Bush administration has its hands tied, at least for the moment.

This gives an object lesson on why the unilateral dismantling of the military by a global power makes no sense. The American nation learned from Pearl Harbor that it takes a strong military to keep troublemakers from causing headaches. Paper tigers get burned quickly -- and the UK has had its status as a power center exposed as exactly that. If they have no willingness to defend their own patrols, no one will consider them a threat at all -- and Britain can look forward to many more such tweakings in their future.


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Comments (30)

Posted by David [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 6:42 AM

I would hope that is how America would have responded. With the Democrats in control, I have my doubts. It would have been our military's fault in being outthere to begin with. The thought would be we were tryng to instigate something. The Democrats would be more interested in cutting and running than getting involved in another war.

But the question is, are we in much better shape than our English friends?

Part of me wonders if the leadership of Iran is wanting some sort of military action. The country is falling apart, and military action may be the only way the President can consolidate control. There also seems to be a number of religious/political leaders of the country who are looking for the return of the Hidden Imam. That can only happen when there is some sort of global war. Wonder if this has anything to do with capturing the sailors.

Posted by Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:05 AM


The US learned nothing from Pearl Harbor. The US could not gut its military quick enough at the end of the war. Except for a quick PR campaign, the USMC would have been gone.

Just look to the inital reaction to the Korean War to see how badly the services had erroded.

Posted by gull [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:12 AM

Democrats have "leaked" for months that they have been meeting with ME leaders. No doubt they have been hoping for such an opportunity (the taking of hostages) to demonstrate their "influence" on the ME crisis.

Pelosi's spring break tour in the ME?


Wait for her to involve herself in their release and in setting up her own ME consortium for peace.

She'll do ANYTHING to discredit the President.

Posted by Cybrludite [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:15 AM

I suspect the Argies could get the Malvinas back pretty easily now.

Posted by Bill Schumm [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:16 AM

Just 50 years ago, the once-mighty British Navy had 400 they have about 48. And Parliament was literally just days away from cutting that in half to about 20 to 25 ships before this developed.

You may recall the news item from 2 or 3 years ago about how their navy was so low on ammunition that when they had sea drills, the sailors would just pretend to load the cannons and then someone would yell "Bang!) while they covered their ears.

They're paying for it big-time now. Their military funds have been diverted to their social programs while the tax revenue has been maxed out. Dark days ahead for the Island.

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:18 AM

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

True two thousand years ago. True today.

Military action is unfeasible without American support and so is a military blockade of the Gulf. Unless the United Nations shows more rigour, sanctions are unlikely to hurt Iran in the short term.

This sorry situation underscores the clear fact (obvious to many of us for years) that collective security is as dead today as it was in 1938. Even if all the Euros were outraged by Iran's actions and pledged to support the UK to the hilt in any response that Blair decided to make, what could they do? While the various Euro nations individually have some fine soldiers, sailors and airmen, they don't have many and more importantly can't get them anywhere without US help. I suspect that any ships they could send to the Gulf for military / blockade operations would rely on our base in Qatar for fuel and other logistical support, and I wonder if the Egyptians would allow them transit through Suez, anyway.

This SHOULD be a wakeup call for the Euros that they need to start thinking about being able to project power outside their own borders. Sadly, I think they'd rather have a nanny state, rail about how America is the great threat to world peace, and hope that appeasement works rather than spend a nickel on defense.

We would never have allowed the Iranians to threaten our forces without an immediate military response on the spot, for one thing. Had Iran actually succeeded in taking our forces hostage, we would have given them hours to return them, followed by strategic bombing of selected military sites, especially suspected nuclear-developmentr sites, until Iran handed them back. Bushehr would have been reduced to rubble. If the mullahs still refused to release them, we would have commenced targeting their political leadership.

The Iranians know we would have done this...

No, the Iranians know we COULD do this. They also know that, back in '79, we DIDN'T do this. And they know that Field Marshal Pelosi and Grand Admiral Reid have made it abundantly clear that they don't want a war with Tehran under any circumstances, and in fact are busy engineering our retreat in the face of terrorists who routinely kill our men.

I greatly fear that the ayatollahs will grab Americans next; if not in the Gulf itself, then somewhere in the Middle East. They did it all through the '80s, and (I'm sorry to say) we acquiesced to their demands. No reason to think that America in 2007 is any different than America in 1979 or 1985.

