Friday, March 30, 2007

Happy Persian New Year, Iran

Earlier today, the European Union spoke out against the Islamic Republic of Iran, warning that if the British captives being held by the Iranians weren't released, Brussels would take "appropriate measures".

You ask me, the only "appropriate measure" in response to an act of war like this is, well, a reciprocal act of war. It doesn't have to be of Biblical proportions; nor does it require collateral damage, a mass of Iranian civilians killed. Sure, Iranian soldiers will die if straight-up military action is taken - but hey, since the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and rogue Iranian government got us into this mess in the first place, I'll leave the shedding of tears over that to bleeding-heart appeasers and seekers of dhimmitude.

Far from this being another seemingly random act of extremism by an extremist regime, this was a cold, calculated decision by Tehran. Iran sees the deck stacked against it, and is calling our bluff. If this hostage situation ends without any Iranian blood spilled - literally or figuratively - that massive demonstration earlier this week of American naval power will be seen in retrospect as nothing more than an empty show of power.

We - the opponents of Iran - own the moral high ground. We own the legal high ground, too. Not only did Iran violate Iraqi territorial waters to kidnap sailors operating under a U.N. mandate in cooperation with the Iraqi government, but the way the Iranians showcased the people they snagged while carrying out their act of war could - according to this report - be violating the Geneva Conventions.

Britain need not launch an all-out air campaign on the Islamic Republic of least, not yet. Iran is well-known as an oil exporter, but the country imports something like 40% of its own gas supplies. An embargo, a blockade to cut off petrol supplies, would hurt. Think about how an already restless populace would react to that.

Though it might seem like just another in a long line of confrontations with Iran, I think we're at an important crossroads of history here. There's a lot that can be done; there's a lot that should be done. When the Iranian-backed Hizballah crossed over into Israel last summer and kidnapped soldiers, Israel's response led to what is now officially being called the Second Lebanon War.

Within 24 hours of the kidnapping, Israeli warplanes were already over Beirut, and were bombing Hizballah positions in south Lebanon. In the end, though, that war ended in failure - those Israeli soldiers are still being held hostage, and there may be cause to doubt whether they are alive or not (Hizballah hasn't been parading them around on TV, so we don't really know).

Lest you think Iran wasn't directly involved then despite their public support of the Party of God, the Israelis managed to kill a number of Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon.

If we think of this as a boxing match, that was round one.

What we're seeing play out now is round two.

I understand why the British have not already acted to destroy the Iranian air force, and get the rationale for their delaying the scuttling of the Iranian navy. Whereas given the neighborhood it's in, Israeli restraint in such circumstances could prove suicidal, the United Kingdom has been able to take the time to build up support for military action that may in the end be necessary.

Despite my "understanding", I still think that Her Majesty's Government has been foolish not to make felt, unambiguously, it's anger. This farce has been allowed to go on for too long. I'm already starting to think of Prime Minister Tony Blair, a leader I genuinely admire, as a modern-day Jimmy Carter as this plays out. Doesn't mean he can't redeem himself, and it doesn't mean I'm ignoring the domestic pressures on him.

But from what I've seen in the vast majority of opinions being expressed by Britons lately, the people want Blair to act. To show some spine when faced with a bully. To stand up to and not simply give the Iranians a good stern talking-to, but a hard slap on the wrists that'll numb the hands of the captors of their fourteen men and one woman. Lord knows, that's what I want to see happen...and then some.

Right now in Iran, they're holding extensive celebrations marking the Persian New Year.

If we get the chance, I hope we can contribute something in the way of an impressive fireworks display before it ends.

Click here for a funny, related Onion article from some time ago:

"Bush Announces Iraq Exit Strategy: 'We'll Go Through Iran'"

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