Monday, June 25, 2007

"The Trouble With Blair Is That He's Terribly Good When It Isn't His Problem"

Mark Steyn remembers the June 2004 Iranian kidnapping of Royal Marines - and the national non-response :

Six Royal Marines and two Royal Navy sailors were intercepted in Iraqi waters, forcibly escorted to Iranian waters, arrested, paraded on TV blindfold, obliged to confess wrongs and recite apologies, and eventually released. Their three boats are still being held by the Iranians.

Mullahs 8, HMG nil.

The curious thing is the lion that didn't roar. Tony Blair has views on everything and is usually happy to expound on them at length - if you'd just arrived from Planet Zongo and were plunked down at a joint Blair/Bush press conference on Iraq or Afghanistan or most of the rest of the world, you'd be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the Prime Minister's doing 90 per cent of the heavy lifting and the President's just there for emergency back-up. Yet, on an act of war and/or piracy perpetrated directly against British forces, Mister Chatty is mum.

Likewise, Jack Straw. The Foreign Secretary goes to Teheran the way other Labour grandees go to Tuscany. He's got a Rolodex full of A-list imams. When in the Islamic Republic, he does that "peace be upon him" thing whenever he mentions the Prophet Mohammed, just to show he's cool with Islam, not like certain arrogant redneck cowboys we could mention. And where did all the ayatollah outreach get him? "We have diplomatic relations with Iran, we work hard on those relationships and sometimes the relationships are complicated," he twittered, "but I'm in no doubt that our policy of engagement with the Government of Iran… is the best approach."

Even odder has been the acquiescence of the press. If pictures had been unearthed of some over-zealous Guantanamo guards doing to our plucky young West Midlands jihadi what the Iranian government did on TV to those Royal Marines, two thirds of Fleet Street (including many of my Spectator and Telegraph colleagues) would be frothing non-stop.

Instead, they seem to have accepted the British spin that there's been no breach of the Geneva Conventions because the Marines and sailors weren't official prisoners of war, just freelance kidnap victims you can have what sport you wish with.

Why didn't Bush think of that one ?

What did Libby Purves say again ?

She was discussing Blair with "a friend, a retired military man of mild and amiable disposition", who told her "you see, the trouble with Tony Blair is that he's terribly good when it isn't his problem". The more Libby pondered this, the truer it seemed. She thought of his support for GWB after Sept 11, his Labour Conference speech when he abolished world poverty, saved Africa, built the New Jerusalem and caused the lion to lie down with the lamb, the graceful way he dealt with Prescott's pugilism - when the problem wasn't his he was assured and competent. She thought then of the fuel protests and his dealings with Sinn Fein/IRA over decommissioning, concluding that the only time he dithers is exactly when he shouldn't - when the buck stops on his desk.

We Bush warmongers have grown fond of Mr Blair: often, he's a better salesman for American policy than the President. But in the Shatt al-Arab incident for once he was on his own, and Britain's Number One seed was unable to return a single volley. Iran is emboldened, and that's bad news for everyone else.


Iconoclast said...

Blair is simply Kinnock with a more acceptable form of windy rhetoric. Kinnock was Grammar School, Blair was public school and as a Scotsman he knew how to snow the British with uplifting bilge.

Give the British an endless supply of credit and celebrities to make them feel good about their mediocrity and you have a winning formula. Blair did.

Anonymous said...

I have finally reached a conclusion about the Liberal Left and their peculiar support of Palestinians, Iran and immigration.

They, it seems, are the worst racists of all. Far from believing we are all pretty much the same under the skin, the Liberal Left has decided that non-Westerners are simply mentally retarded. However, they have not gone on to decide that the posturings of Iranians, Palestinians, radical Muslims and the like should be treated with contempt. On the contrary, they should be treated with compassion - even love. After all, isn't due to the mistakes of the (right-wing) West that these people are mentally deficient?

So come to Britain, mentally deficient foreigners. It is the fault of our right-wing ancestors that your countries are a mess, so it is only right that you come to Britain and seek revenge by blowing us all up on tube trains.

Fine - but could you please start in Hampstead?

alex zeka said...

An emboldened Iran is not bad news if you think that the cause of peace in the ME might be assisted by conditions of MAD.

verity said...