What a sorry, sorry situation.

Posted by TomB [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:18 AM

As I said before, the Brit sailors are screwed. They will be used as long as our MSM will bravely report any of the “confessions”, then left into oblivion. This is the Eastern way.
I hope that the Captain of the HMS Cornwall will offer himself to Iranians in exchange, or shot himself in the head, this are the only two honorable things for him to do. I wouldn’t like to serve on his ship, this is for sure.
In the meantime those centrifuges are spinning…
But Iran falling apart? David, think Cuba!

Posted by ajacksonian [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:39 AM

And then there is an organization that tried to Assassinate President Clinton while he was in office and on an overseas tour and now thinks that this Congress can give it a reprieve in the War on Terror, because everyone points to Islamic Terrorism and is letting the other noxious, brutal and deadly forms of it slide.

So nice to know that terrorists fully know and expect that they can intimidate Democrats, suffer no reprisals, suffer no investigation and *then* get support for trying to kill them.

What a lovely buncha folks!

Intimidate and try to kill them and then see if you can get *rewards* from them... that goes beyond sheer laziness and steps into cowardice.

There is a long, long list stretching back decades of organizations that have put the US into its cross-hairs for murder and destruction of its Officials, Armed Forces and Governmental Representatives, plus the property to house and protect same. Both parties shoulder this blame and being unwilling to address these things, nor hold organizations responsible for their actions. And now one of them steps forward with the bright idea that we should *help them* to kill us. And if this Congress tries to pass such leniency, the word *suicidal* needs then be applied to it. For that is what such an action *is*.

Posted by philw [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:45 AM

The Brit hostages, the gift that keeps on giving. As long as the West is focused on the plight of the hapless Brit Navy folks, the uranium enrichment effort can continue unabated. And as long as the possible, though unlikely, spectre of Western military action looms, the futures driven price of oil will escallate, providing much needed cash to Iranian coffers.

Given our new Democratic overlords, it's really unlikely that we'll provide military assistance to the inept Brits. Why if we did, Rosie would inflame the soccer mom base and paralyze the executive branch with subpoenas and hearings.

Posted by Dennis Clark [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:53 AM

I read yesterday that the forcible taking of the Iran's main Oil Terminal by U.S. forces was recommended to Pres Jimmy Carter. He turned it down!

The same tactic could and should be used here. With out that terminal Iran cannot function. It gives the Brits and U.S. by-the-by leverage to use on Iran that could help end their thugary, in the world generally and Iraq and Lebanon.

Negotiate yes; from strength, not weakness.

God save this Republic and our brothers in arms in the British Isles. They were spared being too close to the frogs by God. Let U.S. help keep them safe, they are our and freedoms only true ally.

Posted by Dennis Clark [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 8:00 AM

here is the write up from the Wall Street Journal; Best of the Web, by JamesTaranto..

How to Hit Back
It's a bit reminiscent of the Jimmy Carter crisis of 1979-81: Iran last week captured 15 British sailors in Iraqi waters and has been holding them hostage, coercing some into reading videotaped "apologies." In the Washington Times James Lyons, a retired admiral, suggests a show of strength that Carter rejected back then:

In November 1979, when our embassy was sacked and our diplomats were taken hostage, I recommended to the then-acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Tom Hayward, that our only good option really was to capture Kharg Island, Iran's principal oil export depot. If we did this, we could negotiate from a position of strength for the immediate return of our embassy and our diplomats.

Unfortunately, the Carter administration rejected any offensive operations as a means of responding to this blatant act of war against the United States. We were humiliated and seemed to the world to lack the courage to defend our honor. . . .

While our State Department and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office work to obtain U.N. and allied condemnation of Iran's illegal act, the Joint Chiefs of Staff need to develop or refine a series of military options that can be immediately carried out when directed by the commander in chief, President Bush after coordination with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

One such option should be the capture of Kharg Island. That could be viewed as part of a larger economic sanction that the U.N. Security Council has already endorsed. It is not an attack against the Iranian people. In fact, it could further encourage the popular antigovernment movement against the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's corrupt and already shaky regime. The economic cost to Iran would be catastrophic at minimum.

