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What next, Mr Blair?

How should we assess Britain’s success in its diplomatic efforts to release the hostages? Iran, more bellicose and intransigent, is now determined to use them as predigree prisoners for propaganda purposes and possibly put them on show-trials. The key to success is acquiring more levers to influence Iranian behaviour and exact a price for their actions.

Britain cannot bring military force to bear, due to the underfunding of our armed forces. We are unable to acquire a united diplomatic front following the debacle at the United Nations. Our sailers’ plight will not be met with a range of new sanctions. At a meeting of foreign ministers in Europe, there was strong condemnation on the bogpaper press release that all such meetings issue. None of the Member States were willing to entertain the notion of real action: freezing export credit guarantees to Iran. Let us hear their reasons for turning their back on their ally:

EU foreign ministers meeting in Germany called for the sailors to be freed but ruled out any tightening of lucrative export credit rules. The EU is Iran’s biggest trading partner. British officials are understood to have taken soundings on economic sanctions before the meeting but found few takers.

France, Iran’s second-largest EU trading partner, cautioned that further confrontation should be avoided. The Dutch said it was important not to risk a breakdown in dialogue.

Republicans in DC have rightly branded the government’s dependence on international law and sanctions as “pathetic“. Rightly, in this instance. The government prefers to maintain its reputation for upholding international law and ruling out other strategies that could exert greater influence in Iran, such as interdicting their oil trade. Blair’s prissiness in holding the moral high ground is achieved by making all the right noises and going through the (bowel) motions. Yet, after the EU and the UN, the cupboard is bare. What next, Mr Blair?

43 comments to What next, Mr Blair?

  • John

    Blair should offer an apology through the UN to secure their release. As soon as the servicemen are free he should issue another statement revoking his apology.
    The Royal Navy should then mine all Iranian ports and destroy Iran’s major cities through the use of the Royal Navy’s cruise missiles. The British government should order the immediate construction of 5 Nimitz aircraft carriers and make all Royal Air Force Typhoons flight-deck compatible.
    The Typhoons should then systematically reduce the rest of Iran to rubble.

  • Julian Taylor

    Actually rather off-topic but in a similar vein I’m intrigued at Simon Schama’s recent interview with the Prime Minister where Blair seems drawn to make capital out of the South Atlantic campaign by making comparisons between the 266 casualties in the Falklands War and the lower losses sustained in the current Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts. Perhaps this is just another example of this sad man’s desperation to be seen as better than Margaret Thatcher at everything he does.

  • steve bowles

    Although direct military action is impossible, a naval blockade would certainly work. Give 2 weeks warning and importantly notify in advance LLoyds and the Baltic exchange that any ship entering Iranian waters will be sunk. 2 weeks is plenty of time for the insurance syndicates to cancel all insurance coverage of ships entering Iranian waters. It will be ship owners themselves that enforce the blockade.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A blockade might work. The refusal of the EU to support one of its principal members – Britain – is true evidence that our membership of that club is largely a net loss for this country. Further evidence in fact of why we should leave and opt for associate trading membership status if necessary while focussing on signing free trade deals with the Anglosphere.

    Another thing: where is the public outrage? Some of the tabloid press – the Sun – have vented on this topic, but on the whole the attitude among most of the media is one of sullen resignation. When WPC Yvonne Fletcher was gunned down by Libyan thugs in 1984, there was a mass outcry. Now the attitude seems to be that “we had this coming and should not have been there in the first place blah blah” that one might expect from the nuttier fringes of the anti-war movement, but not of most public opinion.

    And of course this tale demonstrates who weakly resourced our armed forces are. Take a look at the sort of vessels those sailors who were captured were in: rubber dinghys, for fuck’s sake.

    My tip: go very long of oil and oil-based currencies like the Norwegian kronor.

    We may have to nuke Iran within the next five years. I am quite serious, it may come to that.

  • Mac

    Anybody over there remember Mr. Churchill’s comments on a similar situation? You know, the one where he said something about Britain facing a choice between war and dishonor. IIRC, in talking about the Chamberlain government, he said. “They chose dishonor. They shall have both.”

    Some people never learn.

  • Kit

    Would anyone like to have a guess what Iran’s game plan is?

  • JP: A blockade might work. The refusal of the EU to support one of its principal members – Britain – is true evidence that our membership of that club is largely a net loss for this country. Further evidence in fact of why we should leave and opt for associate trading membership status if necessary while focussing on signing free trade deals with the Anglosphere.

