Thursday, April 05, 2007

Aftermath of the Release

It seems that some political circles in the United States are sorely disappointed that the British sailors and marines were released from captivity in Iran and returned home safely. For the second time, it seems, London has let us down by failing to provide the incident that could justify a military strike on Iran without needed to turn to Congress or the recalcitrant UN Security Council (the first was the fact that the British naval vessels held their fire as the sailors were apprehended by the Revolutionary Guard). Prolonged captivity (or perhaps even a few flag-draped coffins) would have done nicely.

Perhaps the Iranians released their captives for the propaganda war in the Middle East. Iranian consular officials have yet to meet with the five detained Iranian citizens taken back in January (the Red Cross has now only had their first visit). Yes, it seems that documents were being destroyed when the five were taken into custody sans passports—but they continue to be held even though our Iraqi ally said the Iranians were in fact diplomats (no matter what other activities they may have been conducting) and should be released. We have the still very murky and mysterious case of another Iranian diplomat who was seized on the streets of Baghdad by unidentified gunmen (who were wearing Iraqi uniforms) two months ago and who was set free as the British personnel were themselves being released. But now the pressure will grow on Washington to “do something” about the “Irbil Five”--especially since Iran's seizure and then release of the British was done with no official linkage between the two cases.

I always thought that the real audience for the unfolding drama of the Brits in captivity was not London or even Washington but the rest of the region—that it demonstrated Iran’s ability to shape the agenda and to show the vulnerabilities of the Western presence. Calling attention to perceived double standards never hurts either—see, we didn’t let the British languish!

The more the crisis in the region is perceived as "Tehran versus the U.S." and not "a defiant rogue spitting in the face of the global community" the U.S. loses. And Iran is well aware that to the extent the neighbors don’t sign on to offensive action against Tehran, the weaker the U.S. platform from which to launch strikes. Iran’s successes at the recent Arab summit help. Also, the appearance of reasonableness—“we are always ready to talk”—helps. Defusing a potential causus belli was critical. Ignoring what increasingly is going to be viewed as provocative behavior from the other side (U.S. attempts to seize Iranians in Iraq, even those who have the cloak of official business around them) makes you seem to be "going the extra mile" for peace. And being able to point to gestures you’ve made and how the other side hasn’t reciprocated also wins points.

And suspicion is growing, at least in some Gulf circles, that the U.S. may want to start a conflict with Iran but not be prepared to shoulder the consequences—and may be looking for an “incident.” The Russian-originated story about the so-called “Operation Bite” is continuing to circulate. But I don’t know if the U.S. appearance of “standing tough” is having the expected effect among our allies of convincing them of our resolve to act.

The high point for the U.S. was the recent Security Council decision. It's going downhill from there.

I, too, fail to understand how the prompt release of detainees by Iran constitutes a failure of soft power and a 'capitulation' by Britain. It would logically seem like a capitulation by Iran - the gave the Brits back for nothing. The capitulation crowd are making a contra-logical case in this regard.

It's clearly a 'failure' for us inasmuch as it may constitute a 'success' for Iran in manipulating perceptions to avoid being bombed.
The reaction of certain circles is best described as an attempt to deny Iran any gains in appearing moderate. The problem is that ignoring actual moderate behavior to deny someone the benefits of appearing moderate is not a good model for avoiding destabilizing conflict - just a good model for building support for conflict, for its own sake.

Jordan W. '02
The entire incident may be exactly what the Iranians state it is: [1] Royal Marines repeatedly violate Iranian territorial waters [2] Several ships from the Maritime Border Patrol Guard arrest the violators [2] The Iranians demand and recieve an apology. [4] The illegal tresspassers are released.

I remember chatting with a fighter pilot a while back:
ME: "Wuz up?"
Pilot: "Heading off to violate XXX's airspace."
ME: "Why?"
Pilot: "To see if they shoot at us."
"The Nimitz Strike Group comprises the guided-missile cruiser Princeton, guided-missile destroyers Higgins, Chafee, John Paul Jones and Pinckney, two helicopter squadrons and an explosive ordnance disposal unit."

The Nimitz and her strike group deployed on April 2, including anti-missile cruisers and destroyers and mine sweepers which join the exist two US carrier strike groups, and the French naval deployment mirroring yet another US carrier strike group.

There are rumors of evacuation orders given to US financial entities in Bahrain, coupled with the Operation Bite information, - and it is cold comfort to imagine that the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government do not have some sort of hostile and immenant intent towards Iran.

There is no arguing the why's, what for's, and how's now. The only real question is when?

Might I suggest a little quiet time until the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government conjure some new provocation to exploit as a causus beli to launch an attack against Iran.

All the pieces are in place. The nderlying intent is clear and present, - all that remains now to initiate military action against Iran is another tiny or untidy spark (real or imagined, factbased or conjured) and - this party is ON!

"Deliver us from evil!"
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