Friends like These
Last weekend, 15 of our sailors and marines -- part of an international force and under U.N. auspices (which means nothing nowadays)-- carried out a routine inspection of a merchant ship near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway separating Iraq from Iran. As they returned to their own vessel in small boats, two Iranian gunboats approached, signalling friendly intentions – fairly regular and normal encounters in these waters - according to the journalist on board HMS Cornwall at the time. However four more gunboats, armed with machine guns and RPGs surrounded the patrol boats and with the 15 sailors clearly outgunned forced a surrender. It appears the Cornwall lost sight of her patrol boat (not unheard of) and faced with RPGs a helicopter stood NO chance. Opening fire at this point (Cornwall or personnel) would have been an utterly futile and frankly, pathetic last act. As would hairy chested gung-ho knee jerk military action into a third front in a war with Iran. The IRG are well trained ffs.
The Iranians have their men in a pre planned mission and are now attempting to do what the Islamic world does best, drive propaganda and blood pressure levels to drive rifts between allies and the West in general, show Western ‘aggressors’ as weak and distract from popularity issues at home. How much more popular are service personnel along with their "confessions", in uniform, paraded & widely broadcast to get people feeling good about a government unpopular with so many.
It’s pretty clear now that some (unexpected) voices are doing their level best to play along with the Iranian ruse at a point when even the EU has stepped out of its traditional line!
Without a hint of irony, one jerk, in his helpful rush to pass judgment a week after the ambush, in some American rag I need to provide a link to (!), managed to heap blame on the British AND talk about Nelson spinning in his grave. As if Nelson was bobbing around in some dingy when he took on the French? The Cornwall unleashing any power on retreating boats would have done what precsiely? Anyone? He also manages to pour scorn on the British reaction and then bypass the facts that the US were caught hand-wringing for a ‘mere’ 444 days in the mother of all hostage crises that ended so tragically and went on to inspire the arab world. Mr Armageddon was even a main player in the abduction of those US staff in 1979. And sidesteps the fact that in Mogadishu in 1994 the greatest military power in the world was ill-prepared, out-manoevered, humbled and humiliated, its men paraded both dead and alive –to Bin Laden’s delight. Who cares they got their man when 2 Black Hawks were brought down and the American Goliath was dragged through the town?
The point is that in 2007 it really matters very little how they rumble you at the end of the day. The 'lame', 'spineless' accusations are just a load of useless tub thumping & music to Iran’s ears. To my surprise, there seems to be plenty of this in the US blogosphere. Why? UK forces, command & government have been no quislings (whether you support this as a war on terror or view them as tools in America’s 9/11 payback). Blair is isolating Iran and has done so quickly. He seems to playing his hand in this ludicrous game rather well. What do those who accuse the British government of being spineless specifically want them to do – RIGHT now.
Any war with Iran needs some preparation. However this progresses it's patently clear the Iranian government is holding a burning fuse (from the inside and out)..not a fucking candle!
(Christ on a bike - Pelosi blocks motion of basic support for the British hat tip Troll.)