A reader, however, offers this crazy thought:

Capturing Iran's principal oil export depot would play right into the delusions of people who imagine we are out to grab the region's oil. Instead we should act on our concern, the centrifuges at Natanz. A few good hits on top of the centrifuge bunker would at the minimum send a message, and might rattle the notoriously sensitive centrifuges enough to make them unsafe to operate.

In the past, disturbances as small as fingerprints have caused the machines to spin improperly and explode. Now, with more centrifuges operating, one could get a chain reaction, and not the type the ayatollahs had in mind.

In an April 2006 Iranian TV interview (PDF, quote on pp. 4-5), Islamic Republic nuke official Gholamreza Aqazadeh elaborates on the centrifuges' vulnerability:

In the preliminary stages of the work, we noticed that our machines broke down frequently. We couldn't discover the cause, since we didn't have any scientific sources or books to refer to. After great efforts we discovered that our experts didn't wear fabric gloves during the assembly phase. We found out that when you assemble the parts with bare hands, germs are transferred to the machinery from the smallest amount of sweat which comes off the hands.

This little amount of germs is enough to trouble and destroy the machine. When we say a machine is destroyed we mean that it turns into powder.

Either way, as Lyons observes, "such a move would end almost 30 years of our Iranian appeasement policy, demonstrating to Tehran we finally mean business."

Posted by SwabJockey05 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 8:04 AM

Some of you seem to think the U.S. Navy would not have done anything if this situation were reversed...and we had American swabbies "confessing" on TV instead of Limey swabbies. That final outcome may be true…

But you need to recognize the difference between immediate responses and longer term responses. Bombing oil rigs AFTER swabbies are captured is much more difficult (politically) than sending rounds down range WHILE Iranians are attacking your forces.
I too doubt that we would start Gulf War III if American swabbies got nabbed...Gen Pelousy wouldn’t stand for it. But what I don't doubt is that ROUNDS WOULD HAVE GOVE DOWN RANGE before "allowing" said swabbies to be nabbed.

If our Commanders do not have Standing Orders allowing them to defend VBSS teams operating that close to National Waters...we have no business putting our troops at risk. We should cease these operations immediately...of course, this is exactly what the mullahs, other ME lunatics and Gen Pelousy would like to see.

Posted by Bennett [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 8:19 AM

I really do hope this ends well and ends soon. I am not so much worried about the rest of the world deciding Britain is a paper tiger and can be toyed with at will as I am concerned that Britain herself will decide this is true and choose to withdraw totally and permanently as a meaningful actor on the world stage.

It is one thing to have everyone around you believe you are weak and powerless. It is another to begin believing that about yourself. Until recently I would have said that Britain is not what she once was but is still a great nation and an essential participant in global affairs. If Britain chooses to fold in on herself, we have few global players left to stand with us on any issue of consequence. Japan is the only other ally I can think of that can be counted on in times of international crisis (yes I know there are other, Israel for example, but Israel does not have global influence).

I don't see any way we can rescue Britain in this situation. It would not be good for Britain. She needs to come up with a way to end this and end it soon. For her own self-respect and for the 15 lives that hang in the balance.

Posted by jerry [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 8:42 AM

I think we can see the outlines of the future here.

First of all, it should be coming clear to the UK that short of a British withdrawal from Iraq, these sailors aren't coming home soon. The Labor Government is doomed. As I told the Fox two days ago, the Tories may be supporting Blair today but in the coming weeks this support will turn into criticism and then into demands for the Government to resign. This is not a personal failure that only requires a change in leadership. The gut reaction of Republicans will be to cheer but that is based on visions of a new Margaret Thatcher. Today's Tories are to the left of New Labor on economics and environmental policy, and they are committed to a withdrawal from Iraq. I think Iran is sophisticated enough to understand this and acted with this in mind.

The second major outcome will be a rise in anti-European feeling in the UK. The EU has completely abandoned Britain in this crisis. They are certainly big on talk but refuse to take concrete action against Iran in terms of sanctions. It’s business as usual. We might see an end to British participation in the EU. I don’t think the UK will reverse its degradation of its military capability. The Tories will complete the transition of the UK from a Great Power to a “small” country. Think a small version of Canada. Like Scandinavia, Britain faces no external threat. They only need to fear the Muslims in their midst. That can be handled by MI-5. This not good for the United States as we will lose are most important ally.