    Seconded.

    I note with irritation how the EU “foreign minister” is elbowing his way into the event. I would not be at all surprised if the “price” of EU support is the yielding of authority from the F&CO to said EU minister.

  • There is public outrage, it’s just the MSM is pretending it isn’t happening.

  • Iran has regional ambitions. But to achieve them it must drive the United States from Iraq, which it reckons worth the loss of any number of Shi’ites in Iraq. The Sunni powers are cognizant of the danger, especially now that their sometime enemy and sometime bulwark Saddam is gone.

    But in reaching so far, Iran is running enormous risks. Objectively speaking America has it surrounded. With Iraq to the West, Afghanistan to the East and the USN to the South, Iran is effectively ringed. Totally outgunned. But altering the balance in Iran’s favor is the American antiwar movement which nullifies the entire correlation of forces. Yet that advantage may vanish in an instant. Should the US antiwar movement falter, Iran will be in trouble. Realistically the Iranians have lost many more people on the battlefield than the Americans. Consider the competition in prisoners. Up until they were able to kidnap the British sailors the Iranians were clearly behind in the snatch game, and probably the killing game too.

    Iran is on the same order of military power as Saddam’s Iraq. They fought each other to a standstill in the 1980s. Leaving aside the question of whether America could pacify the resulting soup, a three division American force could theoretically be in Teheran within weeks and hang the Ayatollahs as they hung Saddam. Not that America would do it. But America certainly could do it.

    Moreover, there are wildcards. Israel. The Sunni countries. Should Iran go too far it runs the risk of starting something it can’t finish.

    Therefore the Iranian plan achieve regional dominance is boldness itself. They’ve taken a huge risk by kidnapping the British sailors, thinking this will advance their cause, counting on Western weakness to give them protection. But in terms of pure balance of forces, they are strategically in a position of great weakness and probably overstretched. Like the juggler who keeps all the balls in the air, it all depends on never missing a catch.

    The abduction of the British sailors really represents yet another commitment for the Ayatollahs, already heavily engaged in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq. And one wonders how far they can pile it up before the whole thing comes crashing down.

    So what should Britain do? Many things are potentially possible, some already mentioned here. Diplomatic pressure. Trade embargoes. Naval quarantine. It is possible to subvert Iran from Iraq. Subvert Iran from Afghanistan. Get Israel to beat up Hezbollah. Use Fatah to beat up Hamas. Raise the Sunnis against against them. There need be no open war, and if Iran starts it, they can only lose.

    Yet none of these many levers can be pulled without political consensus. That is the one necessary condition to everything else. If Britain wants its sailors back, it should simply take them, slowly perhaps, cautiously if necessary; but gradually, inexorably and irresistably.

    Nah. It would take more news cycles than it is worth.

  • watcher in the dark

    The following should be issued immediately by the Bristish government:

    “We fully acknowledge Britain’s lowly position in world affairs when an aggressive, nuclear-power wannabe with serious flaws in its leadership can now illegally enter Iraqi waters to kidnap 15 of our service personnel and parade them for public derision without any objection from other nations. We also acknowledge that we have no friends, especially within the EU to whom we pay large amounts of money in order to be despised.

    “We note too our unfailing support of America in this area has brought no assistance in return, but we are gratified they have allowed us to stay on in the region as a junior partner.

    “We have considered various military options but discarded them for the following reasons. First, we have insufficient forces thanks to our prudent ways and any action would be lightweight and unlikely, given our lack of resolve, to have any great effect. Second, any action would cause our friends in the left-leaning MSM to publish nasty things about us and make us unwelcome at dinner parties in Islington. Third, to take decisive action here would suggest we might be able to take decisive action in other matters and require a complete re-working of our public image. As you will appreciate, this is contrary to our long-term policies.

    “It has been suggested, unfairly, that we are scared to take action against Iran as our nation’s resident dissidents and terrorist supporters would have even more excuse to bomb innocents. We acknowledge that all peoples who reside here (whatever their legal status) have the right to create mayhem and cause injury where possible and need little excuse.

    “We hope that the service personnel involved understand why we have left them in the lurch, but we believe we have compelling reasons which no social expert could argue with.

    “Finally, may we take this opportunity to declare that we are seeking permission from the comedy show programme-makers to rename Great Britain as Little Britain.”

