"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fuming against the Fars

Thus far, the only punishment Iran has suffered over its abduction of 15 British marines and sailors has been rhetorical. Britain has denounced the act as "illegal" and "completely unacceptable", but has yet to do anything to make the situation more acceptable for Britain and her soldiers, and far less for the Revolutionary Guard and Iran's leaders. Right now, like the rest of the world, I'm waiting to see how this plays out. Few in the West, I'm sure, buy into the various letters and confessions released by Iranian officials on behalf of the kidnapped servicemen. Anyone who lived through the Iranian hostage crisis of '79-80, or who's read Mark Bowden's Guests of the Ayatollah, can recall similar confessions and letters supposedly from the American prisoners, and knows that they were either coerced or fabricated. Nor, in this age of GPS, does anyone truly believe that the British were off-course (equally laughable is that Iran originally agreed on the sailors' coordinates, then when shown they were within Iraqi waters, changed them to a location more amenable to their charges, as shown above). So we're all pretty much agreed that Iran's in the wrong on this one. Next question: what will Britain, Europe, and the West in general do about it?

Answer so far: fume, fume, and fume some more. Maybe, with enough fuming, the British population will overheat, raise the earth's temperatures to intolerable levels, melt the ice caps, and wash Iran away with a second Great Flood. Just give the Brits a few hundred thousands years, and boy, will they teach Iran a lesson it will never forget. Until then, Britain will . . . what? Freeze bilateral relations? OOOOOOOOOOO!!! Write a note? In the words of Hans Blix of Team America fame: "We will be very angry with you . . . and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are." Which Britain has done, though it's hardly a very angry letter. It claims "everyone regrets" that this situation has arisen, and then humbly asks where the hostages are and begs access to them. Well, it's a crock that everyone regrets this. Iran sure doesn't; right now members of the Revolutionary Guard, religious leaders, and Mad Mahmoud are toasting and congratulating each other on just how right they were about the weakness of the West. The European Union is acting like this is just a big
misunderstanding, like those wacky crossed wires the U.S. and the Iranian Republic had for 444 days, or that crazy and oddly similar situation back in 2004 where we all had a good laugh afterwards. Those cute Iranian radicals, seems they can't even wake up in the morning without accidentally kidnapping foreign nationals or defying international bodies.

Or perhaps it's less a misunderstanding than Iran's bang-on assessment of the West's current
character. It's a character that used to be strong, but has slowly chipped away in the years immediately following World War II. Oh, there have been a few leaders and events along the way that appeared to halt, or at least slow, this decline; but these days, it's ridiculous to expect any European nation to react with the resolve of a Margaret Thatcher to a transgression against its people. I think we'll see this farce play out for a long time, and will be surprised if it ends in anything but a humiliating self-debasement by Britain to retrieve its people. Perhaps, with a last gasp of backbone, Tony Blair will send in the SAS and effect a stunning rescue; or, teamed with American forces, British Tornadoes will bomb the hell out of Natanz and/or Kharg Island and make life unacceptable for the Iranian regime for a change. I'm not holding my breath. I pray that all the captive Brits are returned quickly and unharmed to their families; and I hope that, if so much as one hair on their heads is harmed, the West can find enough gumption to tell Iran that it has finally gone too far, and actually DO something to back it up. A JDAM through Mahmoud's window would be a nice start.

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