I'm with Alex Zecka. Iran couldn't use nuclear weapons against us because it doesn't have the technology and once they plod their way towards getting it, we'll be another 20 light years ahead of them. So I can see that it might control the Middle East, and that doesn't bother me a bit. The Iranians are more intelligent than the Arabs and eons ahead of the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

Anonymous said...

In five to ten years they will have the technology to hit UK cities with nuclear weapons. In what way will we be "20 light years" ahead of them? Would we be able to stop them? No.

Anonymous said...

The Traffic Taleban are at it again in North Wales:

Just savour the arrogance of their reply (bottom of the article). Brilliant - they falsely seize someone's property, charge them over £100 to have it returned and then blithely say "see you in court".

verity said...

Anonymous - are you saying that within five to ten years we won't be able to disable a nuclear delivery in space? Even guide it back and explode it over the dispatching country?

Well, maybe as we're mired in the EU and apparently waste billions of pounds of taxpayer money housing and feeding unwanted detritus from Stone Age countries, we might not. But the Americans will. We might be able to scrape up the funds to rent a system for a week or so.

Voyager said...

if you think that the cause of peace in the ME might be assisted by conditions of MAD.

The doctrine only worked with the Russians a) because they are ches-playing rationalists b) because they had experienced what the Wehrmacht had done to their country

Mao Zedong always used to boast about his country surviving a nuclear war......those who are irrational are not deterred by MAD - the Iranian fanatics might even welcome it

Anonymous said...

They win both ways - they get free food and they'll be able to sue the government for force feeding them "evil" food.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous - are you saying that within five to ten years we won't be able to disable a nuclear delivery in space? Even guide it back and explode it over the dispatching country?"

Even with a massive increase in funding the technology to do that even half-reliably is way, way in the future. Trying to stop one missile travelling at 400, 500mph is extremely difficult - stopping 10, 20 will be impossible. Ahmedinajad only has to be lucky once.

Anyway, why bother firing a missile into space? If you have a nuclear bomb with a firing mechanism it doesn't have to be delivered by missile. Do you reckon our border controls will stop every van or lorry driving into the country? If you have 5,000 packets of ciggarettes or 500 litres of beer I think your chances of being caught at Dover are pretty high. A suitcase nuke, though, well that's a different matter.

verity said...

Well, you are right, Anonymous 10:05 a.m. The only hope would be if the suitcase were labelled "Dutiable goods inside".

Dave said...

Can't agree, Tony Blair is not good on anything.
He may sometimes make some good speaches but without the corresponding actions following it up they're worthless.

alex zeka said...

"The doctrine only worked with the Russians a) because they are ches-playing rationalists b) because they had experienced what the Wehrmacht had done to their country"

Presumably, the Iranians are swivelly-eyed maniacs, who find the concept of "me shoot, they shoot back, bad for me" way, way too complicated.

I don't swallow this for one minute, MAD is not chess, it is a game with just one choice (attack or not attack) with one of the choices leading to nigh on certain destruction. You don't need to be a strategic, chess-playing genius or to have personally exerienced warfare in order to know what choice to make there.

Quite apart from anything else, the only reason it worked vis-a-vis the USSR's politically-appointed, purged, corrupt, geriatric military command was precisely because of its glorious simplicity. The Soviet generals were every bit as ideologically-blinkered as Islamist Iranians (at least the Iranians only want to blow up Israel, the Soviets wanted to bury the entire West!), and were probably quite a bit drunker.

The reason it worked with the USSR, and the reason it will work with Iranians no matter the intellectual and personal inadequacies of either set of leaders, is that the MAD game has only one right answer. It's gloriously easy to solve for anyone who wants to still be alive in the morning. Even Islamists are susceptable, as after an exchange between Iran and Israel (say) the Great Satan will still exist, while Iran will be no more.

As long as the Iranians think there's some worth to their own existence, MAD will apply.

Anonymous said...

Alex Zeka

The problem is, Iran will not (or probably will not) fire a missile directly at Israel. They operate in the shadows; they kill without their fingerprints on the weapon (and even when they are, the West pretends not to notice).

No, the destruction of Israel will come from a nuclear weapon smuggled into the country via a proxy group.