  • Hank Scorpio

    Watcher, I’d just like to touch upon your comment about the US’ seeming lack of support. Do you honestly think the US (unlike the EU) wouldn’t back you up if you felt the need to initiate action against Iran? Hell, Bush is already a lame duck, and having commander in chief powers lets him do whatever the hell he wants.

    I think the relative silence from Washington is more likely due to the fact that they don’t really want to emasculate Britain. The mullahs know that when they kidnap Brits it’s essentially the same as kidnapping Americans.

  • Derek Buxton

    Lack of backing from the EU and the UN is equivalent to breaking a contract, ergo, stop the cheques and all treaties are off. End of our EU inspired laws, an end to propping up third world dictators and our MPs can finally start to earn the money we pay them. The savings achieved would pay for increased arms and then we could do something harsh to the Iranians. If this sort of thing is not stopped, the next time it will be worse and then go downhill.

  • Jim

    Realizing this is fairly knee-jerk, I propose for Great Britain a two-step plan of action in this matter:

    -1- Give Iran a two-week deadline for releasing the personnel unharmed, following the failure of which, Great Britain will declare war; and,

    -2- Two weeks later, declare war.

    As I recall, Great Britain has gone it alone on several other occasions, and did fairly well.

  • John_R

    Wanker said:

    “We note too our unfailing support of America in this area has brought no assistance in return, but we are gratified they have allowed us to stay on in the region as a junior partner.

    Let’s see, the U.S. is currently conducting the largest military build up in the area since ’03. We staged naval exercises off the coast Iran last week, only after getting the permission of the UK government. Do you wish us to launch a strike now? What exactly is it you think we should do? Our economic options are limited as we have few ties to Iran.

    The Senate did pass a resolution in support of the UK, it is Pelosi that is balking.

  • Freeman

    Some interesting possibilities are mentioned above. But the question is: What will Blair do?

    My guess is that he will continue to posture for another couple of months, and then it’s someone else’s problem.

    On the subject of military action (short of nuclear) our UK options are not good, and even the US would face enormous problems. Any kind of military force against Iran would lead to retalliation and, whether or not we blockaded the Persian Gulf, Iran would probably do so. Any US/UK ships in these waters would be at substantial risk from shore-based anti-ship missiles.

    With no shipping lanes open in the Gulf, the West would have an oil shortage, and coalition forces in Iraq would loose their vital supply line. Both of these factors would have serious consequencies and it might take several weeks to subdue Iranian shore batteries and clear the narrow shipping lanes of sunk ships and mines.

    It seems to me that any Prime Minister acting in the UK interest ought now to apply pressure on the EU to ban EU trade with Iran, by threatening to withhold all payments due to the EU (including those DEFRA fines).

  • Nick M

    We are currently militarily weak. Here’s a coupla facts that the commentariat might not realize but which are have a major impact on our capacity to stage a naval blockade.

    1. The Sea Harrier FA2s have been pensioned off. 800 & 801 Sqn FAA are converting to GR7/GR9 Harriers. These aircraft have very little air-air capability and reliability in a salt-water atmosphere might prove an issue. More to the immediate point, we don’t have any fixed wing carrier capability at the moment.

    2. Air-power is very useful for damaging ships. Now you’d expect the RAF to field aircraft with the capacity to carry anti-ship missiles but you’d almost be wrong. The Sea Eagles went when the last Buccaners retired and the anti-shipping task went to the Tornado GR1B. Alas these are no more. The only aircraft in the British arsenal capable of firing anti-ship missiles (Harpoon in this case) is the Nimrod Maritime Patrol aircraft. This is essentially an old Comet airliner doing a similar job to the Lockheed P3 Orion. We have (roughly) a squadron of them. I wouldn’t fancy my chances in one up against even the rag-tag collection of fighters Iran can field. I think we have retained the capacity to launch Sea-Skua missiles from the RN’s Lynx ‘copters but again, fancy meeting a fighter in one of those?

    3. So send in the Typhoons! Well… We don’t have very many and they’re barely shook-down and the Tranche one Typhoon F2 has only a “robust” air-ground capability (I quote BAE systems here). A further complication is that most tranche 1 Typhoon production is going to our friends in the Magic Kingdom. This is a cunning scheme to get aircraft that are frankly useless* off our books for a profit while we get the much more capable tranche 2 & 3 aircraft.

