...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

April 04, 2007

Capitulation Works

I suppose we should all be happy that the crisis over the kidnapped Royal Marines looks like it's coming to a peaceful end. But something doesn't feel right about the way this thing has turned out.

I mean, Britain was patrolling the Gulf for a reason, right? And whether the Marines were kidnapped outside of Iranian waters or inside, the Iranians have quite forcefully demonstrated their power to win a showdown, anytime, anywhere.

The British could have won this confrontation, gaining the marines' release, without showing the world what a bunch of groveling patsies they've become. But instead, they've given the world another reason for a false hope: that you can deal with the Iranians as long as you avoid making them mad.

And don't think I'm letting President Bush off lightly in my scorn. Sure he talked tough while it was the Brits in captivity. But this administration has done nothing except pusue diplomatic impotence, while the Iranians built more centrifuges, and yanked our chains. Where is the Iranian Lech Walensa? Where is the Iranian Solidarity movement? Does anyone think the Iron Curtain fell on its own? We pushed it over. Reagan pushed it over. The means he used weren't always open and obvious, but by this time in Reagan's second term, we could see the effects. I've been hearing about Iranian dissidents and how sick the people are of the mullahs for years now. If that's so true, we should be seeing some actual dissent over there, demonstrations, labor strikes. Again I ask, where are President Bush and Secretary Rice on this issue?

Great Britain just made the likelihood of eventual military confrontation between Iran and the West more likely. What are we doing to prevent it by toppling the dictatorship before that happens?

Update: A comment by Cruiser at The Belmont Club made the following very cogent point:

We always hear that acting aggressively towards Iran shores-up the hardliners. This is an good example of why the opposite can be true.
Cruiser reacts at his own blog, here.

Update 2: In 2005, after the London bombings, I asked, "Where is this Britiain?" I'm now sure of the answer. It no longer exists. Blair has made a mockery of James Thomson's stirring poem, and it should never be sung again, except in sarcasm.

Yes the Britain of Lord Nelson is dead. And so is the Britain of Lord Churchill who, in 1940, said:

[B]e the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parley; we may show mercyŚwe shall ask for none.
Yes, that Britain is dead as dead can be. Mourn it.

Posted by annika, Apr. 4, 2007 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


Wait... Anni, I don't get you here. The Iranian's are getting jack s*** for releasing the sailors. The most concrete thing they've received is a formal letter from Britan promising "not to violate Iranian waters". Which is pretty much akin to telling a fish not to swim out of water; the Brit's never violated Iranian territory, and saying they won't do so in the future is merely saying "continue on as before". In return, the British were able to keep negotiations private, wasn't forced to grovel, upstaged the UN for their US allies (anyone remember that the Brits were there under "UN" auspices?).

The Iranian's get to pat themselves on the back in the media with their condescending remarks about "proper" negotiating stances, but if that and the letter is all they get for releasing the sailors, they get practically nothing. They've not dissuaded the UN to reconsider the nuclear sanctions. They've definitely not gotten their "diplomats" (*cough*) from Irbil back. And they've proven to the US Navy that they're willing to take actions outside their own waters, which just provides the US Navy cover to be more aggressive about defending itself if approached by armed Iranians. If said Iranians try to pull this stunt now, on the US navy, they'll get a whole lot of gunfire in return, and the US will have a ready-made justification handed to them on a silver platter by the Iranians ("They captured the Brits before; that's why we were on such a high state of alert. Sorry about sinking their ships and killing their personnel, but they shouldn't have come at us with weapons. Next question...").

The Iranian's blew their wad and got nothing concrete in return. The most they can claim is a slight publicity victory, and even that's lame, given the fact the US is holding 300+ Iranians involved in combat in Iraq. They come off as hypocrites in crying about a handful of Brits in a peaceful area when they've been caught red-handed with so many of their own personnel assisting insurgents in combat areas.

I don't see how this is any sort of real victory for the Iranians. To me, they backed down before something bad was inflicted on them, and they're trying to cover their caving with talk of "gifts" to Britan and other condescensions. That's the attitude of a loser, not a winner.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus on Apr. 4, 2007

I don't think we can really draw parallels between the Cold War and the post Cold War. When Communism was run out of Eastern Europe, some (not all) of the countries DID become more democratic, more capitalistic, and more easily integratable into the world community. Yet the governments that have been overthrown in the Middle East have not followed the same script. The overthrow of the Shah in Iran led to the current regime, and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein is going to result in a dictatorship (or perhaps three separate dictatorships). And I can just imagine what would happen if the Saudi government were overthrown; I don't think we're going to get a multi-party, multi-religious haven of freedom if THAT happens. And don't even mention the overthrow of Rhodesia.

The successful transitions in Poland and South Africa resulted from (1) having a well-defined oppposition that was poised to take over, and (2) having a ruling government that was eventually willing to assist in the transition.

Posted by: Ontario Emperor on Apr. 4, 2007

Just read ElMondo's comment, and I respectfully disagree. 25+ years ago, when the Iranians took hostages in the past, they were condemned as a rogue regime outside of the community of nations. They gain a TON of good PR in the world just by acting reasonably.

