Monday, March 26, 2007

"We can dick around with them"

That's what Iran thinks. And it has the 15 British sailors held hostage to prove it. It's unclear whether this is intended to affect the UN votes on sanctions related to its nuclear program or is intended to provide hostages to exchange for Revolutionary Guards being held in Iraq for working with Shi'ite militias there. If the former, it was a really futile move; if the latter, a very smart one -- no doubt the advocates of surrender, both of liberal and paleocon variety, have the "moral equivalence" essay-writing templates at Code Red. And I'm also certain that the Torture Pharisees, being guided purely by moral principles as purely as they are, will expend identical interest investigating, posturing and frothing over the treatment of legitimate soldiers by a Holocaust-denying Islamist terror regime as they already have the treatment of terrorists and illegal combatants by their own legitimate government.

But why shouldn't Iran think that, that they can dick around with the West? After all, they've been sending Revolutionary Guards into Iraq and providing terrorists there with increasingly deadly weapons, basically with impunity for some time now (no doubt They were provided for peaceful purposes too, just like their nuclear program). Yeah ... the nuclear program ... that's been going on, with the UN ratcheting up the pressure from "mother, may I criticize you" to a stern chiding all the way to a harsh warning. And Tehran (rightly from their POV) laughs in its face.

It's not as though hostage-taking, specifically, has never worked for the Iranians. Practically the first act of the Islamic Revolution was to invade the U.S. (no hyperbole -- an embassy is sovereign territory under every international convention) and hold diplomats hostage for more than a year. Not only that, but this act was participated in by Iran's current president (according to plausibly sourced reports; here's a respectable partial dissent).

And that 1979 invasion of the US went essentially unpunished. The worst consequence Iran may have suffered was the (very) slight US tilt toward Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war (though the facts about the Saddam regime put a very firm ceiling on that for the US; less so for the humanitarian conscience-wielders in Paris and Brussels, not to speak of Moscow). A few choppers, a reel of satellite photographs and the veto of any UN condemnation of Saddam. Big whoop. The Iranian regime learned -- it can take hostages without serious consequence, and mess with the Great Satan and his little henchmen with impunity. (Do the moral equivalancers and "incentivizers" and appeasement-artists even remember things like how Iran's embassy in London was seized by Iraq-backed Sunni terrorists during its own invasion of the US and do they remember Britain's reaction thereto?) Their acolytes in Lebanon certainly learned the lesson, even the point of executing two US soldiers -- hanging one on tape; shooting another on a plane and dumping his body on the tarmac. How many Americans would even know those two men I'm referring to? There's no better proof of how deludedly self-forgetful we are with regard to the Islam that people with two brain cells think the Islamists hate us for any reason related to Dubya or Israel or the taping of Saddam's execution. The slightest familiarity with even contemporary history removes any excuse for believing such widely-held flatulence.

I think that cost-free 1979 Iranian invasion of the US was the biggest factor in emboldening the current wave of Islamism against the West. Not the causus belli from their POV, not at all. Rather, that because of what we did then (or didn't do), we gave them reason to have contempt for us. They hate us (that's a given, for reasons of their own); and we have given them no reason to fear us. Which is the worst of all worlds, since the mix of hatred and lack of fear produces contempt. The ignorant like to abuse Machiavelli, usually unread, but Chapter 17 of The Prince deals with this point very nicely:

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with.

In this case, one must be dispensed with since the Islamists will never love us. And since men love according to their own will but fear according to the will of others, we can only give them reason to fear us. Or not.

23 comments:

Greg Mockeridge said...

I know that the American that was shot and dumped on the tarmac was U.S. Navy Steelworker Second Class Robert Stethem. I think the one hung on tape was Col. Willliam Higgins.

Patrick said...

Exactly how do we give them "reason to fear us," as you say?

Victor said...

To be perfectly frank, by this time, not a whole heckuva lot short of war. The lessons of 30 years do not become unlearned in a week or even a year. The failure of the Iraq war, thanks to the humanitarians among us, will be the dominant fact about US credibility in the Middle East for decades and its consequences simply have to be lived with.

But at a minimum in this case, we should say that if any harm is done to the British sailors, we will execute Iranian nationals held prisoner in Iraq or in Guantanamo as illegal combatants (i.e., people whom we have a right to execute and are only have not done so by forebearance and mercy). And declare (and mean it) that any executions of legitimate uniformed British soldiers will be considered an act of war. Simple rule: send one of ours to hospital, we send one of yours to the morgue. Forcible deportations of Iranian citizens in the West (other than anti-regime refugees of course) has to be on the table as should subversion, seizure and sabotage of Iranian assets worldwide. And since Iran is fomenting terror in Iraq, we should encourage and enable Iraq to reciprocate (and do the same for any anti-regime forces in Iran).

Iran's nuclear facilities, and all persons associated with them, should get no rest from sabotage, military strikes or other methods. More long term, give the Israelis a blank check, whether against Iran's nuclear facilities and Iran's proxies like Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad (though again, I doubt that will undo the credibility damage done by handcuffing them in Lebanon last year).