    So, in summary our naval air defense consists of ancient Sea-Wolf armed frigates and ancient Type-42 destroyers armed with Sea-Dart and in a few months time subsonic Harriers fitted with short-range Sidewinders / Asraam. Or to put it bluntly, about the same as we had in the Falklands except the Harrier FRS1s had radar then and the Argentinians were operating at extreme range. We lost a lot of ships then and saved some only through Boy’s Own heroics. At one point a chef splashed a A-4 Skyhawk using a rifle!

    A well co-ordinated volley of Iranian Sunburn missiles could wreck half the navy.

    *By which I mean there is no space now in a modern airforce for a fighter which is entirely either A2A or A2G.

  • semm

    I would like to say, in a similar vein to what someone stated above, that in my opinion ,only reason the US has been silent is because the UK as asked that it be this way. The UK has to be allowed to negotiate for the release of it’s soldiers in the way it deems best.

    But I guarantee you that if Blair gives the word the US will be there to respond militarily in whatever way it is asked to.

    AT least that is the consensus here in the US among people I talk to about such issues

  • Ripama

    You might not remember the Hostage Crisis of 1979. Jimmy Carter’s administration negotiated with Iran for 444 days, and just about each day the Iranians would offer hope of a breakthrough, then snatch it away.

    First they released the women as a gesture of goodwill, then the Blacks to demonstrate that they weren’t “racists” and to drive a wedge between American Blacks and Whites. Finally, Ronald Regan became president and the nonsense stopped.

    If the Iranians remain true to form they will repeat the hostage tactics they’ve used in the past, and will only cough them up when confronted by a determined leadership.

  • Julian Taylor

    Firstly. how exactly would we maintain a sea blockade of over 2,440km on the Gulf AND the Indian Ocean, let alone a further 740km on the Caspian Sea?

    Secondly how do we enforce a land blockade with bordering countries such as Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km?

    Thirdly how do maintain constant clearance from attack by Iran on the Western world’s most vulnerable strategic transit point – namely the Straits of Hormuz. Would we have to maintain a permanent AWACS CAP on the area against the potential of Iranian suicide boat attacks on tankers or warships?

    Short of strategic bombardment of infrastructure and key industrial points (which DID work with Serbia we must remember) I fail to see how we could physically assault Iran without incurring colossal losses, always presuming that their army would actually fight and not ‘do’ an Iraq on advancing forces. Far better, in my opinion, to bring immediate pressure upon Iran’s principal export countries – namely Japan 16.9%, China 11.2%, Italy 6%, South Korea 5.8%, Turkey 5.7%, Netherlands 4.6%, France 4.4% (no surprise there, eh?), South Africa 4.1% and Taiwan 4.1% (2005). We could also feasibly request those countries exporting to Iran to cease trade until the situation is resolved, such as Germany (Iran’s biggest trade importer), UAE, China, Italy, France, South Korea and Russia none of which, with the probable exception of Russia, should represent any great trouble for us.

    The problem, as I think we can all see now, is that other Islamic nations will agree with and pander to the West about how they despise Iran while at the same time they would completely disregard any sanctions against that state. How can we realistically expect to enforce any embargo when states such as Pakistan (now believed to be the main springboard for Al Queda and Taleban operations into Afghanistan for example) will probably rush to assist Iran in exporting oil out via its own ports, in much the same way as France/Syria assisted Saddam in breaching the UN embargo.

  • “They’ve taken a huge risk by kidnapping the British sailors, thinking this will advance their cause, counting on Western weakness to give them protection”

    No risk at all,Blair gelded Britain and gave its balls to Cherie for earrings.
    Three things,Firstly, the Military have been run down whilst at the same time overextended.
    Secondly Blairitania signed itself up to the International Criminal Court,any member of the armed services could find themselves tried for war crimes,courtesy of Lord Goldsmith.
    Lastly the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British Law means that any purported victim or relatives thereof can come to Britain and take military personnel to court,courtesy Ms Cherie Booth and the British taxpayer.
    This is why our troops avoid conflict,the government is on the other side.

  • lucklucky

    “Therefore the Iranian plan achieve regional dominance is boldness itself. They’ve taken a huge risk by kidnapping the British sailors, thinking this will advance their cause, counting on Western weakness to give them protection.”