The next time there's a confrontation between the West and Iran, significant parts of the world will shout, "Hey, why are you picking on Iran? They let the sailors play chess and then released them. How can you call them a rogue regime, you fascist cowboys?"

Posted by: Ontario Emperor on Apr. 4, 2007

Mondo, you're not one of those who thinks Israel "won" against Hezbollah last summer too?

Emperor, of course I'm not making a comparison to say that the situations are identical or that the same thing that happened in the 80's would work in Iran. For one thing, we had a polish pope back then, but there's no comparable guy who can influence Iranians religiously. But my point is that I am seeing nothing, NOTHING happening over there. As in Iraq, Bush is making the mistake of thinking he has all the time in the world. Pursue diplomacy, then if that don't work, go to the next step? Isolation? ooooh scary, isolation. as if they care. We should be multitasking this problem, especially since anybody with a brain knows the Iranians won't respond to diplomacy. They don't think we have anything to offer them worth negotiating for.

Posted by: annika on Apr. 4, 2007

If anything the Iranians are practically being hailed as heroes for releasing hostages by the Left-wing MSM. Listening to CNN, you'd never know that the Iranians commited an act of war. And for that act, there was absolutely zero response. The European West is comprised of effete socialists who haven't the moral or physical courage to stand up for themselves. (But, hey, no worries they are really, really worried about "global warming." Gee, I feel safer already.)

And, I have to disagree with ElMondoHummus: the Iranians did win something here. First of all, they won big monetarily with the price of oil increasing during the stand-off. And they proved - yet again - that they can do anything they like and the West will piss itself out of fear before actually responding. They made the Brits and the West look like fools.

The Midget and the mullahs wins that round.

Posted by: blu on Apr. 4, 2007

Given the current rigime, war with Iran is inevitble. The question is where and when. I'd say over the Iraq/Iran border, because they will never stop meddling, sometime in the Guliani or Gingrich administration.

Posted by: Casca on Apr. 4, 2007

Why not make a parking lot of them now?

Posted by: shelly on Apr. 4, 2007

"They gain a TON of good PR in the world just by acting reasonably."

In turn, respectfully disagree sir. First of all, they didn't act "reasonably"; threatening to charge a uniformed member of a nation's military with espionage, especially when carrying out a UN mission, is the furthest thing from being reasonable. And then suddenly letting them go without carrying through on the threat, but trumpeting how they could but they choose not to? That's the act of someone scared of keeping the sailors, not the act of someone confident they had the upper hand. If they were seriously concerned, they wouldn't have let them go for nothing. By turning them loose, they admitted how weak their hand was. Remember, they got no deflection from the UN sanctions, nor did they get the return of the supposed Irbil "diplomats" (expertise: Diplomatically training bombmakers). They got jack in return. And Great Britan didn't even threaten them with anything other than negotiations. England played their hand in a surprisingly weak, pissy way, and Iran still gave the sailors up. What does it say about Iran that they let the sailors go with no more than a finger-wag from the Brits?

"The next time there's a confrontation between the West and Iran, significant parts of the world will shout, "Hey, why are you picking on Iran? They let the sailors play chess and then released them. How can you call them a rogue regime, you fascist cowboys?""

Pffft... the idiots will say that anyway. Nothing that Iran does or does not do, or more pertinently, what Great Britan does or does not do, will change the idiot parade's predictable chant. Plus, I don't see them getting any more than an ounce of good PR from this. Everyone knows that right before the kidnappings, the UN sanctioned their nuke program. Who isn't going to put 2 and 2 together? Only the ones that wouldn't agree with the US or UK on anything anyway. Screw those guys. Everyone else sees the power play, and the attempt to deflect. Iran's being terribly transparent here.

I see what you're trying to say, Ontario, I just don't think it applies here.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus on Apr. 4, 2007

Anni: No, I don't, but the Israel/Hezbollah situation is entirely different. Both of them somehow managed to lose, which before last summer, I never would've thought was possible. Plus, international pressure and that UN deadline was what got Hez to stop shooting rockets and Israel to withdraw. Contrast that to Iran, which just unilaterally dumped off the sailors. They basically gave up without getting anything real in return.

Again, Britan played weak, but the Iranians somehow ended up playing weaker. They didn't even try to string the situation out. They just let the sailors go. That's not a power play.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus on Apr. 4, 2007

WHAT???!! Wait... whoa... this changes everything!:


"Another Iranian diplomat, captured in Baghdad two months ago, has apparently been released. At the time of his abduction, the diplomat's captors were described as "unifomed gunmen," although their identity was never officially disclosed. A senior Iraqi government official told the Associated Press that his country's intelligence service was holding the diplomat, who was set free this morning"

Okay, if the sailor release was a quid pro quo for releasing the "diplomat" (if anyone believes it's really a diplomat), then scratch everything I said. Because if the US released a prisoner for the British hostages, then the Iranian's did get something in return. And that does give them a victory.

