Gwynne Dwyer, a reporter-without-portfolio living in the UK, shows that he learned foreign policy the same place everyone on the left seems to have learned it.
His thesis, after quoting an American officer who noted that American rules of engagement would have allowed our sailors and Marines to have fought back:
Just as well that it was a British boarding team, then. The 15 British sailors and marines who were captured and taken to Tehran for “questioning” last week are undoubtedly having an unpleasant time, but they are alive, and Britain is only involved in two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. If it had been one of Erik Horner’s boarding teams, they would all be dead, and the United States and Iran would now be at war…So there they are, eight sailors and seven marines in two rubber boats, with personal weapons and no protection whatever, sitting about a foot above the water, surrounded by six or seven Iranian attack boats with mounted machine guns. “Defend yourself” by opening fire, and after a single long burst from half a dozen heavy machine-guns there will be 14 dead young men and one dead young woman in two rapidly sinking inflatables, and your country will be at war. Seems a bit pointless, really.
By itself? Of course.
But the real lesson is much larger.
28 years ago, when the world was accustomed to the US acting impotently, the Iranians had no qualms about taking Americans hostage, and making political hay out of it.
We taught them that lesson twenty years ago, when they tried to close the Straits of Hormuz with boats not unlike the ones that captured the Brit sailors. The Navy showed up. Boats started getting blown up. An Iranian minesweeper “accidentally” got burned to the waterline (it was made of wood, to help defend against magnetic mines) by a flare launched from a passing American submarine.
The lesson – the one Dwyer misses completely – was learned a while ago; Today? When the Iranians wanted to make political hay with hostages, they knew better than to grab Yanks.
Our sailors were not faced with the decision to surrender or die this week, because the US long ago made the decision to face Iranian aggression with resolve.
UPDATE: Elder is right. Blah.