Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gosh, Now They Need American Might

The Iranian hostage crisis redux shows what happens when America isn't flexing its muscle.

As this article points out, the options are few for the British.

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.

advertisementWashington 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, indeed, things would have been different if the Iranians had kidnapped Americans. That's exactly why the Iranians didn't kidnap Americans. As Captain Ed points out, had the Iranians captured American soldiers, diplomacy would have been given hours, not days, to work, followed by bombing of strategic sites, particularly their nuclear facilities, until the soldiers were given back. But the British aren't going to unleash their military power (such as it is) on the Iranians. They haven't the ability to do so alone, and as the recent tepid condemnation from the U.N. shows, getting anything stronger from that all-important international body (when Russia and China are so interdependent with Iran) is virtually impossible.

According to the article's author, Thomas Harding, the British have several options, but none are palatable, and none of them will work unless the Americans climb onboard.

More from Captain Ed:
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.

It's sad to say that one could see this one coming from a mile away, but one actually could. And regardless of what America does, we will be the problem, I'm sure.