Third, the final collapse of British Power will emboldened the Democrats to destroy what remains of American credibility to make the world a stable place. They will quickly go and make a private deal with the Mullahs in Iran to withdraw US power from the region and abandon our friends in the region. Why do you think the Pelosi is going to Syria? Like Ted Kennedy’s dealings with USSR in the 1980’s she is going to reassure Assad that when the Democrats get the White House in 2009 that Lebanon is theirs and give Syria the green light to put pressure on Israel. I think she wants to keep the region quiet so that America voters are not reminded how important the US role in the region is. The ugly truth is that the Democrats support the terrorists because they don’t see them as terrorists. They see them as the “poor and oppressed” that have legitimate grievances against the West. Just as the Southern Klu Klux Klan Democrats held the balance of power in the Party until Lyndon Johnson and the Republican leadership passed the 1964 Civil Right Act, the new neo-Nazis of the crowd hold the balance of power in the party today.

I am sure Lexhamfox will want to bring his sophisticated analysis to bear on my analysis so he can sneer at a peasant and I will enjoy hearing it. I do want to see his new views on this crisis as his previous comments have already been overtaken by events and as Richard Nixon would say are no longer operative.

Posted by Always right [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 9:43 AM

Cpt Ed,

I would think if those hostages were American sailors and Marines, there wouldn't be some resistance during the initial contact. And I very much doubt the probability of your predicted American response.

Look at the US/Bush Admin response during the "Spy Plane" incident over southern china not so long ago. For that round, we got our crew back, yes, but lost on every other angle (the chinese got every "latest" technology over the stripped spy plane, "the gratitutes" of international community over the release of the US crew) after how many days of interogation and imprisonment? Did the Red Cross International finally get to see those captives? Were we at war at the time?

Somehow, with Dem controlling both houses, I doubt we will have come out any better than that incident (or "situation" as Pelosi would put it). And remember the chinese are supposed to be "sane".

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 10:30 AM

Re: Always right at March 31, 2007 09:43 AM

Always right,

I believe the "Spy Plane" crew had enough time to destroy the most sensitive stuff in the plane. They were certainly trained to do that and I assume they did. Of course we'll never know because they don't talk about it.

Posted by Bender [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 11:15 AM

The question is, who wants war less? To be sure, Iran is risking war, but does that mean that it will accept war more than Britain, the U.S., and others? I have to think that the answer is no. At least at this time.

Iran is weaker now than it will be later. If there was to be war now, the chances of an Iranian victory are much less decreased. On the other hand, war later might result in the nuclear destruction of London, Washington, New York, etc.

If war is inevitable, as undesirable as it may be, perhaps now is better than later? Or, because of the left's clear goal of societal suicide, will it not make any difference one way or the other?

Posted by SwabJockey05 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 11:36 AM


One look at that non-airworthy EP-3 would tell you that the destruction sequence was probably not at the top of their "what do we do now" list...

They probably should have ditched vice give the plane up to the commies.

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 12:16 PM

Don't we think that America's "subdued reaction" so far has been in response to the British public turning on Blair and forcing him both to pull out of Iraq and to quit? It's a silent way of saying, "If you don't want to be our friend, England, fine. You're on your own."

Having 15 of their people being held hostage (including one female) has got to be speaking more directly to British voters than it does to the decision-makers at the upper echelons. It's also got to be galling to the English man-on-the-street to be raked across the coals like this by a bunch of Third World barbarians.

Could there possibly *be* a different scenario that would put some spine back in the English and make them want to face down the barbarians who dare to treat them this way? Even more than being blowed up, I have to think that being humiliated by a terrorist-supporting country would make the British cranky.

* * *
The Iranians know we would have done this -- which is why they didn't capture Americans.

I have to disagree with this. I think the Iranians have been trying their damndest to catch an American or three for several years now. They've offered bounties, there was a kidnap attempt a month or so ago that went side-wise, and there has been at least one ambush on the Iranian border of American troops that appeared to be only for the purposes of taking away live prisoners. My feeilng is that the Iranians decided if they couldn't get an American, a Brit would probably do ... and would be easier to come by any way. I just don't see what they hope to get out of it, since so far all they've been demanding is apologies. Unless they are just stalling for time to speed along with their bomb project.

Posted by das411 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 2:58 PM

...unless they are just stalling for time to re-arm Sadr while we think the surge is succeeding...perhaps with a rather special package inside of a suitcase...