    I dont agree. Short of a dirty bomb in West only slowly (i mean 2 decades) the public opinion will change and that is only an “if”. But i dont doubt that when that happen will of a WW2 kind: annihilation . That is the reason i prefer Bush approach.

    ————————-
    Certainly a naval blockade with SSNs is feasible, also UK can say that any iranian ship in high seas is a target. And i keep saying target the leadership and the elite classes.

  • A blockade, which is an act of war, would not be that hard to accomplish if the USAF and the RAF were to mine Iran’s harbors and coastline. A few minefields would play hell with their insurance etc.

    A land blockade would be tougher to enforce but if we were to drill a large number of craters in their road and rail networks it would have a similar effect.

    This is the 21st century, an information blockade would be a usefull addition to the physical one. Cut their satellite and land line links to the outside world, Jam all their sat phones connections. With most of their communications turned off, they could happily go back to the 7th century where their leaders seem to want to be anyway.

  • Jacob

    As some have pointed out, Britain is no longer “Great” (she ceased to be a long time ago, actually since WW2).

    These is absolutely nothing Britain could do to Iran militarily, and given it’s European allies – little it can do diplomatically. These are the facts.
    It’s not the personality of Blair that is the problem. It’s the lack of capability.

    The Iranians will free the sailors when they please (seems to me – soon), having driven home their point – which was: humiliating Britain, and, by extension, the US.

  • Britain is going to grovel Another piece of the Blair legacy,amazing how his government can bully the British people but lick the rectums of lunatics.Well we all know what works with ZanuLabor now.

  • Bogdan of Australia

    Europeans (Western in particular) love to regard themselves as the most refined human species in the world, but this display of breathtaking cowardice relegates them to the staus of SUBHUMANS!!! Perhaps they indeed don’t deserve to be free…

  • orcadrvr

    I have no doubt that, in the event of hostilities, the US will stand shoulder to shoulder with the UK, as it has on every other occasion in the twentieth century (except vietnam).
    Criticize him if you wish, but Bush is loyal to his friends, and the Brits collectively and Blair individually certainly qualify as allies of long standing.
    He is quite prepared to ignore the inevitable wailing of the demented left in this country to smack the Iranians. They have had it coming for a long, long time.

  • Nate

    I hate to be with the humbug crowd, but as I’ve said before, there’s not much that anyone can really do to Iran. They’re lead by evil geniuses…emphasis on evil, and emphasis on geniuses. They’re very wise to the way things actually are and are playing their hand quite well.

    (1) Interfering with Iran will lead to a smoldering shootout in the gulf…of which Iran will of course pay dearly in terms of lives, but more importantly, the disruption of the flow of oil will make a LOT of people quite angry. Probably doubling the cost of oil.

    (2) Getting into a serious “real” war with Iran is simply not an option. The US Army and Marines are already stretched too thing and from what I understand, the UK isn’t in any better shape. Not to mention, the Iranian forces are, with all probability, far more determined than were Saddam’s forces in 2003. Going it on land, we will incur *significant* casualties. Minimum 1,000 allied dead….probably more like 5,000.

    (3) We could project force by air power. Targeting key industries (rumor has it that petroleum refinement is very limited in Iran), etc. This is probably the best bet, overall….but if Iran holds out, I’m not so sure the west will. I can’t speak for any of you in the UK, but night after night after night of blown up babies broadcast on TV will effectively hamstring the USN and USAF.

    (4) Furthermore, there’s always the possibility that Iran could invade Iraq. Yes, they’d get slaughtered….but I doubt they’d care. The US is seriously considering pulling out of Iraq after losing ~3,500 in 4 yrs. After a few weeks of fighting with Iran, they loose tens of thousands, the US loses another thousand or two and the US will break.

    Again, I apologize for being so depressing about it…but that’s the way I see it. For all the firepower the US and the UK can bring to bear, it all means naught without the will to use it…and we don’t.

    Iran will give the sailors back. As others have pointed out…this is a propaganda victory for them. They’re humiliating the UK (and by extension the US) and proving to others in the region that Iran is the strong horse to bet on in the long term.

  • bob

    The Bush administration has been low keyed about this situation because it knows that Blair has his hands full trying to achieve concensus within his own country. Things are frayed enough between the U.S. and U.K. without being seen as eager to use the capture of British sailors as a pretense to expand the war in the Middle East. Whatever Blair decides, Bush will back him.

