Iran and Its British Hostages

The world has generally been confused by Iran's actions in taking British marines hostage. Why, after so nearly becoming engaged in a war with the U.S., would Iran choose to engage the U.S.'s number one ally so aggressively?

Here's an idea. The Iranian government is trying to get the new Iraq leaders used to the watery boundaries that the Iranian government wants. The Iranians are demonstrating clearly the boundary that will trigger a war and the boundary that they are willing to fight for.

After a time has passed, the hostages will be released. The message would have been conveyed to the Iraqis "Don't let your people go here or it will be considered close to an act of war."

What the Iranians may not be considering is that dramatic actions like these take on a life of their own. Once you do something like take hostages, the outcome cannot easily be controlled. Iran has seriously placed itself in a position to get attacked, this time led by Britain and supported by the United States. What the hell are they thinking?


Michael said...

They are thinking that they can get away with it.

You're probably partly right on why they did it; the Shatt al-Arab river, and it's unclear internation boundary, was at the root of the Iran-Iraq war.

Iran probably also wants to divert attention from their nuclear program (while at the same time using that program, and it's bomb potential, as a bluff against retaliation), and wants to show strength against the US & Co, especially after all the threats coming out of Teheran lately.

Finally, Iran attacked the British. They have a national history of not liking the Brits (there was British intervention in Persia in WWI and WWII), and the Brits have a current reputation as a fading power. Hence, the mullahs think that they can get away with twisting the lion's tail.

I think they have also forgotten "Operation Praying Mantis," the April, 1988 naval battle between US and Iranian forces. During that battle, at a cost of two men, the US Navy sank or crippled 3 major Iranian warships and 2 oil platforms, and put itself in position to control all of Iran's Persian Gulf coastline.

The point being that the US does not need a full-scale war against Iran in order to gain a stategic upper hand of sufficient strength to emasculate the Iranian economy.

It all hinges on Britain. If they are willing to take military action, the US Navy can destroy the Iranian. It won't be a war, and Bush can get what he wants while bypassing Congress (what fun for a cowboy Pres!). But if the Brits let diplomacy drag out, the Iranians will gain a huge victory.

Fuzz said...

They see how the Congress is acting and figure we won't do anything. I think they are set up to control the area when the US pulls out, as the congress seems intent on doing.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Well in a way Fuzz, we can not really "do" anything. Except for massive air strikes and missile attacks. But what ground troops does the USA have anymore that are NOT bogged down in Iraq or still trying to get the job done in Afghanistan?

Anyhow, I do not thin Britain will pull a full out invasion. They know what will happen - just by looking at Iraq. You think the insurgency there is bad. Iran would be worse. Also Iran will not exactly be as much of a pushover. They saw what the USA did to Iraq in 1990. The massive use of air power crushed the army in short order.

So they have been building a very sophisticated air defense system, with help from Russia and China. While I think that a USA / UK tag team could knock it out and have air superiority, it would come at a cost. But holding the land will be VERY costly.

If anything, I look for a special forces commando raid type thing. Send the ninjas in, get the soldiers, and get out.

But I think Iran will give in before that comes to be. I also think the Brits are out some boats.

Michael said...

Fuzz and Lazy:
The US has plenty of force in the Persian Gulf that is not currently in Iraq: 2 carrier battle groups, and 2 amphibious warfare groups.

That is more muscle than the Iranian Navy can handle, and enough to strangle all of Iran's seaborne trade.

Seeing how Iran is an importer of gasoline, they are vulnerable to this sort of trade-strangulation. They are just counting on the Brit/US weakness, not their own strength.