Posted by lexhamfox [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 3:31 PM

Britain can strangle Iran on its own with two submarines. One submarine kept the Argentinian fleet bottled up... two could prevent Iran from moving its oil, isolate Kharg Island, and deprive Iran of its only serious income and the engine of its already struggling economy. As Tom Clancey put it himself.. the Royal Navy Sub force is the 'one adversaries really fear.'

That kind of violent blockade should only be used as a last resort, but it would be effective. Jerry, the EU has not abandoned Britian at all in this matter and the crisis has produced rare unity among EU ministers. This will not have an impact on British participation in the EU at all and neither would a Tory election victory. As I mentioned to you in earlier comments, the British reaction will be fluid as time passes and conditions change and that is happening. Change in leadership is already on its way (not from the opposition) and the Tories would be stupid not to try to score points but for now this is the sort of situation which unites rather than divides the parties. I doubt that a strategic air campaign would lead to the release of 15 servicemen. It did not work in Lebanon and there is no reason to think it would work with Iran. The Revolutionary Guard wants a military confrontation to justify its existence and ideology... I remain convinced that the British are doing the right thing by denying them that wish and trying for a diplomatic breakthrough to secure the release of those British nationals detained illegally by the RG.

Posted by jerry [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 4:59 PM


Just returned from the Golf course I see you haven't changed much.

Yes, the EU passed a resolution of support. I am sure that frightens Iran to no end and they will be sure to surrrender now. Blair asked for more then a resolution. He wanted sanctions. Their EU partners are too greedy to give up the business. As this drags on the Tories will not sit there and support government. Remember the Labor Party supported Thatcher right up to the moment she attacked the Argentines and then criticism began. This British Governemnt cannot accept a long drawn out hostage crisis which is where this heading.

This situation is analgous to what President Jefferson faced in 1803. Britain does have the ability to strike back at Iran if they don't return the sailors. Their response can range "Chicago Rules" where the Royal Navy captures or sinks several IRGC vessels to launching a cruise missile strike aimed at destroying the Bander Abbas naval base.
Fox, I know you think your response is mature and sophisticated but I would characterize you as effete. I can't believe that you are simply naive enought to believe that diplomacy is going to solve this crisis. When Iran or their proxies kidnap people they keep them a long time. At this point it is actually irrelvent if these sailors and marines come home. What is important that Iran finally understand that it can't do this any more. Only military action of some kind will accomplish this.

Posted by Major Mike [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 5:36 PM

For all this talk of tactics, the roles of the United Nations and of alliances have not been addressed. The nations of the world have established mechanisms to deal with these sorts of situations. They fund them, and staff them, and debate in them. Why can they never be used effectively? Why have a United Nations, why be constrained by it, if it never performs any useful function, if it never does the paramount thing it was established to accomplish?
This British-Iranian issue is one of a long series. During the Rwanda genocide, the UN was impotent. Nothing could be done by the UN to stop or even slow the slaughter in Bosnia. How much serial failure does it take before the world realizes it has no effective mechanism for achieving and maintaining world peace?
The European Union does nothing, because they know there is nothing they can do effectively without the United States. Since the EU has spent years vilifying the United States as the number one threat to world peace, even they are not hypocritical enough to call on the US to bail them out now.
Tony Blair now looks like an articulate Jimmy Carter. If he still has any of the sense that Carter never had, he will enlist the US in taking effective military action against strategic Iranian installations.
Or hope that the British shame doesn't last 444 days. Since there will be a national election soon, whoever wins in Britain will have to take immediate, satisfactory action, and it will end then.
Inaction only benefits the Iranians, as each day they demonstrate the weakness of the UN and western alliances, and add to British shame.

Posted by lexhamfox [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 6:15 PM

"At this point it is actually irrelvent if these sailors and marines come home."