  • Jim

    If I may, a recipe for a war with Iran.

    Step 1: Selection and Maintenance of the Aim. Great Britain’s Aim must be two-fold:

    a. Secure the release of the prisoners; and,

    b. Convince Iran that taking British military personnel captive is at best a zero-sum game, at worst humiliating and expensive.

    How best to do this? A war will make clear to Iran (and anybody else watching western weakness and plotting) that there is a point in international law that certain States may not safely be pushed beyond – a very big component of (b.) above throughout Dar Al Islam.

    Step 2: Our problem clearly becomes one of credibly displaying deterrent strength. This normally involves applying pressure to an opponent’s weak points: fortunately Iran is rotten with weak points, and Great Britain is well-equipped to strike at them. Furthermore, Iran is a long way away, and its military reply will undoubtedly {as they always have} involve a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz and indiscriminate shooting at neutral tankers, thus endangering the World’s oil supply and the economies of their oil-producing neighbours and making themselves a freshly infuriating pariah among the nations:

    - It should be noted that Great Britain will bear some of this opprobrium, for poking the wasps’ nest, but Great Britain has clearly been wronged here, and its main ally in things military is the Great Satan itself so this can be ignored. And taking the fight to the enemy will accomplish it far better than sitting whimpering, hoping Iran will feel sorry for us.

    So, what do we do?

    First: a naval blockade, easy as Great Britain has nuclear submarines, and British SSN’s can be in position by the end of the two weeks. Iranian ships are warned that by leaving port, they make themselves liable to be sunk without warning; and any that leave port are sunk without warning. You cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs, and very few would need to be sunk for the rest to get the message and go home.

    Second: mine Iranian harbours. Iran is a major oil exporter, but a major gasoline importer because its refineries were wrecked in the Iran-Iraq war. Any shipowner will tell you, insurance does not cover acts of war – so when mines are in place, merchant shipping DOES NOT GO THERE. Iranian gasoline supplies are already precarious; this will knacker the Iranian economy and multiply the hardships the people already suffer.

    Third: very tightly directed cruise missile strikes against military and industrial targets, easy again because Great Britain can make its own cruise missiles and its SSN’s can launch them. Destroy the remaining Iranian refinery capacity, drop road and rail bridges, etc etc. A very high priority will be the Iranian military and particularly Iran’s sub’s, as destroying them will rob Iran of a primary weapon for enforcing a tanker blockade in the Strait of Hormuz. These can likely be sunk at pierside; satellites find them, cruise missiles sink them. Anything resembling nuclear capacity or SAM-SSM missile batteries, is naturally a target.

    FOURTH: be smart about it. Civilians are very carefully avoided, and it’s made clear from the outset via any propaganda channel into Iran that can be accessed that this war is against the Mullocracy, not the people. Iran is in straitened circumstances, its economy crumbling and its citizens hungry and poor. The Mullahs will burst into paeans of rage and vilification, blaming all their ills on Britain; the poeple have heard it all before, and the Mullahs have ALWAYS blamed their country’s ills on everybody else. Britain must studiously avoid showing the people that it IS our fault, because we don’t want them uniting behind the mullahs. So the bomb hits the rail bridge, not the train that’s been sitting in the station for days jammed with passengers and waiting to travel on the main line.

    Step 3: if the prisoners are released, declare un-war, go home, reload for next time. Great Britain will have scored a HUGE propaganda victory over the Mullahs, spanking them until they cry “uncle” – by not rubbing their nose in it we score another one, and reinforce part b. of the Aim.

    Finally, Step 4: rebuild the British Army and Royal Navy and Air Force, so never again will Brit’s find themselves muttering that military force is…

    out of the question

    Remember – they respect only force.

    {Oh, and Step 5: once you get the prisoners back, immediately cashier any who made statements supportive of Iran. Whatever happened to the famous “stiff upper lip”???}

  • Jacob

    Jim,
    “Finally, Step 4: rebuild the British Army and Royal Navy and Air Force, so never again …”

    Where is the money for it ? Where is the will ?
    You’re talking utopia, the whole of your post.

    Sure Britain can (maybe…) do some bombing and some mine laying (not sure how much…) but you forget to consider Iran’s capabilities of retaliation. You know, in war, as in love, there are two parties (at least).

    The US could do some real damage to Iran, militarily, but it needs to build up it’s forces, as the currently available ones are not enough. Britain, on it’s own, can do nothing.

