Iran is up to the same old garbage again. This time, they've kidnapped 15 British sailors from the HMS Cornwall who were doing nothing more than carrying out UN mandates in the Persian Gulf. The mad mullahs claim that the sailors were operating within their territorial waters, but of course, the Iranian government has been telling boldfaced lies for the last 25-plus years, why would they start being truthful now?
But let's suppose that the Iranians, in a sudden pang of realism, were actually coming across a British patrol in their waters. Surrounding them, capturing them, and then trotting them before a television camera is supposed to be acceptable behavior apparently. No warning message, not even a shot across the bow?
The Iranians aren't the only outrageous element in this. The HMS Cornwall is a Type 22 frigate of Her Majesty's Royal Navy, equipped with 4.5 inch Mark 8 gun, two 20mm close range guns, two Quad Harpoon missile launchers, a Lynx helicopter armed with Sea Skua anti-ship missiles, and even anti-submarine torpedos. Are those things just for show or what? How does it feel to be a soldier or a Marine in Her Majesty's service when your superiors won't use the force necessary to defend you against being taken at gunpoint?
This brazen attack is about one thing for Iranians - they want to show that they can do what they want, when they want, and so far, they're showing just that. Iran learned in 1979 that it can humiliate the West by snatching a few hostages and then laughing as the US squirmed in uncomfortable helplessness. They learned again recently, as provocative move after provocative move in the nuclear showdown was met by nothing but more talk. President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is more than willing to do whatever he wants when it comes to nuclear weapons, and now he's trying to show Britain, and by extension, Europe and her American allies, that he holds all the cards.
Iran wants the UK to admit to wrongdoing - wrongdoing they have repeatedly shown was not the case - in order to get their sailors back. From their view, it's a win-win. By making the grab, they've shown that the Royal Navy isn't willing to use force for something as simple as protecting its own, let alone making an offensive attack. This further enhances the Iranian attitude that they can do what they want on nukes. If the UK capitulates and admits to something they didn't do, it's a propaganda victory that shows the mullahs how they can maniuplate the West. If they don't, they have 15 British sailors for propaganda use to try and reverse the diplomatic pressure in the opposite direction, and it's a 1979 redux - the West gets to feel helpless while Iran holds its people hostage.
As I mentioned in this spot several months ago, the time is now for Europe to "cowboy up" and stop letting themselves be pushed around by the Islamic Republic. This snatch and grab operation was a good opportunity to at least give the impression that the nations of Europe are willing to at least make a display of military might, but even that failed miserably as the Cornwall watched helplessly while their sailors were absconded.
Perhaps what is called for is a little message to Tehran by way of the Royal Air Force. That is, of course, if the RAF still exists.