And it's made me mad on top of that. If that is indeed related, then I'm steaming pissed. You never, never pay the Danegeld, because once you do, you never get rid of the Dane.

That better not be related. Else the US and GB were the ones doing the caving.

Anni, Ontario, Blu: If that link is accurate, I may have to hand this one to you guys. My whole argument was predicated on Iran getting nothing in return. This has the potential to undo that.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus on Apr. 4, 2007

looks like you found the Turkish missiles, Mondo.

Posted by: annika on Apr. 4, 2007

Here is Iran's real objective: http://patdollard.com/2007/03/25/leverage/

Here is another take on it: http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/07/front2454186.013888889.html

And here is a little better summation of it all: http://patdollard.com/2007/04/04/told-you-so/

Posted by: Joatmoaf on Apr. 4, 2007


Of course capitulation works;how else does any woman catch a man?

My father used to say "I chased her and chased her until she caught me".

Posted by: shelly on Apr. 4, 2007

Roach made an interesting entry on "Fourth Generation" Warfare, not long ago.

I also liked Glaivester's comment there:

As William Lind pointed out, there is a way for nation-states to defeat fourth generation warfare with second generation techniques (the nuke suggestion).

The problem, of course, is that second generation techniques and superior technology can only defeat fourth generation enemies by engaging in macro-terrorism (i.e. raze cities to the ground until everyone submits, and respond to "parallel structures" by savage retaliation [any soldier of ours killed, we will kill 1000 people in the area, including, if we can find who they are, the attackers' entire family]).

Hopefully, the West will only have to lose 25,000 more of its citizens in a single attack before getting pissed enough at the Muslim world to put Lind's remedies into action.

If there is a war against Iran, it better be a "scorched earth" campaign that would make Sherman proud. No more of this nation-building and peacekeeping bullshit for our troops. To Hell with them...

Posted by: reagan80 on Apr. 4, 2007

As you know, Reagan, I've blogged several times on the fourth generation warfare problem. Your solution, while sounding attractive, is impractical because no civilized nation would threaten such a thing, and the plan doesn't work unless there's advanced notice. No, the only solution is to force the enemy into a conventional war, where we can master them. Or, as I have posited, and which is far more likely, to wait for the enemy to become so powerful that they make the mistake of taking us on in conventional warfare. Until then, despite the imbalance in power in our favor, we in the west will continue to grovel bow and scrape before our inferiors riding camels.

Posted by: annika on Apr. 4, 2007

I figured Ahmagetajob wasn't going to do anything. No matter what they say, I don't think they're dumb enough to think they could do something to those soldiers without repercussions, especially when our military forces are right there in their neighborhood.

Posted by: Joules on Apr. 4, 2007

Yes, I remember you mentioning 4GW before, and I probably posted the same Derb link then, as well.

"because no civilized nation would threaten such a thing"

I'm afraid you might be right about that, but I can still dream, can't I?

Another idea would be to outsource our war against Iran to the Chinese. After we topple the regime, tell the PLA that they can have complete control over Iran's oil reserves if only they'd supply the manpower to keep the locals and jihadists in check(Tiananmen-style, if necessary) on our behalf. We'd even provide them the logistics support and air/sea transportation to get their troops into the theater.

The Chi-Coms would get their oil and lebensraum while we can wash our hands of Iran after stopping their nuclear program. Our troops wouldn't be dying from a post-invasion occupation and the Chinese won't care about suffering casualties since they want to control their own population's growth anyway(via mandatory abortions). Another fringe benefit of this expedition would include giving Chinese men a chance to find a woman.

Sure, I might be channeling General Ripper now, but it won't sound so crazy as time goes on.

Posted by: reagan80 on Apr. 4, 2007

Shit, is Bill Lind still alive?

So how do you think that Sharafi fellow liked the waterboard? If we sent him back, we must have turned him. If we didn't turn him, we'll make them think that we did, mwahahahaha, win-win.

Posted by: Casca on Apr. 4, 2007

Anni, I agree completely with your implied strategic and tactical recommendation, which you've mentioned in the past as well.

Posted by: will on Apr. 5, 2007

I don't think I disagree with anything you have to say, Anni, except that Winston never actually got around to accepting a peerage (he was supposedly leaning towards taking the title Duke of London).

Posted by: Leif on Apr. 5, 2007

Still steaming... that better not have been related.

But I'm not finding anything to the contrary. Which pisses me off. There's no reason to negotiate with thuggery.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus on Apr. 5, 2007

On the 25th anniversary of the Falklands Islands recapture.. interesting contrast for the Royal Navy...

Posted by: Col Steve on Apr. 6, 2007

They got lucky in the Falklands. If the Argies had any starch in their shorts at all, they'd have kicked the Brits collective ass. A great example of how leadership and morale can carry the day. The weaker force had it. The Argies... not so much.

It's dismaying to hear a Royal Marine Captain explain how he folded his hand instead of holding his bluff. We'll have to see how the next hand gets played.

Posted by: Casca on Apr. 6, 2007