Victor said...

And do one thing that we know the Russians did that sent terror through the Chechen jihadis (and which we should have been doing a long time ago). Any dead jihadis will be buried in pigskins, so they become unclean, and cannot enter paradise and get their 72-virgin reward.

Patrick said...

I see. Any other ideas? I'm not sure executions would really be all that effective, even with the pigskin graves. Aren't the Chechens still creating havoc?

Donald R. McClarey said...

The mullahs will keep pushing until they get the war their actions have called for since 1979. Unless they are toppled by an internal revolution, I believe such a war is inevitable. Passivity in the face of this type of agression always emboldens the agressor.

Donald R. McClarey said...

"agression" should be aggression and "agressor" should be aggressor.

Patrick said...

So, what would Jesus do?

Victor said...

Wrong question. Try again.

Patrick said...

OK. What would Baal do?

Victor said...

Dunno. Not into the finer points of Philistine political philosophy.

Donald R. McClarey said...

"So, what would Jesus do?"

Say nothing probably, just as He did about virtually every aspect of earthly politics while He was present on Earth. One of His few statements that could at all be relevant is of no comfort to pacifists:

"Luke 14:31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Luke 14:32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace."

Looking to the example of Jesus when determining what to do in a confrontation between states is as misguided as attempting to read Einstein for bowling tips. Christ as He demonstrated time and again,

"13And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

14And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?" Luke 12:13,14,

was not interested in being a referee in our strife, and gave us no roadmap to resolve such questions.

Patrick said...

[Christ] gave us no roadmap to resolve such questions.

Perhaps not. He did, however, give us a Church that provides guidance in matters of faith and morals. Maybe we should look there for ideas.

Victor said...

Why should I care about that? I worship Baal, remember.

Donald R. McClarey said...

"Maybe we should look there for ideas."

Indeed, and when we do we will find a wide range of ideas on conflicts between states, from Pope Urban II's calling the first crusade, to the Realpolitik of Julius II, to the near pacifism of John Paul II. When it comes to strife among nations the Church has many answers depending on the predilections of the Pope at the time.

Patrick said...

Thanks, this helps a lot. I see what you mean now. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder says:

Leaving aside any strictly moral considerations, executing the Quds Force members we have in custody strikes me as a particularly wrongheaded idea. During the Iran/Iraq war the Mullahs used children to clear minefields, so it's not like they care too much even about the lives of their own people. Actually, I'd think they'd quite like it, both because any intelligence the Quds detainees have about Iran's activities in Iraq would die with them, and because it would give them a propaganda victory both at home and abroad.

Victor said...

On those terms, you can never find suicide martyrs.

Victor said...

"find" should be "fight."

I should say it more bluntly. It's that sort of mentality "killing the soldiers of a regime that has no regard for human life is futile" that not only paralyzes us, but incentivizes brutality. After all, if people won't resist you if you betray no regard for human life, you will find a lot more people having no regard for human life.

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder says:

If the goal is to deter Iran by threatening to hurt them, then we ought to make sure what we propose to threaten would actually hurt them. There are plenty of things we could do in response to the Iranian attacks that the Mullahs would care about. Killing the captured Iranian solders isn't one of them.

Donald R. McClarey said...

"Killing the captured Iranian solders isn't one of them."

That I agree with. Lending sub rosa aid to the numerous groups in Iran currently in various stages of revolt against the mullahs may be another matter entirely.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps not. He did, however, give us a Church that provides guidance in matters of faith and morals. Maybe we should look there for ideas.

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

Unfortunately, Patrick, the Church becomes irrelevant when it appeases the forces of totalitarian, genocidal terror. The late pope was quite skilled at this. He believed that confronting Islam would run counter to his geopolitical and theological agenda. I have, unfortunately, done far too much research on this topic, so I know what I'm talking about.

In any event, the capture of the British sailors is the 21st-century equivalent of Hitler re-militarizing the Rhineland in 1936. It was a dare that he was willing to retreat from if the French had mobilized. The French, as is their wont, did nothing, thus encouraging Hitler to even greater aggression.

The British cannot take such action lying down and expect to be taken seriously as a major power. Far more importantly, the British government has a moral responsibility to protect its citizens. If I recall, the British impressing of American sailors was the rationale for the War of 1812.

However, the Mark Sheas and the Tom Fidesoles (of the "Disputations" blog) have no understanding of human nature, let alone geopolitics. They are among those Catholics who deign to tell others what to do from their esoteric, rarified atmosphere (and, in Shea's case, refuse to apply those same standards to their own miserable behavior).

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

What we should be doing -- and what we should have done a long time ago -- was to bombard Iran with anti-mullah propaganda thy was we did during the Cold War with such outlets as Radio Free Europe. We need a Radio Free Iran, operated and funded by the U.S. government. We cannot hope to destroy the mullah-ocracy merely by military force; we must pave the way for the Iranians to overthrow that evil government themselves.