Thursday, April 05, 2007

Iran hostage crisis - Who won?

It is a simple question, it does however have a long answer.

In military terms battles are won and lost on victory conditions which have to be met, like taking or holding some objective or destroying some military unit or it surviving. Normally speaking in military terms both sides can't fulfill their victory conditions as they tend to be exclusive (That is not always the case).

However this was a bit of political theater. Unfortunately it involved our service personnel. As such it was a battle fought on two different battlefields in two completely different theaters and it could be the case that both sides could easily achieve their victory conditions.

Domestically in the UK I suspect the picture is going to be mixed. Clearly we have got our people back and that is good. All our national politicians have been both careful and circumspect. In short maybe at home we won.

In Europe we won. No question there. They will move on to talk about something else soon enough, and the backlash won't gain much headway their.

Across the pond, and in the wider world I am afraid we look a bit silly. This clearly was not our finest hour. You only need read my article here to get a flavour of how we may be viewed.

As I said it is a mixed bag.

So how has Iran and I'm a dinner jacket got on?

Well, I suspect he has met all his victory conditions hands down.

Firstly Great Britain has history in the area and has had a massive influence on all sorts of things from borders to the way some armies have been equipped and trained to overthrowing the odd government or two. Effectively getting one over on us gives Iran immense kudos with their target audience, mostly Shia, across the Arab world and indeed further a field. It plays well on the "Arab street" and indeed it raises Iran's and the Shia profile amongst Sunni's who are not rabidly sectarian but disaffected.

Secondly contrast the treatment of our boys to Guantanamo Bay. new suits, not orange jump suits. Good food verses army rations. I could go on. This will play well with their target audience, showing us as harsh brutal and unfair compared to their "hospitality".

It is going to become increasingly difficult to criticise countries for a poor human rights.

President Ahmadinejad appears to be the master of political theater. We should stop thinking of him as a backwoodsman, and start thinking about what he is going to do next. During the Second World War we had psychologists work out how to play Hitler like a fiddle. It worked. FDR would not politically declare war on Germany so we got Hitler to declare war on the USA. We need to relearn the lessons of the past.

So then the question comes, what can we learn? Well not a lot. The fact is we already knew what to do, which is to intercept ships a long way before they get to that territory as we did in the first Gulf war. They other lesson is that you can let people get so close to Iran (Even though they were closer to Iraq) without sufficient support.

For more on the crisis see here.

9 comments:

The Real Sporer said...

I won't go into a rant, but Bush and Blair should have admitted that we are in WW3 and have responded accordingly. We'd have already disposed of the Iranian and Syrian regimes and this would be just about over.

They are far more right than their opponents but for God's sake, how can one not recognize the evil and the danger of our global enemy-Islamofascism.

Maybe the idiot left over there should be required to watch footage of London in the summer and fall of 1940? That's what happens when you delay confrontation with evil.

fr said...

Theater !!! Tut, tut.

Benedict White said...

The Real Sporer, The problem is that we do not have the resource to deal with either of them. (That is the USA and UK).

had we dealt with Iraq with enough resource and more importantly more brains then paradoxicaly Iran and Syria would be less of a problem and a threat of force far more credible.

FR, Sorry, have I used the srong spelling for the meaning?

Ratty. said...

We (Britain) regarded Adolph Hitler as a bit of a joke in the early years. European history would have been totally different if we had shown the balls then to stop him, when he ignored the Treaty of Versailles by rebuilding his army and moving troops into the Rhineland. Appeasement is the cheapest and easiest option and I fear for the future.

Benedict White said...

Ratty, if that is the comparison appeasment seemed to be the most expensive option.

That said we simply don't have the men and material to take Iran on. had Iraq been managed properly then sabre rattling would have worked. We do need to reflect on that.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I love the "I'm a dinner jacket" bit! Yes, let's not underate the Iranians for theatrical skills any more. They knew what they were doing in that news conference. I think the Brit gov did the only thing it could have done but was glad to hear stronger words tonight. I was actually quite proud of the low-key way it was all handled when the 15 arrived home - there would have been the hell of a hoo-ha had it happened here!

Benedict White said...

Welshcakes, Yes in the circumstances we did what we could, we just should not have been in those circumstances.

Mind you at least they are home now.

The Real Sporer said...

We(USA)do have the resources, and the UK probably does also. Certainly the "Coalition of the Willing" does and, had we really sold the "Long War" better, we could have more dramatically rearmed.

Unfortunately, W and Tony are prisoners of their generation and they just couldn't get their minds around WW3.

Benedict White said...

The Real Sporer, I don't think the problems we are in are the result of not planning for WW3, they are as a result of not planning for the current, by world war standards, fairly minor tiff. (After all we could both be expecting to lose the to date casualties of the current conflict, on a daily or weekly basis in a world war)

We should have had a number of key issues nailed in Iraq from day one, like some sense of law and order imposed by Marshall law, looking after the infrastructure (related and besides which we would have to fix it).

Lets face it, GWB is no FDR and Tony Blair is not Winston Churchill. No brains no forward thinking no taking account of the resource needed to FINISH as opposed to start the job.

It makes us look stupid to Iran and the like. We must do better.