The new Iranian hostage crisis that Britain now faces must be understood in the context of the cold war that Iran and the USA are currently engaged in as an attempt to isolate the Great Satan from its closest ally.
With Moqtada al-Sadr in hiding and with open season having been declared on Iranian agents in Iraq, the clerics have made a move to even the field by targeting the British, already in retreat from southern Iraq, apparently in the hopes of achieving the kind of embarrassing results for the West that the world witnessed three decades ago when American hostages were seized at the embassy in Tehran. It’s a strong move, and so far, as Wretchard at Belmont Club notes in his customary sharp analysis, the Ayatollahs have guessed correctly how the British would respond.
Inevitably, when I contemplate events like these, my thoughts return to the one great strategic advantage our enemies enjoy — they can almost always count on the West to prefer soft options to the point of inanity.
Some observers have contrasted the response of Britain to that of Israel in July 2006 when they launched the campaign in Lebanon, responding in part to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. The kidnappings, of course, were not their only reason for entering the conflict; Hezbollah’s capacity to launch rocket attacks deep into Israel was a threat that could not be tolerated. But then, Iran can in time be expected to possess weapons of a far more destructive nature than anything it was able to give its client NGO last summer.
Israel is a nation that has every reason to be tired of war. Yet they can and will drop the boot down when they see it as their best possible move. I wonder, is the rest of the West capable of executing its best possible move when that move may mean escalating a conflict? Or have we lost the ability to even recognize when this may be the case?