Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tweaking The Mangy Lion's Tail

Mr Miliband said: "This is a human story of five young yachtsmen. It's got nothing to do with politics, it's got nothing to do with nuclear enrichment programmes... it has no relationship to any of the other, bigger issues."

Mr Miliband does what he's best at, back-pedalling. Is this the same chap who only the other day was telling the Pakistani government and military what 'we want' them to do ?

Either Tehran can decide to play the incident down and let the sailors go, or it could turn this into a full blown diplomatic crisis.

Note that it's all about what Iran's likely to do. We're just prisoners of events. Doubtless if Iran get stroppy we'll huff and puff for domestic consumption then resume backpedalling. It's what we do.

When Gordon Brown asked the Libyans to be discreet about the release of Abdel Bassets Allsorts (you know, the convicted Lockerbie bomber with only three months to live) in August, Gaddafi arranged a huge welcome party at the airport complete with Scottish flags, an event shown on TV world wide. Brown's response to this humiliation was to cancel a visit by the Duke of York !

This isn't something that just started on Gordon Brown's watch. Mark Steyn on the last Iranian hostage crisis in 2004 - or was it the last-but-two or three ? I think the last one was two years ago, when I was in the States.

Britain's boys got hijacked and taken on a classic Rogue State bender. And the version being broadcast throughout the Muslim world is that Teheran swatted the infidel and got away with it.

That's what matters: getting away with it. Do you think Mr Straw, fretting over the "complications" of Anglo-Iranian relations, will make the mullahs pay any price for what they did? And, if he doesn't, what conclusions do you think the Islamic Republic will draw from its artful test of Western - or, at any rate, European - resolve? Right now, the British, French and Germans are making a show of getting tough on Iran's nuclear ambitions. Is that "tough" as in "Go ahead, imam, make my day"? Or is it "tough" as in that official's "one-way conversation"? Just a bit of diplo-bluster. If you were the mullahs, you might well conclude that the Europeans don't mean it, that they've decided they can live with a nuclear Iran, and you might as well go full speed ahead.

A nuclear Iran is a lot closer now.


dr cromarty said...

Every time this happens, close down a Shia mosque - one for each captive.

Do it on some spurious health-and-safety grounds so they can't go squealing to the ECHR. Do it every time something like this happens.


Weekend Yachtsman said...

What would Palmerston have done?

The answer is that the matter would not have arisen: they wouldn't have dared try it, for fear of what Palmerston might do.

Is the world a better place as a result? Discuss.

Mark said...

If a nuclear Iran is getting closer (and this specific incident isn't much of a guide after all), it'll be mainly because the Chinese (and not just the Russians) decide to tweak the bald Eagle's crown (to borrow your imagery). As of now, they look the least likely Security Council member to back hard sanctions against Iran.

Between now and 11 December, both the US and China will address the 15-judge International Court of Justice at the Hague on the question of Kosovo, and the legality of that entities 'independence'. The arguments put by both countries will be miles apart. If the Americans go into a sulk over this, I think the odds on getting the Chinese (and Russians)on board for more anti Iran sanctions will get even longer.