  • Julian Taylor

    The point they made on Radio 4 this morning was that such a tactic worked against the USA, so why not against the UK? The kidnapping of the 15 hostages is being seen by Iranians, as well as by the Foreign Office, as not a military but as a political extortion manoeuvre against Tony Blair. Going back to 1980 we can recall that Iran claimed to have influenced the US elections, promising to release the hostages if the electorate ousted Carter and voted in Ronald Reagan. Ahmadinnerjacket knows full well that Blair will probably resign in May/June and can show a propaganda coup to his people in that he forced Britain’s Prime Minister to leave office in dishonour in much the same way as Khomeini did with Carter.

    Undoubtedly Brown is more spineless than Blair so I doubt that, once the hostages are safe, that we would be seeing a cleverly planned and executed Tomahawk SSN-launched strike on Iran’s most precious industrial asset – the oil terminals at Bandar-e ‘Abbas.

  • Jacob

    “we would be seeing a cleverly planned and executed Tomahawk SSN-launched strike on Iran’s most precious industrial asset – the oil terminals at Bandar-e ‘Abbas.”

    Britain is definitely militarily capable of such a strike or some other raid. But Iran might retaliate, like, say, attacking British or US bases or ships with long range missiles. You need to consider this before you strike. Britain and the US are militarily vulnerable vis-a-vis an Iranian strike.

    But that’s just idle speculation. There will be no military action.

  • Dave

    Those Iranians must be forgetting that we have type 45 destroyers! (Best in the world!)

    I think there will be a war with Iran and a wider Muslim vs the West war within the next 50 years. It only needs a repeat of the riots like what happened in France only on a slightly wider pan European scale and then for a few non-Muslims to fight back as in the Black vs ‘Asian’ mini riot in Birmingham and things could easily escalate out of control.

    Jacob, the money to rebuild Britains Navy could come from leaving the EU, that would save us a few billion a year.

  • John

    Oh, and Step 5: once you get the prisoners back, immediately cashier any who made statements supportive of Iran. Whatever happened to the famous “stiff upper lip”???

    I would be rolling around on the floor and crying like a baby if I thought it might get me into an Iranian TV studio. We are already getting excellent intelligence from the 15 kidnapped servicemen.

    They are behaving magnificently and I, for one, am very proud of them all.

    Your comment [in italics] is utterly shameful.

  • Jim

    Your comment [in italics] is utterly shameful.

    I reject your rebuke.

    Were they in Iranian waters? Well, there’s no doubt now, is there? – a couple of them have ‘confessed’, and even ‘apologized’ for it. Nothing to see here folks, move along – Britain can tout GPS positions all they wish, Iran need only wave-about the ‘confessions’ some more to prove its point.

    They’ve cut the legs out from under the British position and delivered the issue to the Iranians, game, set and match: it cannot be called ‘aiding and abetting the enemy’ only because Iran is not the enemy yet. They are a disgrace to the uniform – which one of them was not even wearing – and wherever their future lies, I doubt it’s with the RN; next dark night at sea, their messmates will likely invite them to swim home.

    They are behaving magnificently

    Twelve of them are.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Jim,

    Your thoughts on the statement of Sir Alan West, who was First Sea Lord in 2004…?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6491581.stm

    What training would the personnel have been given to help them in the event of capture?

    These particular people would not be trained in counter-interrogation techniques because they are not expected to be captured. But I think our guidance to anyone in that position would be to say what they want you to say, let’s not be silly about it. Don’t tell them secrets, clearly, but if they tell you: ‘Say this’, well if that’s going to get you out, then do it. It means absolutely nothing, what they say, to be honest.

    I assume the First Sea Lord is both aware of our glorious Naval traditions, and probably has access to a more accurate view of the orders and policies given to crew concerning such situations. The military are instruments of national policy, not of the Navy Tradition or the British Empire. Blame the government if you have to, but can I ask that you suspend judgement on our people? At the least, could I ask that you direct most of your fire towards the enemy?

    John, I don’t think the “shameful” bit helps. People are angry, and need someone to be angry at. It’s about time – but we need to direct it at the right target, not just divert it from the wrong one.

  • John

    Dear Pa Annoyed,
    The government has treated our military like filth for decades.

    The very least that they deserve is support from the public.

