Here is some background on the capture of British Marines and Sailors in Iraqi Waters. You can google around for lots of references and opinions (like this and this). The idea that a British warship – the HMS Cornwall did nothing while capture took place boggles the mind.
At the basic level, this is an Act of War by Iran against the UK.
Sadly, I do not expect the UK to act accordingly to that.
Appeasement responses will be the norm, and as we are taught from the Appeasement Theory of War, Iran will become more embolden with their success, and there perception of Western weakness and cowardliness will increase, making it more likely they do something else – overreach – that will require a western response – now unexpected.
I think the Iranian action is actually a bit of information warfare / 4GW that is attempting these effects:
- Kick up the Appeasement instinct in the UK and the EU
- Slightly separate out the UK from the USA
- Distract/delay Western/UN anti-nuke activities (you don’t want the captured folks hurt do you?)
- Reduce activity against Iranian agents in Iraq (you don’t want your captured folks hurt do you?)
- Get the release of captured (in Iraq) Iranian agents
- Increase feeling of Iranian nationalism / national identity and have the associated with the action of the Mullah controlled state
- Raise their status in the Islamic world
This will go badly thorough for Iran if the UK doesn’t react the way Iran thinks they will.
Captain Ed asks, “The indictment of British sailors in uniform as spies will violate the GC. Can we expect the same level of outrage over this explicit violation as the supposed violations of the US government?”
No of course not. As currently interpreted the Geneva Conventions only apply to individuals bent on destroying America. Individuals who blow up elementary schools, kidnap children, attack churches and mosques, kill invalids in wheelchairs, plan attacks on skyscrapers in New York, behead journalists, detonate car bombs with children to camouflage their crime, or board jetliners with explosive shoes — all while wearing mufti or even women’s clothing — these are all considered “freedom fighters” of the most principled kind. They and they alone enjoy the protections of the Geneva Convention. As to Americans like Tucker and Menchaca or Israeli Gilad Shalit — or these fifteen British sailors for that matter, it is a case of “what Geneva Convention?” We don’t need no steenkin’ Geneva Convention to try these guys as spies. That’s the way the Human Rights racket works. Don’t go looking for any Geneva Convention in Somalia, Darfur, Basilan or Iran. Try Guantanamo Bay.
Update: More here:
The Islamic fascists are going to continue to push until they find that magic point where we push back. Evidently kidnapping soldiers off the high seas isn’t that point. Our response should be no different than if Iran took a group of U.S. Marines hostage from international waters. So what are we doing about all of this? Not much. How about the Brits? Well, not much either.
Update on 16 April 2007 – Lind writes this on the now resolved incident:
For Britain, and especially for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the incident ended in utter disgrace. The initial surrender of the British boarding party to what appears to have been a much larger Iranian force is the only defensible British action in the whole sorry business. Even in Horatio Hornblower’s Royal Navy, a British frigate captain was not disgraced if he struck to a French or Spanish ship of the line. Force majeure remains a valid excuse.
But everything else that was said or done would have given Hornblower or Jack Aubrey an apoplexy. The failure of HMS Cornwall to foresee such an event and be in a position to protect her people; the cowardice—there is no other word for it—of the boarding party (including two officers) once captured; their kissing the Iranian’s backsides in return for their release; and perhaps most un-British, their selling their disgraceful stories to the British press for money on their return – all this departs from Royal Navy traditions in ways that would have appalled the tars who fought at Trafalgar.
Yet that is not the worst of it. The worst of it is the reaction of the Navy’s higher-ups.
Lind’s article also has some nuggets about the Hornblower (I loved those books) era British-navy as a Maratime 3GW force.