I would disagree with you on that Jerry and I would also disagree with the assertion of others that having the crisis unfold as it has benefits the Iranian regime. The Iranian public are not burning the UK Embassy or firing shots as they have in the past and there is not a huge groundswell of local support for this action by Iran within Iran as there has in past instances. The British and European public are quite rightly incensed by the letters and videos being churned out of Tehran and that flow mysteriously halted today and there is evidence that some sort of dialogue on their fate is opening up with the exchange of position letters. I would not suggest ruling anything out in the future if their situation deteriorates but I think diplomacy is still the right option at this stage to foster some positive responses from the Iranians and see if level heads in Iran can prevail over those who seek confrontation. No one has offered any evidence that a strategic bombing campaign or retalitory strike would produce any better results. Again I ask... did the Israelis get their soldiers back after bombing Lebanon? Do you think Hezbollah would refrain from kidanpping another Israeli soldier given the chance? Do you think that the Israeli campaign helped or hindered the position of Hezbollah in Lebanon... did it garner any sympathy for their cause?

I'm hoping that the servicement can be returned without shots being fired. Giving the diplomatic approach more time does not preclude being able to choose more robust military efforts later. Firing off a few cruise missiles now would preclude the diplomatic effort, however, and make the chance of a safe return for those innocent servicemen more remote. I care about their fate and safe return even if you think it does not matter but perhaps that is because I can imagine myself in their shoes given the time I have spent enjoying the effete lifestyle in Lympstone and Dartmoor with the USMC on exchange and team building programs.

Winston would have approved of what has been done thus far and a further period of 'jaw jaw' remains preferable to war right now but not under any circumstance as I have said several times in earlier posts.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 8:55 PM

Diplomacy is not new to American waters.

It took 40 years, in the beginning ... until James Monroe's 2nd term. To attack from "The Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli." And, yes. It was expensive!

Fearing "expense," when Jefferson was president, he cut the ribbons from under the US Navy; and agreed to pay more in tribute. It's not as if the arabs have to lean any new lessons, here, ya know?

And, untested? How "good" would Blair be IF we do go and attack iran? Should we be doing so within the next week, what do you think the President will present to the People? Since it won't come without some sort of "speech."

And, I doubt he'd hang his decision on what's going on with the Brits. And, their hostages. Considering iran has tried and FAILED at capturing AMericans! (Here? The "fight" was hidden from your view.) The pentagon has reported little. And, one of the things our troops in Iraq have learned, is to SHUT UP. Shutting up seems to be a military tactic.

Read it as you will.

IF America moves on iran? The subject won't be "hostages." Hostages are turned into barter by the arabs. And, all the diplomatic kletptomaniacs that join them. They keep setting "prices." Hoping they get to carry the suitcases. Where some of the money runs off.

No matter what happens, Blair won't be happy. Isn't happy. And, isn't much of a friend.

And, the reasons the Brits have done so poorly, here; is that they have no bargaining chips! Even as the distress signals went out! And, you have to imagine that the 15 sailors sent them. There was an overhead helicopter, which you can see, hovers on the tapes the iranians have released.

So far? These are the situations WITHOUT FIRE POWER, where the "assymetrical sllim have an advantage.

What is unknown? What does the "advantage mean?"

Did Blair, for instance, try to coax Bush into giving up the 5 iranian hostages? You can't say yes. Or. No. Because you don't know.

You also don't know if pelosi's trip to damascus is nothing but a waste of time.

Condi's trips, so far, are just that. And, the president still likes her.

"Coming home," as some suggest, isn't on this president'a agenda. He even knows he has a problem.

What you don't see? (Which is the only way you could read between the lines, anyway), is that no one is yet campaigning against Bush.

No one is setting out a counter position.

And, pelosi's trip? You think it counts? She just went home, to San Francisco, where Code Pink met her with their own "street scene." A few people. A few mattresses. And, a giant, ten foot, Port-a-potty. We've seen them coming. But they don't seem surrounded by lots of folk all up in arms, joining their circus.

And, pelosi? She's in this for what it's worth to her. Which is a headline. Maybe? The president will eat those for his lunch?

Just being quiet isn't a crime.

The crime would be to do thinks like Jimmy Carter.

Bush didn't come into office with much of a popular vote. But he's not alone! It's as if we have wall-to-wall weak people in government roles. How did they get there? We elected them. They stay. Until they leave.

How they play the game? History will look at these junior leaguers. And, comment.

Meanwhile? Israel's military, along with their politicians, saw Lebanon last summer. Shrugged. Did their best to extract a price for taking two prisoners. And, for all you know? This lesson got knocked home.

The real shift in iran will come when it becomes obvious to the iranians. Who live in fears of their own military. That they're scared by a bunch of guys in pantaloons.