    Is it really too much to ask for restraint on a matter which isn’t even a legitimate subject of debate?

    I repeat – our kidnapped servicemen should definitely not be shown or even identified (Link)by the media.

    This is not a question that requires a high cognitive demand – I came to this conclusion during the Vietnam war when I was ten years old.

    John Nichol(Link) says he is going to strangle the next person he hears offering criticism of our kidnapped servicemen.

    I agree with Nichol.

  • Jim

    Your thoughts on the statement of Sir Alan West

    That’s simple, Pa Annoyed – if they’re covered by orders, then the orders are on the hook and not them. I retract my above statements regarding them, and apologize for {once again} shooting-at-the-lip while being ignorant of the statement; but I note with irony that only three of them have done so. No opprobrium on the three; they’re just following orders.

    As for directing my fire at the enemy, have I not convincingly done so? One thing that delights me is the dearth of Iran apologists here ;))

    So – John – what do you think of Steps 1-to-4?

  • Jim

    *Sigh* That was very trite. What the he11 is wrong with me?

    Please disregard everything I have ever said, written or thought. Most sane people do.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Don’t worry about it Jim. Anger is perfectly understandable – and applies to both sides.

    I have long lamented that we have to be “diplomatic” with these people, this latest episode is pretty minor compared to some of the things they’ve done; I regard it as no special distinction that in this case it is British people they’re mistreating. When they hanged that girl for “adultery”, I was in a fairly violent mood. But I also think that if we’re going to do something about it, it shouldn’t be on the spur of the moment, or at a time of the Iranians’ choosing. We need to get the resources in place before we start, and at the moment we have none to spare. I can sort of understand why the government don’t want a war to start now, and by not responding it shows “restraint” which will help us down the line. Where I lack confidence in them is in whether they do intend to start it later.

  • holdfast

    1) Why wouldn’t a friggin captain in the Royal Marines be trained in counter-interrogation techniques? Those guys quasi-special forces (sort of like the US Rangers, but with a naval bent). Unless that guys is giving coordinates for a rescue in morse code using eye-blinks, I think he’d need to find a new line of work upon release.

    2) “Finally, Step 4: rebuild the British Army and Royal Navy and Air Force, so never again …”

    Where is the money for it ? Where is the will ?
    You’re talking utopia, the whole of your post.

    A little bit from bloated welfare, a bit more from contributions to the Common Agricultural policy and you’re halfway there.

  • Jerry

    Anyone who thinks the Iranians are just going to release these sailors is sadly delusional.
    Anyone here remember the U.S. hostage situation with them ?? Though so.
    444 days with everyone wringing their hands and wailing ‘what are we gonna do ?’ and even more sadly, we did NOTHING thanks to Jimmy ‘the vague’ and his insistance on using ‘diplomatic channels’.
    ( sound familiar ?? )
    ONE THING got them ‘off the dime’ – Ronald Reagan and their firm belief that he would send them back to a time before the 7th century ( maybe just after the ‘discovery’ of fire !!) if the hostages were not released.
    Raw, brute, take no hostages, give no quarter is ALL they understand and respond to.
    If Britain want these sailors back, it MUST convince the Iranians that some or all of their country is going to be ‘glassed over’.
    Otherwise, the Iranians will dance, shuffle, lie, temp evade etc. for as long as possible ( which could be YEARS – they did it before !!)
    You want options – fine
    Iran has a SINGLE refinery for gasoline – shut it down – I don’t care how.
    Small tactical nuke in the middle of nowhere ( which is most if Iran ! ) with the clear and firm understanding that the next one will be downtown Tehran and damn the collateral damage.
    Sorry, but this type of course is the ONLY thing that will free these sailors because it all the 7th century fanatics understand – force ! ( It’s all they have ever understood or had to deal with )
    This is a war for the survival of Western civilization and it will not be won by being PC, nice, kind, understanding and all of the other feel-good approaches that seem to be all certain governments are willing to do.

  • Sunfish

    Anyone who thinks the Iranians are just going to release these sailors is sadly delusional.
    Anyone here remember the U.S. hostage situation with them ?? Though so.
    444 days with everyone wringing their hands and wailing ‘what are we gonna do ?’ and even more sadly, we did NOTHING thanks to Jimmy ‘the vague’ and his insistance on using ‘diplomatic channels’.

    Well, there was this attempt.

    The means of carrying it off successfully didn’t exist at the time.