You think it's the centrifuges that are the "most" vunerable? You'd be surprised.

And, none of us know if Bush is willing to shake, rattle, and roll. Hard to guess what he'll do. Except to say that he wants a better outcome than befell Jimmy Carter.

Posted by The Cannuck [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 9:43 PM

I'm with a short negotiation and then a deadline and then :
Take out their fuel supply.

Wait a week, and then take out selected pieces of their navy.

Wait a week and keep nailing them a small piece at a time.
Iran can't do much in return except be humiliated by the Little Satan
The Brits can do this and should do it.
Blair is leaving so what is the problem.

Posted by jerry [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 10:46 PM


I often find your tone rather condescending. You tend to put on a schoolmasterish air that is quite irritating and tells me you that you really are full of hot air.

Clearly you don’t understand something that every member of the Armed Services knows, i.e., there are circumstances when understand that your lives are forfeit and you live in a state of suspended animation. It is the only way that military personnel can get through difficult times. It is now one of those times for these fifteen men and women. I guess it something that only those of us who have served understand so I don’t expect it of you.

There is another factor that you are particularly oblivious to. As long as the British government makes a fuss over the importance of the fifteen the Iranian government knows it holds something value. Shows of concern will not get them home sooner. It will only delay any possible diplomatic solution that will lead to their release. As soon as the British Government drops its interest and takes other action Iran will be more likely to release them either after some diplomatic efforts or some measured use of force. If telegraphing your value system to a hostile negotiating partner is how you do business I would love to have you as a negotiator for the other side.

I see you quote Winston out of context. Perhaps he would prefer trying negotiations first if the act was out of character for the international actor. However, if that state had already defied the International Community, threatened the annihilation of one its neighbors, sponsored terrorism and used proxies to destabilize other nations I don’t think he would jaw jaw with that nation especially if they seized British subjects, let alone military personnel. Retribution would have swift and decisive. Trying to enlist Churchill as an ally in this situation is tantamount to claiming the contra factual position the he supported Neville Chamberlain’s approach to Nazi Germany. Iran has engaged in the kind of international behavior that can be rightly associated with Germany in the 1930s. No, Winston would long ago have said better war now when Iran is weak then later when they strong.

My suggestion of the kinds of options Britain has at its disposal was not addressed specifically to you. I was really trying to address others who commented on what actions the British Government could take if they decided on the use of force. However, I will comment on your suggestion that two submarines could enforce a blockade the way they did against the Argentine navy. If anything shows how ignorant you are of the use military force this statement does. As someone who actually has served as an officer aboard a submarine I hate to inform that submarines are a lousy platform to enforce a blockade unless all you want to do is torpedo merchant vessels. Since much of Iran’s trade moves by third party flagged vessels there is that little issue of sinking neutral ships. The reason that the submarine threat was so effective in the Falklands War was that was that Britain was at war with Argentina and was quite willing to sink their warships. The Royal Navy was not taking out merchant traffic to and from Argentina. If you want to enforce a blockade without sinking neutrals you have to it with surface ships. The Royal Navy does not have the assets to do that. It also means that RN would have to be ready to fight Iran should they choose to contest a blockade. That is not a winning position unless the United State Navy played a major role in protecting what few British ships that are available to enforce a blockade. You probably should refrain from discussing the use of military force because you obviously don’t know a lot about it.

Posted by Richard [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 5:57 AM

"I think everyone regrets that this position has arisen," British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said at a European Union summit in Bremen, Germany.

Iran does not regret this whatsover. Surely an apology by the Brits will be next.

Posted by lexhamfox [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 2, 2007 10:51 AM

Jerry, I have been polite with my comments and have very rarely labelled or scolded you so get over your irritation with my comments. I don't sneer at your point of view, I disagree with it. You, however, seem to have trouble making any comment here without incorporating some personal comment about me.

I understand very well the circumstances where servicemen are expendable (I have served myself and been on the front line more than once) and this is not one of them. I also don't see an analogy between Hitler's Germany and the Iranian Republic and think you should support that assertion rather than just put it out because I quoted Churchill.

A submarine could block off/disable Kharg Is. and submarines nowadays are capable of attacking land based facilities as well as neutral merchants. See how many tankers visit Iranian teminals when they can't insure their cargos.